Homer Woodson Hargiss

Homer Woodson "Bill" Hargiss (September 1, 1887 – October 15, 1978) was an American football and basketball player, and track and field athlete, and coach in Kansas and Oregon. He was an early innovator in football and was known to be one of the first coaches to use the forward pass and the huddle.

Homer Woodson Hargiss
Hargiss from The Beaver, 1920
Biographical details
Born(1887-09-01)September 1, 1887
Cherokee County, Kansas
DiedOctober 15, 1978(1978-10-15) (aged 91)
Lawrence, Kansas
Playing career
1905–1909Kansas State Normal
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1910–1912College of Emporia
1913Kansas (assistant)
1914–1917Kansas State Normal
1918–1919Oregon Agricultural
1920–1927Kansas State Normal/Teachers
1918–1920Oregon Agricultural
Head coaching record
Overall102–53–16 (football)[2]
10–25 (basketball)
Accomplishments and honors
1 Big Six (1930)

Playing career

Hargiss participated in sports at Kansas Normal College, now Emporia State University. He was a standout at the college in football, baseball, basketball, gymnastics, boxing, and track & field. Emporia State honored him in 1982 by inducting him into their "Athletic Hall of Honor"—the first year the honor was available,[3] as a distinguished alumni in 1970,[4] and for the all-Centennial Team in 1997.[5] Hargiss would later return to the college as a coach.

Coaching career

College of Emporia

Hargiss' first coaching job came as the head coach of the College of Emporia (C of E) in Emporia, Kansas. The school had a well-developed rivalry with Kansas State Normal School, where Hargiss played quarterback the previous year, and would later coach.[6]

At C of E, Hargiss developed plays using talented quarterback Arthur Schabinger that most had never seen before, namely the forward pass and the option pass.

Forward pass

In the team's 1910 game at Washburn, Arthur Schabinger has been credited by some to have thrown the first legal forward pass in college football history.[7] While this claim is widely disputed by other colleges (there are multiple claims dating back to 1906), College of Emporia most certainly was one of the first innovators of the play particularly to throw "overhand" forward passes instead of the more common "underhand" passes.[8] The school was using the forward pass as a regular play three years before Knute Rockne and Notre Dame.[9]

For the second to last game in 1910, Schabringer scored seven touchdowns in a 107–0 win over Pittsburg Normal. The forward pass played a major role in the game as well.[10]

Option pass

Hargiss also ran the option pass play (possibly the first of all time) at the College of Emporia in 1910. The "option pass" play was a sweep to the end with halfbacks that would either pass or run depending on how the defensive play would develop. [11]

Oregon State University

Hargiss was the head football, basketball, and track coach at Oregon State University from 1918 to 1919.[12] During his tenure there, he compiled a 6–8–1 record.[13] From 1918–1920 he also coached the Oregon State Beavers basketball team.[14]

Emporia State University

Hargiss was the ninth and twelfth head football coach for Emporia State University (called Kansas Normal School at the time) in Emporia, Kansas and he held that position for twelve seasons, from 1914 until 1917 and then returning from 1920 until 1927. His overall coaching record at Emporia State was 61–23–11. This ranks him third at Emporia State in terms of total wins and first at Emporia State in terms of winning percentage.[15]

In the 1920 game against Washburn University under coach Dwight Ream, Emporia State fullback Jack Reeves sustained a neck injury that resulted in his death.[16] The 1922 season also saw the loss of player Don Davis (it is not known if Davis died from play or natural causes).[17]

While at Kansas Normal, Hargiss coached the 1926 team to an undefeated season and outscored their opponents 144 to 3. The closest game of the season was a 6–0 battle against Hargiss's former team, the College of Emporia.[18]

University of Kansas

From 1928 to 1932, Hargiss served as the head football coach at University of Kansas, compiling a record of 18–16–2. He was fired as football coach on October 10, 1932, two days after the Jawhawks lost at home to Oklahoma, 21–6. Hargiss was succeeded by assistant coach Adrian Lindsey.[19]

Football developments

Use of the huddle

Oregon State was one of the very first schools nationally to use the huddle formation in a game. It happened against the University of Washington in Seattle in 1918. Hargiss instructed the starters that once they returned to the field, they were to stand 10 yards behind the ball before the beginning of each play and whisper to one another what they were going to do next.[20]

An eyewitness to the game was veteran Seattle sports columnist Royal Brougham, whose stories of the contest give testimony today to OSU's early use of this pioneering new formation.[21]

Forward pass

While coaching at the College of Emporia, Hargiss would regularly use the forward pass and records show that it was used as early as 1910, three years before Knute Rockne began to regularly call the play.[22][23]

Honors and legacy

Personal life

Hargiss graduated from Kansas Normal School in Emporia, Kansas. His brother, Floyd Daniel Hargiss was a football coach at Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas.[36]

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall ConferenceStanding Bowl/playoffs
College of Emporia Fighting Presbies () (1910–1912)
1910 College of Emporia 5–3–1
1911 College of Emporia 5–2
1912 College of Emporia 7–1
College of Emporia: 17–6–1
Kansas State Normals () (1914–1917)
1914 Kansas State Normal 5–1–1
1915 Kansas State Normal 5–2–2
1916 Kansas State Normal 6–3–1
1917 Kansas State Normal 5–3–1
Oregon Agricultural Aggies (Pacific Coast Conference) (1918–1919)
1918 Oregon Agricultural 2–40–25th
1919 Oregon Agricultural 4–4–11–36th
Oregon Agricultural: 6–8–11–5
Kansas State Normals/Teachers () (1920–1927)
1920 Kansas State Normal 2–4–1
1921 Kansas State Normal 6–0–11st
1922 Kansas State Normal 6–2
1923 Kansas State Teachers 5–1–1
1924 Kansas State Teachers 4–4–2
1925 Kansas State Teachers 4–3–1
1926 Kansas State Teachers 7–01st
1927 Kansas State Teachers 7–0–1T–1st
Kansas State Normal/Teachers: 61–23–12
Kansas Jayhawks (Big Six Conference) (1928–1932)
1928 Kansas 2–4–21–3–15th
1929 Kansas 4–42–35th
1930 Kansas 6–24–11st
1931 Kansas 5–51–34th
1932 Kansas 1–1[n 1]0–1[n 1]
Kansas: 18–16–28–11–1
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. Hargiss was fired after two games and replaced by Adrian Lindsey.


  1. "Hargiss playing football at KSN". oberheide.org. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  2. "Football coaching record for H. W. "Bill" Hargiss". oberheide.org.
  3. Emporia State University Athletic Hall of Honor
  4. "Bill Hargiss selected Emporia State University Distinguished Alumnus, 1970". oberheide.org.
  5. "Bill Hargiss selected to the Emporia State University Centennial Team, 1997". oberheide.org.
  6. "Bill Hargiss at the College of Emporia, 1910". oberheide.org.
  7. Kansas Sports Hall of Fame Archived May 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Arthur Schabinger
  8. Homer Hargiss History Definitive use of forward pass
  9. Emporia Gazette, "The Emporia Gazette Give Credit to C. of E." by E. T. Lowther
  10. Emporia Gazette, "First Hargiss Team Set Scoring Mark" by Ed Shupe, January 23, 1974
  11. Oberheide.org Hargiss's Option Play
  12. "New football coach for OAC". oberheide.org.
  13. "2006 Football Media Guide - Year-By-Year Results" (PDF). Oregon State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 9, 2015. Retrieved November 14, 2006.
  14. "2005-06 Men's Basketball Media Guide - OSU Team History" (PDF). Oregon State University. p. 18. Retrieved November 14, 2006.
  15. "Emporia State University Athletics - 2007 Football Media Guide" (PDF). www.esuhornets.edu. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  16. The Woodville Republican "Accidents" November 27, 1920
  17. The Official National Collegiate Athletic Association football guide "The official rules book and record book of college football" (edited by Walter Camp) Can Sports Publishing Company, 1922
  18. "Bill Hargiss' Undefeated Emporia State Football Season, 1926". oberheide.org.
  19. AP (October 11, 1932). "Kansas Fires Grid Coach After Defeat". The Norwalk Hour. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  20. "The Huddle Debate Continues" (PDF). Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  21. "Bill Hargiss - First Use of the Offensive huddle, 1918". oberheide.org. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  22. "Emporia Gazette". oberheide.org.
  23. "Bill Hargiss - Definitive use of forward pass and the option pass, 1910". oberheide.org.
  24. Kansas Sports Hall of Fame
  25. "Bill Hargiss named to NAIA Track Hall of Fame, 1959". oberheide.org.
  26. "The LIfe and Legacy of H. W. " Bill" Hargiss". oberheide.org.
  27. "Bill Hargiss at the University of Kansas, 1928". oberheide.org.
  28. "John Kuck". oberheide.org.
  29. "Glenn Cunningham". oberheide.org.
  30. "Jim Bausch". oberheide.org.
  31. "Clyde Coffman". oberheide.org.
  32. "Bill Hargiss in College, 1905-1909". oberheide.org.
  33. "Bill Hargiss' youth, 1887". oberheide.org.
  34. "Recovered letters describe Dole's life at KU and in WWII". kuconnection.org. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved December 26, 2007.
  35. "Crash of Notre Dame legend left its mark in Kansas". The Topeka Capital-Journal. 2001.
  36. Ancestry.com Floyd Daniel Hargiss
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