Mike Pecarovich

Michael J. Pecarovich (September 23, 1898 – March 23, 1965) was an American football coach, lawyer, and actor. He served as the head football coach at Loyola University of Los Angeles—now known as Loyola Marymount University—in 1928 and 1939, Gonzaga University from 1931 to 1938, and the University of San Diego from 1960 to 1961. Pecarovich also coached two professional teams, the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast Professional Football League and the San Francisco Clippers of the California-based American Football League.

Mike Pecarovich
Biographical details
Born(1898-09-23)September 23, 1898
Astoria, Oregon
DiedMarch 22, 1965(1965-03-22) (aged 66)
Rolling Hills, California
Playing career
1919–1921Santa Clara
Position(s)Quarterback, end, guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1923Gonzaga (assistant)
1924–1925Gonzaga Prep (WA)
1926Los Angeles Angels (PCPL)
1928Loyola (CA)
1929–1930Cathedral HS (CA)
1939Loyola (CA)
1944San Francisco Clippers
1960–1961San Diego
Head coaching record
Overall44–57–7 (college)

Early life

Pecarovich was the son of Croatian immigrants (his father Nikola was a Dalmatian mariner) born in Spokane, Washington,[1] Pecarovich attended Santa Clara University, where he played on the football team from 1919 to 1921 as a guard and an end.[2][3] Pecarovich then transferred to Gonzaga University back home in Spokane, where he played football as a quarterback under head coach Gus Dorais.[4] He graduated in 1922,[5] and was an assistant under Dorais.[6] In 1924, Pecarovich earned a law degree and passed the bar exam.[5][7]

Coaching career

After law school, Pecarovich coached the Gonzaga High School football team for two years,[5] then led the Los Angeles Angels football team in the Pacific Coast Professional League,[6] until 1928.[5] That year, Pecarovich took over as head football coach at Loyola,[8] where he installed the Knute Rockne system.[9] The Lions amassed a 5–3 record in 1928.[8] In 1929 and 1930, he coached Cathedral High School in Los Angeles.[10][11]

Pecarovich returned to his alma mater Gonzaga in 1931 to succeed Ray Flaherty as head coach.[3][12][13][14] While there, Pecarovich appointed Bing Crosby, a friend and former classmate, as an assistant coach,[15] and made appearances in several movies alongside Crosby.[7] He remained at Gonzaga through 1938 and compiled a 31–35–5 (.472) record in eight seasons.[8]

In 1939, Pecarovich returned to coach Loyola, which gave him a three-year contract; the Gonzaga administration agreed to release him from the two years remaining on his contract.[5][16][17] His second stint with Loyola was not successful, his team earning a 2–5–1 record, and he was replaced by Marty Brill.[3] He applied for the head coaching position at the University of Idaho in Moscow in 1941, but was not hired despite being considered a strong candidate.[3]

Pecarovich coached the San Francisco Clippers in 1944 in the short-lived American Football League of the Pacific Coast.[18] He led the franchise to a second-place finish with a 7–3 record in the eight-team league's only season.[19] He later served as an assistant coach under Flaherty with the New York Yankees professional football team,[20] then taught at St. Anthony High School in Long Beach for ten years in the 1950s.[20]

On April 27, 1960, the University of San Diego announced it had signed Pecarovich to a two-year contract as its head football coach.[20] He led the Toreros to a 6–13–1 (.325) record over two seasons.[8] However, after the 1961 season, the school disbanded its football program.[21]

Later life

Pecarovich earned a reputation as a skilled after-dinner speaker,[22] and provided many lectures in his later life.[23] He also used his oration skills during halftime pep talks, and people who knew both men compared him to Knute Rockne, who had been a famed motivator as the Notre Dame coach.[22] Pecarovich died of a heart attack on March 22, 1965 in his home in Rolling Hills, California,[24] and was buried at All Souls Cemetery in Long Beach.

He was the namesake for Pecarovich Field at Gonzaga, a $25,000 baseball venue which opened in 1967;[25][26][27] it was renamed August/ART Stadium in 1996 and razed in 2003 to construct the McCarthey Center.[28] The Gonzaga Athletic Hall of Fame inducted Pecarovich in its class of 1991.[29]

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall ConferenceStanding Bowl/playoffs
Loyola Lions (Independent) (1928)
1928 Loyola 5–3
Gonzaga Bulldogs (Independent) (1931–1938)
1931 Gonzaga 3–4
1932 Gonzaga 5–3
1933 Gonzaga 2–6–1
1934 Gonzaga 8–2–1
1935 Gonzaga 5–4–1
1936 Gonzaga 5–3
1937 Gonzaga 2–6–2
1938 Gonzaga 1–7
Gonzaga: 31–35–1
Loyola Lions (Independent) (1939)
1939 Loyola 2–6–1
Loyola: 7–9–1
San Diego Toreros (NCAA College Division independent) (1960–1961)
1960 San Diego 4–5–1
1961 San Diego 2–8
San Diego: 6–13–1

See also


  1. "Loyola Perfecting Game For Gonzaga", Modesto Bee, November 10, 1928.
  2. "Santa Clara Football Team Rosters, 1919-52", Let Them Play: Santa Clara University Football, retrieved June 6, 2011.
  3. Ashlock, Herb (January 24, 1941). "Mike Pecarovich applies For coaching berth At Moscow; Ex-Gonzaga nentor may have good chance". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). p. 11.
  4. "Mike Pecarovich", Gonzaga University website, retrieved June 6, 2011.
  5. "Pecarovich Loyola coach". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. February 3, 1939. p. 8.
  6. "Pecarovich coaches team". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). November 12, 1926. p. 17.
  7. "Pecarovich – 'Quite A Guy'", Tri City Herald (March 24, 1965)
  8. "Michael J. "Mike" Pecarovich Records by Year", College Football Data Warehouse, retrieved June 6, 2011.
  9. "Pecarovich Installs Rockne System at Loyola College; Lions Undergo Grid Revamping; New Coach Uses Notre Dame Methods on Squad Thirteen Letter Men Back on Pigskin Machinc No Sensational Results Are Expected This Year", Los Angeles Times (October 1, 1928)
  10. Other 15 (no title), Los Angeles Times (November 1, 1929)
  11. Other 12 (no title), Los Angeles Times (October 3, 1930)
  12. "Eight football games on Gonzaga's 1931 grid schedule; new coach arrives". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). February 23, 1931. p. 14.
  13. Weaver, Buck (February 24, 1931). "Pecarovich frowns on lounge lizards; names Hunton and McGrath assistants". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). p. 14.
  14. "Pecarovich and Hunting dig out football blueprints; start work on Monday". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). February 26, 1931. p. 19.
  15. "Bing Crosby and Gonzaga University: 1925 - 1951" Archived February 19, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, Gonzaga University website, retrieved June 6, 2011.
  16. "Puggy Hunton ruled as strong contender for post of head coach at Gonzaga University". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). February 3, 1939. p. 10.
  17. "Mike Pecarovich goes to Loyola". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). February 4, 1939. p. 14.
  18. "Coast pro league tilts lid Sunday". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. August 21, 1944. p. 9, part 2.
  19. Gill, Bob. "PCPFL: 1940-45" Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine, The Coffin Corner vol. 4, no. 7, 1982.
  20. "Contract for Mike". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. April 27, 1960. p. 15.
  21. "San Diego U. Drops Football", Baltimore Sun (December 13, 1961)
  22. Johnson, Bob (March 25, 1965). "A second Rockne". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). p. 23.
  23. "Memorial to honor Mike Pecarovich; Gonzaga plans baseball field". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). July 22, 1965. p. 11.
  24. Obituary 11 -- (no title), Hartford Courant (March 23, 1965)
  25. "Pecarovich memorial plan". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). July 25, 1965. p. 2, sports.
  26. "Zags, Sparts host diamond doubles". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). April 7, 1967. p. 18.
  27. "Gonzaga sweeps pair from 'Cats". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). April 8, 1967. p. 13.
  28. "Patterson Baseball Complex Dedication on Friday", Gonzaga University website (April 18, 2007)
  29. "Gonzaga Athletic Hall of Fame", Gonzaga University website, retrieved June 6, 2011
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