Gillman, Sid

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GILLMAN, SID (1911–2003), innovative U.S. football coach, recognized as a leading authority on passing theories and tactics, influential in changing the downfield passing game and in the use of film footage as a preparatory tool for coaching; the only coach elected to both Pro (1983) and College (1989) Football Halls of Fame.

Born and raised in a traditional kosher home in Minneapolis, Minn., to Sara (Dickerson), who was born in New York, and David, born in Austria. Gillman played college football from 1931 to 1933 at Ohio State University, where he was a Grantland Rice ap All-American honorable mention, 1932–33. He also played in the inaugural College Football All-Star Game in 1934. While working as a movie theater usher at his father's theater, he would remove the football segments from newsreels and take them home to study. Gillman was the first coach to analyze game footage, something practiced by all coaches today.

Gillman played one year in the National Football League for the Cleveland Rams, then began coaching, first as an assistant coach at Denton University (1935–37, 1941), Ohio State (1938–40), and the University of Miami of Ohio (1942–43), before being named head coach at Miami of Ohio (1944–47). He led Miami to a 31–6–1 record, including a 13–12 victory in the 1947 Sun Bowl. After a year as assistant coach at Army in 1948, Gillman was named head coach at the University of Cincinnati (1949–54), which he led to three Mid-American Conference titles, two bowl games, and a 50–13–1 record, resulting in a remarkable. 814 winning percentage (81–19–2) in his college coaching career.

In 1955, after failing to receive the Ohio State head-coaching job – which Gillman always suspected was because he was Jewish – he moved to the pros as head coach with the Los Angeles Rams, where he compiled a 28–31–1 record in 1955–59 and led the team to the nfl championship game in 1955. When the American Football League debuted in 1960, Gillman was named head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, which moved to San Diego in 1961. He led the team to five Western Division titles, one league championship – in 1963, beating the Boston Patriots 51–10 – and an 82–47–6 record in the first six years of the league's existence. He also coached the Houston Oilers in 1973–74, winning Coach of the Year honors in 1974. Gillman, who finished with a 123–104–7 professional record, is credited with putting names on the backs of jerseys, and with first suggesting the idea of a "Super Bowl" game between champions of the nfl and afl.

[Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)]