American Football Database
For those of a similar name, see Bob Higgins.
Bob Higgins
File:Bob Higgins.jpg
Biographical details
Born(1893-11-24)November 24, 1893
Corning, New York
DiedJune 6, 1969(1969-06-06) (aged 75)
State College, Pennsylvania
Playing career
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
All-American, 1915
All-American, 1916
All-American, 1919
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1954 (profile)

Robert A. Higgins (November 24, 1893 – June 6, 1969) was an American football player and coach. He played college football at Pennsylvania State University, where he was a three-time All-America, and then with professionally with the Canton Bulldogs in 1920 and 1921. Higgins served as the head football coach at West Virginia Wesleyan College (1920, 1922–1924), Washington University in St. Louis (1925–1927), and Pennsylvania State University, compiling a career college football record of 123–83–16. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1954.

Playing career


Higgins played at Penn State from 1914 to 1916, and was named an All-American in 1915. After spending World War I in the service, he returned to captain Penn State, earning All-America honors again in 1919. In a 20–0 victory over Pittsburgh that season, Higgins caught a pass from Walter Hess and turned it into a thrilling 92-yard touchdown and was immortalized in Knute Rockne's "Great Football Plays."


In 1920 and 1921, Higgins played end for the Canton Bulldogs of the National Football League.

Coaching career

Higgins coached four seasons at West Virginia Wesleyan (1920, 1922–1924), and three seasons at Washington University in St. Louis. He returned to Penn State in 1928, first as an assistant coach, before becoming head coach in 1930. He served as head coach there for the next 19 seasons. He led the Nittany Lions to only the second unbeaten season in the school's history, culminating in a tie versus Southern Methodist University in the 1948 Cotton Bowl Classic. It marked only the second time that Penn State had played in a bowl game.

Ill health forced Higgins' retirement after the 1948 season, but he remained at Penn State as a special assistant in the Physical Education Department until his retirement in November 1951. His overall coaching record was 123–83–16. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.


Higgins was a brother of Margaret Sanger, famed campaigner for birth control, family planning and social reform.[1] His youngest daughter Nancy married James J Dooley Jr, who was a second team All American Center in 1952 at Penn State. Their son James J Dooley III also played football at Penn State from 1979 to 1981 . Their other son Peter Dooley was on the Cross Country and Track & Field team at Penn State from 1982-84. Bob Higgin's eldest grandson, Robert Lyford, son of Higgins eldest daughter Mary Ann, played basketball at Penn State during the late 1960s.

His daughter Virginia ("Ginger") married All-American guard and fellow College Football Hall of Fame inductee Steve Suhey.[2] He is the maternal grandfather of Penn State standouts Paul Suhey and Larry Suhey and former Chicago Bears fullback, Matt Suhey. More recently, Paul's son Kevin and Matt's son Joe have played for the Nittany Lions. The Higgins-Suhey family has been called the "first family of Penn State football", with 90 years of involvement with the program.[2]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs AP#
West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats (Independent) (1920)
1920 West Virginia Wesleyan 4–4–1
West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats (Independent) (1922–1924)
1922 West Virginia Wesleyan 8–2
1923 West Virginia Wesleyan 3–4–1
1924 West Virginia Wesleyan 9–2 W Dixie Classic
West Virginia Wesleyan: 24–12–2
Washington University Pikers/Bears (Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association) (1925–1927)
1925 Washington University 2–5–1 1–4–1 9th
1926 Washington University 1–7 0–6 10th
1927 Washington University 5–2–2 2–2–1 T–5th
Washington University: 8–14–3 3–12–2
Penn State Nittany Lions (Independent) (1930–1948)
1930 Penn State 3–4–2
1931 Penn State 2–8
1932 Penn State 2–5
1933 Penn State 3–3–1
1934 Penn State 4–4
1935 Penn State 4–4
1936 Penn State 3–5
1937 Penn State 5–3
1938 Penn State 3–4–1
1939 Penn State 5–1–2
1940 Penn State 6–1–1
1941 Penn State 7–2
1942 Penn State 6–1–1 19
1943 Penn State 5–3–1
1944 Penn State 6–3
1945 Penn State 5–3
1946 Penn State 6–2
1947 Penn State 9–0–1 T Cotton 4
1948 Penn State 7–1–1 18
Penn State: 91–57–11
Total: 123–83–16
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game. #Rankings from final AP Poll.

See also

  • List of College Football Hall of Fame inductees (coaches)


External links