Frank Crawford
File:Frank Crawford.jpg
Biographical details
Born(1870-03-12)March 12, 1870
Colebrook, New Hampshire
DiedNovember 25, 1963(1963-11-25) (aged 93)
Portland, Maine
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Nebraska Wesleyan
Head coaching record
College Football Data Warehouse
Accomplishments and honors
1 WIUFA (1894)

Frank Crawford (March 12, 1870 – November 25, 1963) was a college football coach, lawyer, and law professor. He attended Yale University and served as the first head football coach at the University of Michigan in 1891. He also coached at the University of Wisconsin (1892), Baker University (1892), the University of Nebraska (1893–1894), and the University of Texas (1895). He later had a long career as a lawyer in Nebraska and France. He was a professor of law at Creighton College of Law from 1906 to 1913.

Early yearsEdit

Crawford was born in 1870 at Colebrook, New Hampshire.[1] He was the son of Francis B. Crawford, a starch manufacturer and state legislator, and Susan J. (Randall) Crawford.[2][3][4] He attended preparatory school at St. Johnsbury Academy in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.[1] He enrolled at Yale University, receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1891. Sources are at odds over whether or not Crawford played football for the Yale Bulldogs football team. According to the University of Nebraska web site, Crawford was "a member of the dominant Yale teams of the mid-1880s."[5] The Michigan Daily also reported that Crawford played football at Yale "for several years."[6] However, the University of Michigan web site notes that "Yale archivists found no evidence that he played varsity football" and concludes that Crawford "may have played some football while a Bulldog, but definitely did not win a varsity letter."[6]

Coaching careerEdit

University of MichiganEdit

After graduating from Yale, Crawford enrolled at the University of Michigan School of Law, receiving his law degree in 1893. As a first-year law student, Crawford was both the unpaid coach and a substitute player for the 1891 Michigan Wolverines football team.[7][8] He helped lead the team to a 4–5 record. He has been identified by several sources as the first football coach in University of Michigan history.[9][10] Other sources indicate that Crawford and Mike Murphy were the joint head coaches of the 1891 Michigan football team.[6] Others state that Murphy relinquished the coaching duties to Crawford midway through the season to allow him to focus on his duties as trainer.[5] The Chicago Daily Tribune reported in November 1891 that the Michigan team was "coached systematically" by Murphy, Crawford, Horace Greely Prettyman and James Duffy.[11]

While attending Michigan, Crawford also played for the Michigan Wolverines baseball team in 1892 and 1893. He led the team with a .976 fielding average in 1892.[12] Crawford appeared in 17 games at catcher and left field for the Wolverines in 1892 and was among the team's leaders in runs (tied for 2nd with 20), stolen bases (tied for 2nd with 13) and putouts (2nd with 115).[13] He was also selected as the captain of the 1893 baseball team.[12][14]

In his history of the University of Michigan, Wilfred Byron Shaw cites Crawford's hiring as a watershed moment in the history of the school's football program: "A new era in the history of football at Michigan began in 1891, when with a fair schedule and an experienced coach, Frank Crawford (Yale, '91), '93l, the systematic development of a team began ..."[15] Although football had been played at Michigan without a coaching staff since 1879, the Associated Press noted at the time of Crawford's death that Crawford "is credited with introducing football at the University of Michigan in 1891."[16]


In 1892, he coached at Wisconsin, and compiled a 4–3 record.[17][18]


In November 1892, Crawford served as "a paid coach-captain player" for the football team at Baker University at Baldwin, Kansas.[19] Crawford reportedly "brought many innovations," including the training table, to Baker's football program.[19] He led Baker to the Kansas state championship and a 2–1 record in "the triangular league," including victories over Washburn (44–0) and Kansas State (18–0). In December 1892, the Leavenworth Times reported that Crawford had "succeeded in instilling sufficient foot ball lore into the western farmers to accomplish the defeat of the University of Kansas team by the Baker eleven last week."[20] In May 1893, The Baker Beacon reported: "The Baker team was ably coached and captained by Frank Crawford who had learned the game at Yale and by the close of the season the team ... was in excellent condition."[21]


In 1893, Crawford was hired as the head football coach at the University of Nebraska. He was the school's first paid head football coach with a salary of approximately $500. He was Nebraska's head football coach during the 1893 and 1894 seasons and compiled a 9–4–1 record. After starting the 1893 season with a 2–2–1 record, Crawford's team defeated Iowa, 20–18, in a match played in near-blizzard conditions and considered the "first major victory" in Nebraska history. Crawford reportedly also played right halfback and kicked the field goals for Nebraska during the 1893 Iowa game; he was identified in the record book as "Frank." In 1894, Crawford's team defeated Iowa, 36–0. The 1895 team finished the season with five consecutive victories for a 7–2 record and the school's first ever conference championship. During Crawford's tenure at Nebraska, George Flippin played for Crawford and became the first African-American athlete in Nebraska history.[5]


In 1894, the University of Texas football team suffered its first loss in school history, a 28–0 home loss to Missouri. The previous head coach was fired, and a lengthy search was conducted for a replacement. In October 1895, Texas hired Crawford. At Texas, he was known as "Little" Crawford and reportedly "taught the Yale system of play and stressed conditioning."[22] Crawford led the 1895 Longhorns to a perfect 5–0 record, as the team outscored its opponents by a combined 96–0 margin. After a Thanksgiving Day victory over San Antonio by a score of 38–0, Crawford reportedly left for Mexico to watch bullfights and then returned to his home in Nebraska.[22] The 1895 season was Crawford's last as a football coach.

Legal and teaching careerEdit

File:Frank Crawford (1909).png

In 1893, Crawford opened a law practice with Albert Jefferis in Omaha, Nebraska.[6] Jefferis was a classmate and teammate with Crawford on the baseball and football teams at the University of Michigan and later served in the United States House of Representatives. In 1901, Crawford formed a law partnership in Omaha under the name Crawford & Clarke with Henry Teft Clarke, Jr., a former Major League Baseball pitcher.[23]

Crawford joined the faculty of Creighton University School of Law in 1906 where he remained until 1913.[24][25] He taught classes in evidence and public service companies.[1]

From the end of World War I until the outbreak of World War II, Crawford practiced law in France, first in Paris and later in Nice.[6]

Family and deathEdit

Crawford was married to Hannah Louise McNair (1879–1943); she died in 1943 at Omaha, Nebraska.[26] In November 1963, Crawford died in Portland, Maine at age 93.[27][28]

Head coaching recordEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Michigan Wolverines (Independent) (1891)
1891 Michigan 4–5
Michigan: 4–5
Wisconsin Badgers (Independent) (1892)
1892 Wisconsin 4–3
Wisconsin: 4–3
Nebraska Bugeaters (Western Interstate University Football Association) (1893–1894)
1893 Nebraska 3–2–1 1–2 3rd
1894 Nebraska 6–2 2–1 1st
Nebraska: 9–4–1 3–3
Texas Longhorns (Independent) (1895)
1895 Texas 5–0
Texas: 5–0
Nebraska Wesleyan Prairie Wolves () (1896)
1896 Nebraska Wesleyan 3–2
Nebraska Wesleyan: 3–2
Total: 25–14–1
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Creighton Brief. The Students of Creighton College of Law. April 10, 1909. p. 19.
  2. 1880 United States Census; Census Place: Colebrook, Coos, New Hampshire; Roll: 762; Family History Film: 1254762; Page: 31A; Enumeration District: 31; Image: 0063.
  3. United States Passport Applications by Frank Crawford dated December 22, 1919 and December 14, 1921 identifies his father as Francis B. Crawford and his date of birth as March 12, 1870 in Colebrook, New Hampshire.
  4. Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire, vol. 2. Lewis Publishing Co.. 1908. p. 930.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Frank Crawford Bio".
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 "University of Michigan Football Coaches: Mike Murphy and Frank Crawford". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
  7. "1891 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
  8. "1891 Michigan Football Roster". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
  9. "Forum". The Michigan Alumnus, Volume 60. 1954. p. 258.("He [Crawford] was the first football coach in University of Michigan history and he was unpaid.")
  10. "Alumni Meeting in Omaha". The Michigan Alumnus, Volume 15. December 1908. p. 116."Frank Crawford first coach of a Michigan football team and captain of the baseball team")
  11. "The Players From Ann Arbor: A New but Strong Team Which Will Play a Clean Game". Chicago Daily Tribune. November 14, 1891.
  12. 12.0 12.1 The Michigan Book. The Inland Press. 1898. pp. 154–155.
  13. The Palladium, Vol XXXV. 1893. p. 180.
  14. "Michigan Baseball Captains". June 5, 2009.
  15. Wilfred Byron Shaw (1920). The University of Michigan. Harcourt, Brace, and Howe. p. 250.
  16. "Founder of Football At Michigan U. Dies". Del-Rio News Herald (AP story). November 26, 1963.
  17. "Frank Crawford". Football.
  18. "1892 Wisconsin Football". College Football Data Warehouse.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Hal D. Sears (Winter 1992). "The Moral Threat of Intercollegiate Sports: An 1893 Poll of Ten College Presidents, and the End of "The Champion Football Team of the Great West"". Journal of Sport History, Vol. 19, No. 3. p. 215.
  20. "A Tale Unfolded". The Daily World (reprinting article from Leavenworth Times. November 27, 1892.,3163149&dq=frank-crawford+%26+baker-university&hl=en.
  21. "Football". May 15, 1893. pp. 24–25.
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Football: Head Coaches".
  23. "Alumni Affairs: Henry T. Clarke, Jr.". The University of Chicago Magazine. January 1916. p. 116.
  24. The twelfth general catalogue of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity, by Psi Upsilon Fraternity, 1917, p. 158.
  25. Corrine Jacox (August 2009). "A Century of Creighton University School of Law Faculty Publications, 1904-2004". Creighton University Klutznick Law Library / McGrath North Mullin & Kratz Legal Research Center. p. 14.
  26. "MRS. FRANK CRAWFORD; Genealogist, Decendant of Four Colonial Governors, Dies at 64". The New York Times. September 29, 1943.
  27. "Crawford, Michigan Grid Founder, Dies". The Sun, Baltimore, Md.. November 27, 1963.,+1963&author=&pub=The+Sun+(1837-1985)&desc=Crawford,+Michigan+Grid+Founder,+Dies&pqatl=google.
  28. "Ex Grid Coach Crawford Dies". Hartford Courant. November 27, 1963.

External linksEdit

Template:Baker Wildcats football coach navbox

Template:Nebraska Wesleyan Prairie Wolves football coach navbox

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.