|Date of birth||March 11, 1915|
|Place of birth||San Miguel, California|
|Date of death||May 26, 2000(aged 85)|
|Place of death||Mariposa, California|
|NFL Draft||1940 / Round 9 / Pick 77|
|Head coaching record|
|Playing stats||Pro Football Reference|
|Coaching stats||Pro Football Reference|
|Team(s) as a player|
Miami Seahawks (All-America Football ConferenceAAFC)
|Team(s) as a coach/administrator|
|Miami Seahawks (AAFC)|
Chicago Rockets (AAFC)
Los Angeles Rams
Hampton John "Hamp" Pool (March 11, 1915 – May 26, 2000) was a football player, coach and scout who was part of two National Football League championship teams during his playing career and served as head coach for three professional teams.
Pool graduated from Paso Robles High School in California in 1933, and played for the University of California, Berkeley's freshman football team that Fall. After entering the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for one year, he returned to resume his career at Stanford University, playing both wide receiver and defensive end, and also performing for the school's track team.
In the 1940 NFL Draft, he was a seventh round draft pick of the Chicago Bears and played four seasons with the Windy City team. During that stretch, he played at both fullback and wide receiver, catching 35 passes for 840 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns. His efforts helped the team to NFL titles in both 1940 and 1941, with Pool scoring one of the Bears' nine touchdowns in the 73-0 thrashing of the Washington Redskins in the 1940 title tilt. In 1942, the Bears were undefeated during the regular season, but were upset, 14-6, by those same Redskins in the NFL Championship game.
After his career was ended by a leg injury, Pool served as a player-coach for the Fort Pierce Naval Amphibious Base during the final two years of World War II, while also working as an underwater demolition officer. His 1943 unit finished undefeated, and in 1944, he made news when he refused to wear jersey number 14 out of respect for Green Bay Packers' standout Don Hutson. "No. 14 is Don Hutson's number, and nobody else should have that, certainly not me," said Pool.
When the conflict ended, Pool officially entered the coaching arena in 1946, serving as an assistant for the All-America Football Conference's Miami Seahawks under Jack Meagher. After the team had won just one of six contests during its inaugural campaign, Meagher resigned on October 22, with Pool and fellow assistant Hank Crisp taking over as co-head coaches.
After the Seahawks became the Baltimore Colts after the season, Pool stayed with the revamped franchise until accepting an assistant's position under Jim Crowley, who had been named head coach and general manager of the AAFC's Chicago Rockets. Crowley won only one of 11 games before turning the team over to Pool, who watched the team drop its final three contests.
In 1948, Pool returned to his native California to serve as an assistant under Bill Hubbard at San José State University. The Spartans finished with a 9-3 record, but Pool departed after the season to enter private business, but stayed connected to the sport as an assistant coach at San Bernardino Valley College. On March 3, 1950, Pool returned to the professional ranks when his former Bears teammate, Joe Stydahar, hired him as backfield coach of the Los Angeles Rams.
Over the next two seasons, Pool handled the team's offense and defense, the former being one of the most potent in league history. During this period, the Rams reached the NFL title game in both seasons, dropping a heartbreaking last-minute decision in 1950 before winning the following year's clash, both games coming against the Cleveland Browns.
However, when the team was pounded 37-7 by the Browns in the 1952 opener, reports of a simmering feud between Stydahar and Pool surfaced. During the offseason, Stydahar had taken away defensive duties from Pool, then attacked the latter's work ethic. The defeat itself was the fourth consecutive loss for the Rams, who had split into factions in support of each coach.
Further controversy developed when Stydahar resigned on September 30, 1952, and Pool took his place. Pool had told media that "under no circumstances" would he accept the job if Stydahar resigned, then changed his mind. The situation mirrored Pool's earlier stints in Miami and Chicago, where he was accused of undermining the head coach before taking over the position.
Ridding itself of the earlier problems, the Rams rebounded to win nine of their final 11 games, with the New York Daily News awarding Pool Coach of the Year honors. For the fourth consecutive year, the team reached the postseason, but unlike the previous year, dropped a first round playoff game to the Detroit Lions.
In 1953, the Rams again finished 9-3, but endured a number of key injuries and had the misfortune of being in the same conference as the defending champion Lions, factors that kept them out of the playoffs. The next year, the team dropped to 6-6, with Pool spending time defending the team against charges of dirty play, while also battling reports of a revolt among his players. After some team members were severely criticized by Pool, team owner Dan Reeves met privately with a group of players. Reeves stated that he would keep Pool despite the controversy, but after four of the team's five assistant coaches announced they were resigning, Pool quit on December 17, 1954, ending his Rams' head coaching career with a 23-10-2 mark.
Soon after Sid Gillman was hired as Pool's successor, erroneous reports surfaced that Pool would again be a Rams' assistant. Instead, he served as an assistant coach for the next two years in the annual College All-Star Game, and also served his first stint as a scout. On December 27, 1956, he headed north when he was hired as head coach of the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, earning the biggest coaching contract in league history.
Despite struggling in his first year, Pool was offered the head coaching position of the Philadelphia Eagles, but rejected the offer. After another tough year in 1958, and with the team sporting a mark of 2-5, Pool was dismissed on September 21, 1959, in favor of former New York Giants' head coach Steve Owen.
When Bob Waterfield was named head coach of the Rams in January 1960, he named Pool, who had been running a Toronto travel agency, as an assistant two months later. The two had worked together a decade earlier in fashioning the team's potent offense, and Waterfield had assisted Pool during the latter's 1957 training camp in Toronto.
Despite the chemistry between the two, the Rams managed only a 4-7-1 record, then followed that with a 4-10 mark. During the latter part of the 1961 NFL season, another player revolt against Pool began when complaints about his status and coaching methods surfaced. Ram tackle Frank Varrichione and Joe Marconi charged that Pool was really running the team, comparing him to a slave-driver, and that the team's offense was dated.
When Waterfield was let go midway through the 1962 NFL season, having compiled an 9-24-1 record, Pool and the remainder of the staff finished out the season under interim head coach Harland Svare. When Svare was retained after the season, Pool became a scout for the team.
Pool would later help start the league's first scouting combine, Quadra, and serve as a talent scout for the next few decades. In 1964, he moved from Southern California to a ranch in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. He died of congestive heart failure in Mariposa, California.
|Chicago Rockets Head Coaches