American Football Database
Pepper Rodgers
Biographical details
Born (1931-10-08) October 8, 1931 (age 90)
Atlanta, Georgia
Playing career
Position(s)Quarterback, kicker
Head coaching record
Overall73–65–3 (college)
19–19 (USFL)
9–9 (CFL)
Accomplishments and honors
1 Big Eight (1968)

Franklin Cullen "Pepper" Rodgers (born October 8, 1931) is a former American football player and coach.[1] He was the head coach at the University of Kansas (1967–1970), University of California, Los Angeles (19711973), and the Georgia Institute of Technology (1974–1979), compiling a career college football record of 73–65–3 (.528).[2]

Rodgers was also the head coach of the United States Football League's Memphis Showboats from 1984 to 1985 and of the Canadian Football League's Memphis Mad Dogs in 1995. He also served as the Washington Redskins director of football from 2001 to 2004. At 69, he was considered for the Redskins' head coaching position before Norv Turner's eventual firing during the 2000 season.[3]

From Atlanta, Rodgers played college football at Georgia Tech under head coach Bobby Dodd, where he was a member of the Yellow Jackets' 1952 national championship team as a backup quarterback and placekicker.[4] In his second year as a head coach, he led the Kansas Jayhawks to a share of the Big Eight Conference title in 1968,[1][5] the program's most recent conference championship. They played in the Orange Bowl in Miami, but lost by a point to Penn State.

At UCLA in the Pac-8, Rodgers installed the wishbone offense and with junior college transfer quarterback Mark Harmon in 1972, the Bruins upset top-ranked and two-time defending champion Nebraska in the season opener, snapping the Huskers' 32-game unbeaten streak.[6][7] UCLA finished 8–3 and fifteenth in the final AP rankings;[8] in 1973 they were 9–2 and ended ranked twelfth.[9] (Prior to the 1975 season, the Pac-8 and Big Ten conferences allowed only one postseason participant each, for the Rose Bowl.) He left after the 1973 season to become head coach at Georgia Tech.

With the Memphis Showboats of the USFL, Rodgers was the first professional coach of hall of fame defensive end Reggie White.

Rodgers is the author of Fourth and Long Gone, a novel published in 1985 that is a bawdy roman à clef of his experiences as a college football coach and recruiter. He also wrote an autobiography: Pepper, written with Al Thomy. Rodgers graduated from Georgia Tech in 1955.

On January 1, 2018, the Allstate Sugar Bowl introduced a new Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame with an inaugural class composed of 16 legends of the annual New Orleans football classic. Pepper Rodgers was inducted as a member of the inaugural class. The first class of Hall of Famers spans seven decades of Sugar Bowl action and includes 12 all-star players, two national championship coaches and two individuals who had the rare distinction of both playing and coaching in the Bowl. Pepper Rodgers debuted in the Sugar Bowl in 1953 as he threw a touchdown pass, kicked a field goal and knocked home three point-after kicks in Georgia Tech’s 24-7 victory over Ole Miss. He outdid himself the following year, however, passing for 195 yards and three touchdowns while kicking another field goal and two more extra-points to lead the Yellow Jackets to a bowl record 42 points in a lopsided victory over West Virginia.[10]

He now lives in Reston, Virginia.[11]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Kansas Jayhawks (Big Eight Conference) (1967–1970)
1967 Kansas 5–5 5–2 T–2nd
1968 Kansas 9–2 6–1 T–1st L Orange 6 7
1969 Kansas 1–9 0–7 8th
1970 Kansas 5–6 2–5 T–6th
Kansas: 20–22 13–15
UCLA Bruins (Pacific-8 Conference) (1971–1973)
1971 UCLA 2–7–1 1–4–1 8th
1972 UCLA 8–3 5–2 2nd 17 15
1973 UCLA 9–2 6–1 2nd 9 12
UCLA: 19–12–1 12–7–1
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (NCAA Division I / I-A independent) (1974–1979)
1974 Georgia Tech 6–5
1975 Georgia Tech 7–4
1976 Georgia Tech 4–6–1
1977 Georgia Tech 6–5
1978 Georgia Tech 7–5 L Peach
1979 Georgia Tech 4–6–1
Georgia Tech: 34–31–2
Total: 73–65–3
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game. #Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ferguson, Lew (December 14, 1968). "Kansas coach makes football a fun game". Free Lance-Star. Associated Press (Fredericksburg, Virginia): p. 7.
  2. "Tech fires Pepper". Spartanburg Herald. Associated Press (South Carolina): p. D1. December 19, 1979.
  3. McKenna, Dave (2010-11-19). "The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  4. "Georgia Tech cops 17 to 14 thriller from Baylor Bears". Free Lance-Star. Associated Press (Fredericksburg, Virginia): p. 5. January 2, 1952.
  5. "Pepper Rodgers hired as UCLA grid coach". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press (Spokane, Washington): p. 15. January 8, 1971.
  6. Jenkins, Dan (September 18, 1972). "Young Harmon makes his mark". Sports Illustrated: 32.
  7. "Bruins upend Cornhuskers on Herrera's field goal, 20-17". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press ((Oregon)): p. 3C. September 10, 1972.
  8. Nissenson, Herschel (January 3, 1973). "It's official: Trojans No. 1 grid team". Reading Eagle. Associated Press ((Pennsylvania)): p. 48.
  9. Nissenson, Herschel (January 3, 1974). "Notre Dame No. 1 in final AP grid poll". Reading Eagle. Associated Press ((Pennsylvania)): p. 32.
  10. "Allstate Sugar Bowl Announces Inaugural Hall of Fame Class".
  11. Suguira, Ken (October 16, 2015). "Did Georgia Tech and Pepper Rodgers keep Steve Spurrier’s career alive?". Atlanta Journal-Constitution.