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THE CASE FOR GILMOUR DOBIE

Gilmour Dobie of the University of Washington is singularly responsible for bringing the quality of West Coast football up to the standards played back east. He contributed 97% of the games that make up Washington’s NCAA record, 64-game undefeated streak. His dominating influence forced every other team in the far west to elevate their game in order to compete. This benchmark for excellence set the wheels in motion that ultimately created today’s Pac-12 Conference. His coaching techniques were years ahead of his time and even after 100 years, modern coaches can benefit from his methods. Here we present the case that Coach Dobie and his players deserve to receive an on-campus monument dedicated in their honor.

It was during his brilliant career that the great traditions of Washington Football were founded. Bow Down To Washington written in 1915 contained the chorus “Dobie, Dobie pride of Washington,” the Guy Flaherty Inspirational Trophy was first awarded in 1908 (the first of its kind in the country), “The Hook” became the dominating symbol of Washington’s power and later developed into a national association of service clubs known as the “Knights of the Hook,” Friday night football rallies and parades began in his era, the famous siren was instituted at this time, the first homecoming event was held at a Dobie coached football game, the first football banquet was held to honor the team’s achievements, women were first allowed to attend away games in 1913, the Women’s League of Dobie’s era invented Pom Poms and the first games to be recorded on film were at his games.

• During the Dobie era there were six graduating classes that never experienced the bitter taste of defeat. This grew into a feeling of near-worship by adoring fans. They gave him thunderous ovations at rallies and hung on every word of the master’s postgame speeches. But Dobie’s perfectionist nature was oftentimes misread. Historians writing long after he died seriously corrupted the facts regarding his Washington career (a reality that should disturb all Husky loyalists.) Myth often overtakes truth as any student of history knows; in Dobie’s case research proves that sensationalist writers did just that. And flagrantly so. This great coach deserves better. He began life as a mistreated and abused orphan but never revealed this publicly. Writers in trying to interpret his behavior never bothered to explore the full arc of his life – thus drawing false conclusions.

• In his day Coach Dobie was compared to the greatest coaches in the country such as John Heisman, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Glenn “Pop” Warner, Knute Rockne and Fielding H. Yost. He won two national championships at Cornell and shares a third; he was unanimously elected as third President of the National Coaches Association, is a member of the UW and Washington State Hall of Fame and is a Charter Member of the National Collegiate Hall of Fame.

• Dobie famously became known as “Gloomy Gil.” In the early 20th Century many coaches assumed a downbeat demeanor in an attempt to signal to players and fans alike, that no game was a pushover. In Dobie’s case he was so exceptionally colorful that reporters loved to play up this pessimist theme. No matter that in reality Dobie was not a pessimist. He was a master of psychology and knew how to play his cards to greatest advantage. The gloomy aspect served a purpose which suited him in the larger sphere of off-the-field jousting played out in the press.

• Gilmour Dobie has no monument recognizing his huge contributions to Washington football. At the University of California, Garrett Cochran (1898-99) and his players have a statue in their honor, Andy Smith (1916-25) has a memorial bench deemed sacred by Bears’ fans and Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf has a statue. Dobie having beaten California 72-0 in 1915 led to their coach being fired and the hiring of Andy Smith. The two times these great coaches competed, Dobie won both. Stanford has a monument honoring Glenn “Pop” Warner within their Pac-10 Plaza. A groundswell of Washington fans are stating that after 100 years the time has come to honor Robert Gilmour Dobie – the Founding Father of Washington’s winning tradition in football.

 

Lynn Borland

lynnb@authorwilliamlynn.com

 

Richard Linde

malamute@4malamute.com

Will Lomen

wlomen@hotmail.com

 

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