As football season approaches from high school and college to the professionals, some people may overlook that the game of football would not be where it is today without the innovations of Springville resident Glenn Scobey "Pop" Warner.
Warner, who was born in the Town of Concord before moving to 253 E. Main St. in Springville at the age of 10, played a major part in both the history of Springville and the history of football during his time as a player, coach and Springville resident.
Information was provided from the article “Pop Warner: Father of Modern Football” by Alan V. Manchester, “Images of America: Springville” by Alan V. Manchester and David C. Batterson and the Concord Historical Society.
Glenn Scobey Warner was born on April 5, 1871, the second son of William H. and Adeline Scobey Warner. Following his graduation from Griffith Institute, the family moved to Texas to work at their newly purchased ranch.
He returned to Springville in 1892, but quickly lost all his money by betting on horses at Buffalo and Rochester tracks. Looking to enroll in law school at Cornell University, Warner wired money from his dad. While a student, Warner was able to offset his expenses by selling paintings. Over the course of his life, he would create hundreds of pieces of art, with many given as gifts to friends and associates.
Warner met Cornell coach Carl Johanson, who encouraged him to try out for the team. He later made the team as a guard, and because he was older than his teammates, given the nickname “Pop.”
His coaching career began at the University of Georgia, from 1895-1896. He returned to coach his alma mater of Cornell for the 1897 and 1898 seasons. Starting in 1899, Warner went on to coach at Carlisle Indian School, where he brought immediate improvement to the team.
He returned to coach at Cornell from 1904-1906 before returning to Carlisle from 1907-1914 where he coached National Football League Hall of Fame player Jim Thorpe. Warner later held coaching positions at University of Pittsburgh, Stanford University, Temple University and San Jose State University before his retirement in 1940.
Impact on Football
Rules of football were adjusted to control Coach Warner’s trick plays. Tucking the ball underneath the back of a ball carrier’s jersey, sewing football-like patches on the front of jerseys and players leaving the field to run behind the crowd and return near the goal line were just some of the plays he concocted.
Though he had some tricks in his playbook, Warner introduced plays and formations still used in football today. The single and double-wing formations, three point stance, spiral punt, bootleg, reverse, screen pass, rolling body block and free forward passing are all attributed to Warner.
Along with plays and formations, Warner has been credited with innovations for football player safety including shoulder protectors, knee guards, fiber padding and early head gear.
Warner was one of the founding members of the Springville Country Club, and along with his wife, Tibb, provided the funds to help purchase the property for the current Pop Warner Museum in Springville. He died on Sept. 7, 1954 at the age of 83 and is buried in Maplewood Cemetery in Springville.
The Pop Warner Museum, located at 98 E. Main St. in Springville, is open April-October on Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. and houses numerous artifacts from the life and coaching career of Warner. Additional artifacts will be displayed at the Heritage Building in Springville after its grand opening on Sept. 30. “Images of America: Springville” can be purchased online.