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Ray Morrison

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1908–1911  Vanderbilt
1915–1916  SMU

1918  Vanderbilt
Name  Ray Morrison
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Sport(s)  Football, basketball, baseball
Born  February 28, 1885 Switzerland County, Indiana (1885-02-28)
Died  November 19, 1982(1982-11-19) (aged 97) Miami Springs, Florida
Position(s)  Quarterback (football) Catcher (baseball)

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J. Ray Morrison (February 28, 1885 – November 19, 1982) was an American football and baseball player and a coach of football, basketball, and baseball. He served as the head football coach at Southern Methodist University (1915–1916, 1922–1934), Vanderbilt University (1918, 1935–1939), Temple University (1940–1948), and Austin College (1949–1952), compiling a career college football record of 155–130–34. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1954.


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Morrison was also the head basketball coach at Vanderbilt for one season in 1918–19, tallying a mark of 8–2, and the head baseball coach at the school in 1919, notching a record of 3–3.

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Early years

Ray Morrison was born on February 28, 1885 in Sugar Branch, Indiana. Soon after the family moved to McKenzie, Tennessee, where Morrison attended school. He also spent a year at McTyiere School for Boys.

Vanderbilt University

To achieve funds for college, Morrison worked on a dredge boat on the Mississippi River for a year.


He played football as a prominent halfback and quarterback for Dan McGugin's Vanderbilt football teams from 1908 to 1911. He is considered one of the best quarterbacks in Vanderbilt's long history. The team posted a 30–6–2 record during his four years. Morrison was selected as the quarterback and kick returner for an Associated Press Southeast Area All-Time football team 1869-1919 era. He weighed some 155 to 159 pounds.


The 1908 squad was hampered by a wealth of sophomores, which McGugin with the help of halfback Morrison led to a 7–2–1 campaign, derailed mostly by losses to Sewanee.


The 1910 team fought defending national champion Yale to a scoreless tie on Yale Field. Yale coach Ted Coy called Morrison "the greatest player I have seen in years."


Edwin Pope's Football's Greatest Coaches on the 1911 team reads "A lightning-swift backfield of Lew Hardage, Wilson Collins, Ammie Sikes, and Ray Morrison pushed Vandy through 1911 with only a 9-8 loss to Michigan." The Atlanta Constitution voted it the best backfield in the South. Ted Coy selected Morrison All-American.

Morrison won Bachelor of Ugliness for the class of 1912.

Coaching years

Morrison first taught and was athletics director at Branham & Hughes Military Academy in Spring Hill.


Ray Morrison was the first head coach in the history of SMU Mustangs football. He won just two games in two years from 1915 to 1916.

War football

Upon American entry into World War I, Morrison went to Fort Oglethorpe.

He coached Vanderbilt in 1918 when McGugin left for the military, and led the Vanderbilt team to a 4–2 record. In 1919, Morrison spent a year at Gulf Coast Military Academy as athletics director and teacher.

Return to SMU

In 1920, Morrison returned to SMU. He notably brought the forward pass to the southwest during his time at SMU. Morrison was one of the first to pass not just on first down, but on first and second down too. Gerald Mann was one of his best passers. His teams earned the nickname the "Flying Circus".


Upon the retirement of the legendary McGugin, Morrison was hand-picked as successor at his alma mater. Morrison brought his own staff from SMU and neglected Josh Cody's coaching abilities.

Morrison first team in his second stint finished second place in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), led by captain and SEC player of the year Willie Geny. The 1936 team was captained by Dick Plasman, the last NFL player to play without a helmet. The 1937 team upset LSU on a hidden ball trick, the school's first-ever victory over a ranked opponent. The team's captain was SEC player of the year Carl Hinkle. Morrison was awarded SEC Coach of the Year in 1937.

Fred Russell offered this description of Morrison upon his arrival as coach of Vanderbilt:

A gentle, soft-spoken person who talks out of the side of his mouth with convincing firmness. Eyes with a permanent twinkle, tiny wrinkles about them when he smiles, but a set jaw that seems to enclose teeth constantly gritted tighter. A happy combination that blends austerity and affability into well-nigh perfect personality--that's the Ray Morrison of today who was known to Nashvillians twenty-five years ago as Vanderbilt's whirling quarterback.


After the 1939 season, Morrison resigned from his position at Vanderbilt to go to Temple, and resigned from Temple in 1949. Cody was his line coach.

Austin College

He finished his career at Austin College. He quit to take over "development and public relations" at SMU, a post he held for eleven years.

Death and legacy

He died at the home of his son in Miami Springs, Florida at the age of 97.

Coaching tree

His coaching tree includes:

  1. Josh Cody
  2. Henry Frnka


Ray Morrison Wikipedia