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Moray Eby

Moray Eby arrived in Cedar Rapids in 1914 with the intention of working as a lawyer. He had obtained his degree from the University of Iowa in 1900 and assumed this would be his lifelong vocation. However, his other achievements in Iowa City had caught the attention of Coe College. For four years he had played football for the Hawkeyes, and in 1899 was team captain during his junior year. The 1900 team credited much of its success as Conference champions to Eby's hard work.

After the retirement of George Bryant as Coe's head football coach, Eby stepped up to the position in the fall of 1914. This season produced the infamous "Point a Minute" Football Team. During the 29 years Eby coached the Kohawks, they defeated Cornell a total of 19 times, helping them achieve a record 131 wins, 77 losses, and 17 tying games.

A special Homecoming issue of the Cosmos was produced in 1921, and, after stories and lists of stats, the article turns to the man behind it all: "The record is splendid, and Coe is justly proud of Moray Eby. He has placed Coe in the front rank of Iowa football. Coe gratefully acknowledges her debt to Moray L. Eby, gridiron mentor without peer, and football genius extraordinary."

According to Erikson's History of Coe College, "Coe had a very strong team in the fall of 1923 which attracted national attention by holding the University of Wisconsin to a 7 to 3 score. This team won the Iowa State championship by defeating successively, Upper Iowa, Parsons, Dubuque, Drake, Grinnell and Cornell. In the Drake game Jack Pence, the Coe quarterback, made a drop kick at fifty-nine yards." 

Knute Rockne, famed Notre Dame coach, once called Moray Eby one of the ten best coaches in the nation. On November 18, 1958, Eby was named to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game of football. Only one week after this honor, Eby died at the age of 81. His name has been preserved in the hearts and minds of Coe athletes with the naming of the Fieldhouse after this spectacular man.

 

Eby Reflects on Coe’s Greatest Players
     (Information from a Cedar Rapids Gazette article, 12 Nov 1944)

Since Coe had no football team in 1944 because of the war, Eby was asked to select his all-time, all-Coe team for the 29 years when he coached:

LE       Harold Wernimont (21-23)
LT       Myron Hunter (25-28)
LG       John Finlay (22-24)
C         Ken Allen (27-30)
RG       George Patschke (24-27)
RT       Charles Claypool (31-33)
RE       Arnold Kresensky (14-16)
QB      Ed Hines (28-30)
LHB    Ed Barrows (26-29)
RHB    Glenn Bailey (14)
FB       George Collins (20-22) 

Though Eby coached throughout the 1930s, only one player (Claypool) played in the 1930s, reflecting the initiation of an era when athletic scholarships for large schools drew the best players away from small colleges.  The 1928-30 teams lost only to Univ. of Minnesota, Illinois, St. Louis U., and Loyola–and Eby chose four players from that era (Barrows, Hines, Hunter, & Allen).  The 1922 team, which was unbeaten and untied, contributed three men: Wernimont, Finlay & Collins.  The only position where Eby had indecision was at tackle because of so many good ones, Claypool and Hunter just barely nudging out Bruce West and Eben Gillespie.  Eby would not choose the all-time best player, but he did choose Wernimont as captain.  According to Gazette article, “Few members of the squad were less likely-looking than Wernimont when he first reported for football in 1921.  He was neither big nor fast, and he needed seasoning.  He had played halfback in high school without distinction.”  Despite his physical shortcomings, “Wernimont learned rapidly, however.  ‘It soon became apparent that I never had to tell him a thing more than once,’ Eby recalled.  ‘He was right up at the top before the season was over.  No player in my coaching experience possessed as much football savvy as Wernimont did, unless it was Eddie Hines.  Every moment in every game he knew what was going on.”

Eby felt his top teams were the point-a-minute team, the undefeated outfit of 1922, and the Hines-led teams of 1928-30.  “‘But I’ll take the all-time, all-Coe team and play anybody, including Minnesota, Notre Dame, and the Chicago Bears,’ he confided.  It would be a sight for sore eyes if he could.”

Notes: Gazette article

Cosmos, 15 Sept ’14:  Announces hiring of Eby; has been an assistant football coach at the Univ. of Iowa for last five years.

Played at Iowa; cpt of the ’99 team.  Played end and back field.  His only job at Coe:  coaching football.

Eby speaking at pep meeting at Commercial Club during his first season as coach:  “This fighting proposition has just ‘got my goat.’  No matter how heavy or well trained a squad may be, they have got to fight in order to win, and whenever a team loses, but have fought to the last ditch, they can say that they have not lost in vain.”  (Cosmos, 20 Oct ’14)

 

 

 
 
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