PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Former Penn State Sports Legend Hugo Bezdek Was A Man Of Many Talents

While many Penn State football fans compare this generation of teams to some of the legendary Penn State teams coached under Joe Paterno, there was once a time where Paterno’s teams were expected to maintain the standard set by another former Nittany Lion head coach –– Hugo Bezdek.

Even though Bezdek led the Blue and White to their first bowl appearance, a 14-3 defeat to USC, and a 29-game unbeaten streak spanning from 1919-1922, these football successes in Happy Valley don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the coach’s legacy.

Bezdek arrived on campus in 1918, a year removed from winning a Rose Bowl with the Mare Island Marines in addition to the Rose Bowl he won years earlier with Oregon. The Bohemian-born coach was also finishing up his second year managing the Pittsburgh Pirates on the baseball diamond at the beginning of his stint with the Nittany Lions.

Following the 1919 campaign with the Pirates, Penn State made Bezdek an offer that was too great to turn down: the positions of head baseball coach and athletic director on top of his pre-existing post as the headman on the gridiron.

For the next 18 years, Bezdek turned Penn State’s athletics into a powerhouse. His football teams enjoyed a 65-30-11 record, while going 129-76-1 in baseball. In 1929, Bezdek retired from coaching to focus on the athletic department as a whole.

Penn State varsity teams won 11 national championships during the Bezdek era — an astounding number considering women’s teams weren’t competing at the time. His career with the Nittany Lions ended in 1937 when the Cleveland Rams joined the NFL and offered him the job as the team’s first head coach. Bezdek lasted only three games into his second season after compiling a 1-13 record in his 14 games.

Despite his lack of success in professional football, Bezdek still holds the unique accomplishment of being the sole coach at the helm of an NFL and MLB team. His notoriously rough practice tactics often led players to say that the games had become breaks due to how hard they worked preparing.

The Pirates enjoyed their first winning season in six years during Bezdek’s second season with the team and went 166-187 over the course of Bezdek’s tenure.

To add on to his success with Penn State and in the pros, Bezdek led Oregon to an undefeated record in his first year with the Ducks. He returned for a second stint with the Ducks prior to his hiring with Mare Island or the Pirates, winning the Rose Bowl for the first time in his career following another undefeated 1916 campaign.

Bezdek also coached two sports at the University of Arkansas, going 29-13-1 in football and 81-37 in baseball. More importantly, Bezdek is credited with coming up with the school’s current nickname over his tenure in Fayetteville –– the Razorbacks.

Back in Happy Valley, however, Penn State let Hugo Bezdek blaze the trail for excellence that so many Nittany Lions’ teams follow to this day.

About the Author

Mitch Stewart

Mitch is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. Despite growing up in Roanoke, VA (Redskins/Nationals country), he is an avid Dallas Cowboys and New York Mets fan. In addition to being an editor for Onward State, Mitch loves to watch sports, talk about sports on PSU CommRadio, and tries his hardest to avoid the agony that being a Mets fan brings. To contact Mitch, feel free to send him an e-mail at [email protected], and if you really don't value your social media accounts, follow him and his garbage opinions on Twitter @mitchystew.

Comments

More by Mitch

Saquon Barkley Jersey Already NFL’s Top-Seller

The rookie running back has the top-selling jersey in the league, even though Barkley hasn’t played a single NFL down yet.

Penn State Hoops’ Mike Watkins Charged With Possession Of Drug Paraphernalia

Evaluating Tony Carr’s Performance At The 2018 NBA Draft Combine

Athletics

Tony Carr Experienced ‘Greatest Feeling Of His Life’ At NBA Draft

“Just to be able to hear my name called at the NBA Draft, it’s just a dream come true.” Penn State men’s basketball guard has reached the pinnacle of the sport — entering the NBA pro ranks after getting drafted Thursday night in Brooklyn by the New Orleans Pelicans. Carr, who had to wait around […]

Pelicans GM Excited To Bring In ‘Crafty’ Tony Carr

[VIDEO] New Orleans Pelicans Select Tony Carr In 2018 NBA Draft

Tony Carr First Nittany Lion Selected In NBA Draft Since 1999

Bundling Student Tickets And Offering Options: What Penn State Can Learn

Student Life

Student Farm To Commemorate Summer Solstice With Second Annual Celebration

Penn State’s Student Farm will celebrate the longest day of the year with tours and live music Thursday evening.

Penn State Love Stories: A Chance Meeting At Beaver Stadium

Virtual Reality: Changing The Game At Penn State

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Tony Carr First Nittany Lion Selected In NBA Draft Since 1999

He averaged 19.6 points and five assists per game in the 2017-18 slate — leading Penn State to an NIT title in its first postseason berth since a CBI appearance in 2014.

McLanahan’s Self-Serve Beer Taps Open For Business

Carry-out beer will be available in the coming weeks in coolers along the south side of the store.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Don’t Like Penn State Student Ticket Policies? Change Them.

That potential lies as much in the hands of active, informed, and opinionated students as it does in those of the profit-driven athletic departments.

Send this to a friend