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Cougar Kickoff Countdown: 35 Days

One of the greatest college football coaches of all time taught at BYU, if only for a couple of weeks.

Participants in the coaching clinic in front of the BYU Academy Building. Eugene L. Roberts is on the front row, far left. Knute Rockne is in the front row, fourth from the right.
Participants in the coaching clinic in front of the BYU Academy Building. Eugene L. Roberts is on the front row, far left. Knute Rockne is in the front row, fourth from the right.
Courtesy, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.

In an effort to incorporate physical fitness into the culture and curriculum at BYU, physical education director Eugene L. Roberts sought to increase the role of athletics at BYU. One of the first things that he did was begin an annual student hike of Mount Timpanogos, one of the tallest and most picturesque mountains in the Wasatch Front, in 1912.

BYU fielded its first official football team in 1922. Once again, in an effort to expand the role of physical fitness, and now athletics, Roberts sought out the transcendent Notre Dame football head coach, Knute Rockne. Coming off two single loss seasons, which were preceded by back-to-back undefeated national championship seasons, Rockne was the premier football coach in America. Roberts invited him to come out to little known Provo, Utah to teach the first coaching clinic in the state.

Acquiescing, Rockne made the trip. Rockne was officially hired on as an adjunct professor, for payroll purposes. The clinic was apparently well attended and Rockne left Provo favorably inclined to the university. He was particularly impressed by the student hike up Timpanogos. After returning to Indiana from the clinic, Rockne wrote a letter to Roberts informing him that he would take care of the final grades when he got a moment. Several years later, Roberts wrote to Rockne, seeking out a referral on a new coaching hire for BYU.