Elmer Layden

Elmer Francis Layden (May 4, 1903 – June 30, 1973) was an American football player, coach, college athletics administrator, and professional sports executive. He played college football at the University of Notre Dame where he starred at fullback as a member of the legendary "Four Horsemen" backfield. Layden played professionally in the original AFL in 1925 and 1926 with three clubs, the Hartford Blues, the Brooklyn Horsemen, and the Rock Island Independents. He began his coaching career during the same two seasons at Columbia College in Dubuque, Iowa, now known as Loras College. Layden then served as the head coach at Duquesne University from 1927 to 1933 and at his alma mater, Notre Dame, from 1934 to 1940, where he also held the position of athletic director. From 1941 to 1946, Layden was the commissioner of the National Football League (NFL). He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1951.

Elmer Layden
Elmer Layden
Biographical details
BornMay 4, 1903
Davenport, Iowa
DiedJune 30, 1973 (aged 70)
Chicago, Illinois
Playing career
1922–1924Notre Dame
1925Hartford Blues
1926Brooklyn Horsemen
1926Rock Island Independents
1922–1923Notre Dame
Position(s)Fullback (football)
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1925–1926Columbia (IA)
1934–1940Notre Dame
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1934–1940Notre Dame
1941–1946NFL (commissioner)
Head coaching record
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1951 (profile)

Playing career

Layden was born in Davenport, Iowa, where he attended Davenport High School, now Davenport Central High School. At Notre Dame, he played fullback alongside quarterback Harry Stuhldreher, left halfback Jim Crowley, and right halfback Don Miller; the four collectively earned the nickname of "The Four Horsemen of Notre Dame" from legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice, and are still considered one of the best backfields in college football history. Named an All-American during his senior year, Layden culminated his collegiate career in the 1925 Rose Bowl against Stanford, returning two interceptions for touchdowns in Notre Dame's 27–10 victory. The Four Horsemen were reunited for a professional football game in 1925 by the Hartford Blues as they played the Cleveland Bulldogs. The game though resulted in a 13–6 Hartford loss, with the Blues reportedly spending $5,000 on the Horsemen for just one game.[1]

Coaching career

After his playing days, Layden was head football coach at Columbia College (Dubuque, Iowa) in 1925–26, where he compiled an 8–5–2 record. From 1927 to 1933 he was head coach at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, going 48–16–6 and winning the 1933 season's Festival of Palms Bowl (a precursor to the Orange Bowl) on New Year's Day, 1934.

Also in 1934, he became head coach and athletic director at Notre Dame, three years after his legendary mentor Knute Rockne was killed in an airplane crash on March 31, 1931.

Layden led the Irish for seven years and posted an overall 47–13–3 docket. His 1935 squad posted one of the greatest wins in school history by rallying to defeat Ohio State 18–13. His 1938 team finished 8–1, losing only to USC in the season finale. This loss cost them a possible consensus national championship, but the team was named national champion by the Dickinson System.

Like Rockne before him, Layden was a goodwill ambassador for Notre Dame. He was able to schedule a home-and-home series with Michigan after meeting with Fielding H. Yost, healing a rift between the two schools. The two teams had not met since 1909, when, after eight straight losses to the Wolverines, the Irish posted their first win. They were scheduled to meet again in 1910, but Michigan canceled the game and refused to play the Irish again. By the time they met again in 1942–43, Layden had left Notre Dame and Frank Leahy had taken his place. Unlike the easygoing Layden, Leahy was intense, and after the Irish had thrashed Michigan by a score of 35–12 in 1943, Wolverine coach and athletic director Fritz Crisler never scheduled the Irish again.

While Layden was a solid, competent coach, he was subjected to criticism during his later years at Notre Dame. Critics felt that his teams played too conservatively and lacked scoring punch. Consequently, it was felt that they lost games they should have won.


In 1941, the National Football League franchise owners voted to change the league's constitution in an attempt to bring all professional football leagues under the authority of one commissioner, who would have similar powers to that of Commissioner of Baseball Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Chicago Tribune journalist Arch Ward was offered the position of commissioner, but he turned it down and suggested Elmer Layden for the position.[2][3]

Layden was appointed commissioner in February 1941. His appointment was not voted on by the entire league, which upset owners Alexis Thompson, Bert Bell, and Dan Topping. Chicago Bears owner George Halas contended that Layden's hiring was legal because it had been agreed upon by a majority of owners. Layden was signed to a five-year contract with an annual salary of $20,000.[4]

In five years as Commissioner, Layden saw the NFL through the World War II years, in which teams had to use many men of inferior abilities as replacements while most of the regulars were fighting in the war (as did Major League Baseball). During this period a few teams temporarily merged due to lack of manpower, most notably the Pittsburgh Steelers with the Philadelphia Eagles (who were nicknamed the Steagles). The Cleveland Rams ceased operations for the 1943 season.

As NFL commissioner, Layden had once conducted an investigation into a betting scam, without advising the owners, which did not reveal any conspiracy.[5]

At the end of the war, after Japan announced it would surrender, NFL Commissioner Elmer Layden called for all of the league's teams to play “The Star-Spangled Banner” at their games, arguing, “The National Anthem should be as much a part of every game as the kick-off. We must not drop it simply because the war is over. We should never forget what it stands for.” Prior to this proclamation "The Star-Spangled Banner" had not been officially required to be sung before the start of any NFL games.[1]

Layden's tenure as NFL commissioner came to an end in January 1946. After Brooklyn owner Dan Topping withdrew his team from the league to join the new All-America Football Conference, the remaining owners agreed not to renew Layden's contract, feeling that he was too much of a gentleman and not forceful enough.[6] Layden was succeeded by Bert Bell.

Later years

After leaving the NFL, Layden embarked on a successful business career in Chicago, where he died at the age of 70. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951 as a charter member.

Personal life

Layden married Edith Davis on October 25, 1926.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs AP#
Columbia Duhawks (Independent) (1925–1926)
1925 Columbia 4–3–1
1926 Columbia 4–2–1
Columbia: 8–5–2
Duquesne Dukes (Independent) (1927–1933)
1927 Duquesne 4–4–1
1928 Duquesne 8–1
1929 Duquesne 9–0–1
1930 Duquesne 6–3
1931 Duquesne 3–5–3
1932 Duquesne 7–2–1
1933 Duquesne 10–1 W Festival of Palms
Duquesne: 48–16–6
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Independent) (1934–1940)
1934 Notre Dame 6–3
1935 Notre Dame 7–1–1
1936 Notre Dame 6–2–1 8
1937 Notre Dame 6–2–1 9
1938 Notre Dame 8–1 5
1939 Notre Dame 7–2 13
1940 Notre Dame 7–2
Notre Dame: 47–13–3
Total: 103–34–11


  1. ^ Hogrogian, John (1982). "The Hartford Blues Part I" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 4 (8): 1–5. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 27, 2010.
  2. ^ Littlewood, Thomas B. (1990). Arch : a promoter, not a poet : the story of Arch Ward. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press.
  3. ^ Lyons, Robert S. (2010). On Any Given Sunday, A Life of Bert Bell. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  4. ^ "Layden's Job Starts Squawk". The Boston Daily Globe. February 6, 1941.
  5. ^ Layden; Snyder, 1969, p. 148.
  6. ^ MacCambridge, 2005, pg. 15


  • Davis, Jeff (2005). Papa Bear, The Life and Legacy of George Halas. New York: McGraw-Hill ISBN 0-07-146054-3
  • DeVito, Carlo (2006). Wellington: the Maras, the Giants, and the City of New York. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 978-1-57243-872-9
  • Layden, Elmer; with Snyder, Ed (1969). It Was a Different Game: The Elmer Layden Story. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:Prentice-Hall, Inc.
  • Littlewood, Thomas B. (1990). Arch : a promoter, not a poet : the story of Arch Ward. Ames,IA:Iowa State University Press. ISBN 0-8138-0277-6
  • Lyons, Robert S. (2010). On Any Given Sunday, A Life of Bert Bell. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 978-1-59213-731-2
  • MacCambridge, Michael (2005). America's Game. New York: Anchor Books ISBN 978-0-307-48143-6
  • Piascik, Andy (2007). The Best Show in Football: The 1946–1955 Cleveland Browns. Lanham, Maryland: Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58979-360-6
  • Peterson, Robert W. (1997). Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507607-9
  • Pervin, Lawrence A. (2009). Football's New York Giants. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-4268-3
  • Willis, Chris (2010). The Man Who Built the National Football League: Joe F. Carr. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8108-7669-9

External links

1924 College Football All-America Team

The 1924 College Football All-America team is composed of college football players who were selected as All-Americans by various organizations and writers that chose College Football All-America Teams in 1924. The six selectors recognized by the NCAA as "official" for the 1924 season are (1) Walter Camp, whose selections were published in Collier's Weekly, (2) Football World magazine (FW), (3) the All-America Board (AAB), (4) the International News Service (INS), (5) Liberty magazine, and (6) the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA).

The only unanimous All-American in 1924 was halfback Red Grange of Illinois, known as "The Galloping Ghost" and who in 2008 was named by ESPN as the best college football player of all time. The consensus All-Americans recognized by the NCAA for 1924 also include tackle Ed Weir, who was later named the 19th best athlete in Nebraska history, and three of Notre Dame's legendary Four Horseman (halfback Jim Crowley, quarterback Harry Stuhldreher, and fullback Elmer Layden).

1924 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team

The 1924 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team represented the University of Notre Dame in the 1924 college football season. Coached by Knute Rockne and featuring the "Four Horsemen" backfield of Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, Jim Crowley, and Elmer Layden, Notre Dame won all ten games, including a victory over Stanford in the Rose Bowl.

The team was recognized as the consensus national champion, receiving retroactive national championship honors from the Berryman QPRS system, Billingsley Report, Boand System, Dickinson System, College Football Researchers Association, Helms Athletic Foundation, Houlgate System, National Championship Foundation, Poling System, and Jeff Sagarin.The 1925 Rose Bowl was Notre Dame's last bowl appearance until the 1969 season; the Fighting Irish played their home games at Cartier Field.

1925 Rose Bowl

The 1925 Rose Bowl was a college football bowl game. It was the 11th Rose Bowl Game. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated Stanford University, 27–10. The game featured two legendary coaches, Knute Rockne of Notre Dame, and Pop Warner in his first year at Stanford. The game also featured the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame. Elmer Layden of Notre Dame and Ernie Nevers of Stanford were named the Rose Bowl Players Of The Game when the award was created in 1953 and selections were made retroactively.This was the first appearance for Notre Dame in any post season bowl game. It was the second appearance for Stanford in a bowl game, since their appearance in the First Tournament East West football game, later known as the 1902 Rose Bowl. This was the first appearance of the Notre Dame football team on the West Coast, and eventually led to the founding of the Notre Dame – USC rivalry. This game marked the first time a wirephoto, known at the time as a "telepix", was transmitted of a bowl game.

1927 Duquesne Dukes football team

The 1927 Duquesne Dukes football team represented Duquesne University during the 1927 college football season. The head coach was Elmer Layden, coaching his first season with the Dukes.

1941 NFL season

The 1941 NFL season was the 22nd regular season of the National Football League. Before the season, Elmer Layden was named the first Commissioner of the NFL, while Carl Storck resigned as league president. Layden also took on the duties of president and signed a five-year contract at $20,000 annually.The league bylaws were changed to provide for playoffs in cases where division races are tied after the regular season, and rules for sudden-death overtimes in case a playoff game was tied after four quarters.

The defending league champion Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers finished the regular season tied in the Western Division, setting up the first divisional playoff game in league history. The Bears won 33–14 at Wrigley Field on December 14, then defeated the New York Giants 37–9 in the NFL championship game at Wrigley Field on December 21. The Bears, averaging 36 points per game, became the first team since the institution of the East-West championship in 1933 to repeat as champion.The total attendance for the league's 55 regular season games was 1,118,616. This represented an increase of 9% over the previous season's attendance.

1946 NFL season

The 1946 NFL season was the 27th regular season of the National Football League. Before the season, Elmer Layden resigned as NFL Commissioner and Bert Bell, co-founder of the Philadelphia Eagles, replaced him. Meanwhile, the All-America Football Conference was formed to rival the NFL, and the Rams became the first NFL team based on the West Coast after they relocated from Cleveland, Ohio, to Los Angeles, California. A regular season game was played on Tuesday, the last until the 2010 season, on October 1, between New York and Boston.

The season ended when the Chicago Bears defeated the New York Giants in the NFL Championship Game.

Christie Flanagan

Christie S. Flanagan (1905–1991), also known as Christy Flanagan in certain Notre Dame materials was an All-American college football player for Knute Rockne's Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He scored the touchdown to beat Army in 1926. He ran for over 1,800 yards and 15 touchdowns in his career.

Dale Johnson

Dale Johnson (August 15, 1902 – April 24, 1963) was a local businessman in Rock Island, Illinois, who is best known for his role in the ownership of the Rock Island Independents of the National Football League from 1923 until 1925. He took over the team from Walter Flanigan after Flanigan decided to refocus all of his time on his insurance and real estate businesses.

Once he became owner of the team, Johnson made Vince McCarthy, the team's back-up quarterback, his new general manager. He also signed Jim Thorpe to the team in 1924. After the 1925 season, Johnson moved the team to the rival American Football League. Johnson felt that the AFL, which featured Red Grange, would out-perform the NFL. He signed Elmer Layden, one of the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame. However a lack of revenue prevented Johnson from signing and retaining many of his players. As a result, the Independents franchise folded after the 1926 season.

Duquesne Dukes football

For information on all Duquesne University sports, see Duquesne DukesThe Duquesne Dukes football program is the intercollegiate American football team for Duquesne University located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The team competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and is a member of the Northeast Conference.

Duquesne has played football as a club team from 1891–1894, 1896–1903, 1913–1914, and 1920–1928, in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) from 1929–1942 and 1947–1950, again as a club team from 1969–1978, in NCAA Division III from 1979–1992 and in the NCAA Division I FCS from 1993–present.

The Dukes have won or shared 16 conference championships in the past 24 years.

The team plays its home games at the 2,200-seat Arthur J. Rooney Athletic Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Dukes are coached by Jerry Schmitt.

The Dukes have qualified for the FCS playoffs twice due to an automatic bid for being NEC champions in 2015 at 8-3 (5-1) and again in 2018 at 8-3 (5-1).

Ed Simonich

Edward Simonich (c. 1916 – August 22, 1965) was an American football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at Carroll College in Butte, Montana from 1939 to 1941 and the Montana State School of Mines—now known as Montana Technological University—from 1957 to 1964.Simonich was a college football player at the University of Notre Dame under coach Elmer Layden.

Edgar Miller

Edgar E. "Rip" Miller (June 1, 1901 – January 1, 1991) was an American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. Miller played college football as a tackle at the University of Notre Dame from 1922 to 1924. He was a member of the "Seven Mules" line that blocked for the famous "Four Horsemen" backfield on Knute Rockne's national championship team of 1924. Miller served as the head football coach at the United States Naval Academy from 1931 to 1933, compiling a record of 12–15–2. After stepping down as head coach, he remained at Navy as line coach until 1947 and then was the assistant athletic director there from 1948 until his retirement in 1974. Miller was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1966. Five of his Notre Dame teammates are also enshrined in the Hall of Fame: fellow "Mule", Adam Walsh, and each of the "Four Horsemen", Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, Jim Crowley, and Elmer Layden.

Four Horsemen (American football)

The Four Horsemen of Notre Dame comprised a group of American football players at the University of Notre Dame under coach Knute Rockne. They were the backfield of Notre Dame's 1924 football team. The players that made up this group were Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, Jim Crowley, and Elmer Layden.In 1924, a nickname coined by sportswriter Grantland Rice and the actions of a student publicity aide transformed the Notre Dame backfield of Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller, and Layden into one of the most noted groups of collegiate athletes in football history, the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame.Quarterback Harry Stuhldreher, left halfback Jim Crowley, right halfback Don Miller, and fullback Elmer Layden had run rampant through Irish opponents' defenses since coach Knute Rockne devised the lineup in 1922 during their sophomore season. During the three-year tenure of the Four Horsemen, Notre Dame lost only two games; one each in 1922 and 1923, both to Nebraska in Lincoln before packed houses.

Hail Mary pass

A Hail Mary pass, also known as a shot play, is a very long forward pass in American football, typically made in desperation, with only a small chance of success and/or time running out on the clock. The term became widespread after a December 28, 1975 NFL playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings, when Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach (a Roman Catholic and fan of The Godfather Part II (1974), whose character Fredo had popularized the phrase) said about his game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Pearson, "I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary."The expression goes back at least to the 1930s, in which decade it was widely used publicly by two former members of Notre Dame's Four Horsemen, Elmer Layden and Jim Crowley. Originally meaning any sort of desperation play, a "Hail Mary" gradually came to denote a long, low-probability pass, typically of the "alley-oop" variety, attempted at the end of a half when a team is too far from the end zone to execute a more conventional play, implying that it would take divine intervention for the play to succeed. For more than 40 years, use of the term was largely confined to Notre Dame and other Catholic universities.

Jesse Harper

Jesse Clair Harper (December 10, 1883 – July 31, 1961) was an American football and baseball player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head football coach at Alma College (1906–1907), Wabash College (1909–1912), and the University of Notre Dame (1913–1917), compiling a career college football record of 57–17–7. Harper was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1971.

Larry Craig (American football)

Larry Gantt Craig (June 27, 1916 - May 30, 1992) was an American football player who played running back and defensive back for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1939 to 1949.

In 1941, Craig made a bit of history as one of the first two players ever to be fined by the NFL's league office when commissioner Elmer Layden in August assessed $25 fines on Craig and New York Giants halfback Hank Soar for fighting.

List of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football seasons

This is a list of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football season records. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team is the football team of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, United States. The team competes as an Independent at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level.

Notre Dame has the most consensus national championships and has produced more All-Americans than any other Football Bowl Subdivision school. Additionally, seven Fighting Irish football players have won the Heisman Trophy.

Notre Dame is one of only two Catholic universities that field a team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the other being Boston College, and one of a handful of programs independent of a football conference. The team plays its home games on Notre Dame's campus at Notre Dame Stadium, also known as the "House that Rockne Built," which has a capacity of 80,795.

Notre Dame claims national championships in an additional three seasons, for a total of 11 consensus national championships. Notre Dame, however, is often credited with 13 national championships in total. The 1938 and 1953 seasons are the reason for the discrepancy. In 1938, 8-1 Notre Dame was awarded the national championship by the Dickinson System, while Texas Christian (which finished 11-0) was awarded the championship by the Associated Press. In the 1953 season, an undefeated Notre Dame team (9-0-1) was named national champion by every major selector except the AP and UPI (Coaches) polls, where the Irish finished second in both to 10-1 Maryland. As Notre Dame has a policy of only recognizing AP and Coaches Poll national championships post-1936, the school does not officially recognize the 1938 and 1953 national championships.

List of Notre Dame Fighting Irish head football coaches

This is a list of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football head coaches. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team is the football team of the University of Notre Dame, located in South Bend, Indiana, United States. The team competes as an Independent at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision level. Notre Dame has produced more All-Americans than any other Football Bowl Subdivision school. Additionally, seven Fighting Irish football players have won the Heisman Trophy. Notre Dame is one of only two Catholic universities that field a team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the other being Boston College, and one of a handful of programs independent of a football conference. The team plays its home games on Notre Dame's campus at Notre Dame Stadium, also known as the "House that Rockne Built", which has a capacity of 80,795. The head coach is Brian Kelly.

Tony Morabito

Anthony J. "Tony" Morabito (1910 – October 27, 1957) was the founder of the San Francisco 49ers.

Following his graduation from the University of Santa Clara he had a moderately successful lumber hauling business in San Francisco, California during the late 1930s and early 1940s. He realized, however, that air travel would make coast-to-coast NFL rivalries feasible. In 1944, after several years of rejection of expansion applications by the NFL, Morabito led a visit to the NFL in Chicago. During that meeting Elmer Layden, the league commissioner and one of the legendary Four Horsemen of Notre Dame, who was presiding was dismissive of Morabito's requests.

Following that meeting, Morabito and his partners walked across the street to see Arch Ward, the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune who was trying to organize a rival league, the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). On June 6, 1944, the first meeting of the AAFC was held in St. Louis. Morabito agreed to form a franchise in San Francisco, with the AAFC set to start play after the end of the war.

Tony, his brother Victor P. Morabito, and his partners in the Lumber Terminals of San Francisco, Allen E. Sorrell and E. J. Turre became the founding owners of the soon to be San Francisco 49ers. Al Ruffo did the legal work while serving as the assistant coach to Lawrence T. "Buck" Shaw's. Santa Clara's famous "Silver Fox", Shaw was paid the then fabulous sum of $25,000.The team eventually played their first game in San Francisco's Balboa Park on August 24, 1946. The AAFC folded at the end of the 1949 season and four of its teams joined the NFL for the 1950 season Morabito was seen as controversial by some, but throughout his tenure, the players supported him.

Wally Fromhart

Wallace Leo Fromhart (May 18, 1913 – May 23, 2002) was an American football player and coach. Born in the tiny mountain town of Newburg, West Virginia, he lived and attended school there until his freshman year of high school, after which his family moved to the significantly larger town of Moundsville, West Virginia. A gifted athlete, Fromhart played varsity baseball and football for Moundsville High School from 1929 to 1931. Following high school graduation, he worked at the local US Stamping plant until 1932 when he was offered, and accepted, an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Notre Dame and play for the university's baseball team. His athletic prowess also landed him the starting quarterback position on the Fighting Irish football team during his junior academic year (1935–36).

Fromhart played for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team under coach Elmer Layden (of the famed Four Horsemen) who ran an offensive scheme in which the quarterback had a limited role in the passing game. Fromhart's primary responsibilities on offense were as a blocker for the halfback, Bill Shakespeare (who actually received the bulk of the snaps and passed the ball most often), as well as a key receiver, a place kicker and a punt returner. On defense, he played the safety position. Against rival USC, in 1935, he returned an interception for 82 yards. Fromhart was starting quarterback for Notre Dame in the 18–13 victory against undefeated Ohio State in 1935.Though he was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 1936 NFL Draft, Fromhart chose instead to remain an additional year at Notre Dame to obtain teaching certification, during which time he also served as graduate assistant coach of the Fighting Irish freshman football team. Upon graduating Notre Dame, Fromhart accepted a position as head football coach for Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago (1937–46), posting a 56–17–10 record, a Catholic League title and two city championships. During his coaching tenure at Mt. Carmel, Fromhart was called to serve in the US Navy as an armed guard officer in the US Merchant Marine (1944–45) in the Atlantic Theater of World War II.

A year after returning from the war, Fromhart accepted a head football coach position at Loras College (1947–1950), in Dubuque, Iowa, where he posted a 27–9 record, including an undefeated season in 1947. During his coaching years at Loras, he also managed the Dubuque minor league baseball team. In 1951, he accepted a position as assistant coach at the University of Detroit under Dutch Clark (1951–1953), and succeeded Clark as head coach (1954–1958). In the latter position, he posted an overall record of 1925, won the Missouri Valley Conference title, and was named Catholic Coach of the Year. Fromhart ended his football coaching career in 1961 as head coach of the Sarnia, Ontario-based Sarnia Golden Bears, a semi-professional football team in the upstart American Football Conference for one season (the conference lasted only one year). With his eldest son (also named Wally Fromhart) as assistant coach, he led the team to an undefeated 10–0 regular season record and one post-season win to claim the American Football Conference championship.

Fromhart died in 2002 and is buried in South Bend, Indiana with his wife Donna Belle (Parvis) Fromhart.

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