Dorais played college football at the University of Notre Dame, where he was an All-American in 1913 at quarterback, and then played professionally with the Fort Wayne Friars and Massillon Tigers. He was the head coach at Dubuque College (1914–1917) in Dubuque, Iowa, Gonzaga University (1920–1924) in Spokane, Washington, and the University of Detroit (1925–1942), compiling a career college football coaching record of 150–70–12 (.672). He was also the head coach of the National Football League's Detroit Lions from 1943 to 1947, tallying a mark of 20–31–2 (.396). In addition, Dorais was the head basketball coach at Notre Dame, Gonzaga, and Detroit and the head baseball coach at Notre Dame and Gonzaga. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1954.
|Born||July 2, 1891|
Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
|Died||January 3, 1954 (aged 62)|
|1916||Fort Wayne Friars|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1919||Notre Dame (assistant)|
|1952||Pittsburgh Steelers (backfield)|
|Head coaching record|
|Overall||150–70–12 (college football)|
93–113 (college basketball)
41–31–1 (college baseball)
|Accomplishments and honors|
|College Football Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 1954 (profile)
Dorais was born in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, in 1891. He was the son of David Dorais, a native of Quebec, and Malvina (Murphy) Dorais, a Wisconsin native sometimes referred to as Mary. When Dorais was a child, his parents separated. According to one account, the father abandoned the family. According to another, the mother left the father. Dorais remained with his mother who took in laundry, worked as a midwife, and did odd jobs to support her children. Dorais' father moved to Montana where he worked in the mines and died of acute alcoholism in a Butte boarding house in November 1911 (one month before his son was elected captain of the Notre Dame football team).
Dorais enrolled at the University of Notre Dame in the summer of 1910 at 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m) and 145 lb (66 kg). As a freshman, he was the quarterback on the Fighting Irish second team and became "the star performer, dodging in a way that showed up many of the first team men."
As a sophomore, Dorais was the starting quarterback on the 1911 Notre Dame football team that compiled a 6–0–2 record. He was rated as "the star" of the 1911 team, winning praise for his tackling on defense. At the team banquet following the 1911 season, Dorais was elected by his teammates as the captain of the 1912 team.
As captain and starting quarterback, Dorais led the 1912 team to a 7–0 record, the first perfect season in Notre Dame history. The team outscored opponents, 389 to 27, including a 116–7 victory over St. Viator College and a 69–0 victory over Marquette. At the end of the 1912 season, The Notre Dame Scholastic wrote: "Captain Dorais is the type of young man Notre Dame feels proud of. He is a great player,—resourceful, vigilant, always calm,—and what is vastly more important, he is a fine type of gentleman. Much of the 'helping' spirit among the players was the result of his ever present tact."
During the summer before his senior season, Dorais and his teammate Knute Rockne worked as lifeguards and busboys at Cedar Point Resort on Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio. During their free time there, they practiced passing on the beach with Dorais throwing to Rockne, an end. Rockne later wrote, "We mastered the technique of losing the football with hands relaxed and tried to master the more difficult feat of catching it with one hand," Rockne later wrote. From that point forward, no longer was the forward pass an obscure weapon, or a little-used gimmick to be used when trailing late in games. "The press and the football public hailed this new game, and Notre Dame received credit as the originator of a style of play that we simply systematized," Rockne said.
Dorais and Rockne, along with fullback Ray Eichenlaub, led the 1913 Notre Dame team to a 7–0, the team's third consecutive undefeated season with Dorais at quarterback. The 1913 outscored opponents by a margin of 169 to 7. Dorais shone for Notre Dame in multiple roles in 1913, as a dual threat quarterback on offense and as a defender, punter, placekicker, and punt returner. The Chicago Examiner wrote: "Dorais is a great general, a sure catcher of punts, a fast and elusive runner, a great punter and a field goal kicker." His greatest acclaim came for his passing performance (14 of 17 for 243 yards and three touchdowns) in a 35–13 victory over undefeated Army at West Point, New York on November 1. Dorais' performance against Army has been credited with popularizing the modern passing game.
At the end of the season, Dorais was selected as a first-team All-American by Frank G. Menke of the International News Service, the Milwaukee Free Press, Tom Thorp, and the Trenton Evening-Times. He was the first consensus All-American in Notre Dame history.
Vanity Fair in 1913 praised Dorais' versatility: "Dorais is not only a sure catcher of punts, but he is also a master of the forward pass, a sure tackler, a good punter, an open-field runner with few equals, and altogether able to meet any emergencies of his position." Notre Dame's "Dome" yearbook for 1914 declared Dorais to be "the 'Little Napoleon' of our great football teams" and Notre Dame's "greatest all time football player."
Dorais later played professional football for the Massillon Tigers (1915, 1918-1919) and Fort Wayne Friars (1916). Despite weighing only 138 pounds, he was one of the early stars of professional football in the years before the formation of the National Football League. In 1915, Dorais and Rockne played for Massillon in a season highlighted by two games with Jim Thorpe's Canton Bulldogs. In the first game, a 16-0 victory for Massillon, Dorais completed 7 of 19 passes for 119 yards and kicked three field goals. Canton won the rematch on November 28, 1915, billed as the championship of the Ohio League, when an apparent touchdown pass from Dorais to Briggs was disallowed after a lengthy post-game conference among officials. In 1916, Dorais was the star of the Fort Wayne Friars.
In June 1914, Dorais was hired by Dubuque College (later renamed Loras College), a Catholic college in Dubuque, Iowa. He served as the school's football, basketball, and track coach, athletic director, teacher, and chairman of commercial law. He remained at Dubuque for approximately four years. He compiled a 17–9–2 record as Dubuque's head football coach from 1914 to 1917, including an undefeated 1916 season. His basketball teams won Hawkeye Conference championships all three seasons he was in charge.
In September 1919, Knute Rockne hired Dorais as his assistant at Notre Dame. Together, they led the 1919 Notre Dame football team to a perfect 9–0 record. Dorais also served as the head coach of Notre Dame's basketball and baseball teams during the 1918–19 and 1919–20 academic year.
In May 1920, Dorais was hired as the athletic director at Gonzaga University, a Jesuit school located in Spokane, Washington. He also served as the head coach of the Gonzaga football, basketball, baseball, and track teams for the next five years.
Dorais earned $4,000 per year at Gonzaga and was kept for a fifth season in 1924 when boosters helped raise his salary to $7,000 to prevent him from leaving for Detroit. The Bulldogs were undefeated in 1924, led on the field by Houston Stockton, grandfather of basketball hall of famer John Stockton.
In February 1925, Dorais reached an agreement with the University of Detroit, giving him complete control of the school's athletic program as both athletic director and coach of various teams, including the football team.
Dorais remained the University of Detroit's athletic director and head football coach for 18 seasons from 1925 to 1942. His record with the Detroit Titans football was 113–48–7 (.693). Dorais was also the head coach of the basketball team for his first four years at the school from 1925 to 1929.
Dorais led the Titans to the top tier of college football programs, scheduling games against Army, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Oklahoma A&M, and Arkansas, as well as regular series with other major Catholic colleges and universities, including Fordham, Boston College, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Villanova, Duquesne, Manhattan College, and Catholic University. From October 1927 to November 1929, his teams did not lose a game, an unbeaten streak that lasted 22 games and included a perfect 9–0 record during the 1928 season. He recruited and coached elite athletes to the school, including Lloyd Brazil (All-American halfback in 1928 and 1929 and NCAA passing leader in 1928), fullback Andy Farkas (a two-time All-Pro fullback with the Redskins), halfback Doug Nott (NCAA passing leader in 1933), Al Ghesquiere (NCAA rushing leader in 1940), and Vince Banonis (All-American center in 1940, later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame).
Dorais was the college team coach for the fourth College All-Star Game in 1937 in Chicago, in which college seniors from the previous season (pro rookies) played against the defending NFL champions in a pre-season game on September 1. With Sammy Baugh at quarterback and over 84,500 in attendance on a Wednesday night at Soldier Field, the college stars won 6–0 over Curly Lambeau's Green Bay Packers. This was the first All-Star team to beat the pros.
In January 1943, Dorais left the University of Detroit at age 51 to become the head coach, general manager, and part owner of the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). Prior to Dorais' arrival, the Lions had compiled a 0–11 record in 1942. In their first year under Dorais, the 1943 Lions improved modestly to 3–6–1.
In 1944 and 1945, Dorais turned the Lions around, leading them to second-place finishes both years with records of 6–3–1 and 7–3. During his time with the Lions, Dorais was credited with having "the best pass patterns in the NFL." After two strong seasons, the Lions slipped to 1–10 in 1946 and 3–9 in 1947. One week after the end of the 1947 season, Lions owner Fred Mandel Jr. announced that, despite the five-year contract signed with Dorais prior to the 1947 season, Dorais had been removed as the club's head coach. The parties reached a settlement which included a payoff for the final four years of Dorais' contract.
Although the forward pass was legalized four years before Dorais enrolled at Notre Dame, his overhand spiral throwing technique and successful passing game were considered "revolutionary" and led to Dorais being called the "father of the forward pass". Dorais found the title flattering, but said he felt the honor was misplaced and should instead be applied to Eddie Cochems who used the forward pass extensively as head coach of the Saint Louis Billikens in 1906.
Dorais received numerous posthumous honors for his contributions to the sport. His honors include the following:
In April 1918, Dorais married Viola Fettgather at a ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa. They had five children: Thomas (born c. 1921); William (born c. 1923); Dorothy Jean (Mulcrone, born c. 1925); Joan Mayree (Robinson, born c. 1928); and David (born c. 1934).
In 1939, Dorais became a candidate for the Detroit Common Council (as the city council was then known). He received the second highest vote count among all the candidates, served four terms, and was an advocate for the expansion of the city's recreation and play facilities. However, his job as head coach of the Detroit Lions resulted in frequent absences from meetings and criticism of his lack of attendance. He resigned from the Common Council in May 1947.
In 1949, Dorais moved to Wabash, Indiana, where he purchased an automobile dealership with his son, William. In September 1950, Dorais underwent exploratory surgery for cancer at the Mayo Clinic.
In June 1952, Dorais agreed to return to coaching as the backfield coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After one season with the Steelers, Dorais announced in January 1953 that he would likely retire.
He became ill with a circulatory disorder and moved to Southfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, in 1953. In January 1954, he died at age 62 at his home at 19050 Middlesex Avenue in Southfield. The cause of his death was arteriosclerosis. Anorexia, with a duration of two years, was also listed on the death certificate as an antecedent cause; Dorais weighed only 67 pounds at the time of his death. His funeral, held at Gesu Church, in Detroit, and he was interred at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield.
|Dubuque (Independent) (1914–1917)|
|Gonzaga Bulldogs (Independent) (1920–1924)|
|1922||Gonzaga||5–3||L San Diego East-West Christmas Classic|
|Detroit Titans (Independent) (1925–1942)|
|Team||Year||Regular Season||Post Season|
|Won||Lost||Ties||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|DET||1943||3||6||1||.350||3rd in NFL Western||–||–||–||–|
|DET||1944||6||3||1||.650||2nd in NFL Western||–||–||–||–|
|DET||1945||7||3||0||.700||2nd in NFL Western||–||–||–||–|
|DET||1946||1||10||0||.091||5th in NFL Western||–||–||–||–|
|DET||1947||3||9||0||.250||5th in NFL Western||–||–||–||–|
The 1912 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team represented the University of Notre Dame during the 1912 college football season.
On October 5, in one of the easiest victories in Notre Dame history, junior quarterback Gus Dorais led the Irish to a 116–7 rout of St. Viator in the season-opener. Second year coach John L. Marks guided Notre Dame to another undefeated season in 1912, following up a 6–0–2 record in 1911 with a 7–0 mark.1920 Gonzaga Bulldogs football team
The 1920 Gonzaga Bulldogs football team was an American football team that represented Gonzaga University during the 1920 college football season. In their first year under head coach Gus Dorais, the Bulldogs compiled a 4–3 record and outscored their opponents by a total of 164 to 55.Gus Dorais was hired as Gonzaga's athletic director in May 1920. He had previously served as the head baseball coach at Notre Dame and as an assistant football coach under Knute Rockne. Rockne and Dorais led the 1919 Notre Dame football team to a perfect 9–0 record. As teammates on the undefeated 1913 Notre Dame football team, Dorais and Rockne were credited with popularizing the forward pass.1925 Detroit Titans football team
The 1925 Detroit Titans football team represented the University of Detroit as an independent during the 1925 college football season. In their first season under head coach Gus Dorais, the Titans compiled a 5–4 record and were outscored by opponents by a combined total of 81 to 70. William K. Brett was the team captain.1926 Detroit Titans football team
The 1926 Detroit Titans football team represented the University of Detroit in the 1926 college football season. Detroit was outscored by opponents by a combined total of 132 to 62 and finished with a 3–6–1 record in their second year under head coach and College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Gus Dorais.1930 Detroit Titans football team
The 1930 Detroit Titans football team represented the University of Detroit in the 1930 college football season. Detroit outscored opponents by a combined total of 208 to 35 and finished with a 5–3–2 record in their sixth year under head coach and College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Gus Dorais. Significant games included a victory over West Virginia (23–0), a scoreless tie with Michigan State (0–0), and a loss to Iowa (3–7).1931 Detroit Titans football team
The 1931 Detroit Titans football team represented the University of Detroit in the 1931 college football season. Detroit outscored opponents by a combined total of 112 to 71 and finished with a 7–2–1 record in their seventh year under head coach and College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Gus Dorais. Significant games included victories over Iowa State (20–0), West Virginia (9–7), and Michigan State (20–13), losses to DePaul (0–12) and Fordham (9–39), and a scoreless tie with Villanova.1932 Detroit Titans football team
The 1932 Detroit Titans football team represented the University of Detroit in the 1932 college football season. Detroit outscored opponents by a combined total of 136 to 66 and finished with an 8–2 record in their eighth year under head coach and College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Gus Dorais. Significant games included victories over West Virginia (26–13) and Oregon State (14–6) and a loss to Michigan State (0–7).1933 Detroit Titans football team
The 1933 Detroit Titans football team represented the University of Detroit in the 1933 college football season. Detroit shut out six of eight opponents, outscored all opponents by a combined total of 157 to 20, and finished with a 7–1 record in its ninth year under head coach and College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Gus Dorais. Significant games included victories over Marquette (22–6), Holy Cross (24–0), and Michigan State (14–0), and a loss to Duquesne (0–14).1934 Detroit Titans football team
The 1934 Detroit Titans football team represented the University of Detroit in the 1934 college football season. Detroit outscored its opponents by a combined total of 112 to 59 and finished with a 5–3–1 record in its 10th year under head coach and College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Gus Dorais.1935 Detroit Titans football team
The 1935 Detroit Titans football team represented the University of Detroit in the 1935 college football season. Detroit outscored its opponents by a combined total of 187 to 61 and finished with a 6–3 record in its 11th year under head coach and College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Gus Dorais.1936 Detroit Titans football team
The 1936 Detroit Titans football team represented the University of Detroit in the 1936 college football season. Detroit outscored its opponents by a combined total of 194 to 59 and finished with a 7–3 record in its 12th year under head coach and College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Gus Dorais.1937 Detroit Titans football team
The 1937 Detroit Titans football team represented the University of Detroit as an independent during the 1937 college football season. In their 13th year under head coach Gus Dorais, the Titans compiled a 7–3 record, shut out five opponents, was ranked No. 18 in the AP Poll after winning its first five games, and outscored all opponents by a combined total of 253 to 42. The Titans defeated Border Conference champion Texas Tech (34–0) and held the undefeated 1937 Villanova Wildcats football team to seven points.In addition to head coach Gus Dorais, the team's coaching staff included Lloyd Brazil (backfield coach), Bud Boeringer (line coach), Eddie Barbour (freshman coach), William Pegan (assistant freshman coach), and Robert Burns (assistant freshman coach). Joe Cieslak was the team captain.1938 Detroit Titans football team
The 1938 Detroit Titans football team represented the University of Detroit in the 1938 college football season. In their 14th year under head coach Gus Dorais, the Titans compiled a 6–4 record and outscored opponents by a combined total of 148 to 42.In addition to head coach Gus Dorais, the team's coaching staff included Lloyd Brazil (backfield coach), Bud Boeringer (line coach), and Michael H. "Dad" Butler (trainer). End Alex Chesney was the team captain.1939 Detroit Titans football team
The 1939 Detroit Titans football team represented the University of Detroit in the 1939 college football season. Detroit outscored its opponents by a combined total of 149 to 90 and finished with a 5–3–1 record in its 15th year under head coach and College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Gus Dorais.1941 Detroit Titans football team
The 1941 Detroit Titans football team represented the University of Detroit in the 1941 college football season. Detroit outscored its opponents by a combined total of 195 to 43, and finished with a 7–2 record in its 17th year under head coach and College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Gus Dorais. Significant games included victories over Indiana (14–7) and Oklahoma A&M (20–14) and a close loss to Arkansas (6–9).In addition to head coach Gus Dorais, the team's coaching staff included Lloyd Brazil (backfield coach, 11th year), Bud Boeringer (line coach, 15th year), and Michael H. "Dad" Butler (trainer, 15th year). During a ceremony at halftime on November 8, Butler, at age 71, was honored for his many years of service as the school's trainer and track and boxing coach; he was presented with $600 in cash, a radio, a "D" blanket, a trophy, a plaque, and scrolls.Center Vince Banonis, who was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, was the team captain. At the end of the 1941 season, Banonis was chosen as a first-round All-American by Collier's Weekly (selected by Grantland Rice), International News Service, and Paramount News. He was also chosen as a second-team All-American by the Newspaper Enterprise Association.Louis Harrington picked three Titans as first-team players on his All-Michigan football team for 1941: Vince Banonis, halfback Elmer L. "Tippy" Madarik, and guard Thomas McLoughlin.1942 Detroit Titans football team
The 1942 Detroit Titans football team represented the University of Detroit as an independent during the 1942 college football season. Detroit outscored its opponents by a combined total of 82 to 66 and finished with a 5–4 record in its 18th and final year under head coach and College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Gus Dorais.In addition to head coach Gus Dorais, the team's coaching staff included Lloyd Brazil (backfield coach), Bud Boeringer (line coach), Edmund J. Barbour (freshman coach), and Michael H. "Dad" Butler (trainer). Quarterback Donald Hughes and end Joseph Gensheimer were the team's co-captains.Detroit Titans football
The Detroit Titans were the college football team representing what was then known as the University of Detroit (now the University of Detroit Mercy) from 1896 to 1964. In 1928 under Gus Dorais, the team finished with a record of 9-0-0. Several years later Parke H. Davis, considered to be a "major selector" by the NCAA, named the 1928 team to a share of the national championship.From 1922 to the end of the university's football program in 1964 the Titans played their home games at University of Detroit Stadium (also known as U of D Stadium, Titan Stadium, and Dinan Field) near McNichols Rd. (Six Mile Rd.) and Fairfield St. on the university's McNichols campus.Gonzaga Bulldogs football
The Gonzaga Bulldogs football team represented Gonzaga University in the sport of college football. Gonzaga last fielded a varsity football team 78 years ago in 1941. From 1892–1941 (excluding having no teams from 1894–1895 & 1900–1906), Gonzaga went 129–99–20.
Like many colleges, the football program went on hiatus during World War II (in April 1942), but after the war the administration decided not to resume it. The program had been in financial difficulty prior to the war.GU's most notable football player was running back Tony Canadeo (1919–2003) from Chicago, who played in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers from 1941 to 1952 and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974. Ray Flaherty joined him as a hall of famer (as a head coach) in 1976. Flaherty was a Gonzaga teammate of Hust Stockton, a noted halfback in the 1920s (and the paternal grandfather of basketball star John Stockton). Their head coach at Gonzaga was Gus Dorais, who threw to college teammate Knute Rockne at Notre Dame in 1913.
The Gonzaga football stadium, built in 1922, was used for city high school football until it was deemed unsafe by the city after the 1947 season. The white-painted wooden venue hosted a professional preseason game in 1946 under the lights, between the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers of the new All-America Football Conference. High school football moved to Ferris Field in 1948 and to the new Memorial Stadium in 1950, renamed for Gonzaga alumnus Joe Albi in 1962. The Gonzaga Stadium football field is now occupied by the Foley Center Library (1992) and its Foley Lawn.List of Detroit Lions head coaches
The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan. They are currently a member of the North Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The franchise has had a total of 27 head coaches in team history, which includes its existence as the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans (1930–1933). In the 1934 NFL season, the franchise moved to Detroit and changed their name to the Lions.
George "Potsy" Clark is the only coach to have more than one tenure. Three different coaches have won NFL championships with the team: Potsy Clark in 1935, Buddy Parker in 1952 and 1953, and George Wilson in 1957. Wayne Fontes is the all-time leader in games coached and wins, and Clark leads all coaches in winning percentage with .679 (with at least one full season coached). John Karcis is statistically the worst coach the Lions have had as he never won a game. Karcis is followed by Marty Mornhinweg with a winning percentage of .156.
Of the 27 Lions coaches, two have been elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Dutch Clark and Joe Schmidt. Gus Dorais was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1954. Several former players have been head coach for the Lions, including Dutch Edwards, Buddy Parker, Harry Gilmer, Joe Schmidt, and Dick Jauron. The current head coach of the Lions is Matt Patricia, who was hired on February 5, 2018.