Sid Gillman is considered by many to be the “Father of the Passing Game.” While Gillman did not invent the forward pass, his views and concepts were years ahead of his time. The principles used by Gillman are still in use today. Bill Walsh, the inventor of the “West Coast Offense” claims his system is based on Gillman’s concepts. Gillman’s philosophy was also highly influential on coaching legends Don Coryell and Al Davis.
Before Gillman became an NFL legend, he was a collegiate coach. His first ever head coaching position was here at Miami University. In 1942 Gillman came to Miami and was an assistant to Stu Holcomb. Then in 1944, when Holcomb left Miami, Gillman became Head Coach. In four seasons at Miami, Gillman compiled a record of 31-6-1 (82.9%).
From there he coach at the University of Cincinnati (1949-1954), the Los Angeles Rams (1955-1959), San Diego Chargers (1960-1971) and the Houston Oilers (1973-1974). Late in his career Gillman worked as an assistant coach/consultant for several different teams until he ultimately retired in 1987.
Gillman’s coaching career lasted for 53 years. During this time he won three collegiate conference championships, one NFL conference championship (loss to Paul Brown’s Cleveland Browns in championship game), five AFL division championships, one AFL Championship. Gillman’s collegiate record is 81-19-2, and a professional football record of 123-103-7. He is also the only coach to be inducted into both the College Football (1989) and NFL (1983) Hall of Fames.
Here at Miami University, to help preserve and honor Gillman, we have a Sid Gillman collection at the Walter Havighurst Special Collections in Miami University’s King Library. This collection consists mainly of playbooks and press clippings.