Long before Sonny Lubick worked his magic at Colorado State University, Bob Davis was making a bit of history himself, at Colorado A&M.
Davis was the man who truly put football on the map in Fort Collins, coaching the Aggies from 1947-55 and compiling a record of 54-33-2. His teams posted seven winning records, won the Skyline Conference title (1955) and finished second three times.
“He was a very soft-spoken gentleman,” said Don “Tuffy” Mullison, who played for Davis in 1948 before replacing him as head coach in 1956. “He was real easy to get along with, but hard-working and dedicated to what he was doing. He was a guy who had a lot of feeling for his assistant coaches and the kids who played for him. He was a man’s man.”
He greatest teams may have been in 1948-49. The Aggies were 8-3 in 1948, losing 21-20 to Occidental College in the Raisin Bowl. That was the school’s first bowl game and the only bowl in the first 97 years of its football history. The Aggies finished 9-1 the following year, beating the University of Colorado for the second straight season.
His greatest feat, however, may have come in his last season when the Aggies finished 8-2 and won the league title. The previous season, CU had crushed A&M 46-0, and more of the same was expected in 1955. A&M however, won 10-0 and allowed CU to run just three plays on the A&M side of the 50-yard line
During his tenure, he coached some of the greatest players in school history, including four members of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame: Thurman “Fum” McGraw, Dale Dodrill, Jack Christiansen and Gary Glick. McGraw was the school’s first consensus All-American, while Christiansen is the school’s only member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In all, Davis coached 28 All-Conference and three All-American players.
Davis, who grew up in Salt Lake City and went on to be an All-Conference quarterback at the University of Utah, was much more than a football coach. He succeeded legendary Harry Hughes as director of athletics and physical education in 1953, and served in that capacity until his death of cancer in 1965 at age 56. During his tenure, he had the vision to hire another Hall of Famer, basketball coach Jim Williams, who remains the winningest Division I coach in state history. He also helped pave the way for the construction of Hughes Stadium and Moby Arena, which led to CSU’s inclusion in the Western Athletic Conference.
“He was an A-plus as an athletic director,” Mullison said. “He had great vision and had a knack for getting things done on a shoestring. It would have been interesting to see how CSU would have turned out had he not died so suddenly.”
During that time, he also served on the U.S. Olympic Selection Committee and on the honors court of the National Football Hall of Fame. In 1975, he was posthumously inducted into the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors Hall of Fame. He was a charter member of the CSU Sports Hall of Fame.
Davis’ coaching career began at South High School in Salt Lake City, where he spent five years. He went on to become head coach and Dean of Men at Weber College (now Weber State University), winning three conference titles in six seasons. He spent two seasons as ends coach at Utah, then served one year as backfield coach at the University of Denver before accepting the head coaching position at Colorado A&M.
His success at CSU still sets him apart. His win total is third behind Hughes (125) and Lubick (67), and his winning percentage (.618) is second only to Lubick’s (.698).
He was real easy to get along with, but hard-working and dedicated to what he was doing.