Whittier College News Release
July 19, 2002
Reference: 02/03: 4
Contact: Rock Carter at
Former Whittier College Coach George Allen to be Inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame 50 Years After First Championship Season
In 1952, George Allen led the Whittier College Poets, a Division III team, to a record-setting championship season, the first in his coaching career. Fifty years later, Allenís professional football career will be celebrated as he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 3.
Allen coached at Whittier College from 1951 through 1956. From there, he began his professional coaching career with the Los Angeles Rams in 1957. In 1958 he joined the coaching staff of the Chicago Bears before returning to the Rams as head coach in 1966, where he turned around that teamís losing streak.
In 1971, Allen became head coach of the Washington Redskins, furthering his reputation as a coach who could turn losing teams into winners. After Allen retired from the NFL, he coached for the Arizona Wranglers and the Chicago Blitz of the United States Football League.
Several players from Allenís first championship team at Whittier College will be on hand for the induction ceremony. Ray Dezember, who graduated from Whittier in 1953, was Allenís team captain. Now a Whittier College trustee, Dezember had a successful career in banking and has served as a director of Wells Fargo Bank and Cal-Mat, Inc., the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and VISA U.S.A.
Norman Haack, class of 1955, was quarterback. Haack retired from careers in the United States Navy and as a defense contractor, and now is working in the area of defense systems. Bill Harris, also class of 1955 and a Whittier College trustee, played tight end and is now president of Harris Taylor Management Company. In addition, Harris owned the Wranglers and the Blitz while Allen was head coach.
Although it is highly unusual for a coach or athlete from a small college to go onto a coaching career in professional football, Allen is not the only Whittier coach or player to have done so. Jerry Burns, backfield coach under Allen at Whittier during the 1950s, went on to become head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. Don Coryell, who replaced Allen at Whittier, went on to become head coach for the San Diego Chargers. Russ Purnell, who graduated from Whittier College in 1970, is special teams coach for the Indianapolis Colts, and Jim Skipper, who graduated from Whittier College in 1973, is running back coach for the Carolina Panthers.
Whittier College is a member of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III. SCIAC strives to encourage the highest ideals of amateur sports in an environment of high academic standards.
Located 18 miles east of Los Angeles, Whittier College is an independent, four-year college offering traditional liberal arts majors and strong pre-professional programs taught in the context of the liberal arts. Whittier Law School, which is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools, is located on a separate campus in Costa Mesa.
[Note to Editors: All three former students of Coach Allen are available for comment.
Bill Harris can be reached at (714) 348-7987.
Norman Haack can be reached at (703) 451-7673 or (703) 631-6256.
Ray Dezember can be reached at (661) 832-3399.]
A digital photo of Coach Allen at
Whittier is available by
contacting the Office
Office of Communications