Fred "Pops" Long Selected as 2009 AFCA Trailblazer Winner
Fred “Pops” Long, former Paul Quinn, Texas College, Prairie View A&M and Wiley College head coach, has been named the American Football Coaches Association’s recipient of the 2009 Trailblazer Award. The award will be presented posthumously to Long at the AFCA Kickoff Luncheon on Monday, January 11 at the 2010 AFCA convention in Orlando, Florida. Long passed away in 1966.
The AFCA Trailblazer Award was created to honor early leaders in the football coaching profession who coached at historically black colleges and universities. Past Trailblazer Award winners include Charles Williams of Hampton (2004), Cleve Abbott of Tuskegee (2005), Arnett Mumford of Southern (2006), Billy Nicks of Prairie View A&M University (2007) and Alonzo “Jake” Gaither of Florida A&M University (2008). The award is given each year to a person that coached in a particular decade ranging from 1920-1970. This year’s winner coached from 1920-1929.
“I knew him real well. I think it is a really honorable thing that the AFCA is doing and he is definitely the perfect person to receive this award,” Wiley College Assistant Athletic Director James Hodges said. “He’s a legend.”
Long began his coaching career in 1921 at Paul Quinn (Texas) College. After recording just one victory in his inaugural campaign, Long guided Paul Quinn to a Southwestern Athletics Conference (SWAC) title in 1922. He was then hired away from Paul Quinn to take over the head coaching duties at Wiley College in 1923, which began his first of two stints as head coach at the Marshall, Texas, school. Long guided the Wildcats to nine SWAC titles from 1923-47, including four in a row from 1927 to 1930. He also led Wiley to four Black College National Championships in 1924, 1928, 1932 and 1945.
Long moved on to Prairie View A&M University in 1948 for one season, then spent the next seven years as head coach at Texas College (1949-55). He returned to Wiley College in 1956 and remained head coach until his retirement in 1965. He guided the Wildcats to another SWAC title in 1957, going 6-0 in league play. His overall record in 45 years as a head coach was 227-151-31. Long’s teams also played in three post-season bowl games, the Angel Bowl, the International Bowl and the Orange Blossom Classic, and 27 of his players were selected First Team All-America. He also coached basketball, baseball, track, tennis and golf at Wiley and won conference crowns in each sport.
In addition to receiving the 2009 Trailblazer award, Long has been inducted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame (1962), the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame in Dallas (1996), and the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame (2001).
In an article appearing in The Marshall News Messenger on November 30, 2001, about Long’s induction into the SWAC Hall of Fame, the late, great Eddie Robinson was quoted as saying, “Coach Long did some great things. Long is a legend in this sport and it is imperative that he and the other nominees are enshrined for their outstanding contributions to their schools and to the community that they represent.”