Oct. 7, 2009
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The SMU and Navy Athletic Departments announced today the creation of the Gansz Trophy, a travelling trophy to honor the late coaching legend Frank Gansz, which will be awarded to the winner of future SMU-Navy football games. The Mustangs and Midshipmen are set to battle for the trophy for the first time on Oct. 17 in Dallas.
After SMU and Navy finish their current four-game, home-and-home series in 2011, the series will resume in 2015 with another four-game, home-and-home series. SMU will travel to Annapolis in 2015 and 2017 and Navy will come to Dallas in 2016 and 2018. Future dates are also being discussed.
Considered perhaps the top special teams coach in the history of the NFL, Frank Gansz spent time at both SMU and the Naval Academy. Gansz was starting his second season as special teams coach on the Hilltop when he passed away on April 27, 2009. As a collegian, Gansz played center and linebacker for the Naval Academy from 1957 to 1959 and graduated in 1960. He also spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Navy.
"Frank Gansz touched the lives of so many players and coaches in his lifetime, not just at SMU, but throughout the nation," said SMU Head Coach June Jones. "The Frank Gansz Trophy is being established to honor Frank for his contributions to the game of football and to remember all the lives he touched along the way. We are excited that we are able to establish this trophy between the two schools he loved the most, Navy and SMU. We will play this 2009 game and all future ones between our two great schools in his honor."
"Clearly, Coach Gansz was an influential coach and mentor to many," said Navy Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo. "Since he was a Naval Academy graduate and coached at both schools, I think it's appropriate that our two programs play for a trophy that honors him."
In all, Gansz was a veteran of 38 seasons of coaching - 24 in the NFL and 14 in the collegiate ranks.
Prior to coming to SMU in 2008, Gansz was with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he was special teams coordinator in 2000 and 2001. Prior to his time with the Jags, he served as the special teams coach of the St. Louis Rams for three seasons, helping the team to its victory in Super Bowl XXXIV.
In 1986, Gansz's first year as the assistant head coach/special teams for Kansas City, the Chiefs blocked or deflected an NFL-record 10 kicks and scored five touchdowns. Because of his success with the special teams, Gansz was promoted to head coach of the Chiefs, a role he served from 1987 to 1988.
He left the Chiefs to become the special teams coach of the Detroit Lions from 1989 to 1993, a period in which Mel Gray developed into the NFL's all-time leader in combined kick return yardage. In 1989, Gansz was named NFL Special Teams Coach of the Year by his peers. Gansz then spent three years as the assistant head coach/special teams for the Atlanta Falcons from 1994 to 1996.
Gansz's NFL career began in 1978 as special teams coach for the San Francisco 49ers. He coached special teams and tight ends for Cincinnati (1979-80), Kansas City (1981-82) and Philadelphia (1983-85).
After serving as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force for nearly seven years, Gansz began his coaching career at the Air Force Academy (1964-66). He also had coaching stints at Colgate (1968), Navy (1969-72), Oklahoma State (1973, 1975), Army (1974) and UCLA (1976-77).
Born November 22, 1938, in Altoona, Pa., Gansz attended Taylor-Allerdice High in Pittsburgh, and was inducted into the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
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