Robert Arlington Higgins

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Robert Arlington Higgins

Also Known As: "Bob"
Birthplace: Corning, Steuben County, NY, United States
Death: June 06, 1969 (74)
State College, Centre County, PA, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Pvt. Michael Hennessey Higgins, (USA) and Anne Higgins
Husband of Virginia Eleanor Higgins
Father of Virginia Suhey; Nancy Dooley and Mary Ann Lyford
Brother of Mary Higgins; Joseph Higgins; Anna E. Higgins; John Higgins; Thomas Higgins and 5 others

Managed by: Jeffrey Edwards Cohen
Last Updated:

About Robert Arlington Higgins

Robert A. Higgins was an American football player and coach. He played college football at Pennsylvania State University, where he was a three-time All-America, and then with professionally with the Canton Bulldogs in 1920 and 1921. Higgins served as the head football coach at West Virginia Wesleyan College (1920, 1922–1924), Washington University in St. Louis (1925–1927), and Pennsylvania State University, compiling a career college football record of 123–83–16. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1954.

Higgins played at Penn State from 1914 to 1916, and was named an All-American in 1915. After spending World War I in the service, he returned to captain Penn State, earning All-America honors again in 1919. In a 20–0 victory over Pittsburgh that season, Higgins caught a pass from Walter Hess and turned it into a thrilling 92-yard touchdown and was immortalized in Knute Rockne's "Great Football Plays."

In 1920 and 1921, Higgins played end for the Canton Bulldogs of the National Football League.

Higgins coached four seasons at West Virginia Wesleyan (1920, 1922–1924), and three seasons at Washington University in St. Louis. He returned to Penn State in 1928, first as an assistant coach, before becoming head coach in 1930. He served as head coach there for the next 19 seasons. He led the Nittany Lions to only the second unbeaten season in the school's history, culminating in a tie versus Southern Methodist University in the 1948 Cotton Bowl Classic. It marked only the second time that Penn State had played in a bowl game.

Ill health forced Higgins' retirement after the 1948 season, but he remained at Penn State as a special assistant in the Physical Education Department until his retirement in November 1951. His overall coaching record was 123–83–16. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.

Higgins was a brother of Margaret Sanger, famed campaigner for birth control, family planning and social reform. His youngest daughter Nancy married James J Dooley Jr, who was a second team All American Center in 1952 at Penn State. Their son James J Dooley III also played football at Penn State from 1979 to 1981 . Their other son Peter Dooley was on the Cross Country and Track & Field team at Penn State from 1982-84. Bob Higgin's eldest grandson, Robert Lyford, son of Higgins eldest daughter Mary Ann, played basketball at Penn State during the late 1960s.

His daughter Virginia ("Ginger") married All-American guard and fellow College Football Hall of Fame inductee Steve Suhey. He is the maternal grandfather of Penn State standouts Paul Suhey and Larry Suhey and former Chicago Bears fullback, Matt Suhey. More recently, Paul's son Kevin and Matt's son Joe have played for the Nittany Lions. The Higgins-Suhey family has been called the "first family of Penn State football", with 90 years of involvement with the program.

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Robert Arlington Higgins's Timeline

November 24, 1894
Corning, Steuben County, NY, United States
July 3, 1927
Clarksburg, Harrison County, WV, United States
June 6, 1969
Age 74
State College, Centre County, PA, United States