The University of Minnesota fielded its first team in 1882. Between 1882 and 1899, the Gophers had 11 coaches. Dr. Henry L. Williams brought stability to the program.
Williams, who was born in Connecticut, competed in football and track and field as an undergrad at Yale. In his senior year, he set a world record in the 120-yard high hurdles and the national intercollegiate record in the 200-yard low hurdles.
He began his coaching career at Army in 1891 and then became the coach at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia in 1892. He coached William Penn while he attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
As the Minnesota coach from 1900 to 1921, he gained national fame by originating a shift, which would be called the Minnesota shift and used by college football teams around the nation.
Williams also coached the Gophers track and field team.
During his 22 seasons as the Gophers coach, the Gophers had a 138-33-11 record and won four conference championships and tied for two other conference titles.
His teams outscored the opposition 4,755 to 714. Between 1904 and 1906, the Gophers went 37-1-1 while allowing just 46 points in the 39 games.
Several of his former players went on to become successful colleges — Gil Dobie, Clark Shaughnessy and Bernie Bierman.
In 1951, Williams was part of the inaugural class of the College Football Hall of Fame.
The basketball arena at the University of Minnesota is named after him.
DR. HENRY L. WILLIAMS