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Quick facts on ATSU’s college football team – the Osteopaths – and famous coach Patrick O’Dea

The American School of Osteopathy football team from 1903, coached by Patrick O'Dea (likely pictured in the center of the back row). This photo is property of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine. Catalog number 1982.727.01.11

Yes, A.T. Still University (ATSU) once had a college football team, and, yes, legendary kicker and punter Patrick O’Dea – nicknamed the “Kangaroo Kicker” – coached the Osteopaths in 1903.

Rodger Sherman of The Ringer came across the tale of O’Dea and tweeted about his coaching career Wednesday, noting the odd order of jobs: two years at Notre Dame, one at the University of Missouri, and finally a season leading the Osteopaths. 

If that wasn’t strange enough, Sherman also explained how O’Dea later disappeared and was presumed dead by many as he escaped his football fame to live a quiet life as a lumberjack in the Pacific Northwest. 

This left many on the internet searching for more details about O’Dea and records of ATSU’s gridiron glory. Here’s what we can tell you…

American School of Osteopathy football players are lined up and ready to snap the football in preparation for a game against Notre Dame. Linemen are crouched, with the center over the ball.
American School of Osteopathy football team members during game against Notre Dame in 1903. This image is property of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine. Catalog number 1985.1003.04.

As for ATSU’s college football history, a combination of funding and desire to concentrate solely on academics led to the team disbanding after the 1928 season. The team’s record over three decades stands at 112-60-14.

Nowadays, ATSU isn’t playing college football, but educating those who provide healthcare, athletic training, physical therapy, strength and conditioning, and more, for Olympic, college, and professional sports champions across the country


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