Quick facts on ATSU’s college football team – the Osteopaths – and famous coach Patrick O’DeaPosted: February 2, 2023
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…
- Six years after A.T. Still, DO, founded the American School of Osteopathy (ASO), a competitive college football team was organized. The team went by a few different nicknames, including the “O” eleven, the Osteopaths, and, beginning in 1922, the Rams. The latter was a reference to the “Ram of Reason” mentioned in Dr. Still’s autobiography, which was also the inspiration for our mascot, Bucky.
- According to the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine’s pamphlet on the team’s history, team members referred to themselves as “The Osteopathic Beef Trust” because of their immense physical size compared to other students and opponents.
- The 1901 team went 10-3 and claimed the title of Missouri State Football Champions, with its slate including a 22-5 win over Mizzou and 48-0 victory over the University of Texas. The team also claimed the same title in 1904.
- O’Dea was featured in the museum’s 2003 “Now & Then” newsletter, in an article written by Michael Shutko. O’Dea was a native of Australia, and after coming to the U.S. attended the University of Wisconsin. He set several kicking records, including a 110-yard punt in a game against the University of Minnesota in 1897, and became a national name in college football.
- O’Dea was hired as ASO’s football coach and athletic director in 1902 and coached the 1903 football season. The museum’s records indicate a 3-3 record, while other sources list the team at 5-3. Of the losses, one came against Notre Dame, which O’Dea coached in 1900 and 1901, and one to his alma mater, Wisconsin.
- The final mention of O’Dea at ASO came in the graduation program for the class of 1904.
- O’Dea was inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame in April 1962. He died a day after his induction at age 90.
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.