The name Faurot is synonymous with football in Columbia.
Don Faurot led the Missouri football team to glory, winning 101 games from 1935-1956. He is credited with creating the Split-T offense. The field at Memorial Stadium, where Faurot helped place sod in 1926 as an agriculture grad student, bears the legendary coach’s name.
Many fans can rehash Faurot’s biography, rattling off the fact about Don being the eldest of four brothers to come through MU on the football team. What most people don’t know, however, was where one of those brothers ended up.
Fred Faurot junior, one of Don Faurot’s younger brothers, also started coaching after playing football for Missouri. His first job was at Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa. He left to serve in the Navy until 1945 like many other men of his generation, then returned. After a few more seasons with Parsons, Fred Faurot made the jump to Murray State in 1948.
As coach at a small program, he was more than just the football coach. He was a trainer, wrapping ankles for players who needed it. He was the groundskeeper, in charge of watering the field and moving the sprinklers while his son, Fred Faurot III, ran and played in them.
The family was set up in a dorm along with the players, football on one end and basketball on the other. Coaches for the teams lived at each end of the hall. Fred’s wife served as a scout, listening to games on the radio and taking detailed notes.
Like his older brother, Fred Faurot had a notable coaching career. During a 43-29-3 career, he led Murray State to the 1949 Tangerine Bowl, the third game in the bowl’s history. Murray State tied at 21 against Sul Ross.
A mild heart attack in 1955 cut his coaching career short, and Faurot came back to Columbia. Then the athletic director at MU, Don Faurot kept in close contact with his brother, going hunting and fishing and spending a lot of time with him.
“Both were gentlemen in the classic sense,” Fred Faurot III said. “They would never have done anything improper.”
The brothers stayed close into their 80s, both staying active in the community. Don Faurot worked with the Missouri football program while his more low-key brother was an assistant principle at Hickman High School.
“He was in charge of discipline there,” Fred Faurot’s son said. “The kids all called him ‘Friendly Fred.’ They just loved him. He was a real fair guy and the most honest man I’ve ever known.”
This Saturday, the Missouri and Murray State football teams will meet for the first time, though neither brother lived to see the game.
“If they had both stayed in coaching, the schools may have wound up playing before now,” Fred Faurot III said. “I’m sure Dad would have found it real interesting.”
RECOGNIZABLE MURRAY STATE COACHES:
After Faurot left Murray State, many well known coaches have gone through the system.
ESPN Gameday host Mike Gottfried coached there from 1978-1980 before moving on to coach at Kansas and Pittsburgh. One of his assistants, Frank Beamer, took over for him, coaching from 1981-1986. Beamer went on to Viriginia Tech, where he was named coach of the year and played for the national championship in 2000. Ron Zook was on Gottfried’s staff as well, going on to work as an assistant with the Steelers and Saints before coaching the Florida Gators. He’s now the head coach at Illinois.
“I prided myself on hiring good guys,” Gottfried said. “They all wanted to be head coaches, and I hoped they would be. It meant they all wanted to do well, and I wanted to help them succeed.”
Gottfried said he thought so many good people came through the system because Murray, Ky., was such a good place to raise a family and because there was such a strong backing for athletics in the town.
“I went to work every day and had the best time of my life,” he said. “I didn’t see much of a difference between there and D-I schools. Of course, we couldn’t play them on a regular basis, but they were really really good kids and players.”
In addition to that strong staff of coaches, both Houston Nutt, who left for his home state of Arkansas, and Ralph Friedgen, the 2002 coach of the year at Maryland, came through Murray State.
Gottfried said that Murray State has no problem having coaches that want to move on from a smaller 1-AA school to somewhere bigger.
“They want you to come in and win,” he said. “They don’t mind. I went back in February and still had lots of good friends there. It’s really a great place that not a lot of people know about.”