Born: November 25, 1910
Died: December 8, 1992
Town: Newark & Berlin Township
Hugh John Devore was born November 25, 1910, in Newark. A clever and likable boy, he proved to be a fierce competitor when he stepped onto the football field. At St. Benedict’s Prep, he was a standout athlete in three sports, including basketball, playing varsity hoops for Ernest Blood. It was Hugh’s hard tackling and blocking on the gridiron that attracted the most attention, however. As a senior in 1929, he was personally recruited by the legendary Knute Rockne of Notre Dame University.
Hugh’s first year at Notre Dame turned out to be coach Rockne’s last. He perished in a plane crash in the spring of 1931. While playing on the freshman squad he had impressed Rockne with his hard tackles during intrasquad scrimmages. Hugh joined the varsity as a sophomore and proved to be a quality pass-catcher, tackler and blocker for new coach Hunk Anderson from 1931 to 1933, earning co-captain honors as a senior.
Hugh remained in South Bend for a year after graduation to help coach the freshman squad, then joined Jim Crowley—one of the famous Four Horsemen—as a line coach at Fordham. There Hugh helped develop college football’s most famous team of blockers, the Seven Blocks of Granite. The Rams went undefeated in 1937 and finished the year ranked #3 in the nation.
Hugh parlayed his fame at Fordham into a head coaching job at Providence in 1938. He had limited success with the Friars, and in 1942 left to become an assistant for Holy Cross. His astute scouting of rival Boston College that season helped the Crusaders upset the Eagles 55–12. The BC players had been so confident heading into that game that they had already planned a victory party at the Cocoanut Grove night club on Saturday Night. Humiliated by their defeat, they cancelled the party. That evening, a fire at the Cocoanut Grove claimed the lives of nearly 500 patrons.
Hugh returned to Notre Dame as interim coach in 1945, and then built St. Bonaventure into a formidable squad in the late 1940s. From there, he tried unsuccessful to revive NYU’s once great football program before taking his first pro job, with the Green Bay Packers in 1953. He served as a “co-coach” at the end of the year. Later, he would recommend his former Fordham player, Vince Lombardi, to the team’s owners.
In 1956, Hugh was named head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite a losing record over two seasons, he assembled the core of the team that would win the league championship in 1960. By then, Hugh was back with Notre Dame, coaching the freshman squad. In 1963, he filled in as interim coach for the second time in his career. Despite a poor record, he was later praised by Ara Parseghian for getting the players ready for another championship run.
Hugh went back to pro football in 1966, this time with the American Football League’s Houston Oilers. He served as an assistant to Wally Lemm before leaving coaching for good in the early 1970.
Hugh took a job with the Houston Sports Authority, putting his easygoing charm to work bringing events into the Astrodome. He held the job of Promotions Director until he retired in 1986 at the age of 75. He passed away in Edmond, Oklahoma on December 8, 1992. He had been living with his daughter, Noreen Haas, whose sons CJ and Russ would soon become known to pro wrestling fans as the Haas Brothers.