Adam Walsh

Adam Walsh

A legend in the world of collegiate football, Adam Walsh brushed aside professional and big-time college overtures to make his home beneath the pines, leading Bowdoin into a "golden age" of gridiron success.

Already well-known by the time he arrived in Brunswick, Walsh had captained the celebrated 1924 Notre Dame Fighting Irish team that featured the "Four Horsemen." A six-foot, 190-pound center, Walsh was the core of the unbeaten squad that captured the National Championship with a Rose Bowl victory over Stanford.

Despite playing under immortal coach Knute Rockne, Walsh had not planned to enter the coaching profession, but found himself rubbing elbows that spring on a football field in Santa Clara, California, with Pop Warner of Stanford and Howard Jones of Southern California. In 1929, he moved across the country to coach at Yale and Harvard before signing on to coach football at Bowdoin in 1935.

Taking the helm of a squad that had posted an 0-6-1 mark in 1934, Walsh led his very first Bowdoin team to a 5-1-1 record and the school's first undisputed Maine State Championship in 26 years. His 1936 squad (5-2-0) included four Phi Beta Kappas en route to the Maine title, and his 1937 charges (4-1-2) allowed just 27 points and 24 first-downs on their way to the state crown. The 1938 team - captained by Nels Corey - was perhaps his best, going 6-1-0, and earned the distinction of New England Small- College champion.

In all, five of Walsh's first eight seasons saw the Polar Bears earn the State crown, and his pre-war Bowdoin teams posted an overall record of 34-16-6, a string of success that has not been approached before or since.

When Bowdoin suspended the football program during World War II, Walsh took a job at his alma mater for a pair of seasons and in 1945 was tapped as the head coach of the NFL's Cleveland Rams. He enjoyed similar success in the pro ranks, including winning the NFL Championship with a 13-2 record in 1945 and being named NFL Coach of the Year. He then used a clause in his contract to be released from the team after they moved to Los Angeles in 1946, and made national news by returning to Brunswick to coach his Polar Bears in 1947. Walsh coached 12 more seasons at Bowdoin, winning two more State Championships in 1949 and 1952 before retiring following the 1958 campaign. He closed the books with 63 career victories, the most ever by a Bowdoin football coach.

Walsh moved on to a career in public service, where he became involved in town and state politics, eventually being named U.S. Marshal for Maine by President John F. Kennedy. In 1968 he received college football's highest honor when he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. A native of Churchville, Iowa, Walsh graduated from Hollywood High School in California. He was a 1924 graduate of Notre Dame and a 1984 honorary degree recipient at Bowdoin. Walsh was married to Dorothy Fisher Walsh for over 40 years; the couple had three children and 11 grandchildren. Upon his retirement, he returned to California and passed away in 1985 in Westwood, at the age of 83.