2013/09/02

Edwin Regur Sweetland (1904-1905)


There's probably no coach more entwined with the roots of two major college sports programs than Edwin Regur Sweetland. Sweetland, who was born on January 10, 1875 in Dryden, New York, is maybe the most versatile coach in the history of college athletics.

In 1894, Sweetland became a star football player at Union College in Schenectady, New York. Prior to reporting for the 1895 season, his mother passed away and he decided shortly after to stay closer to home and attend Cornell. "Sweet", as he was nicknamed, graduated from Cornell in 1899, earning Third Team All-America honors by Walter Camp.

Sweetland also earned varsity letters in basketball and rowing while attending Cornell.

Following his graduation, Sweetland would become head coach of the Hamilton College football squad in Clinton, New York. He spent one season there, finishing 8-2-1, before being hired by Syracuse University to be their head football and rowing coach.

He'd coach three seasons at Syracuse, guiding his gridiron players to a 20-5-2 overall mark including a 7-1 season in 1901.

E. R. went back for another stint at Hamilton College in 1903, finishing the year at 6-3.

Following the departure of Perry T. W. Hale, Ohio State came calling for Sweetland's services on the football field. He'd coach two seasons for the Buckeyes, finishing 14-7-2, including two second place finishes in the Ohio Athletic Conference. In his final season of 1905, Ohio State played their first 12-game schedule (8-2-2) in school history and would not play that many games in a single season again until 1974. One of those victories was a 2-0 forfeit win over Denison after team captains from both teams couldn't agree on the length of time for both halves. The forfeiture would also cause a problem within Ohio State's athletic department after refunds were given in the amount of $1,206, yet ticket sales only totaled $1,078.

Sweetland moved on to Colgate for one season in 1906 (4-3 record), and then was hired at Kentucky. He'd coach both basketball and football at the Lexington school, being the first paid basketball coach in Big Blue's storied basketball history. Under Sweetland's watch, Kentucky earned their nickname of the Wildcats because a leader in the military department said the team "fought like Wildcats" in a 6-2 win over Illinois. Kentucky went 9-1 during that season and outscored opponents by a whopping 261-29 margin.

Following the 1910 season, Sweetland went to Oxford, Ohio, and led Miami University to a 2-4-2 record.

In 1911, E.R. returned to Lexington to be athletic director and basketball coach. His team posted a perfect 9-0 record on the basketball court in the 1911-1912 season. In 1912, he coached the football team to a 7-2 record. During his years at Kentucky, he was able to earn a Law degree that would help him later in life.

Sweetland took the head job a West Virginia in 1913, but only managed a 3-4-2 record. His loss to West Virginia Wesleyan caused an uproar among alumni and fans, leading to his departure after just one season.

Tulane ended up hiring Edwin in 1914 to be not only their head football coach, but basketball and track as well. He helped the New Orleans school to a 3-3-1 record in football, including an 82-0 win over Centenary and a 0-0 tie with Louisiana State. After coaching four schools in four years, he'd find stability in his next and final stop.

His football coaching career came to a close after four seasons with Alfred (New York), compiling a 17-5 record. He finished with 100 career wins to just 41 losses on the gridiron.

E. R. put the law degree he earned at Kentucky to use and began his life as a farmer and a lawyer.

Despite health issues throughout his coaching days, Sweetland lived to 75 years of age and passed away in his hometown of Dryden on October 21, 1950.

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