Devine: It occurred to me the other day that I have a connection to both teams playing in the Holiday Bowl
By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – It suddenly occurred to me the other day that I have a connection to both teams playing in the Holiday Bowl on Friday.
As many of you know by now, my great, great uncle Aubrey Devine was an All-American quarterback on Iowa’s first Big Ten championship team in 1921.
But a fact that many are unaware of is that Aubrey was also an assistant coach at the University of Southern California under his head coach at Iowa, Howard Jones, who coached Iowa to a 42-17-1 record from 1916-23.
Upon realizing the connection to Iowa’s Holiday Bowl opponent, I was prompted to take a look at one of my most prized possessions, Aubrey’s 1953 autobiography titled “As I Remember”, to get a closer glimpse into his time at Southern California.
Before heading to the West Coast, Aubrey served as an assistant coach at the University of Denver for a short time until he received a visit from his former coach at Iowa and got a job offer he couldn’t refuse.
“At the end of my second year at Denver, Howard Jones, who had been my football coach at the University of Iowa, was appointed head coach at the University of Southern California. A short time thereafter he was in Denver with his wife visiting her parents who lived there. It was at this time, while he and his wife were dinner guests at our home, that he asked me if I would like to act as his assistant coach at the University of Southern California. I had no trouble answering in the affirmative and in a short time my appointment to the position suggested was approved.”
During Aubrey’s time at USC, in which the Trojans compiled a 110-32-9 record under Jones, he witnessed the beginning of a rivalry that would become one of the premier rivalries in all of college football – USC vs. Notre Dame.
“I acted as Assistant Football Coach at the University of Southern California from 1925 to 1938, during which time the Trojans won a few national championships, several Pacific Coast crowns, and although they frequented the Rose Bowl they never came away the loser. During the same period one of the country’s greatest football rivalries developed between the Irish of Notre Dame and the U.S.C. Trojans. I was assigned to scout the Notre Dame team the first year we played them, 1926, and continued to scout them thereafter. The games were highly publicized each year throughout the country. This plus the fact that I wrote newspaper reports of the games I scouted, and in addition did a fair job of securing the needed information for the contest that followed, eventually led to my being chosen All American scout by the sports writers and coaches of the country. The reason for reporting this is not impelled so much by my desire to publicize my achievements as to bring out the fact that, for several years before the incident hereafter reported, I was in the news a good bit not only on the coast but also in the East and Midwest.”
During his time at Iowa, Aubrey was named first-team All-Big Ten three times and was a consensus All-American in 1921.
He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1973.
Aubrey was a nine-time letterman at Iowa, lettering in football, basketball and track and field.
While many consider Nile Kinnick, or any player in the last 100 years, to be the greatest football player in Iowa history, my family and I will always consider Aubrey to be the best.
It should also be noted that my great grandfather and Aubrey's brother, Glenn Devine, was a key part of Iowa's 1921 Big Ten championship team.
Roughly a year before his death, Aubrey paid tribute to Glenn in a letter to my grandparents that says a lot about the character and integrity of the two brothers.
"Dear Shirley and George,
Received your letter and the clipping. It would have been a more complete story if they had, at least, mentioned that Glenn Devine who is in the picture, holding the ball, was the finest interference runner in Iowa history; Too bad they didn't keep track of the tackles and blocks that were made as in a game … back in those days or Glenn would have gotten the credit he deserved.
I remember one time in the Iowa-Minnesota game in 1920 at Iowa City, Arnold Oss, the Minn. fullback, was taking the ball down the field on us and well in our half of the field. When Glenn hit Arnold on the line of scrimmage, Glenn got up and Oss didn't. The Iowa homecoming crowd gave a big, sympathetic cheer for Oss. I looked around for Glenn and found him staggering with his eyes crossed. Oss left the game and we won it. A little water on the back of Glenn's neck and he played the rest of the game.
Love, your uncle, Aubrey"