John P. Michelosen
(Steelers head coach 1948-1951)
In 1948, when coach Jock Sutherland unexpectedly passed away, John Michelosen, who had been Sutherland's assistant during his time with the Steelers, took over.
At the age of 32 years and 2 months, Michelosen became the youngest head coach of a NFL team; a landmark that continued until 1962.
His tenure as the Steelers head coach lasted until 1951 when he left professional football with a 20-26-2 record.
Before joining the Steelers, when the second war came along, Michelosen, joined the Navy. For three years, Lt. Michelosen trained young Naval fliers at Iowa Pre-Flight, Corpus Christi and Pungo airfields.
He managed to keep his hand in football, coaching pre-flight elevens. His Corpus Christi team came within a single game of an unbeaten season - and this in plenty rough company.
From the 1950 programme for the preseason game against the Bears, August 26th:
For the better part of his 33 years, John P. Michelosen has been a keen and active student of the game of football. His name has seldom appeared in the headliners, but with men who know football best, this broad-shouldered, soft-spoken fellow is considered one of the top-notch young men in the game today.
For 10 years he was content to stay in the background sharpening his already ample football knowledge under the Old Master - the late Dr. John (Jock) Sutherland.
Today he is the heir to the Old Master's throne - and in stepping up to succeed Dr. Sutherland as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Big Mike has accepted what is conceded as the toughest post in football today.
Michelosen is a native of Ambridge, Pennsylvania, a bustling little industrial community along the banks of the Ohio River, approximately 30 miles west of Pittsburgh.
His parents are Ukranian (the programme spelling, not mine) immigrants, who had high hopes that their only boy would grow up to be a musician. So intent were they on arranging the young coach's vocation, they bought him a violin almost as soon as he was big enough to tuck the instrument under his chin.
Then, along came a sports minded uncle, who gave the young Michelosen a football. Although the Michelosen parents failed to realize it, this gift dashed all musical ambition their son might have had.
Needless to say, Michelosen devoted more time to passing and kicking the football than fingering the violin. The net result was that he became one of the outstanding high school athletes in his hometown. His violin probably still is gathering dust in the family attic.
Later he moved over to the University of Pittsburgh, where for three varsity years he quarterbacked some of Pitts greatest teams (editor's note: Jock Sutherland was Pitt's coach at the time). He was the big bloke who handled all the blocking assignments. The fans in the stands seldom paid attention to the guy leading the way, nor did the gentlemen in the press box write many kudos for his backbending efforts.
But the Silent Scot always had a warm spot in his heart for Big Mike, who generally is rated along with Dr. Eddie Baker as one of the headiest quarterbacks in Pitts history
Upon graduation, Michelosen played in the 1938 East-West game and toured France with an All-Star team. He returned home to accept an assistant coaching post at his Alma Mater.
This was the beginning of an inseparable Sutherland-Michelosen combine that was dissolved temporarily during the war years when both men joined the Navy and then permanently when Dr. Sutherland died following two operations for the removal of a brain tumor.
When Jock resigned at Pitt, Johnny quit with him. When Jock accepted the head coaching job at Brooklyn a year later, Johnny went with him. When Jock joined the Navy, Johnny followed suit. And when Jock returned to the place he loved best - Pittsburgh - to coach the Steelers, Johnny returned, too.
In his brief span with the pros, Dr. Sutherland came mightly close but never quite won the championship. He always wanted to. Michelosen is not a maudlin guy, but he hopes that within the next few years he can win the title for the "Old Mon."
THE 1949 STEELERS COACHES
John P. Michelosen
For the better part of his 33 years, John P. Michelosen has been a keen and active student of the game of football. His name has seldom appeared in the headlines, but with men who know football best, this broad-shouldered, soft-spoken fellow is considered one of the top-notch young men in the game today.
For 10 years he was content to stay in the background sharpening his already ample football knowledge under the Old Master - the late Dr. John B. (Jock) Sutherland.
Today he is the heir to the Old Master's throne and in stepping up to succeed Dr. Sutherland as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Big Mike has accepted what is conceded as the toughest post in football today.
Michael Nixon, Backfield Coach
Mike Nixon, the Pittsburgh Steelers' 38-year-old veteran backfield coach, is a man of many parts.
His first love is football - but, between times, the former All-American backfield star has seen duty as a coal miner, a minor league baseball player, a union local executive, a Naval officer in the last war and, currently, is serving as a member of the Pennsylvania State Legislature.
Kenneth L. Ormiston, Line Coach
Ken Ormiston, a gentleman with a wealth of coaching experience, returns with the Pittsburgh Steelers this fall for his second season as a line coach.
He played at Pitt during the 1932-33-34 seasons and in his final year he was selected on many of the nation's All-America teams. He started his coaching career at Shady Side Academy in 1935 and then became athletic director at the Metropolitan Club, a now defunct men's club in Pittsburgh.
As line coach, he succeeded Frank Walton, a former collegiate teammate, who now is coaching at West Virginia University.
Walter Kiesling, Assistant Coach
Man and boy, Walt Kiesling, the hulking line coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, has been associated with professional football for 24 seasons.
Following two seasons with the Eskimos with Ernie Nevers, the big lineman joined Pottsville in 1928, played five seasons with the Chicago CardInals, two with the Chicago Bears and one with the Green Bay Packers. In 1932, while playing with the Cards, he was named all-league tackle.
He was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on May 27, 1903, but now makes Pittsburgh his home. A graduate of St. Thomas college in St. Paul, Kiesling first entered Notre Dame, but grew so homesick in his freshman year that he returned to St. Paul.
Charles Cherundolo, Assistant Coach
Time finally has caught up with Charles (Chuck) Cherundolo, one of the best-known and most popular football players ever to hitch up a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform.
After ten seasons of active player service in the National league, the affable athlete from Old Forge (Pa.) made good a three-year threat and resigned at the end of the 1948 season. Immediately, he was offered and accepted an assistant coaching berth with the Steelers.
Editor's note: In 1955, Michelosen returned to Pitt as their head coach for another eleven seasons until after the 1965 campaign.
In that time he led Pitt to back-to-back major bowl games in the 1950s and unluckily Pitt became the best team ever not to make a bowl after a 9-1 season that saw them excluded from a major bowl due to the assassination of President Kennedy in November of that year.
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