(1917-1920): A superlative collegiate athletic career at Washington & Lee University in Virginia allowed Edward Donahue to enter the coaching profession at his alma mater after graduation, and after just two seasons as an assistant football coach, Donahue parlayed that success into the head football coaching position at Clemson College.
It was his first, and would prove to be his only career post as a head football coach. This lack of previous experience didn’t prevent Donahue from succeeding in his one and only gridiron head coaching stop, as his Tiger teams compiled a 21-12-3 (.625) record across four seasons. His first team went 6-2-0 in 1917, which he followed up with a 5-2-0 campaign in 1918 and a 6-2-2 slate in 1919. Only his 1920 squad finished with a losing record at 4-6-1. Donahue’s teams boasted an 11-3-1 home record, and fared especially well against in-state rivals South Carolina and Furman, going 3-1 against each. Against all in-state foes, Donahue’s teams performed equally as well, going 4-0 vs. The Citadel, 2-0-1 vs. Presbyterian, 2-0 vs. Wofford, 1-0 vs. Erskine, and 1-0 vs. Newberry. Perhaps the two marquee wins during Donahue’s tenure came against the University of Florida Gators in 1917 (55-7 @ Gainesville, FL) and the Tennessee Volunteers in 1919 (14-0 in Clemson). Donahue’s .625 winning percentage still ranks eighth all-time in Clemson history.
While at Clemson, Coach Donahue also coached basketball, baseball, and track. He was particularly successful in basketball, going 14-5. In what now is a stark reminder of what a fledging sport college football was pre-depression, Coach Donahue left Clemson after four seasons to coach minor league baseball. Over the next two decades, he coached for seven minor league clubs including the Greenville Spinners.
The little known Coach Edward Donahue comes in at #9 on our countdown of the greatest Clemson football coaches of all-time. Take your guess in the comments below, who will be #8?