Meyer, Leo Robert [Dutch] (1898–1982)

By: Robin Dutton

Type: Biography

Published: April 1, 1995

Leo Robert (Dutch) Meyer, football coach, was born in Ellinger, Texas, on January 15, 1898. He attended high school in Waco and graduated from Texas Christian University in 1922. His affiliation with TCU began when the school was located in Waco. In 1909 he served as the mascot and waterboy for the football team. While at TCU as a student, he earned eleven varsity letters in three sports. After graduation Meyer briefly pitched for the Cleveland Indians, but a sore arm forced him to give up a baseball career. He coached girls' basketball at a Fort Worth high school for a short time before becoming freshman football coach at TCU in 1923. In 1934 he became the head varsity coach for TCU, where he remained for nineteen years and earned the nickname "Old Iron Pants" for his tough coaching. He led TCU to win the national championship in 1938 and Southwest Conference titles in 1938, 1944, and 1951. TCU played seven bowl games under his direction. During his career at the university, he accumulated 109 victories on the football field, more than any other coach in TCU history. Meyer became famous in the sports world for his wingback and spread formations, and in the early 1950s he wrote a book, Spread Formation Football, on the subject. In 1953 he quit coaching and became athletic director for TCU, a position he held until his retirement in 1963. Meyer was a member of the National Football Hall of Fame and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. He was president of the National Coaches Association from 1949 to 1950 and a member of its rules committee in 1952 and 1953. He was also a president of the Football Coaches Association of America and a member of the Helms Foundation. In 1961 the university named the recently constructed football facility, Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, in honor of Coach Meyer and Milton E. Daniel, a TCU trustee. Meyer was married to Esther Grubbs, who survived him after his death. He died in December of 1982 in a Fort Worth hospital. He requested in his will that the Lettermen's Club of TCU serve as honorary pallbearers at his funeral service. He was buried in Mansfield, where he and his wife had a country home.

Jerome A. Moore, Texas Christian University: A Hundred Years of History (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1974). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Sports and Recreation
  • Sports (Football)
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Robin Dutton, “Meyer, Leo Robert [Dutch],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 1, 1995

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