Football for Fun

The Story of Coach Stewart “Fergie” Ferguson

AWA Winner Seal

On the eve of World War II, Stewart Ferguson, a football coach from a tiny Arkansas agricultural college, decided the sport ought to be played for fun.

Under a bizarre contract that made no bones about whether they ever won a game, “Fergie” and his team of misfits piled into a rickety bus for a three-year barnstorming odyssey that would see the Wandering Weevils of Arkansas A & M befuddle their opponents with slapstick antics, become media and fan favorites, and earn the moniker “the Marx Brothers of Football.”

Born in Missouri and raised near Mitchell, South Dakota, this son of a stern Methodist minister was a larger-than-life personality with equally outsized opinions. Fergie left an indelible impression on generations of athletes, first in Louisiana, then at Dakota Wesleyan University and Arkansas A & M, and later as head coach at Deadwood High School, where he led the Bears to their first ever football conference championship.

 
In Football for Fun, authors Bill Bell and Peter Oltchick draw on rich sources, including Ferguson’s unpublished memoirs and interviews with former players and family, to bring this remarkable South Dakotan—and the often cutthroat world of high school and collegiate sports—to life.

Fergie, the football coach, is an All-American character. The book is a rollicking fun read.

Tom Flynn

Dan Rather Reports, CBS News