Ralph Hatley

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Ralph Hatley
Biographical details
Born(1913-04-03)April 3, 1913
Trenton, Tennessee
DiedOctober 14, 2001(2001-10-14) (aged 88)
Memphis, Tennessee
Playing career
Position(s)Tackle, guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1936Tennessee–Martin (line)
1937–1940Dyersburg HS (TN)
1941–1946Christian Brothers HS (TN)
1947–1957Memphis State
Head coaching record
Overall60–43–5 (college)

Ralph Lee Hatley Sr. (April 3, 1913 – October 14, 2001) was an American football coach and player. He served as the head football coach at Memphis State University from 1947 to 1957, compiling a record of 60–43–5 in 11 seasons.[1] As head coach, he led the Tigers to their first bowl appearance, a 32–12 victory in the 1956 Burley Bowl over East Tennessee State. A standout lineman under Robert Neyland at Tennessee from 1933 to 1935, Hatley also served as head coach at two Tennessee high schools, Dyersburg High School in Dyersburg, Tennessee and Christian Brothers High School in Memphis, Tennessee as well as an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Early life[edit]

Hatley was born in Trenton, Tennessee on April 3, 1913 and raised in Jackson, Tennessee.[1] He starred as a player at Jackson High School before heading to Knoxville, Tennessee to play for legendary coach Robert Neyland.[2] With the Volunteers, Hatley was an offensive lineman and a captain for the 1934 Tennessee Volunteers football team and also was selected to the all-SEC team that year.[1] He was a teammate of Cecil Humphreys, who would later serve as athletics director at Memphis State who hired Hatley as head football coach.[2]

Coaching career[edit]

After graduating from the University of Tennessee, Hatley embarked on a coaching career, first at the University of Tennessee at Martin in 1936.[1] From there, he returned to west Tennessee and took over as head coach at Dyersburg High School for four years[3] before moving to Memphis to take the head coaching position at Christian Brothers High School.[1] After Memphis State University did not field a football team from 1943 to 1946 due to the events surrounding World War II, athletics director Cecil Humphreys turned to Hatley to lead the football program. One of his first moves as head coach was to name Billy Murphy as an assistant coach.[2] Hatley's first Tigers team in 1947 had 38 freshmen, but still managed to earn a 6–2–1 record.[2] In 1949, Hatley's Tigers outscored their opponents 385-87 throughout the season and led the nation in total points scored for the season.[2] In 1949, Memphis State finished 9–2 and set a then-school record with 21,000 in attendance to watch the team play Ole Miss.[2] Hatley hired Ken Donahue as line coach in 1951.[4][5] During Hatley's tenure as head coach, Memphis State graduated 98% of its football players.[1] In 1956, Hatley's Tigers made their first bowl appearance in school history in the final playing of the Burley Bowl, a 32–12 victory over East Tennessee.[6] Hatley retired as head coach after the 1957 season with a 60–43–5 record.[1][2] He retired as the school's winningest head coach and remained so until he was surpassed by his successor in 1967.[7]

After coaching[edit]

After retiring from coaching, Hatley was named chair of Memphis State's health, recreation and fitness department.[1] He served as president of the Tennessee College Physical Education Association and was honored for his service with awards from the College of Physical Education of the United States and State of Tennessee Health and Physical Education Association.[1] Hatley died on October 14, 2001 at age 88.

Personal life[edit]

Hatley was married to the former Ruth Wahli.[8] Hatley's son, Ralph Lee Hatley, Jr., starred in football at Memphis State in the early 1970s before becoming a well-known performing arts actor in the Memphis area.[9][10]

Head coaching record[edit]


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Memphis State Tigers (NCAA College Division independent) (1947–1957)
1947 Memphis State 6–2–1
1948 Memphis State 6–5
1949 Memphis State 9–2
1950 Memphis State 9–2
1951 Memphis State 5–3
1952 Memphis State 2–7
1953 Memphis State 6–4
1954 Memphis State 3–4–3
1955 Memphis State 2–7
1956 Memphis State 5–4–1 W Burley
1957 Memphis State 6–4
Memphis State: 60–43–5
Total: 60–43–5

Coaching tree[edit]

Assistant coaches under Hatley who became college head coaches:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Ralph Hatley « Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame". tshf.net. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "University of Memphis Athletics - M Club Hall of Fame". gotigersgo.com. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  3. ^ https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/282123605/
  4. ^ http://www.chattanoogan.com/2016/10/14/333996/Assistant-Football-Coach-Ken-Donahue.aspx
  5. ^ http://www.knoxnews.com/story/sports/2016/10/13/donahue-brought-toughness-vols-alabama/92001694/
  6. ^ "The Tennessean from Nashville, Tennessee on November 23, 1956 · Page 50". newspapers.com. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  7. ^ http://www.espn.com/ncf/face/team?teamId=235
  8. ^ "RALPH HATLEY Obituary - Memphis, Tennessee". Legacy.com. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  9. ^ Chris Davis. "Memphis actor Ralph Hatley dies | Intermission Impossible". memphisflyer.com. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  10. ^ Lentz, H.M. (2012). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2011. McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers. p. 151. ISBN 9780786491346. Retrieved December 17, 2017.