Tom Mooney (front row, far left) with Monklands junior high champions of Montreal.
Thomas L. Mooney
Born: 1935 (Portage, Ohio)
Died: June 20, 2014 (Guelph, Ontario)
Member: University of Guelph (Ont.) Sports Hall of Fame (2002)
Tom Mooney had a stellar coaching career at two Canadian universities, played briefly in the CFL, and was an assistant coach for Hamilton Tiger-Cats when they won the Grey Cup in 1972.
Born in Portage, Ohio, Mooney was a lineman for Miami University of Ohio at a time when the Redskins were a power in the NCAA. Mooney played on undefeated teams in his junior and senior year, during which Miami won conference championships under coach Ara Parseghian.
Mooney was drafted in the 17th round, No. 201 overall, of the 1956 NFL draft by the New York Giants. (The previous selection, by the Green Bay Packers, was quarterback Bart Starr. The player taken two selections after Mooney was Eagle Day, a quarterback in the CFL and a punter for the NFL’s Washington Redskins.)
In 1956, Mooney came north to Canada to be a playing coach for the semiprofessional Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen of the Ontario Rugby Football Union. Playing tackle and defensive end, he led the Dutchman to consecutive league titles in 1956 and ’57. He coached and played for the Dutchmen for four seasons.
Mooney also accepting a coaching position at the Ontario Agricultural College (now the University of Guelph). In five seasons, he led the football Redmen (now known as the Gryphons) to a 26-17 record, including conference titles in 1958 and ’59. In winters, he coached the varsity basketball team, capturing a provincial title in 1958-59. Mooney also coached the school’s wrestling team. In 2002, he was inducted into the university’s sports hall of fame.
In 1961, Mooney joined the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL, playing in preseason exhibitions. He was a training camp regular, finally playing in a single game in 1963. Meanwhile, he coached football for three seasons at Monklands High in Montreal.
After a brief time coaching a high school team in Garden City, Mich., Mooney returned to Montreal after being hired by McGill University in 1965. “I am anxious to sink my teeth into the job,” he told the Montreal Gazette. “It’s something I have wanted for a long time and I am very enthusiastic about it.”
Three years later, a profile of the coach in the Toronto Star was headlined: McGill’s floundering days are over. He led the Redmen to a 12-26-1 record over six seasons, including a Yates Cup championship in 1969. McGill then lost the Canadian college bowl, now known as the Vanier Cup, by 24-19 to Manitoba.
The 1969 squad included many American-born medical and dental students. In 2007, the Mooney men, as they called themselves, created a football scholarship at McGill in their coach’s name. A similar scholarship was instituted at Guelph three years later.
In addition to football, Mooney led the McGill basketball team to a 73-51 regular season record, going 22-16 in playoffs.