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Born Luigi Piccolo, literally "little Luigi", in Boston on December 6, 1893, he moved to Leominster at a very early age where he became known as "Lou Little". His career record as a coach in 33 years (1924-1956) is 149-122-11. His skills as a coach, mentor and teacher, his instinct for plays like the double-spin run or double-spin pass, earned him the accolade “Coach of the Era”. His College Football Hall of Fame biography states: "He was a man who cared more for the personal growth and well-being of his players than he did for his won-lost record. Lou Little was a gifted teacher of football but, more importantly, a coach who seemed more interested in being a humanitarian."

Lou's introduction to football was at Leominster High School where he played backfield and was captain of an undefeated 1910 Leominster High squad. After graduation he played college football as a tackle at the University of Pennsylvania from 1916 to 1919. His game was interrupted in 1917 by service in World War I and he served with distinction with the American Expeditionary Forces in France. Commissioned as a lieutenant, he was soon promoted to a captain in the 6th Infantry Division. He was part of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive fought from September 26, 1918, until the Armistice (November 11). Lou returned to play the last season at Penn in 1919. After college, he played two seasons in the NFL’s Frankford Yellow Jackets as captain and coach.

In 1924, he applied for the coaching job at Georgetown University and a legend was born: his teams compiled a 41-12-3 record, setting a standard of defensive excellence unmatched in Georgetown’s history. In 1930 he served as the head coach at Columbia University where he had seven successful seasons at the outset, winning 43 games, losing five and tying three. His Columbia record in 27 years (1930-1956) is 110-110-10. At Columbia, Lou coached future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Sid Luckman and writer Jack Kerouac, who broke his leg playing in 1940.

A past president of the American Football Coaches Association and chairman of its Rules Committee, Lou retired in 1956 and became a member of the National Football Foundation's Executive Committee.

He died in Florida on May 28, 1979 at the age of 85 and was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1984.


National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame