Paul Leonard Briggs was born in Providence, Rhode Island on April 18, 1920 to Harold and Helene Briggs. When he was ten years old, he told his mother he was going to be a football player and football coach, and he achieved these goals. In 1939, he graduated from Grand Junction High School in Colorado where he lettered in football and wrestling, and was selected to the Colorado H.S. State All-Star Football Team. He attended Mesa Jr. College in 1940 where he was selected to the Inter-Mountain J.C. All-Conference Football Team and named Conference Most Outstanding Lineman. At the University of Colorado in Boulder, he was voted United Press All-American at offensive tackle in 1943 and was selected for the Big Six All-Conference Football Teams in 1943, '46 & '47. In 1948, he was selected for the All-West Team in the East vs. West Shrine College All-Star game. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1948 and played offensive tackle and linebacker until he suffered an NFL career-ending knee injury. At 6' 5", 285 pounds, the then coach of the Lions said, "Golly, that fellow is big enough to hunt bears with a switch!" In 1941, Paul enlisted in the NROTC while at the Univ. of Colorado, was commissioned Ensign in Dec. 1943 and ordered to active duty on the Destroyer USS Daly DD519 in the WWII Pacific Theater. He participated in the liberation of the Philippines and radar picket duty (Iwo Jima and Okinawa). He was awarded the Bronze Star
for bravery and thePurple Heart
Medal for wounds received on picket duty. He helped put the USS Daly out of commission and was discharged from active duty, April 1946. Paul remained in the Active U.S. Navy
Reserve and, after 38 years of faithful and honorable service to his country, retired in 1980 as a Commander. Paul married the love of his life, Sally, in May 1946 and they shared a wonderful marriage for 63 years until her death in February 2010. Paul received his Bachelor's Degree in 1948 from the University of Colorado and his Master's Degree from the University of Southern California in 1956. He began his high school football coaching career as head football coach of Rocky Ford H.S. in Colorado, 1949-50 (2 years). Then moved to Casper, Wyoming as head football coach of Natrona County H.S., 1951-52 (2 years). Coach Briggs enjoyed a long, legacy of success as head football coach at Bakersfield High School (BHS) in California, 1953-85 (33 years), for a total of 37 years as a head high school football coach. While at BHS, his Driller football teams attained many winning seasons and won numerous championships. In 1986, he moved to Santa Ana and joined the Orange Coast College football staff as an assistant and coached there for 20 years (1986-2005) until his retirement at the age of 85, totaling 57 continuous years as a football coach. Paul never missed a game or a practice in 69 years of coaching or playing football. During his coaching career, Paul received many coaching awards and was inducted into several halls of fame including: California High School Coach of the Year (1963); National High School Football Coach of the year (1972); University of Colorado Hall of Honor (1974); Citizens Athletic Foundation High School Hall of Fame (1975); Calif. Coaches Assoc. Hall of Fame (1977); Bob Elias Kern County Hall of Fame (1978); National Interscholastic Coaches Assoc. Distinguished Service Award (1983); Lombardi Honor Court of Champions (1986); National Football Foundation Hall of Fame Distinguished American Award (1998); and Bakersfield High School Driller Football Hall of Fame (2006). He was also elected President of the Calif. Coaches Assoc. (1964) and President of the National High School Athletic Coaches Assoc. (1976).
Coach's Driller Record
Year - Record
1953 -- 4-5
1954 -- 6-3*
1955 -- 9-2*
1956 -- 10-1*
1957 -- 7-1-1
1958 -- 8-0-1
1959 -- 8-2
1960 -- 6-3
1961 -- 5-4
1962 -- 6-3
1963 -- 9-0
1964 -- 8-0-1
1965 -- 8-1
1966 -- 6-2-1
1967 -- 9-0-1*
1968 -- 6-3
1969 -- 4-4-1
1970 -- 4-3-2
1971 -- 5-4
1972 -- 2-7
1973 -- 2-6-1
1974 -- 8-2
1975 -- 9-2
1976 -- 7-2-1
1977 -- 7-5
1978 -- 5-5
1979 -- 3-7
1980 -- 5-5
1981 -- 7-2-1
1982 -- 10-2
1983 -- 5-4-1
1984 -- 7-3y
1985 -- 5-6
Totals-- 210-99-15* -- Central Section (Valley) championy--0-10 officially because of ineligible player
"He was talking about my mom; he was talking about seeing my mom. One of the players he coached told me he went to heaven today to be with his sweetheart Sally on Valentine's Day."
-- Daughter Paula Parsons, on Briggs' final conversation Monday morning with a caregiver at the facility where he resided.
"He could have coached at any level and been immediately successful. He felt he would have the biggest influence on high school players and he did."
-- Jeff Siemon, who played for Briggs in 1965-67, ex-Minnesota Vikings and Stanford star linebacker and College Football Hall of Fame member.
"By coincidence, I followed Paul Briggs here from Casper, Wyo., in 1953, evoking local opinion that he had brought along his personal press agent. And after his first (and losing) season, skepticism grew. ... Briggs was one of a kind, for sure, a man who had to be in and around the game of football, and old school to the core."
-- Larry Press, longtime Californian sports editor and columnist.
"He was real positive that a former Driller was going in to succeed him, and that was a boost to me. I learned so much from him, getting a positive OK from him meant a lot."
-- Pat Preston, who played for Briggs in 1964-65 and succeeded Briggs as head coach in 1986.
"He pushed you hard and challenged you daily. You either liked him or loved him or you weren't going to play for him. In those days, the kids who played for the Drillers, they were Drillers in third grade. All you wanted to do was be a Driller."
-- Carl Bowser, who played on Briggs' first BHS team in 1953 and also played in 1954-55.
"When guys say, 'I played for Coach Briggs,' it's a badge of honor. If you play for Coach Briggs, you're a tough, strong dude. As a coach, you hope they'll say, 'I played for Golla.' You've got to respect that."
-- Paul Golla, current BHS coach
"He was a true patriot. He was a mentor, a coach, but more than that, he was my friend. His character and his integrity never changed. There was nothing false. What he told you, you could take to the bank."
-- Bob Stone, who played for Briggs in 1964