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Today's Tidbit... 100 Years of Football: 1923-1926
This is the ninth in a series looking back at “100 Years of Football,” syndicated cartoons published by Jerry Brondfield and Charles Beck in 1969. Today's version covers the period from 1923-1926.
We open this week’s review overlapping the previous week’s timeline due to Red Grange’s varsity career at Illinois overlapping the two.
The Galloping Ghost was a magical runner whose ability to elude rather than outrun tacklers made him great. After joining the Bears and while on their first trip to Washington, D.C., an Illinois senator introduced George Halas and Grange to President Coolidge as “with the Chicago Bears.” Coolidge responded that it was nice to meet them since he “had always enjoyed animal acts.”
John Heisman and Wallace Wade were among the Ivy Leaguers who coached in the South and helped make the region’s football great. One form of recognition of their caliber of play came by earning invitations to the Rose Bowl, with Southern teams going 6-8 in Rose Bowl games before the Big Ten-Pac 8 alliance started in 1947.
Other regions showed their football prowess in the 1920s, with Cal’s Brick Muller becoming one of the game’s great stars.
Jim Thorpe was a star halfback in Pop Warner’s Single Wing, while Ernie Nevers dominated at fullback in Warner’s Double Wing. Like Thorpe, Nevers was a triple threat on the football field and an exceptional athlete in other sports, including baseball, pitching for the St. Louis Browns in 1926 and 1927.
As Fielding Yost neared the end of his coaching career, Benny Friedman and Bennie Oosterbaan made the short punt offense click. Friedman was named All-America twice and Oosterbaan three times (and once in basketball). Oosterbaan, an end, even tossed three touchdown passes his senior year but did not pursue professional sports due to religious beliefs.
Mayes McClain’s 253 points scored in a season are not recognized as an NCAA record since Haskell was not an NCAA institution. (Monte Ball holds the FBS record at 236.) Further east, the Brown Bruins did more with less (or fewer) in 1926 as the Iron Men played all or nearly all of the key games, resulting in the men from Providence becoming the only undefeated team in school history.
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