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Today's Tidbit... 100 Years of Football: 1916-1922
This is the seventh 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 1916-1922.
The forward pass entered football’s mainstream in the mid-1910s, allowing new teams to emerge nationally. WWI upset rosters nationwide, while the Spanish Flu contributed to football’s strangest season in 1918. Following the war, college football entered a period of explosive growth, soon reflected by a stadium-building boom. (Click images to enlarge)
By the mid-1910s, Pop Warner had converted Pitt into a national power after he left Carlisle. The Rose Bowl restarted in 1916, though many had forgotten about the 1902 game, with Brown’s Fritz Pollard as one of its stars. He and Paul Robeson of Rutgers were among the few Black players of the era. Coaching from the sideline became illegal in 1914, with a 1917 rule barring substitutes from talking to teammates on their first play in the game.
Ohio State, a football afterthought, emerged on the scene with the arrival of Chic Harley and others. Ohio State was a dominant team from 1916 through their 1920 Rose Bowl season, other than in 1918 when WWI left rosters in turmoil.
Although George Gipp entered Notre Dame intending to play baseball, he led the football team in rushing and passing in 1918, 1919, and 1920, and his career rushing record held up until 1978. Curly Lambeau was his backfield mate in 1918 but left school after his freshman year and later founded the Green Bay Packers.
Nontraditional powers emerged in the early 1920s, and none was bigger (or smaller) than Washington & Jefferson. Coached by Greasy Neale, the Presidents took on California in the 1922 Rose Bowl, played the same 11 players all game, and finished in a scoreless tie.
When Centre lost to Harvard in 1920, Harvard’s captain tried awarding the game ball to Bo McMillan for being the “greatest backfield player” he had ever seen. (McMillan refused, given the loss.) McMillan and the Praying Colonels visited Harvard in March to beat the Crimson in basketball before returning in October to take on the Crimson, who were 22-0-3 in their last 25 games. McMillan’s 32-yard run over and through the defense gave Centre a 6-0 victory.
“Gloomy Gil” Dobie, who had stellar teams at Washington from 1908 to 1916 and Navy from 1919 to 1919, took over at Cornell in 1920. His 1921, 1922, and 1922 teams each went 8-0 to win national championships. During the 1922 season, Dobie earned his 100th victory in the 108th game he coached, topped only by Kansas’ Lance Leopold, who earned his 100th win in the 106th game he coached at Wisconsin-Whitewater.
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