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Today's Tidbit... 100 Years of Football: 1900-1905
This is the fourth 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 1900 to 1905.
The 1900s were the most important decade in football’s history. The brutality of the game and resulting deaths led to a demand for change, resulting in critical new rules, most notably, the forward pass, ultimately leading to a dramatically different, wider-open game.
Brief notes follow each cartoon, primarily so their contents are discoverable from an indexing and search perspective. As always, click the images to enlarge...
The naming of the first All-American team in 1899 and the development of newspaper and magazine sports pages with local and syndicated content increased the focus on the football’s playing and coaching stars.
Football grew outside the Northeast in the 1890s as Eastern alums brought the latest techniques and strategies to other parts of the country. Teams and players from the Midwest and South gained national recognition.
Fielding “Hurry-up” Yost’s Michigan Wolverines were the first dominant program from outside the East and earned an invitation to play a postseason game in Pasadena, a game the 20+ years later became known as the Rose Bowl.
Willie Heston starred at Michigan. His speed on sweeps and breakaway ability forced defenses to pull defenders off the primary level of defense into secondary and tertiary levels. Tertiary defenses with safeties 30 yards back disappeared, but secondaries remain with us today.
A 1903 rule change allowed the players receiving the snap to cross the line of scrimmage if he was five yards left or right of the center. Lines running perpendicular to the yard lines were added to the field, which had been called the gridiron since the addition of yard lines. The rule helped open up the game, but football remained a smashmouth and brutal game.
The Eastern schools that dominated football’s rule-making until 1905 were pushed aside as other Eastern schools and some from different parts of the country took over the rule-making. A committee with representatives from Dartmouth, West Point, Haverford, Minnesota, Oberlin, Nebraska, and Texas began formulating rules changes that revolutionized the game.
Despite the many rule changes of 1906, numerous other changes occurred through 1912, along with annual tinkering since then.
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