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Today's Tidbit... 100 Years of Football: 1931-1935
This is the eleventh 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 1931-1935.
Knute Rockne was an innovator on the field and off. He was never afraid of travel, with his teams often referred to as the Ramblers due to their willingness to play anywhere, exemplified by the rivalry established with USC as both teams became nationally prominent in the 1920s. Unfortunately, he perished in 1931 when a flight crashed in Kansas. Football would never see the likes of him again.
The passing game advanced in the 1920s while football still used a more rounded ball, but the ball was made narrower and pointer in the early 1930s, and teams were no longer penalized for multiple incompletions in a set of downs. Coming off two national championships and Rockne’s death, Notre Dame was undefeated when USC came to South Bend. The Irish led the game 14-0 in the fourth quarter….
…but USC stormed back with a touchdown and missed PAT, a second touchdown with a conversion, and were trailing by one as USC drove down the field again to kick a field goal to win the game and a national championship.
Michigan had some great teams in the early 1930s, losing only one game, but Colgate was the Cinderella team. Under former Pop Warner assistant Andy Kerr, Colgate held their opponents scoreless in 1929 and 1930, allowed 34 points in nine games in 1931, and went unbeaten, untied, un-scored upon, and uninvited to the Rose Bowl following the 1932 season.
Lou Little was in the fifth of his twenty-six years coaching Columbia when he put together his best team, led by All-American QB Cliff Montgomery. A surprise invitee to the Rose Bowl, the Lions upset favored Stanford by scoring on a hidden-ball reverse play. They were the last Ivy team to play in a bowl game.
Paths often intersect in football. Frank Thomas, who played QB on Rockne’s third, fourth, and fifth teams, coached Alabama from 1931 through 1946, winning 115 games. His 1934 team included a few studs, including passing halfback Dixie Howell and end Don Hutson. Hutson then played his entire pro career for another Notre Dame alum, Curly Lambeau, who had played on Rockne’s first Notre Dame team. Hutson’s teammate, Bear Bryant, took over the Crimson Tide program in 1958 and won 232 games.
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