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Today's Tidbit... Keeping Up With The Joneses
With the Kelce brothers opposing one another in Super Bowl LVII, we'll look this week at a few brother combinations that played a part in football’s history.
Although Howard Jones was eighteen months older than his brother, Tad, they entered and graduated in the same class at Yale. Both started three years on Yale's football team, with Howard the dogged, determined, but average end, while Tad was the two-time All-American quarterback and captain of the baseball team. Their 1905 to 1907 teams went 28-0-2, and all three teams were dubbed national champions by one group or another. Upon graduating, Walter Camp recommended Howard for the Syracuse coaching job, and he took it while Tad remained in New Haven to assist a teammate as backfield coach and act as baseball coach.
Syracuse opened Archbold Stadium, seating 30,000, in 1907 and was trying to progress its program, scheduling aggressively. With a veteran team returning, the outlook for 1908 looked bright, Howard molded the team into a solid unit that beat Michigan, tied Princeton, and lost to Carlisle, Colgate, and Yale (by a 5-0 score). Although Tad coached Yale's backfield, he also spent some time in Syracuse working with their backs that season.
Following the 1908 season, Yale shifted from the volunteer coaching model to the professional version and hired Howard as their coach. However, the move raised some hackles due to Howard being paid more to coach the football team than former President William Howard Taft received to team at Yale's law school. Tad, meanwhile, took over for Howard at Syracuse, and since Syracuse was scheduled to visit Yale in 1909, it set up the first instance of brothers coaching against one another in a major college game.
The game proved to be a bit of a dud. In both teams' second game of the season, neither outfit had rounded into form, and Yale tried to work on its kicking game with limited success. Still, Yale won 15-0 and went on a tear, outscoring their opponents 209-0 on the year to finish 10-0 and earn a national championship retroactively.
On the other hand, Syracuse played listlessly and ended the season 4-5-1 after losing to all their top foes. Syracuse played better in 1910 but lost their four big games to finish 5-4-1, after which Tad opted to teach and coach in the prep ranks.
Howard left Yale after the 1909 season, coaching Ohio State in 1910, and returned to Yale for the 1913 season. He then landed at Iowa in 1916 for an eight-year run, during which he slowly built up the team until they won the Big Ten and a national championship in 1921.
By the time Howard was winning the Big Ten title, Tad had taken the reins at Yale, with a stint away from New Haven while serving the government in the shipbuilding business during WWI. Returning to the sidelines in 1920, Tad put out consistently good teams at Yale, so the football public had all eyes on New Haven in October 1922 when Iowa played Yale.
Big Ten and the future Ivy League schools seldom traveled far for games back then. Michigan and Wisconsin played at Yale in the 1890s, but the contest would be the first in which a school from west of the Mississippi played at Yale, Harvard, or Princeton. Likewise, Iowa had never played a team from east of Ann Arbor.
The game was also a big deal for the Jones family. The coaches' mother remained home in Ohio, hoping for a 0-0 tie, while their grandmother chartered a special train car from Iowa so she and twenty-five of her best friends could enjoy the back and forth.
Three Yale starters, including their quarterback, were out for the game, as was their second-string quarterback, and it showed, but Iowa appeared nervous early on as well. Yale spent most of the day running up the middle, throwing only six passes, two of which Iowa caught, with the other four hitting the ground. Iowa completed four passes and gained most of their yards running around end. Nine turnovers and six missed field goal attempts were additional displays of futility, but Iowa made fewer mistakes and won the game, 6-0
Yale ended the year 6-3-1, while Iowa was 7-0 and repeated as Big Ten champs. Howard remained at Iowa for one more year, spent one year at Duke, and then proved to be among the nation's top coaches while leading USC from 1925 to 1940. There, he won four more national championships and was undefeated in five Rose Bowls, topped by their effort in 1939 when their fourth-quarter game-winning touchdown was the first time a team scored on Duke that season. Unfortunately, Howard Jones died from a heart attack in 1941 when he was 55.
Despite his success coaching on the field, Tad is best remembered today for his pre-game speech at Harvard in 1923 when he told his team:
Gentlemen, you are about to play football against Harvard. Never again may you do something so important.
Perhaps thinking he could never do anything so important either, Tad left football after the 1927 season to focus on his oil and coal business, passing away at 70 years old in 1957.
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