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Today's Tidbit... Kicker Tricks Is A Dirty Business
Just as the original tees used by golfers were mounds of sand poured about the tee box, the tees used in early football were dirt mounds scraped up from nearby grassless patches. Yesterday's Tidbit addressed how Auburn circumvented that rule in 1916 by using the kicker's leather helmet as the tee or platform for a game-deciding field goal. Auburn's little trick led the 1917 rules committee to outlaw artificial tees, which you'd think would end kicker tricks, but it did not.
Teams pursued at least two forms of devious behavior. First, Arda Bowser often receives credit for pioneering dirt tees while at Bucknell from 1920-1921, but the 1917 rule and earlier reports of dirt tees show otherwise. Instead, Bowser's contribution to kicking tricks was to keep a bucket of loose dirt on the sideline, a bucket he scooped from before each place kick.
The second way around the rule came when teams interpreted the term "artificial" differently than the committee intended. For example, Amos Alonzo Stagg claimed that Wisconsin's kicker in 1923 had tees formed of baked clay since clay is a natural, not artificial substance. Other schools baked a tee for two as well.
Both practices violated the spirit of the rule, so the 1924 rules committee solved the problem by eliminating tees altogether. Tees did not return to college football fields until 1944.
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