Today's Tidbit... The First “Football Coach"
Every element of football terminology originated somewhere at some time. Though we can seldom identify the first time a new word was spoken, they often come to public attention when newspaper reporters use the new words to provide insight to readers.
The term football coach first appeared in print in an 1889 article in which Harvard’s Alfred F. Holden discussed disagreements about eligibility standards across schools. Should they allow alums to play? Part-time students? Graduate or professional students? None of those issues had been settled to that point.
As for coaching, football teams of the 1880s did not have coaches as we think of them today. Team captains ran the show with the help of alums who returned to advise the captain. (Twenty-eight alums, including Holden, returned to work with Harvard’s 1899 team.) Among the numerous alums who assisted, a recently graduated captain often acted as the primary advisor to the current captain, which is why former captain Alfred F. Holden returned to Cambridge in 1889.
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