Today's Tidbit... Warner and the Inexperienced Cornell Eleven
College coaches today sometimes complain about their team's lack of experience, but at least they can be sure that most of their players have played football before. That was not the case early in the game's history, including in 1897 during Pop Warner's first year coaching Cornell.
Warner graduated from Cornell two years earlier, spending the next two years coaching Iowa State each August before heading to Georgia to coach the Bulldogs during the season. One of Warner's main tasks at Cornell was to encourage the school's best athletes to play football, even if they had not played before. He succeeded, causing him to claim:
The material at Cornell is undoubtedly the best we have had in years. Although comparatively few of the old men are back, the new material is very good, and there are plenty of heavy men. However, some of these are inexperienced and it will take a great deal of coaching to bring them into 'Varsity form.
Left halfback, right tackles, and center were the key problem spots. Early in the season, Warner considered returning his starting left halfback to center -a move that is inconceivable today. However, it appears that proved the lesser of two evils since the yearbook roster shows that Schoch spent the year snapping the ball rather than running with it.
McLaughlin was a first-time player, one of two players listed at right tackle. Faville at right guard was either entirely new to the game or nearly new. Fullback presented a different problem. Perkins was the best runner but an inadequate punter, and so it went.
Cornell ended up 5-3-1, losing to Princeton by 4, Harvard by 19, and Penn by 4. They would lose only to Princeton and Penn the following year -both losses by 6 points- before Warner moved from Cornell to Carlisle for the first time.
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