Archive for the ‘Washington State University’ Category

Lone Star Dietz Article in Indian Country Today

August 14, 2012

Yesterday’s edition of Indian Country Today includes an article by Jack McNeel on Lone Star Dietz. The headline, which probably wasn’t written by Mr. McNeel, understandably focuses on Dietz’s posthumous induction recently into the College Football Hall of Fame. But the article covers more than that. He covered as much of Dietz’s highly eventful life as space would allow.

Something I particularly like is that McNeely chose to use a photograph of Dietz with the Washington State team that isn’t widely used. It’s nice to see something you haven’t seen before. In this case, I probably saw it briefly when going through the Washington State photo archives some years ago but didn’t remember seeing it.

There are a few things in the article that need a little bit of clarification. First, Tournament of Roses wasn’t arranging its annual football game in the fall of 1915 because they had only hosted a game once before and that was back in 1902. The Washington State victory over Brown in 1916 was what established the game as an annual event and much of the credit for that goes to Lone Star Dietz for putting West Coast football on the same level as the eastern powers.

The statement, “Soon after, many college sports were suspended for World War I,” may compress the timeframe too much for readers unaware of what happened during that period. Dietz’s men lost two games in 1916 and were undefeated again in 1917 but weren’t invited to Pasadena because of the popularity of military teams. It was after the 1917 season that college sports were curtailed freeing Dietz to coach many of his former players on the Mare Island Marines team.

The phrase “Indian agent from the Sioux Nation” may be misleading and cause unfamiliar readers to think the agent was an Indian. The agent was a white man assigned to the Pine Ridge Agency, one of several reservations on which Sioux live.

“Benjey’s research indicates that Dietz’s father took the dead baby…” would more accurately be phrased, Benjey’s research indicates that Dietz’s father claimed to have taken the dead baby…. However, W. W. Deitz (he spelled his name differently that Lone Star spelled it) denied that publicly.

Here is a link to the article:

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/08/13/william-lone-star-dietz-posthumously-inducted-into-football-hall-of-fame-128617

Huskies Were Cougars First

July 11, 2012

A combination of beastly hot weather that drained my energy coupled with being overwhelmed with work to get out has kept me away from my blog recently. I hope things let up for the rest of the summer.

Yesterday, I received a question regarding when the Washington State teams were first called Cougars. That person wanted to know if the 1918 Spalding’s Guide referred to the 1917 WSC as Cougars. It didn’t, but didn’t call most teams by their nicknames, either.

Washington State lore places the origin of the use of that name for their teams to an unnamed Bay Area sportswriter who wrote that the WSC team “played like Cougars” in their October 25, 1919 game with Cal, the second game played under Gus Welch’s leadership. A quick scan of newspapers of that time uncovered a short article in the October 25, 1919 Oakland Tribune stated “Washington State College, the Cougars, meets the University of California here today….” The post-game coverage written by Doug Montell did not use Cougars or any other nickname for the WSC team although it did refer to the California team as the Bears. Even if Montell had called them Cougars, the WSC team couldn’t have been dubbed with that name for its play against Cal because some unnamed person at the Oakland Tribune called them that before the game was played. Regardless, this wasn’t the first time a college team in the state of Washington took that name.

The March 17, 1918 edition of the Oakland Tribune (yes, it was that same paper again) included an anonymous piece stating that the University of Washington had officially named its teams Cougars. So, a year and a half before the Tribune called the WSC team Cougars, it claimed that Washington had claimed the name. Perhaps someone in the Tribune’s sports department had a feline fetish.

 

Lone Star Gets His Due

May 24, 2012

Tonight, the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, DC holds a reception to kick off its new exhibit, “Best in the World: Native Athletes in the Olympics,” to celebrate the athletic achievements of Native Americans on the 100th anniversary of the 1912 Stockholm Games that featured legendary performances by Jim Thorpe and Lewis Tewanima. I am attending because Bob Wheeler, Jim Thorpe’s Boswell, is to speak there. While making preparations for attending this event, I received some unexpected news.

The National Football Foundation (NFF) released its selections for induction in the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2012 and Lone Star Dietz was finally on the list. As blog followers probably know, Greg and John Witter, first cousins and rabid Washington State football fans, and I campaigned to get Dietz placed on the Hall of Fame ballot some years ago. Getting his won-loss record corrected was the key to getting him nominated but there were larger obstacles yet to come.

Lone Star Dietz died in 1964 and there are few people still alive that knew him. Also, he coached at schools with smaller alumni bases and less clout than the major football factories. Washington State, for example, couldn’t muster the support for him that, say, Ohio State could for John Cooper or Michigan could for Lloyd Carr. While both these recent coaches had very good careers, neither had the impact on the history of the game as did Dietz. It’s one thing to inherit a strong program and be a good steward, but it is quite another to rebuild a floundering program from the ground up, something that Lone Star did multiple times.

The closest he came was in 2006 when the selectors chose Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno instead of the people who were on the ballot. A couple of years ago, when Lone Star’s name was dropped from the ballot, I gave up all hope of him ever being selected. I didn’t even know that his name was on the Divisional ballot this year, so was shocked when I started receiving phone calls from reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

All I can say is that it’s long overdue. Although he’s being brought in through the back door, so to speak, he will finally be in. He’s the first Carlisle Indian to be inducted as a coach; the rest were as players. Whether this honor is enough to offset the many indignities Dietz suffered and mollify the Lone Star Curse is yet to be seen.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/cougarfootball/2018262997_dietz23.html

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/may/23/blanchette-wsu-legend-dietz-gets-his-due/

Artichoke Played for Carlisle

April 26, 2012

I thought I’d continue with the theme of Carlisle Indians who played football in WWI by looking through the 1919 Spalding Guide for references to the Carlisle team or its players. Before starting that, I checked to make sure that I hadn’t done it before as my memory isn’t as good as it once was.  In January of this year, I did a piece about the Carlisle students whose names I wasn’t familiar with who were playing on military teams. I recollect having mentioned that, although the 1918 Spalding Guide included Carlisle’s schedule for that year, none of these games were played because the school was closed shortly before the beginning of the football season in 1918. Fortunately, some names I do recognize can be found in the 1919 book, too.

Om page 22 is the photograph of the 1918 Georgia Tech “Golden Tornado.”  Joe Guyon is #8 and John Heisman is #12.  Charles Guyon (Wahoo) isn’t in the photo.  Perhaps, Heisman got rid of him by then.  Page 188 displays headshots of players and coaches for the 1918 Mare Island Marines team. Lone Star Dietz, #3, coached this team composed mainly of his former Washington State players. So may of them were on this team that this photo was published as part of the Washington State yearbook for that year. The New Year’s Day game in Pasadena on January 1, 1919 was the second one for those who had also been on the 1915 Washington State squad that had played in Pasadena in 1916.

Page 263 includes a write up for the Base Section No. 5 team from Brest, a major port of embarkation: “On January 19, 1919, a Base foot ball squad was organized under Lieut. W. C. Collyer, former Cornell half-back.  This squad was composed of the above mentioned engineers, together with several stars gathered together from different outfits. Of these, the most prominent was Artichoke, a former Haskell and Carlisle Indian star.” Not being aware of anyone named Artichoke, I am confident that the player in question was Chauncey Archiquette, Jim Thorpe’s early idol. Unfortunately, a team photo wasn’t included to see that Artichoke was indeed Archiquette.

Hawkeagle Also Played in 1917

April 23, 2012

Page 110 includes headshots of soldiers who played on the Camp Funston (Fort Riley, Kansas) football team in 1917.  Number 29 is Pvt. Thomas Hawkeagle (aka Pretty Boy and Hawk Eagle).  Nothing further could be found about him in the book but it is well known that he played on the 1914 Carlisle team and distinguished himself so much against Auburn that he figures prominently in the legends of the origin of the War Eagle cheer.  Hawkeagle was the last Carlisle player mentioned in the 1918 Spalding Guide for activity in the 1917 season.  There were likely others but they weren’t mention by Spalding or I just missed them.  John Flinchum was listed on page 224 as the captain of the 1918 team, playing at left tackle.  No coach was listed for 1918 because none had been hired at that point.

Non-players in the form of officials were listed in the back of the book on pages 233 through 249.  Officials were separated into various groups: collegiate, service and scholastic, as well as by region, state or conference.  Southern Officials were grouped by white and colored.  Even the officials that were set apart as being active-duty military had this separation even though the Service Officials did not.  Indians were not segregated from other officials as Indian players had been allowed to play on otherwise all-white teams for many years.  Oddly, only one former Carlisle player was listed as an official and that was Mike Balenti.

The advertisement for Warner’s 1912 book was still being run in the 1918 guide.  This time, it included an anonymous testimonial for “The coach of an unbeaten Western college” who was surely Lone Star Dietz whose Washington State team had gone unbeaten in 1917.  Dietz’s team was not invited to the Rose Bowl that year because military teams were drawing large crowds at that time.  Dietz and his players would be invited at the end of the 1918 season but that time they wore Mare Island Marine uniforms.

Was Washington Offered Rose Bowl First?

February 7, 2011

In a discussion on Amazon.com of his biography of “Gloomy” Gil Dobie, William L. Borland, states that the University of Washington was offered the opportunity to defend the honor of the West and turned it down prior to it being offered to Washington State. UW’s account differs with that told by WSC. When asked where he found the information to support the claim, Borland responded that he found it in Seattle newspapers of the day. I have seen letters on Tournament of Roses letterhead to Washington State and to Brown University confirming that they would be playing each other on January 1, 1916, but I haven’t seen anything from the Tournament to UW. Research in Tournament of Roses and UW archives will be necessary to determine the truth. However, not finding anything in either archive does not mean that documents never existed, just that the institutions didn’t save them or that someone stole them from the archives. The latter happens more often than we’d like to admit.

It will be some time before I have the opportunity to do research at either institution, so basic newspaper searches will have to do for now. I do recall that an early report out of Providence stated that Brown would be playing the University of Washington. Prior to this, I thought that a reporter was confused. A quick search of an on-line newspaper archive found a November 10, 1915 article in The Bakersfield Californian that included the following:

“The undefeated University of Washington football eleven probably will be seen in action at Pasadena New Year’s Day, according to plans learned in Los Angeles yesterday. The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce has invited Coach Gilmour Dobie’s aggregation to meet one of the strongest eastern varsities at Pasadena January 1, and Washington is expected to accept the offer….Faculty permission is all that is needed, according to [Graduate Manager Arthur] Younger….Pasadena may bring Michigan out for the contest with Washington. However, as Michigan has been losing steadily it is believed that another school will be selected.”

To be continued…

Single-Wing Revisited

July 28, 2009

When addressing the incorrect assertion that Pop Warner had developed the single-wing formation while he was coaching at Pitt and Stanford in the 1920s by www.footballhistorian.com, I neglected to include a piece of evidence that demonstrates this statement is patently false.

Below is a photograph of the 1915 Washington State College team lined up in an unbalanced-line single wing formation. The photo can be found on page 79 of Richard Fry’s beautiful book, The Crimson and the Gray: 100 Years with the WSU Cougars, which has unfortunately gone out of print. (Something needs to be done about that.) The identities of the players, uniforms and helmets accurately date the photo. Lone Star Dietz, a single-wing aficionado, coached WSC for the 1915-17 seasons, so it is logical that his team would run it and the double-wing.

Dietz played on the Carlisle Indian School teams from 1909-11, then assisted Pop Warner from 1912-14. After the end of the 1914 season, Warner and Dietz headed to greener pastures. Warner took the head coaching job at Pitt and Dietz caught the train to Pullman.

If Warner hadn’t developed the single-wing at Carlisle as he said, this photo would mean that Lone Star came up with it on his own and never took credit for it, which is highly unlikely. Some of the confusion may be of Warner’s making.

Pop’s correspondence course (1908-11) and his first coaching book (1912) do not include this formation; they show earlier evolutions with balanced lines. The formation in the photo is the one Warner calls Formation A in his 1927 book. He likely held back his best stuff in his earlier publications because it is doubtful that Dietz would have been running the unbalanced-line single-wing as a primary formation in 1915 had it not been perfected used at Carlisle some years before.

WSC Single-Wing 1915

Lone Star Dietz Belongs in Hall of Fame

March 5, 2009

The National Football Foundation released the 2009 ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame and Lone Star Dietz’s name is on it again, but don’t get too excited. Lone Star Dietz should have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame decades ago but hasn’t been. In my opinion, Dietz shouldn’t need an HoF-worthy win-loss record (something he has) to gain admission to the Hall. His 1915 season culminated by the 1916 Rose Bowl in itself should be enough. He took over a Washington State team that had had a string of losing seasons and led them to the best record on the West Coast that year. As a reward, he was given the honor of defending the honor of the west in a New Year’s Day game to be played in Pasadena after the parade. At that time West Coast football was considered to be inferior to the Eastern brand. In 1899 the Carlisle Indians defeated the University of California in a Christmas Day game played in San Francisco and this was before the Indians hit their stride. A 1902 New Year’s game was played in Pasadena between Michigan and Stanford but it was a failure because Stanford threw in the towel in the second half while losing 49-0 because they could no longer field 11 players without broken bones. They waited until 1916 to give it another try.

Dietz and his team demonstrated to the entire country that West Coast football (at least Dietz’s team) was the equivalent of Eastern Football when they beat Coach Eddie Robinson’s fine Brown University team that featured Fritz Pollard. They also established the New Year’s Day football tradition, the Rose Bowl, and all the other bowls that would follow. Some Eastern sportswriters considered Washington State to be national champs that year. Dietz didn’t need to do anything more to deserve induction, but he did and did it well. Robinson and Pollard were inducted half a century ago but not Dietz. He was inducted into the Helms Foundation long ago but not the College Football Hall of Fame.

For years the HoF had incorrectly computed his win-loss record and deemed him unworthy of consideration. Their mistake was finally corrected in this century, so almost no one alive remembers him. Also, his selection would probably not result in as large a number of banquet tickets being sold as did Bowden’s and Paterno’s. Thus the HoF has little incentive to induct him.

lonestar-wyoming1

Brown Was In 1916 Rose Bowl, Too!

December 18, 2008

I recently posted some footage of the 1916 Rose Bowl that was provided to me by the Washington State athletic department onto www.YouTube.com/TomBenjey. Washington State was of course running the single-wing, but Brown was running a derivative that eagle-eyed Ted Seay observed that “At the 5:48 mark, Brown shifts into a double-flexed formation with an end and tackle to the left, then they slot their wingback inside that tandem and sweep to the left…” I am now working on a short video of Brown’s offense that will include slow-motion clips for those of us who don’t have Ted’s powers of observation. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTA2w8aanPc&feature=channel_page That got me thinking about Brown’s players. Everyone is familiar with Fritz Pollard and, to use WSC’s descriptor, “the giant [Mark] Farnum,” but there are other players from that team who are in the Brown Hall of Fame. Let’s start with Josh Weeks because I have communicated with his son, Randall, who talked with him about the game.

Joshua H. Weeks, number 42, played right end on the 1915 Brown University team that played against Washington State in the 1916 Rose Bowl. Later in life he shared some of his experiences with his sons. Randy has been good enough to pass some of his memories along to me. For starters, Brown got little exercise, contrary to what the cartoon at the bottom of this piece insinuated. Prior to the game the players encountered citrus trees loaded with ripe fruit and gorged themselves on oranges. What a mistake! The result was frequent bathroom runs during the game.

Seeing no need for cold or wet weather gear, Brown brought neither along with them. Two days before the game it snowed and it poured during the game. Lone Star Dietz only brought summer suits for himself but did bring mud cleats for his players. Fritz Pollard could get no footing and was held to a season-low in yards gained. He did notice that Lone Star’s white suit was covered with mud before the first quarter was over.

<to be continued>

 brown-practice

Rally in the Valley

October 3, 2008

David “Cougman” Welch informs me that an autographed copy of Keep A-goin’: the life of Lone Star Dietz and a Lone Star Dietz custom silk necktie are being auctioned off to help fund scholarships for students attending Washington State University and to support the WSU Alumni Association. The Rally in the Valley is the Skagit Valley Cougars’ signature event each year. More information can be found about this year’s event at http://alumni.wsu.edu/site/c.llKYL9MQIsG/b.2123257/. A flyer for the event can be found here: www.Tuxedo-Press.com/RallyInTheValley.pdf.

 

For those unfamiliar with Lone Star Dietz, a little background is in order. William Henry Lone Star Dietz was a star tackle at Carlisle Indian School, assistant coach under Pop Warner for three years and also an art instructor. Dietz took the reins as head coach in Pullman in 1915. In his three years as head coach at Washington State (four if you count the 1918 Mare Island Marines composed heavily of his former college players), Dietz led them to two undefeated regular seasons (three if you count the Mare Island year) and Washington State’s only Rose Bowl win (also their first loss if you count the Mare Island team).

 

Keep A-goin’ tells Lone Star Dietz’s life story. The necktie as seen below incorporates the distinctive signature Lone Star put on his artwork. Also note that the tie is in Washington State colors (crimson and gray). I will be wearing one of these ties on the evening of October 17 when he is inducted into the Albright College Hall of Fame.

 


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