Archive for November, 2010

Indians Also Innovated

November 29, 2010

Pop Warner is viewed by most historians as the great football innovator and especially for his work at Carlisle Indian School. However, not all the innovations at Carlisle were Warner’s brainchildren. In 1906, the Indians were coached by former players Frank Hudson and Bemus Pierce who Warner helped prepare for the revolutionary rule changes that were implemented that year. After Warner departed for Cornell to start his season, Hudson and Pierce were pretty much on their own. But that wasn’t much of a problem. The Carlisle Indians were called a lot of things but witless wasn’t one of them.

One of the major rule changes was the legalization of the forward pass. Completing a pass wasn’t the easiest thing to do, particularly when both teams wore similar brown or black leather helmets. Passers needed a way to identify the eligible receivers. So, during the very first season in which the forward pass was legal, the Indians experimented with special helmets to help the passer find his target. The November 21, 1906 edition of The Lake County News described this early attempt at receiver identification. Five players wore snow white helmets and one wore a blazing red one. The article used the term headgear rather than helmet which, given the early state of helmet development, is probably more accurate. Given that the four backs and two ends are eligible to receive passes, the total of six special helmets makes sense. It seems fair to surmise that the red one would be worn by the player who does most of the passing and that the white ones are worn by those who can go out for passes.

In 1933, Michigan State started using a winged helmet for all its players to differentiate their men from the defenders. Less than a decade later, Lone Star Dietz’s Albright College team painted crosses on the tops of the receivers’ helmets but didn’t invent that idea as it had been used before, possibly even at Carlisle.

All-Indian Backfield

November 25, 2010

While doing a little research at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio recently, I came across a photocopy of a newspaper article titled “Backfield of Indians—Plan of Jim Thorpe.” The article began by saying that Thorpe planned on fielding an Indian backfield for the Canton Bulldogs during the 1919 season. The name of the newspaper and date were not on the copy but the paper must have been local to Canton or nearby Massillon because the third paragraph began, “Guyon’s presence here…” which implies that the paper is local to the team’s location. Discussing the possible line-up for the 1919 season suggests that the article was written after the end of the 1918 season, definitely after Armistice in November 1918. Sometime in 1919 is more likely because the article stated, “…will reach shores not later than September.”

The writer discusses how Thorpe plans to reunite with three of his former Carlisle teammates all in Canton’s backfield. Gus Welch would play quarterback (blocking back in the single-wing, wingback in the double-wing), Joe Guyon and Thorpe would be the halfbacks, and Pete Calac would be the fullback. All had played together on the 1912 Indian team but Guyon and Calac were needed on the line to replace Lone Star Dietz and Bill Newashe at the tackle positions because they were no longer playing on the team. Welch, Guyon and Calac were all in the backfield on the 1913 edition but Thorpe had departed by then.

Thorpe’s dream of being reunited fell through because Gus Welch took the head coaching position that had opened up with Lone Star Dietz’s dismissal. Thorpe, Calac and Guyon played pro ball together for several years and won championships in 1919 and 1920. Thorpe tried to field the same all-Indian backfield in 1917 but Joe Guyon elected to play college ball for National Champions Georgia Tech, was named to Walter Camp’s All America Second team at halfback, the same honor he received in 1913, his last year at Carlisle.

The Yost Affair

November 22, 2010

Fielding Yost was a contemporary of Pop Warner known for coaching the point-a-minute Michigan teams. After reading in the same article that triggered the previous blog that after coaching Kansas in 1899, Yost moved to Michigan. Knowing that was wrong, I checked the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia, and found something I didn’t expect to find. That nugget was “The Yost Affair.”

Fielding Yost, a West Virginia native, enrolled in Ohio Normal School (known today as Ohio Northern University) in 1889 and played on their baseball team. Sometime after leaving Ohio Normal, Yost enrolled at West Virginian University where he played football beginning in 1894 at age 23. In October 1896, West Virginia played, and lost, to Lafayette in three successive days in games all played at or near home. Not liking to lose, Yost transferred to Lafayette in mid-season to play on Parke H. Davis’s national championship team. So, just a week after playing against Lafayette, he played for them in their big game with Penn and helped them win.

Penn officials didn’t miss noticing Yost’s sudden appearance on Lafayette’s roster and dubbed this “The Yost Affair.” The Philadelphia Ledger quoted him as saying that he came to Lafayette only to play football. Two weeks later, he was at West Virginia. However, he reassured all concerned that he intended to return to Lafayette for at least three years of schooling. The next fall, in 1897, he embarked on a coaching career instead. The Big Ten’s account of Yost’s early history has him graduating from Lafayette with a law degree.

1897 found Yost at Ohio Wesleyan; in 1898 he was at Nebraska; and, as stated earlier, in 1899 he was at Kansas. 1900 did not find him at Michigan but at Stanford from which he was forced to depart because they began requiring that coaches be graduates of that institution. Somehow he was also co-coach of San Jose State that year. One wonders how he was able to do that considering that San Jose played Stanford twice. Some conjecture that Michigan’s merciless drubbing of Stanford on January 1, 1902 was a bit of revenge on Yost’s part.

Warner Didn’t Do It

November 18, 2010

I was recently sent an article on a particular topic on the history of football—it doesn’t matter which article because this is a common error—that attributed or blamed, depending on one’s perspective on Pop Warner that he did not do. That Warner had a split tenure at Carlisle Indian School is either not widely known or is forgotten by many when they write about Carlisle football. In this instance, the matter has to do with the 1904 Carlisle-Haskell game and the mass transfer of football talent from Haskell to Carlisle that happened after that game.

For a little background, President Theodore Roosevelt was to spend a few days around Thanksgiving at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Promoters saw an opportunity to attract greater attendance by staging a football game for Teddy to attend. Their first choice was to host the Army-Navy game that year. That idea was turned down immediately. The next thing that came to mind was to have the two prominent government Indian boarding school teams play each other as both were running roughshod over the competition in their respective parts of the country. Carlisle was already scheduled to play Ohio State on Thanksgiving, so the game with Haskell Institute of Lawrence, Kansas, was set for the Saturday following the holiday.

Why did Warner have nothing to do with this game, one asks? Well, Pop Warner left Carlisle after the 1903 season to return to coaching his alma mater, Cornell. The reason for that move, according to his critics, was that he was paid more money. They are probably correct. Warner coached Cornell through the 1904, 1905 and 1906 seasons and, other than teaching his new formations to Carlisle’s Indian coaches in 1906, probably had little to do with the operation of that program. He had no reason to recruit Haskell players for Carlisle. He might have tried to entice the best ones to enroll at Cornell, but that seems improbable.

Superintendent Richard Henry Pratt had been relieved of command of Carlisle Indian School in the summer of 1904 and replaced by then Captain William A. Mercer. With no athletic director in place and the coaches hired just for the season, Mercer filled the void left by Warner’s departure and became involved with the football program. The next year, he arranged the first Carlisle-Army game but that is a separate story.

More on Espresso Book Machine

November 15, 2010

While theEspresso Book Machine (EBM) was printing the book, the representative said that they received six to ten orders per week. Some of these orders may be for a single copy of a book but others can be for tens of copies. It seems that the machine is greatly underutilized at this time because the equipment is capable of printing thousands of books per month. In fact, the minimum usage for ExpressNet, the software that connects the EBM to book print files from a variety of sources, is 5,000 copies a year. Download the files for fewer than 5,000 titles a year is viewed as underutilizing ExpressNet. If I understand correctly, locally created books need not be uploaded to ExpressNet to be printed on an EBM. Thus, an ExpressNet connection is not necessary but does limit the range of works available for printing on a particular EBM. One of the sources linked to by ExpressNet is Lightning Source (LSI). LSI is the digital print on demand arm of Ingram, the large book wholesaler. I am interested in this connection because the Pop Warner Single-Wing Trilogy is printed by LSI. Books printed by LSI are automatically available to almost all resellers of books both on and off-line. Now, I need to see how to make the Trilogy available to EBMs world-wide, not that many people outside the U.S. would be interested in it.

I assumed that UM professors who consider the textbooks in their heads to be better than those that are actually in print would see the opportunity to easily convert the books in their minds into physical form without having to convince a publisher to pay them to write the book. Professor-authors could then sell these books to captive buyers in the forms of their students. This hasn’t happened to any significant degree as yet, most likely because the idea hasn’t dawned on them yet apparently because most of them are unaware of the EBM’s existence and capabilities. When they do, grad students will be tasked with creating the PDFs to input to the machine. Whether professors will actually write the books or if that task will be delegated to grad students will vary on a case-by-case basis.

Espresso Book Machine Redux

November 11, 2010

A little over a year ago I attempted and failed to see an Espresso Book Machine actually create a book at the University of Michigan Undergraduate Library (see . Last Friday, I had the opportunity to try again. I feared the worst when, upon arriving at the library, it was under construction, probably for remodeling and/or expansion. After finding our way into the building (as a UM alum, my wife knows her way around the campus—at least the way it was when she was an undergrad), the machine wasn’t where it used to be because that area had been changed into something else. The person at the reference desk knew they had such a machine but didn’t know where it had been moved. Fortunately, the two students working at the reference desk across this very large room did know and pointed it out to us as being next to a glassed-in area in this same large room.

We timed our visit to the library to coincide with the machine’s operating hours (10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. weekdays). Two young women demonstrated the machine to us while printing a book that was part of an order of 60 or 80 copies of a single book from a campus organization. The printing of the bookblock took longer than usual because the regular printer is in the shop and a slower replacement was being used at the time. Watching the EBM assemble the book and trimming it to size was the most interesting part. The cover had a bulge on it along the top of the spine. The operator said that every so often the glue blobs up like that but that it isn’t a major problem.

Thousands, if not millions, of titles are available to be printed. They come from four major groups: 1) those made available by Lightning Source, Ingram’s print on demand arm, 2) books submitted electronically to it by local authors, 3) books that have been scanned by Google (Michigan’s entire collection was scanned), and 4) advance review copies for books to be published by the University of Michigan University Press. The woman went on to explain that they only printed out of copyright books or those for which permission had been granted.

More about the EBM next time.

The Penalty Play

November 9, 2010

Readers of this blog are probably well familiar with trick plays that the Carlisle Indians ran. There’s a new one that they didn’t run but would have if they had thought of it. The Penalty Play has aspects of the Dead Indian Play and the Hidden Ball Play with some more deception thrown in.

Driscoll Middle School of Corpus Christi, Texas was trailing rival Wynn Seale 6-0 late in the third quarter when the Wynn Seale defense was penalized five yards. It was then that Driscoll’s quarterback saw his chance to call the trick play the team had been working on prior to the game. Immediately after the officials respotted the ball, Driscoll quarterback Jason Garza told his center, in a voice everyone could hear, that the refs were going to mark off five more yards and to give him the ball. The center then handed the ball to the Garza who then casually stepped off several yards straight through the defense. When he cleared the secondary, Garza took off running for the goal line and outraced the defenders who belatedly figured out it was a trick.

While Garza did a great job of acting, his coach, Art Rodriguez, served as his foil on the sideline by barking commands to him and making animated gestures to help confuse the defense. The coach’s part in this ruse is visible on the bottom of the screen at the beginning of the clip. This play was picked up by the Today show and The New York Daily News. Rodriguez revealed that the play was the brainchild of assistant coach John Delosantos.

The play can be viewed without a commercial at

Miscellaneous Research

November 4, 2010

This blog deals with some miscellaneous research findings and issues that aren’t closely related to each other.

An event that helped trigger my interest in researching the Craighead naturalists was mentioned in this blog some time ago when I noticed that Frank Craighead, age 12, agreed to stock a terrarium for Miss Paull’s classroom at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Later, I noticed that Frank’s older sister, Rebecca, visited Miss Paull at the Indian School. Now, I learn that Rebecca graduated from Carlisle High School and gave an oration at her graduation ceremony in 1906 entitled “Nature Is God’s Mirror.” Frank graduated from CHS two years later. At his ceremony, Carlisle Indian School Superintendent Moses Friedman conferred the diplomas. This was yet another example of the Indian School’s involvement with the local community.

Today, I visit the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio with multiple objectives. First, I want to photograph Leon Boutwell’s Oorang Indians uniform. I have seen several black and white photos of these maroon and orange outfits but haven’t encountered any that are in color. I read where Boutwell’s descendents donated his suit to the HoF and would love to see it. Who knows, it might make a great cover photo for “Carlisle Indians in the NFL.”

Also while at the HoF, I want to do a little research on players about whom I need more information. Chief among them is Joe Little Twig, another Oorang Indian. He played in the NFL for a few years after the Oorang franchise folded and eventually settled in Canton, Ohio. His early life is unclear. Little Twig is reputed to have attended Carlisle Indian School but I have not found any evidence of that. Perhaps, he was enrolled under a different name but I don’t know what that was. Here’s hoping that I find more information on him today.

It Probably Wasn’t the Single-Wing

November 2, 2010

Now that we’ve dealt with some obvious errors in Rich Manning’s article, let’s get to the original issue: formations. The single-wing section in the Carlisle Indian School article in starts this way:

In 1907, ‘Pop’ Warner returned to Carlisle. Together he and the Indians developed a new formation that would revolutionize football. The single wing shifted the halfback out wide, to outflank the opposing tackle. The new offense formed a shape that look like a wing. It opened up options and disguised intentions. The ability to show one thing and do another combined with the new rules made it possible to run, throw or kick at any time. ‘Pop’ Warner unveiled the new formation against the University of Pennsylvania, on Oct. 26, 1907.

I have read that the single-wing was unleashed in several different years due to Pop Warner’s inconsistent memory and writers’ imaginations. After researching this topic a bit, I came to believe that the single-wing did not arrive fully formed as the unbalanced-line, direct snap version depicted as Formation A in Warner’s 1927 book. I have concluded that the formation evolved over time as Warner implied on page 136 of his 1927 classic where he stated that it was first used by the Carlisle Indians and that he had used it or variations of it since the rules change of 1906. That he spent a week in Carlisle before the start of the season preparing coaches Bemus Pierce and Frank Hudson for the rule changes gives credibility for it having been first used by the Indians in 1906 when he wasn’t their coach. Fortunately, some documentation exists.

Warner began marketing a correspondence course on football in 1908 for which I have located and have reprinted the Offense pamphlet along with its annual updates. The 1908 pamphlet includes a number of offensive formations, which is not surprising as Warner was noted for tinkering with them. That newspaper coverage of the 1907 Penn game mentioned that multiple formations were used is not surprising. However, it is far from clear that end-back formation, the earliest documented version of Warner’s single-wing, was the formation being described for many of the plays as it didn’t feature a direct snap to a running back. That would come later. However, the punt formation did allow direct snaps to the backs and Warner had devised a set of running and passing plays from this formation.

He even described Play No. 17 thusly, “This is the long forward pass play used so successfully last season.” Last season would have been 1907, so this is likely the formation from which Frank Mt. Pleasant and Pete Hauser completed all those passes, not an early incarnation of the single-wing.

Play No. 17 from 1908 correspondence course Offense pamphlet