The Yost Affair

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.

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