Did the Quarterback Sneak Originate in the 1912 Harvard-Yale Game?

A few weeks ago, Alyssa Roenigk, Senior Writer for ESPN The Magazine, queried Tex Noel, Editor of The College Football Historian, a monthly publication of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association (IFRA), about a 1912 game between Harvard and Yale in which the quarterback sneak supposedly originated or, at least, was popularized. Tex forwarded her query to the researchers on his list, of which I am one. Alyssa’s question triggered a tremendous amount of activity on the part of a number of individuals in several different directions. The response was amazing, even to Alyssa.

One person researched the origin of the story, a Wikipedia article. Another researched the players that were supposed to have been involved. Others found coverage of the game in question in newspapers. Being skeptical of the claim, I focused on the rules in place in the years leading up to that game. Others probably looked in directions of which I’m not aware.

Alyssa interviewed me about what I found as she surely interviewed others as to what they discovered. She was quite taken with the activity, both in quantity and depth, that resulted from her question and she will likely look to the IFRA for assistance with future articles.

Ms. Roenigk is working on an article about the history of the quarterback sneak that will appear in the football pre-season edition of ESPN The Magazine that will likely include quotes from several IFRA researchers. I don’t know if a link will be available to the article if it is placed on ESPN’s website because a paid subscription to the magazine may be required to have access to the articles on the website. Anyway, look for the quarterback sneak article as you peruse the print magazine at your local newsstand.

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