Posts Tagged ‘All-America team’

Reprints of Early Spalding’s Football Guides Now Available

August 19, 2011

A. G. Spalding’s football guides from the early days of college football are excellent sources of information for football historians and researchers. Unfortunately, these books are now quite old and fragile, a factor that severely limits their use as research tools. To make matters worse, they have become rare enough that, when copies appear for sale, they are quite expensive.

Seeing the need for inexpensive copies of these highly useful books, Tuxedo Press is reprinting them in paperback form as they previously did for what they call Pop Warner’s Single-Wing Trilogy. Coaches, researchers and historians have found the Warner books so useful that Tuxedo Press is doing the same thing for Spalding’s Official Football Guides for the years 1883 to 1919 as copies of these books become available to them to reprint in paperback form.

Because the years from 1883 to 1893 were very small, they are bound as a single volume. Beginning with 1899, the next year Tuxedo press has found so far, each year is printed separately because those volumes are much larger. Besides the rule changes for the upcoming season, an annual volume includes Walter Camp’s three All-America team selections for the previous season, other critics picks for their All-America teams, assessments of the various teams’ successes for the previous season and outlook for the upcoming season. These books are filled with illustrated ads for Spalding equipment. The equipment illustrations could be very useful in researching the evolution of helmets and such.

More information can be found at http://www.tuxedo-press.com/index_files/Reprints.htm. The reprints of the Spalding’s Guides are also available through on-line resellers and can be ordered by your local bookstore.

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1903 Rule Changes Quarterback Position

March 14, 2011

Recently, I have received several questions about football rules that I couldn’t answers because I don’t have all the old rules books. BTW, if someone sends me a complete set of the Spalding Football Guides, I will be eternally grateful. By chance–the way I learn most things–I happened upon a rule change that I wasn’t looking for and of which I was completely unaware.

An August 7, 1903 New York Times article titled “New Rules May Require Heavier and Fleeter Players to Replace Old Style Lightweight Quarterbacks.” The rules didn’t require that heavier players be assigned to the quarterback position. Rather, the rule change that allowed quarterbacks to carry the ball would make sturdier players with footspeed better candidates for that position. I was unaware that, prior to 1903, quarterbacks were not allowed to run with the ball after receiving the center snap (which could have been anything from a heel back to a ball skidding across the grass), the quarterback had to get rid of the ball quickly by handing it or passing (we would call it lateraling today) the ball to another player because he wasn’t allowed to advance the ball himself.

It stands to reason that such a rule might have been in place because, in rugby, the game American football evolved from, the hooker heels the ball back through the scrum to the scrum half (usually a diminutive player) who, as quickly as he can, passes the ball off to another back who runs with the ball or passes it along to another player. The quarterback position developed out of the scrum half and functioned much like its counterpart in the older game for some decades. Being small was considered as being an asset for early quarterbacks because smaller athletes were perceived to be better able to scoop up the ball, handle it, and get it off quickly to the ball carrier.

With the rule change allowing quarterbacks to carry the ball, speed became more important as did ruggedness. This 1903 rule change probably benefitted Carlisle because their quarterback that year, James Johnson, was definitely fleet of foot. However, at 5’7” tall and 138 pounds, he was lighter than any Walter Camp First Team All America quarterback since 1889. He must have been rugged enough, though.

Carlisle Indians Continue to be Snubbed

March 11, 2011

The 2011 ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame came out this week with Lone Star Dietz’s name removed. This is yet another snub to a Carlisle Indian School player. Dietz has also been snubbed by the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame as a demonstration of their ingratitude. After all, where would the Rose Bowl be without Dietz? Nothing the College Football Hall of Fame does surprises me anymore. A few years ago, when Dietz should have been inducted, the selection committee ignored the votes for the seven coaches on that year’s ballot and selected two coaches who were not on the ballot because they were not eligible for induction due to the fact that they were still actively coaching. So, the ironically named Honors Committee, in an Animal Farm-like move, changed the rules to make these two eligible and selected them even though no voter received a ballot with their names on it. Unfortunately, Dietz isn’t the only Carlisle Indian to be snubbed by a Hall of Fame.

The Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame has failed to induct Olympian Frank Mt. Pleasant into even a regional chapter is astounding. If Mt. Pleasant’s football and track accomplishments at Carlisle aren’t enough, consider what he did elsewhere in Pennsylvania. That he has already been inducted in both the Dickinson College and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Halls of Fame indicates that he accomplished quite a bit while at each of those institutions on top of what he did at Carlisle. Frank is no stranger to being snubbed, as Walter Camp, who only gave him Honorable Mention on his 1907 All America team for being not rugged enough because he was too injured to play in the Chicago game, the Indians’ 11th game of the season. I’m not holding my breath for the PA Sports Hall of Fame doing the right thing anymore than I am for the College Football HoF. But these aren’t the only Carlisle Indians deserving of honors.

The College Football Hall of Fame does not have a category for athletic trainers but it does have a catch-all category called contributor, though. Wall ace Denny pioneered the role of athletic trainer first as a student at the Indian school and, later, as a member of the staff, and for decades after that with Pop Warner at Stanford and Temple. Before Denny started assisting Pop Warner with the care of the players’ bodies, there was no such thing as an athletic trainer as we know it. But Wallace Denny changed all that and should be remembered for it.

If Carlisle Indian School had a large alumni organization and could guarantee large ticket sales for induction events, these men might have a chance, but they don’t and little money would be raised by their selection.

Carlisle’s First All-America Selections

July 23, 2009

While researching the 1905 Carlisle-Massillon game for an article in an upcoming issue of the Professional Football Researchers Association’s (PFRA) journal, The Coffin Corner, I came across a statement in the late Robert W. Peterson’s Pigskin: the early years of pro football that caught my eye. Of course it has nothing to do with the article but it made me curious.

Peterson wrote, “It was not sectional chauvinism at work when 129 out of 132 All-American berths between 1889 and 1900 were filled by players from those four schools [Harvard, Yale, Princeton & Penn]. The best players were really there.” I recalled that Carlisle’s first Walter Camp first team All-American was Isaac Seneca in 1899. If Peterson was accurate, that would put Seneca and the Carlisle program at a lofty level.

The Walter Camp website lists all of his All-America teams beginning in 1892 when he created the concept of such a team. Sure enough, all the players named were from the Big Four until 1895 when Cornell’s Clinton R. Wyckoff was named to the team. The next non-Big Four player to be named was Clarence B. Herschberger of Chicago in 1898. Seneca became the third in 1899. The fourth was William Morley of Columbia in 1900. Whether Peterson was right depends on the meaning of between. Does between include the 1900 team?

Things changed a lot in 1901 when four outsiders were selected: two from Army, one from Cornell (Pop Warner’s younger brother) and one from Columbia. In 1902, Paul B. Bunker of Army, a repeat from the previous year, was the only non-Big Four player on the list. And in 1903, Carlisle had its second All-American in the person of James Johnson. H. J. Hopper of Dartmouth, Willie Heston of Michigan, and Richard Smith of Columbia were also on that team.

Here’s a question? Did Carlisle have a first Team All-American before any Big Ten school had one? (Disregard when schools entered and left the Big Ten for this question.)