Posts Tagged ‘College Football Hall of Fame’

Guiding The White Brethren

October 26, 2012

The electronic version of the Fall 2012 edition of the magazine for the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is finally out. My article on Carlisle Indians who went on to coach other teams is on page 46 (page 44 of print version). The idea for this article came to me after attending Lone Star Dietz’s enshrinement ceremony into the College Football Hall of Fame. He is the only Carlisle Indian to be inducted as a coach. Six others, some of whom also coached, were enshrined previously but as players. It is unlikely that any others will receive this honor because no other Carlisle Indian coached as long or with nearly as much success as Dietz.

American Indian athletic prowess is getting much attention this year due to 2012 being the 100th anniversary of Jim Thorpe’s extraordinary triumphs in the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Games. Anyone unfamiliar with Native Americans’ success in the Olympics can read my several previous blog entries on this topic.

Worthy of note is that Dietz and the others had great success coaching white college and professional players. Many of them, including Dietz, coached Indian teams at one time or another but the vast majority of their coaching careers were with white college teams. Having played with Carlisle and knowing the Warner System gave these men instant credibility and opened doors for them. After going through those doors, success or the lack of it was the deciding factor. After all, sports have always been a meritocracy. Performance matters above all. Carlisle players succeeded on the field both as players and coaches. The graduate system of coaching that was tried in the early 20th century limited coaching opportunities for those who hadn’t attended major colleges but numerous smaller schools welcomed Carlisle Indians to lead their teams. Although far from an ideal situation, these men were given the opportunity to succeed or fail on their own merits and they largely succeeded.

http://content.yudu.com/A1yt4b/fall2012/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.americanindianmagazine.org%2Fabout-us

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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

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/

The Dangers of Awarding Honors Prematurely

November 15, 2011

Current events interrupt the scheduled blog for today. The Big Ten Conference announced that they are removing Joe Paterno’s name from the conference championship trophy. I haven’t made my mind up regarding Paterno’s involvement, if any, in Penn State’s cover up of the crimes committed on its premises to young boys, but I do see the folly in bestowing honors on coaches still in the midst of their careers. If the evidence eventually exonerates Paterno, will the Big Ten return his name to the trophy? What will Penn State do about the statue of Joe Paterno that stands in front of Beaver Stadium.? Penn State would not have to make a decision regarding the statue if they had waited to put up a monument dedicated to him.

A few years ago, the National Football Foundation (NFF) interrupted the counting of votes on ballots submitted by voting members of the NFF to determine which coaches would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame to select two coaches for induction who were not on the ballot because they were not eligible for induction because of the rules in place at that time. The NFF quickly changed the rules in a tortured way to make Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno eligible, disregarded the ballots that had been cast, and selected Bowden and Paterno for the upcoming induction. That might have been Lone Star Dietz’s chance to be inducted but we will never know that because all the votes for him and the other candidates on the ballot were ignored.

Because of their premature action, the NFF now has to decide to strip Paterno of their honor as has the Big Ten Conference or to let him remain in the hall in spite of what happened while he was actively coaching. If the NFF had simply followed their own rules, the NFF would not have a decision to make.

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.

George Woodruff’s Coaching Record

June 8, 2010

Recently, biographer David O. Stewart asked “Who’s Checking the Facts?” in his blog at: http://207.56.179.67/david_stewart/2010/05/whos-checking-the-facts.html. In that blog, Stewart pointed out a gross error in a book that “just received a respectful review from NPR.” The book in question described Aaron Burr as “tall, elegantly dressed…” when it is widely known that Burr was short and that he was called “little Burr.” Stewart wonders “Why don’t book reviewers catch such howlers? Laziness? Ignorance? You tell me…” I have asked myself similar questions with regard to the 2007 books on Jim Thorpe by Sally Jenkins and Lars Anderson. Stewart’s question caused me to revisit Jenkins’s glaring omission of the 1905 Carlisle-Army game.

While trying to determine where Jenkins came up with a 10-5 record for the Carlisle Indians (she apparently included the Second Team’s loss to Susquehanna University on the same day the Varsity lost to Harvard), I noticed that Advisory Coach George Woodruff is generally credited by usually accurate sources, such as the College Football Hall of Fame and cfbdatawarehouse.com, with Carlisle’s 10 wins and 4 losses that year. This error is understandable because head coaches normally lead their teams for the entire season. That was not the case for George Woodruff and the 1905 Carlisle Indians.

After the Indians beat the Cadets at West Point on November 11, 1905 (the first time the Indians played Army), Woodruff left the team and headed to Washington, DC for a government job. Thus, his record for 1905 was 7-2. The remaining 5 games should have been awarded to Woodruff’s assistant, Ralph Kinney. Woodruff’s old friend, Gifford Pinchot, had taken the helm of the newly formed U. S. Forest Service and needed legal counsel. Woodruff accepted the position as the first Chief Legal Officer for the Forest Service.

Eliminating the 3 wins and 2 losses for games played after he was no longer coaching Carlisle does not dilute Woodruff’s worthiness for induction in the College Football Hall of Fame in the least. It’s just that records should be accurate.

Lone Star Dietz on 2010 Hall of Fame Ballot

March 13, 2010

We are celebrating Dietz’s listing by giving 20% off his biography at www.Tuxedo-Press.com. To learn more about Lone Star Dietz, check out www.LoneStarDietz.com.

The National Football Foundation released this year’s ballot of candidates for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Lone Star Dietz is on the ballot again.  This year, he is joined by:

  • Barry Alverez of Wisconsin
  • Jim Carlen of South Carolina, Texas Tech and West Virginia
  • Wayne Hardin of Temple and Navy
  • Bill McCartney of Colorado
  • Billy Jack Murphy of Memphis
  • Darryl Rogers of Arizona State, Michigan State, San Jose State, Fresno State and Cal State-Hayward

It will be interesting to see if the injustice done to Lone Star will be corrected this year. It also remains to be seen if the Lone Star Curse over Washington State will ever be lifted. WSU’s last undefeated season was in 1917, Dietz’s last year in Pullman. Their last, and only, Rose Bowl victory was in 1916 when Dietz’s undefeated warriors upset Fritz Pollard and Brown to put West Coast football on the map and to establish the Rose Bowl and all the other bowl games that followed.

Indians Dissed by Halls of Fame

May 4, 2009

Last week was a bad week for Indian athletes. Both players and coaches continue to be overlooked for honors they deserve. Lone Star Dietz was passed over again for Induction into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach. He was inducted into the prestigious Helms Foundation years ago but the College Football Hall of Fame didn’t even think he was eligible until a few years ago. It wasn’t until Washington State super-alum Greg Witter and I did some research and got Dietz’s win-loss record corrected that they put his name on the ballot. By then he had been dead for almost 40 years and very few people are still alive that remember him. But he’s not the only Indian the College Football Hall of Fame has dissed or the only Hall of Fame to diss an Indian athlete.

Last week the West Shore Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame inducted its new class. Frank Mt. Pleasant, who I nominated last year, wasn’t picked. It’s hard to imagine how the chapter local to his greatest achievements could overlook one of the greatest of the Carlisle Indians, but they did. Fortunately, the West Shore Chapter isn’t the only option. He was already inducted into the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Hall of Fame for his work there as a coach after his playing days were over. Maybe their chapter will induct him.

Recently, questions have come in about the Haskell Institute star John Levi. He was considered to be as good as Jim Thorpe in every aspect of the game but kicking. Thorpe himself considered Levi to be the best athlete he had ever seen. Unfortunately for John, Carlisle Indian School did not exist when he came of age. The mantle of Indian sports leadership passed to Haskell Institute in Lawrence, KS after Carlisle closed. Although Levi and his Haskell teammates had great records under Coach Richard Hanley, they seldom played in front of the eastern media. That kept John Levi from being named to the major All America teams. He was named to minor ones but that wasn’t enough to get him elected to the Hall of Fame. J

im Thorpe wasn’t the only Indian to lead the nation in scoring (198 points in 1912); John Levi outscored everyone in both 1923 and 1924 (149 and 112 points, respectively). His teammate, Mayes McLain outdid him and everyone else in 1926 with 259 points. Barry Sanders holds the all-time single-season scoring record with 234 points. By my math, he scored 25 fewer points than Mayes McLain. Why doesn’t McLain hold the record?

Legendary coach Charles Moran isn’t in either although he had a great record, including the legendary 1921 defeat of Harvard by his Centre College Praying Colonels. Maybe it’s because he coached Mike Balenti and Victor “Choc” Kelley in his first year at Texas A & M.

Will Hall of Fame Move?

April 26, 2009

The National Football Foundation has not yet been moved to induct Lone Star Dietz into the College Football Hall of Fame but the results of this year’s voting haven’t been released yet. I just learned that Dietz’s 1916 Rose Bowl win over Brown was historic in a way of which I was previously unaware. While it is well known that Washington State’s 14-0 defeat of Brown put West Coast football one the map, established the Rose Bowl, and the New Year’s Day football tradition. What I didn’t realize was that game was the first victory of a West Coast team over a team from east of the Alleghenies. Brown traveled the longest distance to play in a game to that point. The 1899 Carlisle Indians defeated the University of California in San Francisco for what was likely the previous longest distance traveled.

The Big Four, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Penn, rarely played games away from home other than when they played each other. So, it was to see that Penn played Oregon on New Year’s Day 1917 in Pasadena. But Penn was more flexible in playing games away from home than were the Big Three. In those days, Penn would generally play a road game against a team like Brown or Dartmouth and for several years participated in a home-and-away series with Michigan. So, adding a second road game was probably more easily accommodated by Penn than it would have been by the Big Three. Regardless, Penn became the second team east of the Alleghenies to lose to a West Coast team when they lost to Oregon 14-0 in the 1917 Rose Bowl.

Dallas boosters recently announced plans to relocate the College Football Hall of Fame from South Bend, IN to Dallas. Oil man T. Boone Pickens has reputedly agreed to put up the money to cover the Hall’s relocation costs. It remains to be seen if the College Football Hall of Fame would relocate from the homes of the Gipper and the Four Horsemen and the rest of the Irish legends.

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.

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