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Single-Wing Revisited

July 28, 2009

When addressing the incorrect assertion that Pop Warner had developed the single-wing formation while he was coaching at Pitt and Stanford in the 1920s by, I neglected to include a piece of evidence that demonstrates this statement is patently false.

Below is a photograph of the 1915 Washington State College team lined up in an unbalanced-line single wing formation. The photo can be found on page 79 of Richard Fry’s beautiful book, The Crimson and the Gray: 100 Years with the WSU Cougars, which has unfortunately gone out of print. (Something needs to be done about that.) The identities of the players, uniforms and helmets accurately date the photo. Lone Star Dietz, a single-wing aficionado, coached WSC for the 1915-17 seasons, so it is logical that his team would run it and the double-wing.

Dietz played on the Carlisle Indian School teams from 1909-11, then assisted Pop Warner from 1912-14. After the end of the 1914 season, Warner and Dietz headed to greener pastures. Warner took the head coaching job at Pitt and Dietz caught the train to Pullman.

If Warner hadn’t developed the single-wing at Carlisle as he said, this photo would mean that Lone Star came up with it on his own and never took credit for it, which is highly unlikely. Some of the confusion may be of Warner’s making.

Pop’s correspondence course (1908-11) and his first coaching book (1912) do not include this formation; they show earlier evolutions with balanced lines. The formation in the photo is the one Warner calls Formation A in his 1927 book. He likely held back his best stuff in his earlier publications because it is doubtful that Dietz would have been running the unbalanced-line single-wing as a primary formation in 1915 had it not been perfected used at Carlisle some years before.

WSC Single-Wing 1915

New Football History Website

July 13, 2009

Tex Noel just came across a new website that has an article about the single-wing on it. Being well aware of my interest, he sent me this link: (It may be necessary to copy this URL and paste it into your browser.)…1920s

The page is very attractively done and has links to sister sites for baseball and basketball. The problems start when you read what is written on the site. The title for the article is Single-Wing Formation…1920s. I found it curious that the single-wing was filed under the decade of the 1920s instead of when it originated. The first sentence of the article explains that: The single-wing formation was conceived by Glenn “Pop” Warner while coaching at Pittsburgh and Stanford Universities.

After reading this, there is little point in reading further. Apparently, the writer has not read Pop Warner’s letters, books and articles about when he originated the single-wing. As long-time readers know, I researched the birth of the single-wing a couple of years ago and found something quite different from what wrote. To my knowledge, I am the only person to have located the different versions of the offense pamphlets from Warner’s correspondence course that pre-dated his 1912 book. reprinted Warner’s single-wing trilogy which consists of the 1912 and 1927 books plus the various versions of the offense pamphlet that could be found with an introduction to explain them a bit. Anyone interested in learning the history of the single-wing would enjoy reading them.

I attempted to navigate the site but was unable to find an email address to contact. I did find a Jim Thorpe page. He states that Thorpe “…simply outran the opposing defense and chalked-up a phenomenal total of 1,869 yards in only 191 carries.” I don’t do stats; that’s Tex Noel’s department, so I will leave that up to him. Apparently, he didn’t read what opponents had to say about tackling Thorpe.

After discussing the 1912 football season, he wrote, Thorpe then was acclaimed “the best in the world” by winning Gold Medals in the 1912 Olympics in both the decathlon and the pentathlon in Stockholm, Sweden. This gives the reader the impression that the Olympics happened after the football season. Hmmm.