Posts Tagged ‘Fritz Pollard’

The Granddaddy of Them All Dies

December 29, 2022

Lone Star Dietz would roll over in his grave if he heard about this.

Distracted by several pressing issues, I paid scant attention to the headlines about the Rose Bowl this fall. Stumbling across an article by Pasadena-based Joe Mathews yesterday, I learned what the hubbub was about. Dietz’s Washington State warriors upset Brown in the mud on January 1, 1916, putting West Coast football on an even footing with the East, establishing the Rose Bowl as an annual event, and instituting the New Year’s Day football tradition. A major game, generally pitting an eastern challenger against a western defender, has been featured on January 1st each year since then, unless it falls on a Sunday as it does this year. In that case it is played on Monday the 2nd. Because of its historic importance, Keith Jackson called the Rose Bowl “The Granddaddy of Them All.” That old man dies Monday night at the end of the Penn State-Utah contest.

How did this happen? Mathews blames it on the perceived need to have a single national champion as lobbied for by President Obama and many others. While only four teams were involved in the playoffs, the Rose Bowl continued to be a major event. But with the playoffs expanded to twelve teams, the Rose Bowl wouldn’t likely have attracted highly ranked teams if it wasn’t part of the playoff system. Adding to the dilemma was the shift of two California schools from the Pac-12 to the B1G. The possibility of a western team, say USC, being the eastern invader becomes a distinct possibility, destroying the East-West nature of the game.

Seeing no viable alternative, the Rose Bowl has now thrown in with the NCAA championship scheme. Mathews figures future Rose Bowls will be quarter-final games. That long drop from importance brings with it a financial deficit. The Tournament of Roses will need to make that up somehow or the Rose Parade will become another tradition of the past. An era has sadly passed.

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.

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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Joshua Weeks played in the 1916 Rose Bowl

December 22, 2008

Brown threatened to score during the first half but failed. At halftime Washington State went into the clubhouse to dry off and change into dry uniforms but Brown didn’t bring extras to change into. They did, however, find a shed that contained some straw, so they coiled around it as best they could in an attempt to dry off. They weren’t in the best shape to play the second half.

In Weeks’ estimation, Brown was lucky to hold Washington State to a low score because they were like a junior team compared to the tougher WSC team. (Note that recent research uncovered writers’ opinions that WSC should have been selected as national champs in 1915.)

Back at Brown, Josh Weeks roomed with Fritz Pollard and operated a side business ironing men’s slacks to make money. Fritz played just one more year at Brown but Josh continued through the 1918 season when Walter Camp placed him on his All America second team at left end. Paul Robeson of Rutgers was named to that position on the first team.

After graduating from Brown, Josh Weeks attended medical school and eventually practiced in New Bedford, MA. There the high school coach asked him to attend the games in case his services were needed. Randy tells of a funny incident;

“My dad had attended New Bedford High and had played football for them. One game my dad was sitting on the bench, and New Bedford was getting creamed. A play came up where the other team stole the ball, and the runner was heading for a touchdown. My dad, dressed like a doctor…pants, jacket, white shirt with tie, and a hat on, jumped off the bench and ran after the kid until he finally tackled him. Needless to say the stadium roared with laughter and naturally the poor kid was given the touchdown.”

On a sadder note, Josh Weeks died on his way home from the reunion for the 40th anniversary of the 1916 Rose Bowl. His memory lives on in his children and the stories he told them about his Rose Bowl experience. Next time another Brown player and a captain of industry attend the premier of “Jim Thorpe–All American.”

Brown's 1916 Rose Bowl team

Brown’s 1916 Rose Bowl team

Brown Was In 1916 Rose Bowl, Too!

December 18, 2008

I recently posted some footage of the 1916 Rose Bowl that was provided to me by the Washington State athletic department onto www.YouTube.com/TomBenjey. Washington State was of course running the single-wing, but Brown was running a derivative that eagle-eyed Ted Seay observed that “At the 5:48 mark, Brown shifts into a double-flexed formation with an end and tackle to the left, then they slot their wingback inside that tandem and sweep to the left…” I am now working on a short video of Brown’s offense that will include slow-motion clips for those of us who don’t have Ted’s powers of observation. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTA2w8aanPc&feature=channel_page That got me thinking about Brown’s players. Everyone is familiar with Fritz Pollard and, to use WSC’s descriptor, “the giant [Mark] Farnum,” but there are other players from that team who are in the Brown Hall of Fame. Let’s start with Josh Weeks because I have communicated with his son, Randall, who talked with him about the game.

Joshua H. Weeks, number 42, played right end on the 1915 Brown University team that played against Washington State in the 1916 Rose Bowl. Later in life he shared some of his experiences with his sons. Randy has been good enough to pass some of his memories along to me. For starters, Brown got little exercise, contrary to what the cartoon at the bottom of this piece insinuated. Prior to the game the players encountered citrus trees loaded with ripe fruit and gorged themselves on oranges. What a mistake! The result was frequent bathroom runs during the game.

Seeing no need for cold or wet weather gear, Brown brought neither along with them. Two days before the game it snowed and it poured during the game. Lone Star Dietz only brought summer suits for himself but did bring mud cleats for his players. Fritz Pollard could get no footing and was held to a season-low in yards gained. He did notice that Lone Star’s white suit was covered with mud before the first quarter was over.

<to be continued>

 brown-practice