Posts Tagged ‘Penn State’

Carlisle vs the Big Ten

October 12, 2011

This year Nebraska joins the Big Ten bringing the number of schools in the Big Ten up to twelve and leaving the Big 12 with only 10. It came to mind that the Carlisle Indians once played Nebraska in 1908 because a history professor at Nebraska is using “Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs” as a textbook. Other than Penn State, these games were usually post-season road trips played against the Champions of the West or strong contenders for that title. That the Indians went 13-3-1 in road games against these much larger schools. This is more evidence that shows Carlisle’s record needs no embellishment.


School Times


Wins Losses Ties Years
Chicago 1 1 0 0 1907*
Illinois 2 2 0 0 1897, 1898
Michigan 1 0 1 0 1901*+
Minnesota 3 2 1 0 1906*, 1907, 1908
Nebraska 1 1 0 0 1908
Northwestern 1 1 0 0 1903*
Ohio State 1 1 0 0 1904
Penn State 6 4 1 1 1896, 1905-1909
Wisconsin 1 1 0 0 1896*
Total 17 13 3 1  


1. * denotes Big Ten champions or co-champions.

2. + denotes national champions.


Carlisle Presaged Professionalism Issue

April 20, 2009

A major thrust of the 1914 Joint Congressional Inquiry into Carlisle Indian School concerned the funding of the athletic program. The training table provided special food for athletes and was eliminated as a result of the investigation. Providing athletes special diets was not all that unusual at colleges at that time but was frowned upon by those who wanted college athletics to be purely amateur, or at least give that outward appearance.

A little over a decade later, in December 1926, Penn State hired a new president, Ralph Hertzl, with the aim of upgrading the institution’s academic standing. Shortly after his inauguration, the alumni committee recommended that financial aid to athletes be eliminated, a Board of Athletic Control be formed, and the Director of Physical Education (Athletic Director in modern parlance) be disallowed from coaching any teams. These recommendations were also aimed at loosening Hugo Bezdek’s tyrannical grip over the Athletic Department and were eventually successful.

Fast forward to the October 1935 Homecoming. Bezdek was still athletic director but hadn’t coached for years. Penn State hadn’t beaten Pitt since 1919 and wouldn’t that year either. The Penn State Collegian editor, Harry B. Henderson, was not amused with the condition of Penn State athletics and wrote an editorial titled “Wake up Alumni” in which he wrote that he was “attempting to place clearly in the minds of the alumni of Penn State the true conditions of athletics here and the hypocrisy and rotten unfairness of Hugo Bezdek’s plan for the non-subsidization of athletics. What started out to be a system of decency and progress in all athletics has been converted into an intolerable and unjust exploitation of athletes, coaches, and alumni…Candidly and frankly the football players here are being exploited by an Athletic Association that pays them nothing for four hard hours a day and yet takes in gates which approach former magnificence.”

Henderson wrote that Penn State was “scheduling for box office appeal” by competing against “professionals” to line the coffers of the Athletic Association at the expense of players who received just one meal a day and were “forced to hunt for jobs, room and board.” Four days later The Collegian claimed victory in its headline, “Athletic Board of Control Grants 2 Meals Daily to Members of Varsity Grid Squad.” It claimed that, “No longer will players be forced to leave school because they are not eating well enough.”

Issues of professionalism that were raised at Carlisle Indian School a century ago continued for decades and are still debated today. More on Penn State football history can be found on Black Shoe Diaries.

Minority Coaches

March 28, 2008

Yesterday I came across a December 8, 2007 article in The News Tribune out of Tacoma, Washington. In it reporter Todd Miles wrote, “Not since 1917 have the Washington State Cougars had a minority head coach in football.” Putting aside the fact that Washington State’s teams weren’t called the Cougars in 1917, the statement is still incorrect. Yes, Lone Star Dietz coached the 1918 Mare Island Marine team that was featured in WSC’s yearbook because ten players were from WSC. And, although Dietz considered it Washington State’s second Rose Bowl team, it didn’t wear crimson and gray. The major error is that not one but two minority coaches were overlooked. This is why we study history.

When Dietz was unceremoniously dumped in early 1919, WSC wanted another coach who was steeped in the Warner system because Dietz had been wildly successful with it. So, the administration looked for someone with experience, not just with the single and double-wing formations but with the whole system. Recall that Ace Clark thought that the way Lone Star conditioned his players and reduced the amount of scrimmaging left them in better shape for the games. Albert Exendine was a logical choice but he was under contract at Georgetown. Eventually Gus Welch was tracked down on a former battlefield in France and recruited for the job.

Gus Welch was Chippewa from Wisconsin and Al Exendine was Delaware and Cherokee from Oklahoma, but they have a lot of similarities. Both attended Carlisle Indian School and starred on its teams, Exendine at end and Welch at quarterback (blocking back in Warner’s single-wing). Both got their law degrees from Dickinson School of Law (now part of Penn State) across town from the Indian school. Both had long careers of coaching football in the fall and practicing law the rest of the year. Both were inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as players. And both coached Washington State. Welch led the team from 1919 through 1922 and Exendine took over in 1923, lasting through the 1925 season. Each has a chapter devoted to him in Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs.

So, Washington State has a history of hiring minority head football coaches, just not lately.