Posts Tagged ‘Tex Noel’

Was the Tsunami Based on the Double-Wing?

December 26, 2014

Old friend Tex Noel forwarded me a recent article about a new formation from AFCA Weekly. In that article Leon Feliciano, Head Coach of Tomales (CA) High School, states that his Tsunami formation is based on the double wing and provides photos of both formations (below).

Double-wing Feliciano

Tsunami formation

The first thing I noticed is that Feliciano used a balanced-line configuration with the quarterback directly behind, if not under, center as the basis for his Tsunami. Pop Warner’s fully-evolved double-wing, which he labeled Formation B in his 1927 book, in sharp contrast, uses an unbalanced line and a direct snap to a running back. (below)

Formation B Warner

To me, the Tsunami is more like Warner’s single-wing than his double-wing because it employs only one wingback. Warner’s fully-evolved unbalanced-line single wing as depicted as Formation A (below) in his 1927 book is closer to the Tsunami than Warner’s double-wingback formation, but is different, especially with regard to the positioning of the quarterback. Where Warner moves his quarterback along the line to just behind the tackles and renames the position as blocking back.


Warner’s 1912 book sheds little light on this question because Warner had shifted to running only direct snap formations in 1910. He does include one set of plays with the quarterback directly behind center in what he calls the Regular Formation (an incarnation of the T Formation).

However, in his correspondence course Warner started marketing in 1908, he includes a set of plays run from the End-Back Formation in which the right halfback is placed outside the right end as a wingback without moving the quarterback from behind center. The difference between this formation and the Tsunami is that Warner positioned his left end in the backfield about where he later placed his blocking back. (Rules allowed five men in the backfield at that time.) The extra man in the backfield and the resulting unbalanced line are the chief difference between the End-Back Formation and the Tsunami.

1908 End Back formation

Warner’s next wingback formation, which appears unnamed in play number 8 to 16 in the 1910 or 1911 (the year isn’t clear) Offense pamphlet supplement is a direct-snap single-wing with a balanced line. If Warner moved his blocking back to directly behind the center, it would be very similar to the Tsunami.

1910 Balanced-Line single-wing

I hope this little walk down Memory Lane helps place the Tsunami with its historical predecessors.






Time Out for Photos

August 8, 2012

Tex Noel just sent me a link to a Library of Congress website that contains digital images, some of which are of Indian football teams. The link he sent was

Tex suggested that I click on football, which I did. The problem is that I’m easily distracted. Before I could see anything related to Indian football teams, the term “Early films” jumped out at me. The first one, listed just below the sheet music for On Wisconsin!, is moving picture footage (silent of course) from the 1903 Chicago-Michigan game shot by the Edison studio. I doubt seriously if Thomas Edison himself was directly involved in making these films; employees of his probably shot them but were likely among the best in the industry, such as it was, at the time.

Four items down the list is footage of the 1903 Princeton-Yale game, also shot by Edison. A. C. Abadie is credited as being the cameraman. The footage of these old games featuring prominent teams gives one an idea what the state-of-the-art was in football uniforms and equipment at the time. The action is hard to make out at times but some things can be gleaned from replaying the clips.

Eventually, I looked at still photos. The first one I noticed, the one at the bottom of the page, is of an Alaskan Indian football team. It was also taken in 1903. Unfortunately, little in the way of detail is supplied. It would be interesting to know which team this is. Someone knowledgeable about reservations, agencies and schools around the turn of the last century might be able to shed a little light on this.

My person favorite, found on page 6 of the list, is of the 1903 University of Chicago-Haskell Institute game titled “players arguing.” From what I can tell, it looks like they’re doing a bit more than arguing. A higher resolution version might even reveal some players who later transferred to Carlisle.

Chicago & Haskell Players “arguing”

Was 1912 Thorpe’s 2,000-Yard Season?

July 31, 2012

It may be that the reporter was trying to determine if Jim Thorpe was the first to rush 2,000 yards in a single season rather than in his career at Carlisle. I say that because, in her article in the current edition of Smithsonian Magazine, Sally Jenkins wrote, “He returned to lead Carlisle’s football team to a 12-1-1 record, running for 1,869 yards on 191 attempts—more yards in a season than O.J. Simpson would run for USC in 1968. And that total doesn’t include yardage from two games Thorpe played in. It’s possible that, among the things Thorpe did in 1912, he was college football’s first 2,000-yard rusher.”

Again because stats aren’t my thing, I contacted Tex Noel about the single-season rushing statistics.Tex responded quickly with:

I do know that JT was NOT the 1st back to rush for 100+ yards in a game. (3 had best game totals; his 362 vs Pennsylvania in 1912 in 9th of 10 spots.)

Yards       Player, Team and Season                      

2032        Ken Strong, New York University, 1928

1869        Jim Thorpe, Carlisle, 1912

1500        Lindsey Donnell, Cumberland TN, 1935

1450        Glenn Presnell, Nebraska, 1927

1421        Norman “Red” Strader, St. Mary’s CA, 1924

1393        Lloyd Brazil, Detroit, 1928

1349        Earl “Dutch” Clark, Colorado College, 1928

1287        Frank Briante, New York University, 1927

1163        Morley Drury, USC, 1927

1074        John “Shipwreck” Kelly, Kentucky, 1931

Source: Stars of an Earlier Autumn (C) 2011, Tex Noel.

Tex has the same total rushing yards for 1912 that Jenkins has but without the caveat that he played in two games for which his statistics weren’t recorded. I suspect that, because Tex is so familiar with the haphazard way in which statistics were recorded in those days, he felt no need to point out that all numbers from that era are to be taken with a reasonable amount of salt.

I then looked in the 1913 Spalding’s Guide, but it made no mention of Thorpe’s (or anyone else’s) rushing yards for 1913. It did include a table of “Famous Runs” compiled by Parke Davis on which Carlisle players got their share of listings. Jim Thorpe was mentioned twice:

1) 80-yard run from scrimmage against Penn on November 16, 1911

2) 60-yard run from scrimmage against Penn on October 24, 1908

Neither of his longest runs were in 1912, the year freshest in Parke Davis’s mind, but longer runs made earlier by Charles Dillon, Gus Welch, and Thaddeus Redwater were.

I don’t know which games for which Thorpe’s rushing yardage is missing but it is possible that he ran for a combined 131 yards in them. It is just as possible that he didn’t, particularly if they were games in which Thorpe wasn’t needed and Pop Warner rested him to get a look at less experienced players in game situations. Thorpe’s 156 yards per game average for the 12 games for which records exist imply that he would have run for enough yardage to total more than 2,000 yards for the season. It’s just as possible that he watched from the sidelines so that he would be available for the tougher opponents in this grueling 14-game schedule.

P.S. Yesterday, this blog received its 50,000th view and highest monthly total (with a day to go).

The First 2,000-Yard Rusher

July 27, 2012

I got a call this week from a reporter out in Oklahoma who asked if Jim Thorpe was the first 2,000-yard rusher. Since my focus is on the people, not the statistics, I forwarded the question to statswiz Tex Noel. Tex quickly responded with career rushing statistics for the period in question:

Top 10 Career Rushing Totals*

Yards         Player, Team Career                       

4469                     Chris “Kenner/Red” Cagle, Southwestern Louisiana Institute/Army, 1922-29

3616                     Jim Thorpe, Carlisle, 1907-08, 11-12

2729                     Ted Hudson, Trinity MA, 1910-13

2516                      Bill Banker, Tulane, 1927-29

2341                      George Gipp, Notre Dame, 1917-20

2382                      Alphonse “Tuffy” Leemans, George Washington, 1933-35

2369                      Don Zimmerman, Tulane, 1930-32

2339                     Willie Heston, Michigan, 1901-04

2140                      Kayo Lam, Colorado, 1933-35

2124                      Henry Benkert, Rutgers, 1921-24

*(C) 2011 Stars of an Earlier Autumn

From this, it is clear that Jim Thorpe did run for more than 2,000 yards in his career at Carlisle—a lot more–but he wasn’t the first player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in his career. That was the great running back from the University of Michigan, Willie Heston, who, almost a decade earlier, ran for 2,339 yards between 1901 and 1904. As an aside, this is probably why Bemus Pierce named his son Heston.

According to these statistics, Thorpe was the first 3,000-yard career rusher and it took the better part of two decades for Red Cagle to surpass his record. Something to keep in mind is that Carlisle always scheduled several tough teams, all on the road, not one or two each year as Warner advised in his books and as The Big Four and most other powers did. So, Jim Thorpe’s individual records were amassed against mostly stiff competition where many other top athletes played mostly against lesser opponents. Also, Pop Warner used his early-season games against easier opponents to take a look at younger players in game conditions and protected his stars against unnecessary injuries by severely limiting their playing time when they weren’t needed to win.

Now, I’ll ask Tex for single-season records to see how Jim Thorpe stacks up in those comparisons.

Scores for Forfeited Games

June 14, 2012

Tex Noel, Executive Director of Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association, just requested information on the “first season and ‘score’ and season for a forfeit game.”  Not having previously dealt with forfeits, I took Tex’s challenge.  The first place I looked was, of course, in Spalding’s Football Guides.  The 1883 book is the earliest one I have but it says nothing at all about forfeitures.  The next earliest year in my collection is 1888.  That book mentions forfeitures of games beginning on the bottom of page 98: “Either side refusing to play after ordered to by the referee, shall forfeit the game. This shall also apply to refusing to commence the game when ordered to by the referee.”  However, it says nothing about awarding points or creating a score for a forfeited game.  Similar language is present in the 1892 and 1893 Spalding’s Guides.

The 1899 Spalding’s Guide, page 145, lists the Nov 24, 1898 Alabama Polytechnic Institute score as “A.P.I., 18; Univ. of Ga., 0. Forfeited.  Real score 18 to 17.”  On page 155 the November 12, 1898 University Medical College game with Kansas U. was forfeited but no score was given.  Rule 12(a) on page 181 adds an additional reason for forfeiting a game: refusing to play after the referee shortens a game that has started too late to be completed by the time it gets too dark to play.  Another reason added is delaying the game by committing fouls when the opponent has the ball close to your goal line.  Committing a second infraction close to one’s own goal line triggers the forfeiture.

The 1908 Spalding’s Guide is the first one to mention awarding points for a forfeiture.  Page 181 contains the section, Alterations in the Rules for 1908.  The fifth paragraph states: “The score of a forfeited game is made 1-0, in order to distinguish it from any other possible scores.”  In 1908 safeties were awarded 2 points, field goals 4 points, and touchdowns 5 points.  A goal after touchdown was awarded 1 point but could not be earned without having already scored 5 points for a touchdown.  Thus a score of one 1-0 would clearly indicate a forfeited game.

Ironically, page 139 of the 1909 Spalding’s Guide, the issue that includes scores for the 1908 games, lists Cook Academy winning by forfeit over Binghamton H. S. by a score of 2-0.  And the forfeiture rule stayed the same pointwise as it was in the 1908 book!

Did the Quarterback Sneak Originate in the 1912 Harvard-Yale Game?

July 11, 2011

A few weeks ago, Alyssa Roenigk, Senior Writer for ESPN The Magazine, queried Tex Noel, Editor of The College Football Historian, a monthly publication of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association (IFRA), about a 1912 game between Harvard and Yale in which the quarterback sneak supposedly originated or, at least, was popularized. Tex forwarded her query to the researchers on his list, of which I am one. Alyssa’s question triggered a tremendous amount of activity on the part of a number of individuals in several different directions. The response was amazing, even to Alyssa.

One person researched the origin of the story, a Wikipedia article. Another researched the players that were supposed to have been involved. Others found coverage of the game in question in newspapers. Being skeptical of the claim, I focused on the rules in place in the years leading up to that game. Others probably looked in directions of which I’m not aware.

Alyssa interviewed me about what I found as she surely interviewed others as to what they discovered. She was quite taken with the activity, both in quantity and depth, that resulted from her question and she will likely look to the IFRA for assistance with future articles.

Ms. Roenigk is working on an article about the history of the quarterback sneak that will appear in the football pre-season edition of ESPN The Magazine that will likely include quotes from several IFRA researchers. I don’t know if a link will be available to the article if it is placed on ESPN’s website because a paid subscription to the magazine may be required to have access to the articles on the website. Anyway, look for the quarterback sneak article as you peruse the print magazine at your local newsstand.

First Forward Passes Thrown in Important Game

February 17, 2011

Tex Noel, Editor of The College Football Historian, the monthly newsletter of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association (IFRA) forwarded the following message regarding the January newsletter:

“Tex–Glad to get my January issue.  I don’t know who wrote the piece on the 1905 season and Teddy Roosevelt (p. 20), but most of the stated facts are erroneous and should not be repeated. For instance:

“1) President Theodore Roosevelt never threatened to ban football.  In fact, T.R. chided Harvard president Charles W. Eliot (President from 1869-1909) for wanting to ban it. (The TR myth often mentioned by writers is simply not true)

“2) If 18 players died in the 1905, nearly all were NOT college players, (The 18 college death’s myth is often noted by writers.)

“3) The flying wedged did not exist in 1905, as it was banned by the Rules Committee in 1894.  (This myth is repeated by the NCAA Hall of Fame, and should be corrected.)

“4) No photo of Bob “Tiny” Maxwell has ever been uncovered.  (It is quite likely a myth built around the T.R. myth of banning football after seeing a picture of the great Maxwell.)

“–John S. Watterson’s COLLEGE FOOTBALL:  HISTORY, SPECTACLE, CONTROVERSY (Baltimore:  Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000) is a fine book and covers most of the above issues.

“Happy New Year.  Ron Smith”

Curious to know more about this, I bought a copy of Watterson’s book and started reading it. Something I read early in the book prompted an email to the author:

Dear Dr. Watterson,

 While reading your well-researched College Football: History, Spectacle, Controversy, Football, I wondered why you omitted the Villanova-Carlisle game that was played on Wednesday, September 26, 1906 as an example of an early regular season game in which both teams threw forward passes. Instead, you chose the Villanova-Princeton game that was played the following Saturday. The Carlisle-Villanova game was intentionally scheduled on a date when other important games would not be played and was widely promoted to coaches and players in the east to give them an opportunity to see a game played under the new rules. Newspaper coverage of the game reported that both teams threw forward passes.  

Tom Benjey

Yesterday, I got a nice email from Dr. Watterson thanking me for the information and stating that he would include the Carlisle-Villanova game in a revised edition of his book, should one be published.

If you interested in receiving the IFRA newsletter for FREE, contact Tex Noel at

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.

Edwardsville Tigers Run the Single-Wing

June 29, 2009

Tex Noel informed me that the National Single-Wing Coaches Association was inducting its inaugural class of coaches into its Hall of Fame at its national symposium being held over the weekend at Edwardsville, Illinois. Of course I wanted to know more as I hadn’t paid attention to where the national symposium was being held this year. A quick look at the NSCWA web site indicated that Edwardsville High School Head Football Coach Mark Bliss and Running Backs Coach Dan Johnson were hosting the event at Edwardsville High School.

 Of course I was interested in learning about a major single-wing event but that it was held at EHS also interested me. You see, I attended Edwardsville schools for grades 4 through 9. I was on the freshman football team but got little playing time due to barely weighing 100 pounds (on hot, sweaty days I didn’t weigh that much). The coaches seemed to be afraid that I would get hurt.

 We played a T formation at that time, but Mark Bliss now has Edwardsville running the single-wing. The Tigers had a winning season overall, but lost one more conference game than they won. Being in the Southwestern Conference means they play East St. Louis, Belleville East and West, Collinsville, Granite City, O’Fallon and Alton. Winning a conference championship won’t be easy with perennial power East St. Louis often being ranked nationally. Perhaps the single-wing will give the Tigers the edge they need to beat the Flyers. Time will tell.

 On a humorous note, the brochure for the symposium states that the location was to be held at Edardsville High School. I find that funny because grade school classmates would sometimes mispronounce the school and town names as if they were spelled that way. Teachers would cringe and correct them, often to no avail.

 A concrete Tiger sat in front of the high school in my day. Rival Collinsville students would periodically pour a bucket of purple (the Kahoks’ school color) on the Tiger. I have no idea if it was moved to the new school.

New Research Tool

May 18, 2009

Over the weekend, I stumbled across a new tool that could help those of us who research things long past. is touted by some as the biggest challenger Google has faced. Others point out that it isn’t a search engine of the Google sort. WolframAlpha (W/A) is the brainchild of Steven Wolfram, founder of Wolfram Research, the company that brings us Mathematica. Not surprisingly, W/A uses Mathematica as its engine “…to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone.” W/A allows users to type in English language questions and receive answers reminiscent of the way computer interfaces in 1950s move computers.

Thinking this might be a useful tool for researching such things as the weather when Carlisle Indian School students arrived, I gave it a try. First, I threw it a softball by asking, “USA gross national product 1912.” W/A’s response was “(no data available).) Next, I tried “weather Carlisle, PA October 1879.” W/A returned “(no weather data available for October 1879).” Knowing that weather data is available for Philadelphia, I changed Carlisle to Philadelphia but got the same result. It seems that Wolfram hasn’t loaded all of the weather data that is available as of yet. Now for something simpler.

I entered “college football scoring record 1912” and confused W/A. It responded, “Wolfram\Alpha isn’t sure what to do with your input.” W/A seems to have some information for the NFL and major league baseball but is unaware of college sports. In the same box that tells us W/A is confused, they ask for experts. Perhaps this is an opportunity for Tex Noel, and David DeLasses.