Posts Tagged ‘The Crimson and the Gray’

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