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  < Back to Table Of Contents  < Back to Topic: Sporting America

article number 247
article date 06-27-2013
copyright 2013 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
The Deadly Game of American Football is Overhauled, 1905 - 1927
by Bill Roper, Princeton Football Coach
   

From the 1927 book, Football Today and Tomorrow.

WHEN President Roosevelt called the representatives of Yale, Harvard and Princeton to the White House in October, 1905 to discuss the future of football, he not only saved the game by demanding that the rules be changed, but made possible modern football as it is known today.

A difficult period it was, in football history. Several newspapers, engaged in a crusade against the game after the bloody season of 1905, when 18 players were killed, 11 of them high school lads and three collegians; with 149 injured seriously, 88 in the high schools and 47 in the colleges, referred to football as “murderous, brutal and dangerous.” So strong was the wave of popular opinion against the sport that the legislatures in some western states passed a law making it a penal offense to play football.

President Eliot, of Harvard, when asked to step into the breach, declined for lack of jurisdiction. The faculty of Columbia promptly abolished the sport; Northwestern and Union stopped playing for one year while Stanford and California abandoned football in favor of Rugby. But the majority of colleges awaited the outcome of the President’s conference before taking action one way or the other.

The situation was indeed serious. Football had not fully recovered from the black eye of the 1893-94 period, the days of the fiercest and bloodiest games in its history, when a great hue and cry went up for the abolition of the game. Present day football followers, perhaps, cannot appreciate the viciousness and roughness of football in those early days.

At Harvard a football strategist, Lorin Deland, who was not a player, invented the flying wedge, which became the steam roller play of football. It was a combination pile-driver and stampede. This play was improved upon by the great Pennsylvania team of 1894 which started forming the flying wedge from the line of scrimmage, by dropping linesmen back to form a wedge with the backs and massing against an end or tackle.

Football, even in 1905, was a boring, dull sort of an affair; a cross between a battle-royal and cattle stampede. I have often wondered how the spectators managed to sit through the game. There were intervals when they never saw the ball at all, but just a drab mass of twenty-two players eternally pushing and shoving each other up and down the field. The thrill of watching a fleet-footed halfback weaving in and out of a broken field, the smartly executed forward pass, was unknown to them. End running had become an almost forgotten art. The light, shifty back had little chance to excel.

   
1905 Yale team.

There was little or no need for brains in this trial of strength, weight and iron courage. The whole strategy of attack was centered on hammering and slamming away at some spot in the defense. Play after play was hurled at the same defensive guard or tackle until they were forced back through sheer exhaustion.

Usually the entire offense was built around a “push and pull” order of attack, with a big 200 pound tackle drawn out of the line and placed at the head of the procession.

The ball was given to the tackle. Four backs and two ends fell in behind him, all pushing and pulling. The big tackle was expected to keep his feet while his mates pushed him through the defense.

To the modern football fan it would be almost comical to watch the big tackle, pushed this way and that, like a wilted Hercules, by his mates. Little wonder the old-timer coming back to his alma mater after many years is amazed at modern football, referring to it as a “glorified basketball game.” In comparison, it surely is just that.

When the 200 pound tackle did not carry the ball, his weight was utilized. His job was, on the offense, to hammer and knife his broad body through the line, the ball-carrier following on his heels.

The greatest team was usually the heaviest team. There was the great Michigan team which had not been defeated in 1901, ‘02, ‘03, and ‘04. During this period they ran up a total of 2,326 points and had a mere 40 points scored against them. They had won 43 games.

The record of the 1905 team was more brilliant than the other years. In a series of 12 games prior to the great Chicago game, they had a total of 495 points against nothing for opponents. They were called ‘the point a minute team.’ Chicago defeated them by a safety. I travelled west for the game and on the Michigan team saw eleven giants. Schultz, the All-America center, weighed 220 pounds; Octopus Graham, at one guard, weighed 246; Schulte, the other guard, 195; and Captain Curtis, was another giant, at left tackle.

   
1905 Michigan Football team.

Compare this weight with the famous Notre Dame team of 1924, with its famous Four Horsemen. The whole team averaged 168 pounds!

But there was a marked difference even in the rules which made the heavy team of 1904-5 the best team. In those days it was only necessary to make two or three yards per down. The rules provided for a gain of five yards in three downs. It was almost impossible to stop one of the steamroller attacks, with only two yards needed for a down, when properly concentrated in a short distance.

On the defense there was only one thing to do—hit it head on. If the line attempted to stop the attack standing up it was bowled over in short order.

And there was common talk of foul play in the heat of scrimmage. What with the increasing number of serious injuries, the arguments against the abolishment of football were not any too feeble.

President Roosevelt demanded that all the objectionable features be removed from the game and that “brutality and foul play should receive the same summary punishment given to a man who cheats at cards.”

“Football,” he continued, “is a good game for young men and boys to play, but unless the rules are changed, as it is becoming too dangerous, the game will have to be abolished.”

And concluding his remarks to the representatives of the ‘Big Three’ he said: “I want you all to go back and use your influence to have the rules changed.”

President Roosevelt certainly made a splendid contribution to the game by throwing his tremendous influence on the side of football. After the session at the White House, there was little heard of abolishing the game. This meeting, in addition, gave needed impetus to the claims of those who said the rules should be changed.

   

In those days Harvard, Princeton and Yale played a much more important part in football than they do today. They were then a ‘Big Three’ in reality. The rules committee was an unofficial body more or less self-appointed and entirely dominated by Eastern ideas. They had become a bit too conservative. Today, I am glad to say, football is national and no section of the country is able to control its development.

Drastic reforms were adopted all over the country. Following the close of the 1905 season, a meeting of representatives of many leading universities and colleges was held in New York, in January, 1906, to consider football and just what should be done about it. This meeting resulted in the formation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

General Palmer E. Pierce, then a Captain in the United States Army and representing West Point, was elected president. His administration has been so successful and satisfactory that he is still the head of the organization.

After many sessions, a joint committee finally revised the rules, announcing them on January 12, 1906. The following changes were made:

1—The number of yards to be gained was increased from five to ten and one additional down was added.

2—The rules were amended to provide for the forward pass and onside kick with the qualifications as to the pass that it must cross the line of scrimmage at a point five yards from the center. A kicked ball was onside as soon as it passed the scrimmage line.

To bring about a more open style of play the forward pass was introduced. Everyone on the offensive side was made eligible to recover a kicked ball from scrimmage as soon as it touched the ground, and the playing time was divided into quarters, hurdling was forbidden, drawing hack tackles and guards to use as interferers was stopped, and the linemen forbidden to interchange with back unless permanently or unless he be five yards behind the line.

   

Many different opinions were blended into the revision of rules by a most representative body which was composed of the following members: L. M. Dennis, of Cornell; chairman; W. T. Reid, Jr., of Harvard, secretary; James A. Babbitt, of Haverford; John C. Bell, of Pennsylvania; Walter Camp, of Yale; F. Homer Curtis, of Texas; representing the South; Charles D. Daly, of West Point; Paul J. Dashiell, of Annapolis; J. B. Fine, of Princeton; E. K. Hall, of Dartmouth; James T. Lees, of Nebraska; C. W. Savage, of Oberlin; A. A. Stagg, of Chicago, and Dr. H. L. Williams, of Minnesota.

The real vice of the old game, the committee agreed, was the “push and pull” play. This rule was not touched. It was contended that the forward pass and the onside kick opened up the game while the yards necessary for a first down discouraged the massed plays and invited the open style of football.

Harvard, Princeton and Yale barred freshmen from the varsity team, imposed a year’s residence on players coming from other colleges and made other necessary reforms. The Western Conference also put through new rulings. One year’s residence and a full year s work were required of all varsity candidates, with the playing limited to three years of varsity competition.

In the Western Conference Thanksgiving Day games were abolished and practice limited from the day school opened. The training table was discarded and schedules limited.

Thus were the major changes made in football and the modern game was just beyond the horizon, coming slowly but surely.

At Princeton we had never mastered the art of massed plays and I, for one, was enthusiastic about the new rules. I believed it would make football more interesting to play and to watch.

Immediately we set to work planning new plays to meet the changed requirements of the game, as I suppose they did at every other institution. The meeting lasted for three days with many former Princeton players contributing advice and suggestions for new plays, tried out on the field of the Princeton Preparatory school of which, Mr. Fine, our representative on the Rules Committee was head-master.

Among those present were Phil King, Walter Booth, Martin V. Bergen, Langdon Lea, Eddie Holt, Bert Wheeler, and Garrett Cochran.

It was the unanimous opinion of those present at the meeting to use the pass and onside kick as much as possible.

   

We tried different ways of forward passing and finally came to the conclusion that the end over end pass was best. No one suggested the spiral pass. Phil King urged the end over end pass, citing an instance in the Yale-Princeton game of 1893 when Doggie Trenchard had made a long end over back-ward pass across the field to King, himself, on what is known as a “shoe-string” play. He said that Trenchard’s pass had been thrown with speed and accuracy.

We also came to the conclusion that the forward pass would not be successful unless it was played with deception. This was as true of the pass then as it is today. Few, if any, successful passes are made unless masked so as to give the appearance of a running play.

Bert Wheeler made a valuable contribution to the meeting by suggesting the running kick and when we doubted its feasibility he went out on the field and showed us how it could be done. We finally mapped out a complete new set of plays under the new rules for the 1906 season.

I have always believed that the new rules applied to football in 1906 not only opened up the game but made all teams more or less equal. The smaller colleges, even, which were trampled on year after year, turned about and were prepared to put up a stiff game and sometimes came off the field a winner.

This change in football was made possible by the introduction of the forward pass; the most radical advance in the history of the game. All the other rules were restrictions; the pass was a constructive and sweeping addition, even with the lateral limitations with which it was hedged about for the next four years. And with the forward pass came a new kind of football king—the triple threat man.

Ned Harlan, of the 1906 Princeton team, could run, kick and pass. He was superb on the running kick play suggested by Bert Wheeler which, before the season closed, became our strongest play.

It was my good fortune to become head coach in 1906 and as I was heartily in favor of the new rules—because after all, Princeton experienced great difficulty with the old massed plays with which Yale was supreme—it was stimulating to see the rejuvenated Tigers sweeping through the opposition with the new style of play. We defeated Army, Navy, and Cornell, then coached by Glenn Warner, and crowned our early season record by swamping Dartmouth, 42-0.

Experimenting with the forward pass, the Princeton men outdid themselves. When the ball was hurled toward a player, he managed, somehow, to get it. By mixing up this play with end runs and line plays, we breezed right along with nothing to mar our perfect record than the coming game with Yale.

   
Hugh Knox of Yale practices the forward pass.

The result of the Yale game of 1906 was a tremendous disappointment. I expected to see our team win handily with the forward pass and the tie score of 0-0 was, to me, worse than a defeat.

It was in the season of 1906 that I learned my first important lesson in coaching. Young and inexperienced, but full of enthusiasm, I pushed the team to the limit in every game. As a result, the players burnt themselves out. Our defeating Dartmouth by a 42-0 score was the climax of our season. From that day on we went down-hill rapidly and two weeks later barely tied a mediocre Yale team.

I believe a team can only be at its peak for a couple of games a season. If a coach wants his team to go at top speed at the end of the season he must plan the development of his team accordingly.

The exciting game of modern football that we know today was beginning to show itself as early as 1907. Princeton led Yale by a 10-0 score at the end of the first half when Yale came back in the second half, and aided by the superhuman playing of Ted Coy, and the use of the forward pass, succeeded in defeating Princeton. Up to this time the 1907 game was the most heart-palpitating game of football in history.

   

An incident occurred in this memorable game which was without precedent in football and necessitated another rule in the book.

There was no time limit set on a team between the halves. It was customary for the referee to notify the opposing elevens to come back on the field and begin the second half.

But when the messengers were sent to the Yale dressing rooms, the team could not be found. Up and down the field I walked, while the referee, Mike Thompson, just didn’t know what to do about it.

The minutes dragged. More than 30,000 people shivered and mumbled in the stands. On the field the Princeton players jogged up and down, passing and kicking. Every now and then they cast anxious eyes toward the gates, hoping to see the familiar blue jerseys coming on the field.

Finally, eight minutes over the time limit the Yale team sprinted out on the field. The coaches explained that the referee did not warn them that time was up, but, deciding that it must be, they came back on the field.

There is a story told that an old Yale football player, sitting up in the stands, and noted for his ability in sizing up an opponent’s weakness, was called into the Yale dressing room and asked to instruct the men in a new defense and offense between the halves. He is supposed to have taken them out somewhere under the stands and instructed them in combating our offense and gaining through our defense.

It’s a good story, but I doubt its truth. But from then on a definite time is allowed each team between the halves. The officials are expressly instructed to notify each team three minutes prior to the ending of the intermission, and if either team does not appear within two minutes after time is called, it is penalized twenty-five yards.

In the second half a tremendous change came over the Yale team. One could tell instantly that Yale’s style of play had changed. They started out to score and never stopped until the big Blue procession ploughed over the Princeton goal line.

Our men could not stop Ted Coy. The blonde fullback played as a man inspired. Around the ends he flashed one minute: the next his broad shoulders knifed their way through the line with several men hanging on his neck. Twice the Yale quarterback called on Coy to put the ball over on the fourth down and twice Coy crashed through.

Yale scored in about twelve minutes after the second half started. The score was then 10-6 and they battled against time. We managed to hold them for downs twice and Harlan punted down the field.

But Coy was still flaming. His famous “T’ell with the signals—give me the ball !” was said to be yelled during his famous march through the Princeton team which went the entire length of the field and ended with the second and winning touchdown.

The game was gradually opening up and in the next few years Sam White, with his gifted knack of picking up muddy footballs and running for touchdowns, as well as Pumpelly’s sensational drop-kick in the 1912 game, supplied a diversity of thrills for the rapidly growing game.

   

There was still further tinkering with the rules in 1912. A touchdown was increased to six points. The offensive side given four downs and the length of the playing field changed from 320 to 300 feet. The onside kick was practically abolished and the kick-off was changed from the center of the field to the forty yard line. The restriction of the length of the forward pass was removed, and a kicked ball striking the ground did not put the kicker’s side onside as formerly.

The legislation affecting the forward pass had the most far-reaching influence and really marked the beginning of the modern forward passing game.

The timing of the pass was given considerable attention although the possibilities in this respect were not fully appreciated until Notre Dame came East in 1913. Then, as now, the Hoosiers had a cleverly developed pass and in this respect, led football.

In 1912-13-14-15, Percy Haughton’s Harvard teams were supreme in the East. Haughton utilized the triple threat man, deception, and stressed field generalship.

All over the country football teams, aided by the forward pass, the open game, and the emphasis on strategy, were enjoying an unprecedented wave of popularity. The uncertainty of the games brought out big crowds. In 1915 the charmed circle of the Big Three’s football supremacy was broken by the splendid record of a great Cornell team. In 1916 Glenn Warner’s University of Pittsburgh led the East and then followed a general expansion of football in 1917 to 1921.

The smaller colleges of the West and South suddenly came into the limelight with powerful teams.

At Georgia Tech, Heisman developed the Golden Tornados into a first class team. Down in the blue grass country of Kentucky, little Center College with its hundred or more students, surprised the football world. This little band of footballers, led by “Bo” McMilIan, delighted in bowling over bigger and stronger elevens to the North, South and East of Danville, Kentucky.

In 1920, from the Pacific Coast, came the news that Andy Smith former Pennsylvania man, had developed a world beating team at California. His Golden Bears were considered one of the finest teams in the land. Princeton led the East. And the following year, the colleges filled with boys back from the battlefields of France, from the training camps and industries, the country was cluttered up with powerful football teams.

   
By the 1921 Rose Bowl, we would see a much more modern game although the rules were to keep changing.

In 1922 the rules were again changed. A try for a point from scrimmage after touchdown was introduced. Princeton, with a supposedly mediocre team, but not lacking in intelligence, speed and courage, surprised the football world by going through the season undefeated after winning from Chicago, Colgate, Yale and Harvard.

Yale had a wonderful eleven in 1923 and easily won the Big Three championship. Cornell also had a powerful team.

The place kickoff was changed from the forty yard line to the center of the field in 1924, only to be put back again in 1925.

   
The Army and Navy struggling in the mud and rain of the 1923 game at the Polo grounds. Score 0-0.

Notre Dame had the best team of the country in 1924. This team travelled 10,500 miles, played in seven states and in temperatures from 10 degrees above at Princeton to seventy at Pasadena on New Year’s day. They scored close to fifty touchdowns during the season.

Dartmouth had one of the finest teams in the land in 1925 and Princeton again won from Yale and Harvard. In the last meeting of the Big Three as such, in 1926, Princeton again triumphed over their ancient rivals.

In 1925 Princeton adopted the ‘Huddle System,’ used with success by Zuppke and several other coaches in the Middle West and South. It has been a huge success.

When we adopted the huddle system, the criticism was raised that it slowed up the play. I asked some newspaper men to time the Navy-Princeton game and see who got off their plays the faster. They reported we averaged about one second faster under the huddle system than the Navy, using the old system.

The only defect in the huddle system is that the quarterback has not the opportunity to size up the defense. But this works both ways. The advantages of the huddle more than balance this one defect if it can be defined as such. In the system of signals under the huddle, they can be made simpler. If you wish, you can merely designate the back who is to carry the ball.

I am sorry to say there are some teams who see no objection to trying to get an opponent’s signals in advance. A scout cannot catch a signal under the huddle.

The noise of the cheering and the blare of the bands at a big game make it sometimes difficult to hear the signals when they are called by the quarterback from his position. And it is hard enough to gain ground against stiff opposition without missing the signals.

   
Walker of Stanford running with the ball. Weibel of Notre Dame hot after him. Intersectional game at Los Angeles, January 1st, 1925. Notre Dame wins, 27-10. International photo.

The huddle too, offers great possibilities of quick change of formation. This, to my way of thinking, is its greatest advantage. Your opponents don’t know until just before the ball is snapped what you are going to do, and how you are going to line up.

Princeton won the Big Three championship with the Huddle System in 1925 and 1926.

Following last season, several new rules were adopted and will be put into effect during the 1927 season. Under the new rules the possibility of shift plays has been curtailed and no doubt, goal kicking will be more difficult with the goal posts ten yards back of the line.

I doubt very much that the lateral pass will become much of a ground gainer, although it can be used with effect as a threat.

   
Dan Caulkins, Princeton’s able field general, scoring first touchdown against Yale in l926 game. Princeton wins, 10-7. Underwood photo.

Under the new rules it appears that the defense has gained more than the attack. Earned touchdowns will become the order of the day. Under the present ruling, whenever a punt catcher drops a kick, opponents may recover the ball but the player doing so cannot run with it.

In the past, many teams have punted most of the afternoon, playing for a break. More than one football game has been won by fast end work and fumbled punts, converted into a touchdown. With this possibility eliminated, one can expect a limited amount of punting. The tendency will be to rush the ball as much as possible.

And with everything to be gained and nothing lost by dropping a punt, the receiver will gain in confidence and no doubt many of them will come tearing up the field under punts on a dead run. This will make it difficult for the opposing ends. It is almost impossible for an end to time its tackle properly with the punt catcher on the run.

The one place the lateral pass may come in handy is after the punt has been caught. It is going to be very easy for the man catching the punt to toss it backward to a team mate. The linemen charging down the field will have to be constantly on the watch for such a play.

The lateral pass can be placed in the same class as the short forward pass. There will be no gain until the lateral is completed and then the amount of ground gained will be questionable.

In the 1921 Harvard-Princeton game, the Crimson completed several short passes for slight gains—the receiver was always thrown after he moved a few yards—while in the second half, Ralph Gilroy, the Princeton fullback, intercepted two of these passes and gained more ground than Harvard had on the eight completed passes in the first half.

The threat of the lateral is more effective than the lateral itself. If it is properly worked, the ends will be at a tremendous disadvantage. Here a loose man must always be covered. Even the lateral down field, after the forward pass has been completed, is a possibility.

   
McPhail of Dartmouth (26), aided by perfect interference, ripping off a gain in Harvard game,1926. Note boxing of right end, McPhail cutting in.

A few years ago Penn made a few gains against Cornell on a lateral after a forward pass. Yale tried a similar play against Princeton last fall, but, fortunately for us, the last man receiving the ball slipped and fell.

I have talked with a good many coaches and they do not all agree with me as to the possibilities of the lateral pass. Time will show whether I am right or not.

As we have not used the shift plays to any extent in the East, the rule providing for a full stop after change of position will not affect us in this section. West Point has used the shift more than any other team in the East.

The shift play has proved successful because it enabled the offensive team to get the jump on its opponent. It is always harder for a man on the defense to change his position than for a man on the attack, who knows where the play is going.

Under the old rule it seemed perfectly possible to beat the ball and get away with it. This, of course, made the shift even more effective. The five yard penalty meant very little. Under the new rule, with the one second stop it will be impossible to shift and start simultaneously.

Ira Rogers, the West Virginia coach, has announced his team will not use the shift this fall. Rogers learned his football under Spears, who is now at the University of Minnesota. Spears developed the shift to a high degree of efficiency. So an announcement of this kind from Rogers is significant.

Notre Dame has used the shift play very successfully for the last few years. As yet I have not learned just what Rockne will do. He is a very resourceful coach but I believe Notre Dame in 1927 will drop the shift and come out with a brand new offense.

   
The last Harvard-Princeton football game, Bridges, of Princeton, carrying the ball. Wide World photo.

* * *

Football, as played today, is one of the finest sports in America. Through the years of its turbulent growth, the men interested in the game have eliminated the objectionable features of play until the future of the game, with its 200,000 players and millions of supporters, is indeed rosy.

But football is not perfect. There is still room for improvement and criticism. I do not mean the stereotyped kind of criticism acknowledged to be the aftermath of every season and just as sure to come as the first snows. Rather, the honest criticism of men who have the best interests of the game at heart.

The two most objectionable features to the modern game are really by-products and non-essentials to the sport itself. They are spring practice and scouting.

Football is an autumn game. It is associated with cool, crisp days, with leaden skies and burning leaves. And it should be restricted to the fall season.

It is only fair to the players that spring practice be eliminated. The average boy of twenty is not thinking of football on warm spring days. He longs to play baseball, to run, to pull an oar on the lake or play tennis or golf.

To have him taken away from his fun—for indeed a football man trains enough during the season—and be required to don a heavy football suit and report to the coaches in fear and trembling that if he does not, he might be dropped from the squad in the fall, is indeed a gross injustice.

Little wonder football men are reported from time to time to call the sport a grind! It is not fair to the men.

   
Stanford-California game, witnessed by 80,000 people. Post, of Stanford, carrying the ball. Underwood photo.

The most likely candidates for the football team, I have found, are men of pronounced athletic ability who are interested in more than one form of sport. During the last spring I noticed a great number of these men running from other athletic fields, tired and wearied after baseball, lacrosse, track and crew, donned their football togs and then tried to give their best to the coaches.

It can’t be done. I admired their stamina and spirit and was fully conscious of the danger I submitted the men to, in the way of injuries and burning themselves out. No man can keep up two strenuous sports at the same time and do justice to his college work. This is the real danger of spring practice.

But what are the benefits? Scarcely any. All a coach can do is get a line on his men, encourage running, which is the basis of modern football, and get to know the new fellows on the squad. There can be no organized work without taking men away from other activities.

Scouting should be abolished. It destroys initiative and when initiative and independent thinking go out of football. it loses its greatest force as a collegiate game.

As I see it, scouting is one of the few bad influences affecting the game of football today. It is un-American and certainly foreign to the traditions of the game and to the high ideals of sportsmanship we are continually prating about.

In addition, scouting has a tendency to kill free, quick thinking on the part of the players—to deaden their initiative and individuality and to encourage a “win at any cost” attitude on the part of players and coaches which cannot have anything but a demoralizing effect.

Today the life of a scout is one round of pleasure and entertainment. The various football managers now vie with one another in extending courtesy to the opposing scout. A block of the best tickets in the stadium is always at their disposal. Frequently representatives from five or six different colleges are found parked in this section, where they can hold more or less informal reception and exchange notes on the play.

Upon the scouts’ return after the game, a very formal typewritten report, resembling the confidential statement of one of the best detective agencies is prepared. This report is filed with the head coach and reads somewhat as follows:

“Siwash vs. Eureka, Oct. 21, 1927. Day clear, temperature 52, crowd approximately 50,000, score 20-3.” The report then goes on to describe the play in the minutest detail, giving offensive and defensive formations, individual characteristics of the players—often the right end may vary his position if he is to take the tackle or go out for a pass.

The quarterback may stand a certain way on some plays and another way on others. A careful analysis is made of the running ability of the different backs.

Last fall, Tad Jones and I agreed not to scout the other for our annual game. The plan worked very well. After the game, several of the players commented on it and Sturhahn, the great Yale guard, said: “It was finer in every way. To play Princeton without scouting them made the game more enjoyable. We weren’t on the field two minutes before we tried to find out for ourselves what to expect from Princeton.”

“When the games were scouted, we watched for what we were informed would be likely to happen and we tried to note certain personalities of the team that would indicate a coming play. That wasn’t tried against Princeton. We were out there for ourselves to gather our own information and it was more fun.”

My team was never more alert than in the Yale game. The boys had hardly walked on the gridiron than they began to try to find out what Yale had. They knew nothing about Yale formations and plays, except that which they might have picked up from reading stories of the games in which Yale had played, and that information was pretty well disjointed.

Yale has announced that it has agreed with all opponents for this year to forego scouting. This is a move in the right direction. There is a sentiment against scouting at Dartmouth and it will surely crystallize into direct opposition to it.

In my opinion the universal abolition of scouting is merely a few years off. Before the 1927 season closes there will be a more general tendency from the colleges to do away with it.

   
Dixon of California tackled by flying Washington end. Washington wins, 7-0. International photo.

President Hopkins, of Dartmouth, suggested several reforms to college football which were answered by the Athletic Council at Hanover last spring. They said in part:

“We are unable to say that football, with its present organization and absorbing interest, does or does not occupy too important a place among college activities.”

“Yet,” continued the Athletic Council’s spokesman, “without establishing a fictitious value, we may not ignore the real worth to the colleges of the intense interest that surrounds this game, accepted as the best of college sports, providing valuable physical and character training for the players under competent direction and, as stated in your letter, producing for the college communities certain very vital values and making the game a natural rallying ground for student and alumni loyalties, incidentally producing revenues which chiefly support the entire athletic and recreational program of the colleges.”

Enemies of football and advocates of its abolition are few and negligible. With certain slight modifications it will continue, as it deserves to continue, the great college game. It is the friends of football who are concerned about it now. They hope to see it stripped of its unhealthy intensity, its alleged over-emphasis and find it restricted more in the realm of sportsmanship.

   
The University of Alabama’s offensive crashing way through Stanford line in East-West gridiron battle at Pasadena, January 1st, 1927. Score 7-7. Note the tense attitude of players.
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