Wrapping up the Spring

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sal Interdonato has a ton of stuff, from coverage of the Black Knights' final 2010 spring practice, to Spring Game when and where, to a spotlight piece - this one on WR Davyd Brooks.

Brooks is making the most of his chance. He's no longer a raw athlete. He's a football player. Brooks' flashes of brilliance are more frequent.

"Consistency," said the soft-spoken Brooks. "Consistency. That's my No. 1 word. Consistency with everything I do."

I don't know why, but I love that consistency quote.
A nice piece on a serious physical specimen. As a soph. this is his first chance to make an impact, and with the run game's tendency to get a bit stuffy - for lack of a better word- a big, athletic true WR will offer some chances to make plays down the field.

The Lewiston Morning Tribune has an in depth spotlight piece featuring Lewiston, Idaho native Emerson Follett. This one calls cadets' commitment to West Point "a free education, with strings", and highlights some of the rigors of West Point underclassmen.

Freshmen, or plebes, get one pass off the campus each semester, plus Christmas. That eases somewhat with time, until seniors are allowed cars and passes every weekend.

"Life gets better when you're not a freshman. I really think it's worth it, the education, especially becoming an officer in the Army. That's my ultimate goal: becoming an officer in the Army. Putting up with some of the stuff is definitely worth it."

So do you still call that "free"?

USA Today has had a Spring Prospectus up for a little while. Recruiting notes, personnel notes and expectations are addressed in this one.

2010 LOOK AHEAD: There is no question Army made strides in 2009, coming within 30 minutes of the program's first bowl game since 1997. The Black Knights led Navy at the half and couldn't finish the job, finishing 5-7. QB Trent Steelman was a full-time starter as a freshman and should continue to grow, and RB Pat Mealy could at least approach 1,000 yards in his senior season. The Black Knights had seven seniors on the 22-man depth chart for the Navy game, and they continue to grow.

Also the Big East's new Yankee Stadium bowl game has a new name and sponsor. The New Era Pinstripe Bowl will air on ESPN and pit the Big East's 3rd bowl eligible team against the 6th team from the Big 12.

Year by Year 1874

Another day, another year. Now comes time to review the year 1874 and we've seen that prior to 1874 football looked nothing like the football we know today. Well 1874 brings good news and and also some bad news. The good news... football in 1874 is taking a big stride toward becoming American football - the bad news... the brand of football played in 1874 was far from what we can call modern football, and merely moving toward the style of football played in English rugby.

Which is fine - we're examining the history of American football and there's no secret that the American game evolved from Rugby. I find it a little troublesome that in the search to find the "birthplace" of college football, partisan researchers have the tendency to credit the invention of football at one singular place (@ historical correction) or at one singular time, when if we want to look at one place in time, all evidence regarding the start of American intercollegiate football points to Princeton/Rutgers in 1869. Any fact-glossing beyond that ignores the steps taken by earlier teams to organize the sport. And in the case of the Harvard article point more to the innovations of the Canadian game than it does to the Harvard style of play.

1874 college football was played under three different sets of rules: 1) the F.A. rules set forth in 1873 by Rutgers, Princeton, Columbia and Yale 2) rules implemented by Harvard's "Boston game" and 3) the English Rugby rules introduced by Montreal's McGill Univ.

In 1874 Harvard and McGill played a 2 game series in Cambridge, Mass where the first game, on May 14, was played using Harvard rules and a game the next day was played using McGill's rugby rules. The first game ended in a 3-0 Harvard win and the rugby game ended up tied 0-0, but by all accounts the rugby tie was more exciting, more entertaining and more enjoyable for the players. There was no score to this game (0-0), but McGill's rules dictated counting touchdowns as scores as well as goals - where in English rugby a touchdown only allowed for a try for goal.

Lithograph of Harvard-McGill rugby game

I take notice of things like this, but in several places it is noted that the second, tied, game was thrilling and exciting. I don't know what is lost on football fans of today that we can't see the value of a tie, but I'll take this opportunity to illustrate that ties are a big part of college football, from the first season when Princeton/Rutgers split 1-1 records to the Harvard/McGill tie that changed the nature of the game. Ties have always been there.

The game played the next day, May 15, was the first rugby game on U.S. soil. Harvard acquitted itself very well and struggled to a scoreless tie. More importantly, they fell head over heels in love with rugby and all thoughts of the once-cherished Boston Game disappeared.

A third Harvard/McGill game was scheduled that year and in October the Harvard team traveled to Montreal to play McGill at rugby. This time Harvard won 3 touchdowns to 0 and while these international games weren't the start of college football they certainly were major steps in the game's evolution.

There were also association football games played by Columbia, Princeton, Rutgers, Stevens Tech and Yale. These games cannot be diminished as those teams soon became involved in the handling game of American football. I believe I'm through with highlighting every game and every score, and now I will focus these posts on the changes in the game and honoring the best teams of a given year. For now I'll state that between 1874 and 1875 the most important ingredient to the evolution of college football was the natural rivalry of Harvard and Yale. In the next post, Harvard introduces Yale to rugby, a young Walter Camp watches on, and Yale's great teams were tempered under the fire of Harvard's new rugby game.

As for champions, 1874 gives us a unique result with two undefeated soccer teams plus Harvard as the champion of the McGill rugby series.

Yale 3-0
Princeton 2-0

Harvard 2-0-1

So accolades again go to Yale and Princeton as well as to Harvard with their newfangled handyball rules.


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