Sunday, November 6, 2011
Retrospect 1969: College football's centennial year
Editor’s Note: Few people realize that in the era of November Ever After, college football celebrated its 100th anniversary (1969). It wasn’t exactly a vintage year for Marshall’s football team, but that’s another story for another time. Take a look at this archive article that ran in the school’s newspaper The Parthenon. The article was written student journalist Jeffery Bergen and was published October 31, 1969.
This year is the mark of a century of intercollegiate football. Fans who have attended college games this season have noticed that on the side of each player’s helmet are the numerals “100” framed by a football.
It is recorded that the first intercollegiate game was at New Brunswick, on Nov. 6, 1869, between Rutgers and Princeton. Rutgers won six goals to four. The game was not timed by a watch, but was decided when one team scored six goals.
A century ago, teams used a round, rubber ball. A goal was scored when the ball was kicked under the crossbar. Today, players run for a touchdown and kick extra points over the crossbar for a field goal or the point after touchdown.
Marshall football began its season in 1898 when the Herd fell to Catlettsburg, Ky., 11-5. Being a young team, they lacked experience and did not have a winning season until 1937.
Under the direction of Coach Cam Henderson, the team of ’37 tallied a record of winning 14 games in a row. The team also scored the most points, 343, in the history of the school.
We can estimate that two-and-half million men have played college football in a century and that 1,500 have been “immortal.” Men like George Gipp (Notre Dame); Red Grange (Illinois); Jim Thorpe (Carlisle) and many other players and coaches are the men who have made football the game it is today.
Twenty to thirty million fans will see a college game in 1969. This seems like a good way to start off the next century.