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Sunday, January 01, 2017 ISSUE #896

Will Rogers on college football     

Will Rogers wrote about 3 of the 4 teams in the 2016 college football playoff games, Alabama, Washington and Ohio State (but not Clemson).

The University of Alabama was selected to play in the Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 1926, against the University of Washington. Alabama was a huge underdog because southern schools had no respect from college football powerhouse teams in the North and West.  But that changed when Alabama won 20-19.

Will Rogers was at the Rose Bowl game and wrote, “I could tell from the way they played that the whole of Alabama was a football fool. And if Washington thinks it was a fluke, I will bet my last piece of rope and chewing gum that “Old Tuskegee,” the monument to Booker T. Washington, can come out here and confirm the victory. After seeing that game you will never make me believe that the Civil War was fought on the level. Poor refereeing must have beat ‘em.”

Alabama played again in the Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 1935, and beat Stanford 29-13. Will was there, and had written a week earlier that pro football had become so popular by passing the ball more, “Audiences like clever passing and lots of scoring, not 0 to 0, or 7 to 6…. Well Alabama must [have read my article] because they just said it’s easier to throw this thing over there than it is to carry it over and, as a consequence, 85,000 people went nutty… I don’t blame Stanford for not getting in the way of those passes. Why, those things would kill you if they hit you.”

Will Rogers also wrote about Ohio State University football, in January 1927: “Dr. Wilce, the Ohio State coach, just showed me their new stadium, seating 100,000, built by hard study and excellent scholarship. They can seat 200 students to every book in the university. They lost to Michigan [17 to 16, on Nov. 13] by a kick after touchdown. He has 400 students practicing day and night to kick goals… I suggested they practice making another touchdown, they then wouldn’t have to worry about the goal kicking.” (Coach John Wilce was also a professor of clinical and preventive medicine.)

On Saturday undefeated Alabama beat Washington 24-7, and Ohio State was shutout by Clemson, 31-0, setting up the championship game January 9.

OSU could not score a touchdown and their kicker missed 2 field goals, handing them the first shutout since 1993. Urban Meyer makes enough coaching football he doesn’t have to moonlight as a professor of medicine.

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