College Foot Ball, an Obituary

College Foot Ball

November 6, 1869-January 10, 2024

​Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey to the proud parents of Rugby and Soccer Ball, Young Foot Ball appeared in a match between Rutgers and the College of New Jersey (not yet known as Princeton). Rutgers prevailed in this first match by a score of 6-4, and the world was abuzz with the new child on the block! Young Foot Ball immediately grew, adding Columbia and Yale with Harvard soon to follow. These new ruffians (not quite what makes these squads today) required rules to be set as far as how Foot Ball should be raised and managed! By 1880 a man named Walter Camp came into young Ball’s life, deciding that the squads that played with Ball should have a center that snapped the ball to a quarterback, who would manage the offense from there. He even helped determine the size of ground that the young lad should be played on.

Ball grew quickly and by 1890 the first game between Army and Navy was played with Navy taking the contest by a score of 24-0 on November 29th. Rutgers decided it was time to expand and started searching out teams in Maine, while other originals soon followed. Penn St. joined in 1887 and somehow managed to play for 5 years without a head coach!

​As Ball matured, it was determined that he could stay up later and on September 28, 1892 Foot Ball was able to play under the lights in Mansfield Pennsylvania between Mansfield State Normal College and Wyoming (Pennsylvania) Seminary. The lighting must not have been that good, as the game ended in a 0-0 tie.​

Schools across the country wanted to join in the fun with Michigan coming in 1879 and Notre Dame in 1887. ND lost to Michigan 8-0 in that first game between the two schools. The Pacific Coast added USC in 1888 and the University of Washington by 1892.

​On October 26, 1895, a young man named Joel Whitaker inadvertently shaped Foot Ball’s life in a moment of panic when he tossed the ball to a teammate, George Stephens, rather than be tackled. Thus, the forward pass was established. John Heisman had an award named after him by the Downtown New York Athletic club, when he hid the ball under quarterback Reynolds Tichenor’s jersey. Funny that an award was given for a cheap play, only to see so many Heisman awards given to the wrong player (i.e. in 2023 when Michael Penix should have won!)

​With the growing fan base, you could first listen to games that Foot Ball would play with the first radio broadcast between West Virginia University and Pittsburgh University on October 8, 1921. Television wanted to be a part of the rearing of Foot and aired the first game between Fordham University and Waynesburg University on September 30th, 1939. This was the same year that rankings were given. This allowed the immediate judging of quality of Foot Ball.

​Through television and rankings, his pride grew as a young honest sport giving rise to the mascots: the Fighting Irish, Wolverines, Trojan’s, Sooners, Nittany Lions, Deacon Deamons, Gators, Longhorns, Cougars, Crimson Tide, Cornhuskers, Bulldogs and even a Lame Duck! Bowls were added to reward those teams that played honorably. Coaches became parts of the team, molded in their fabric. Proud to wear the school colors and not daring to wear another. Guys like Gil Dobi, who has the longest unbeaten streak in college football at 64, winning 60 games and 4 ties for the University of Washington. The Sooners with a 47-game win streak ended by Notre Dame. Knute Rockne bringing in the Four Horseman and the Gipper. Tom Osborne for Nebraska, Bobby Bowden, Don James, Nick Saban, Joe Paterno, Bo Schembechler, Bear Bryant, Woody Hayes, and Eddie Robinson are just a few coaches that made Foot Ball great. A quote that rang true to some of these names came from Bo Schembechler in 1982, when Texas A&M came calling with what seems to be their bottomless bag of money and offered Bo 3 million dollars a year to coach. His response, "Frankly, I've come to the conclusion that there are things more important in this world than money. For that reason, I've decided to stay at Michigan."

​Into the 1980’s College Foot Ball grew, but with it, an unforeseen disease began metastasizing within, as the SMU Mustangs were given the death penalty after it was uncovered that a booster was giving 13 players a total of $61,000 dollars and Erik Dickerson a Trans Am! ESPN Gameday started in 1987 and hit the road for its first game on campus in 1993 between Notre Dame and Florida St. And from there, the illness grew. Like many diseases, it was fed rapidly and grew internally while avoiding regular checks and balances. More bowl games added, more awards, more channels, no satisfaction with rankings, playoffs added, Las Vegas influence, television money dictating how and when Foot Ball should be played. Loyalty? Thrown out the door! It became apparent that Foot Ball had a problem and didn’t want to realize it. He had allowed the money and fame to control his every move, so much that there was no saving him! ​

Which brings us to Foot Ball’s death. Nick Saban, Kalen DeBoer, Steve Sarkisian, Dan Lanning, Mike Norvell, and their agent (Jimmy Sexton) may have a different opinion. In a year when one agent controls all of the top coaches, it seems that playing games behind the backs of hard-working fans has been a pastime off the field. Coaches say one thing "from the bottom of their hearts" one day at the university they "love,"only to smile the next day, and say how happy they are to be in another! Players jump around from one school to another saying "It’s a business decision," as they portal to a different university. A television network steering all schools and conferences into one direction that the network wants and influencing players and voters with money and television time.

As his breath grew shorter, Foot Ball did not care about the fans any longer. He thought that his friends would save him, only realizing too late that Herbstreit was a merchant of death, "Prime" is about himself and no one else, Jimmy Sexton and his coaching clients did not care who they stepped on as they moved up the ladder, and players were no longer loyal to the school colors, but to only themselves.

In the end, Foot Ball had betrayed those who had raised him.

College Foot Ball died one night in January of 2024consumed by the cancer from within that feasted on the heart, soul, and loyalty of the fans who at first loved and enjoyed being around young Foot Ball, until what they loved was gone!Only a dying whisper could be heard….Cheer, Cheer for old Notre Dame, wake up the echoes……Bow Down to Washington…RIP…

​There will be no service.