On Oct. 26, 1907, the “single wing” offense was unleashed on UPenn by Pop Warner and the Carlisle Indians. With the center able to snap the ball to three backs (TB, FB, QB), the options of run, handoff or pass were endless. The birth of the single wing (now called the “wildcat”) transformed football from a move-the-pile brawl, to the fast, open game we watch today.
On that fateful day in 1907, what did the single wing do to No. 4 ranked UPenn? Two stats tell it. Carlisle had 402 yards to Penn’s 76, and 22 first downs to Penn’s 3. The Philadelphia Press told it this way:
“With racial savagery and ferocity the Carlisle Indian eleven grabbed Penn’s football scalp and dragged their victim up and down Franklin Field, not relinquishing their grip until the seventy minutes of the time allotted to the process was up and the figures 26 to 6 told the tale.”
No matter how ugly you spin it – Carlisle had opponents on and off the field – Carlisle gave us a new game. So, next time Oct. 26 rolls around, wish modern football a “Happy Birthday!”
Next: Indian Trouble at New York’s Polo Grounds
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brian Meehl has published four novels with Random House: Out of Patience, Suck It Up, Suck It Up and Die,and You Don’t Know About Me. His books have garnered a Junior Library Guild Selection, a Blue Ribbon from the Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books and starred reviews in Publishers Weekly. In a former incarnation, Meehl was a puppeteer on “Sesame Street” and in Jim Henson films, including “The Dark Crystal.” His transition from puppets to pen included writing for television shows such as “The Magic School Bus” and “Between the Lions,” for which he won three Emmys. Meehl lives in Connecticut and is writing Blowback ’63 and Blowback ’94. For more information about this author and his exciting books, please visit www.brianmeehl.com and/or www.blowbacktrilogy.com.