Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 May 2008

Ohio Celebrates a Game of Foot Ball

In Sunday's New York Times I wrote a story about the 1890 Ohio State vs. Ohio Wesleyan game, which was the first intercollegiate football game for both schools.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 06 May 2008

22 comments, Last at 12 May 2008, 10:13am by Nick


by Dunbar (not verified) :: Tue, 05/06/2008 - 3:07pm

Suh-WEET mustache on the dude to the right of the Ohio Wesleyan team photo.

by Penrose 10,000 (not verified) :: Tue, 05/06/2008 - 3:21pm

Is he holding a pistol? Is he holding a rare custom-made Belgian gun?

by starzero (not verified) :: Tue, 05/06/2008 - 3:30pm

pardon me while i brag: my alma mater, kenyon college, scored their first football victory over ohio state the same year.

now our sports highlight is the men's swim team, with 28 consecutive division III national titles (and counting).

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 05/06/2008 - 4:18pm

What, in particular, makes this a game of football and not rugby?

by Herm? (not verified) :: Tue, 05/06/2008 - 4:18pm

While I'm sure your alma mater is all the talk at Swimming Outsiders, I have to admit I am not going to pony up the 25 bucks for the DIII Swimming Outsiders Pamphlet...might want to keep those little factoids in the backpocket at parties, and just make something interesting up.
(Why do we kid? Yes, I will admit, that streak is impressive)
On a much more serious note, I think that's Morten Andersen, back and to the left of the 19th Century Marvin Harrison.

by The Hypno-Toad (not verified) :: Tue, 05/06/2008 - 4:43pm

I feel like the guy on the left could have made a good case, had he tried to sue the creators of Superman for pose-infringement. The impression was all the more powerful, because at first glance the rag he's holding in his right hand looked like a cape.

by Hamburglar (not verified) :: Tue, 05/06/2008 - 4:54pm

Scoring system is slightly off for it to be rugby which is 5 for a try and 2 for a conversion. Also, forming "wedges" in loose play would be extremely illegal in rugby.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Tue, 05/06/2008 - 5:27pm

3: Must suck to go to a school with a name that has a striking resemblance to the word Crayon.

And if you have won DIII 28 years and counting, your school must prefer being the big fish...in the small pond. HAHahahahaha. But seriously, you win 5 or 10 straight in my division, I'd be kicking you up to the next division.

by steve sanders (not verified) :: Tue, 05/06/2008 - 6:28pm

#4 - Also there was probably a down and distance system in this game to allow teams to retain possession. And tackling below the knee was allowed in 1888. And, as #7 pointed out, blocking and active offsides are not legal in rugby.

by pr9000 (not verified) :: Tue, 05/06/2008 - 7:08pm

Well, my alma mater -- Denison University, just down the road from starzero's -- is the home of Woody Hayes' first collegiate successes.

And, uh, that's about it. Our swimming was strong too, I guess, but we were running the single wing as late as 1993 ...

by Duane (not verified) :: Tue, 05/06/2008 - 9:31pm

The X Games of the late 19th century...

by PaulH (not verified) :: Tue, 05/06/2008 - 11:14pm

I believe this officially becomes the oldest known evidence of powerhouse programs scheduling creampuff OOC opponents.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 05/07/2008 - 1:12am

Re #12
If you have a copy of the ESPN College Football Encyclopedia (and if you don't, you should), check out Yale's schedule in the late 1880's. Wesleyan, 3 or 4 times a year? MIT? And don't even think about the "amateurism" of Yale's team.

by Mystyc (not verified) :: Wed, 05/07/2008 - 1:34am

8: Problem is, Kenyon's swimming is pretty much its only sport worth a damn. I think the football team won maybe five games during the entire four years I was there.

(Go Lords!)

by ammek (not verified) :: Wed, 05/07/2008 - 7:50am

re: 7

Actually until 1891 only one point was awarded for a try in rugby, since the 'goal' was to set up the conversion, which was worth two points. Penalty kicks were also worth two points.

Prior to some unknown moment in the 1870s, no points were awarded at all for a try.

by Expagel (not verified) :: Wed, 05/07/2008 - 9:24am

As both an OWU and OSU alumnus, this was a very cool article to read. Now the Battling Bishops are most prominent athletically in men's and women's soccer, winning a handful of DIII championships between the two. The most important athletic contribution of Ohio Wesleyan is of course Branch Rickey (class of 1904). Link to other fun OWU facts in my name courtsey of Wikipedia.

by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 05/07/2008 - 9:26am

Actually, that "tradition" dates back over a decade before that. For instance, Harvard played the "Canada All-Stars" in 1875, twice. And in 1879, they played "Britannia", twice, and "McGill".

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 05/07/2008 - 10:12am

Is the guy to the right (from our prospective) of what I assume are the coaches blind? That's the only reason I can think of for completely facing the wrong direction in a photo.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/07/2008 - 11:20am

I don't know...Cris Carter looks at the wrong camera all the time, and we know he can see just fine.

by The Hypno-Toad (not verified) :: Wed, 05/07/2008 - 2:50pm

18 - I don't know... Maybe the problem is that everyone other than him and the guy right next to him is deaf. Those two seem very interested in something off to their left, and no one else is reacting. So maybe there was a loud noise and no one else could hear it?

by iapetus (not verified) :: Thu, 05/08/2008 - 8:22am

4: You mean rugby football? Rugby is an adjective applied to football to define the particular set of football rules that applied at... well, Rugby. Although most people just use the word 'rugby' to refer to the game as it's played today, it's still Rugby football in full - just as you have American football and Association football.

by Nick (not verified) :: Mon, 05/12/2008 - 10:13am

Unless there was a down/distance rule in place, the only real difference from rugby would be the ability of non-ball carriers to block opponents. This was only allowed in 19th century rugby if the ball was on the floor, which case you had two lines of scrimmage charging into each other and kicking shins in order to get the ball back.