College football is commemorating 150 years of gridiron action this season. In celebration, let's hop in a time machine and review how we got here.
1869: College football was born on Nov. 6, 1869, when Rutgers beat the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), 6-4, in a game that looked more like soccer or rugby than modern football.
1880s: In December 1889, an amateur athletics magazine called "The Week's Sports" published the names of 11 college football players — the first-ever "All-America" team.
- The concept was created by Walter Camp, aka "Father of American Football." Among his inventions: the line of scrimmage, the system of downs and the scoring system.
1900s: At the turn of the century, questions about violence threatened football's existence, so much so that President Teddy Roosevelt got involved. Numerous rule changes were made, including the 1906 legalization of the forward pass.
- From the archives: In 1903, Princeton and Yale met in the championship. Fortunately for us, Thomas Edison sent a cameraman to film, so we have footage!!
1920s: The 1920s were considered the "Golden Age of Sports" in the U.S. For the first time, large numbers of post-war Americans were willing to pay money to attend sporting events.
- Baseball and boxing were king, but college football crowds reached 100,000 fans for the first time and massive new stadiums were constructed to keep up with demand.
1940s: When the U.S. entered World War II, football became an integral part of military training at colleges around the country and resulted in schools like Army and Notre Dame building superpowers.
- "Military leaders began to emphasize the purported link between college football and military preparation. A Navy commander ... even turned it into a chant: Football! Navy! War! And this spiritual link between football and war ... would prove the salvation of the sport." (The Athletic)
The modern era
- 1950s: With some of the wartime powers fading, the 50s featured national champions like Maryland, Tennessee, UCLA, Michigan State and Syracuse. Meanwhile, Oklahoma won a record 47 consecutive games.
- 1960s: In what was dubbed the "Game of the Century," Notre Dame and Michigan State battled to a 10-10 tie in 1966. It was only the 10th meeting between teams that were ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the AP Poll.
- 1970s: The 70s were all about the wishbone offense and superstar RBs like Tony Dorsett (Pitt), Earl Campbell (Texas), Billy Sims (Oklahoma) and Archie Griffin (Ohio State) — the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy.
- 1980s: This was a decade defined by swagger (it's all about the "U," baby) and scandal (SMU got the death penalty in 1987). And let's not forget Barry Sanders' 1988 campaign — the best individual season ever.
- 1990s: Three of the first seven years featured split championships — 1990 (Colorado, Georgia Tech), 1991 (Washington, Miami), 1997 (Michigan, Nebraska) — which led to the creation of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in 1998.
- 2000s: Here are some names from the All-2000s team (chosen in 2009): QB Tim Tebow, RB Adrian Peterson, RB Darren McFadden, WR Larry Fitzgerald, WR Michael Crabtree, TE Kellen Winslow, DE Terrell Suggs, LB Patrick Willis, S Ed Reed (full roster).
- 2010s: Auburn won the 2010 championship, but their rivals in Tuscaloosa have dominated the decade — though Crimson Tide alum Dabo Swinney has built an emerging superpower to the east.
So there you have it. The history of college football. Now, let's turn our attention to the the 2019-20 campaign — the latest chapter in this spectacular 150-year story…