Harvard spent a good part of the last century proving it was the oldest college in the country, antedating William and Mary. It won the battle and now is launched on a new campaign to convince the country that it and McGill, not Princeton and Rutgers, played the first football game. There is merit in the argument, according to football historian Tim Cohane, a Fordham man.
Those first Princeton- Rutgers affairs were really soccer, Cohane writes in the Harvard Football News. A league that included Yale and Columbia as well as the New Jersey schools was formed in the fall of 1873, thus giving the NCAA its peg for the centenary it celebrated last season. But that was soccer, too, and Harvard would have none of it. The Crimson favored " Boston football," pioneered by local schoolboys, which featured the kicking of soccer but also permitted players to run with the ball, as in rugby. On May 14, 1874 Harvard played a game of Boston football against McGill University of Montreal at Jarvis Field in Cambridge. Harvard won three goals to none.
The next day the two teams played to a scoreless tie, but the game was Canadian rugby, which the Harvards and McGills agreed was a better game than Boston football. Canadian rules permitted touchdowns as well as conversions and field goals and, with fairly extensive refinements, are the basis of today's game.
Cohane claims a lot of other firsts for Harvard: victim of the first upset (1876, to Yale); first to introduce the kicking game, spring drills and tackling dummy; first player listed as All-America (James Cumnock, 1889); first to appoint coaches and a team physician; first halftime locker room; first black All-America ( Bill Lewis, 1893). To commemorate all this the Crimson has adopted an insignia for the season that features a large H surrounded by the legend: "1874-1974—The Real Football Centennial." Fine, but whatever happened to McGill?
SHAGGY DOGLEG STORY
Bob Russell of Centerville, Ohio had taken up golf only a few weeks before and he was having a downer. He was going so bad, in fact, that he thought the explosion he heard when he took a practice swing on the 15th fairway at Kitty Hawk Golf Center was a cherry bomb dropped at his feet by one of the jokers in his foursome. They're funny that way in Centerville.
Then the smoke cleared and he felt a burning sensation. He saw blood on his leg and his body went limp. "My God," he said, "I've been shot!" The others hit the dirt, suspecting a sniper. Crawling around, they finally discovered the truth. Russell's club—a two-iron, for purists—had detonated a live .22 caliber rifle cartridge hidden in the grass.
Damage to the leg, fortunately, was minimal. Russell is back on the links and figures that if he never improves at all he will always have this story to tell about the time he shot a hole-in-one-leg.
FRUIT OF LABOR NEGOTIATIONS