Monday, February 28, 2011

1926 Rose Bowl Drive Chart

Drive chart and stats from Alabama's 20-19 victory over Washington in the 1926 Rose Bowl. The information was compiled and drawn by Ward Nash, a pioneering sports statistician from Los Angeles.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Riley Smith and The First NFL Draft

Alabama player Riley Smith holds the distinction of being the first National Football League player taken in the league's annual college draft. Yet, Smith was not the first man selected in the NFL's inaugural 1936 selection ceremony.

The NFL draft of college players emerged from a plan devised by Philadelphia Eagles co-founder Bert Bell and subsequently approved by the league owners in May 1935. Bell's Eagles were given the first pick in the first draft held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia on Feb. 8, 1936.

They chose Jay Berwanger from the University of Chicago the recipient of the first-ever Heisman Trophy. The Eagles subsequently transfered their signing rights for Berwanger to the Chicago Bears.

When the multi-talented halfback asked for $25,000 over two years, Chicago coach George Halas balked. With that, Berwanger brought his football career to a close and took a job as a foam rubber salesman.

The second player selected in that draft was Alabama quarterback Riley Smith who was taken by the Boston Redskins (who moved to Washington D.C. the following year).

At Alabama Smith played quarterback but also blocked, punted, kicked extra points and booted field goals. The Greenwood, Miss. native was named to several All-American squads and won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the best blocker in the Southeastern Conference.

Smith's play was pivotal in the 1935 Rose Bowl win over Stanford as he kicked the final points in the 29-13 contest to give the Crimson Tide the victory.

After the draft, Smith signed with the Redskins and became the first active NFL player chosen in the now-annual event. Between 1936-37 he missed only three minutes in 26 Redskin games but he only appeared in seven contests in 1938 before his career was brought to an early end by injury.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Scrub Team

A cartoon from the Dec. 1934 edition of the University of Alabama humor magazine Rammer Jammer. The issue was denoted as "Rose Bowl Number" and almost completely devoted to Alabama's upcoming trip to Pasadena to face Stanford.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The 1916 Rose Bowl

Silent film of the 1916 Rose Bowl between Brown University Bears and the Washington State Warriors.

The 1916 game was actually the second in the series. The Rose Bowl was shelved following the inaugural 1902 game due to Michigan's dominant 49-0 victory over Stanford. Washington State won the 1916 contest 14-0 despite Brown being a heavy favorite.

The 1915 Brown squad featured guard Wallace Wade whose blocking was credited for aiding the productivity of the team's legendary running back Fritz Pollard. Pollard would become one of the first two African American players in the NFL in 1920 (alongside Bobby Marshall). Wade would go on to become the coach of Alabama and lead the Crimson Tide to three Rose Bowls.

Wade credited his coach at Brown, Edward "Robbie" Robertson, as a key influence on his approach to the profession. He also cited the experience in the 1916 game as shaping his philosophy in how to prepare for the New Year's Day contest when he returned to Pasadena with the Crimson Tide a decade later.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Horseshoe-shaped Rose Bowl

When Rose Bowl Stadium was built in 1922, only three sides of the structure were erected. The $272,000 effort to build the structure left it open on the southern end. Alabama's first two appearances in the New Year's Day classic  in 1926 against Washington and 1927 versus Stanford  were played in the period the stadium was still in this configuration.

The venue didn't become a true "bowl" until the southern stands were completed in 1928. The $115,000 price tag for the expansion was funded through the proceeds from the highly attended 1926 and 1927 games. Johnny Mack Brown, the star of the 1926 Rose Bowl for Alabama, explained it to Sports Illustrated in 1962.

"The Rose Bowl wasn't really a bowl. It was more of a horseshoe" he said. "One end wasn't  closed. Alabama closed it for them."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Yea Alabama"

Let the Sewanee Tiger scratch, 
Let the Yellow Jacket sting,
Let the Georgia Bulldog bite,
Alabama still is right!
And whether win or lose we smile,
For that's Bama's fighting style:
You're Dixie's football pride, Crimson Tide!

Yea, Alabama! Drown 'em Tide!
Every 'Bama man's behind you,
Hit your stride.
Go teach the Bulldogs to behave,
Send the Yellow Jackets to a watery grave.
And if a man starts to weaken,
That's a shame!
For Bama's pluck and grit have
Writ her name in Crimson flame.
Fight on, fight on, fight on men!
Remember the Rose Bowl, we'll win then.
Go! Roll to victory,
Hit your stride,
You're Dixie's football pride,
Crimson Tide, Roll Tide, Roll Tide!!