Additional points: Road Trip in Atlanta

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The University of North Carolina soccer team is heading to Atlanta for a soccer game this weekend, with a group of some 175 people traveling in Delta-chartered jets, staying at a Marriott hotel and transforming the hotel meeting space in temporary headquarters to accommodate medical care. , film study and banquets for dinner and breakfast.

Compare that to the 1895 Tar Heel team that ventured to Atlanta with three games scheduled in five days in Atlanta, Nashville and Sewanee, then made the immediate decision to return to Atlanta for a fourth game. A notice in The tar heel journal (the precursor of The Daily Tar Heel) said the team would be leaving Durham on Friday at 4 p.m. by train, certainly a long trip for a Saturday afternoon game. The diary in its post-match coverage added: “Our boys traveled all night barely sleeping and that, along with the fact that several were suffering from previous injuries, must largely explain the poor performance they have. done.”

Carolina was coached that year by Thomas “Doggie” Trenchard, a recent Princeton graduate who had been named All-America after the 1893 season. Trenchard earned his nickname thanks to his unkempt appearance and would coach the Tar Heels one year and would post a 7-1-1 record, then move on to play professionally for a team in Latrobe, Pa. He then returned to Chapel Hill for a three-year term as coach from 1913-15, including a 10-1 record in 1914.

The Tar Heels were 2-0 at the start of the 1895 campaign, dusting off North Carolina A&M 36-0 (the precursor to NC State University) and Richmond 34-0, playing both games at Chapel Hill on the field of original sport of the university located on the ground. just east of the south building and the old well. This prepared the team for their road trip down south – vs. Georgia to Atlanta on Saturday, Oct. 26, then to Nashville to face Vanderbilt on Monday followed by a quick turnaround against Southern University at Sewanee on Tuesday.

The city of Atlanta developed an early appetite for football in the late 1800s and brought teams from Virginia to Alabama for neutral venue games at an athletic field in Piedmont Park, located just outside east of downtown. The city hosted a “football carnival” during Thanksgiving week in 1892, with a daily game featuring Carolina against Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama (later to become Auburn University) and Virginia against Trinity ( which would later become Duke University). The Tar Heels were scheduled to play Auburn in Atlanta, then travel to Nashville to play Vanderbilt the next day. They handled both opponents easily (64-0 against Auburn and 24-0 against Vanderbilt), then were asked at the last minute to return to Atlanta to face Virginia. The Cavaliers had already won in October 30-18, so the Tar Heels were motivated to take revenge. They accepted the challenge and won the rematch, 26-0.

Georgia in 1895 was in the third year of its football program and was coached by Glenn Warner, who was twenty-four and had a law degree from Cornell University. He was the captain of the football team and was the oldest player, so his teammates called him “Pop”. He took the coaching job at Georgia when it had 248 students.

The tar heel noted that a number of Caroline’s faculty and students were in attendance, including President George Taylor Winston and his associates Charles Baskerville and Edwin Alderman, who were there to “enjoy the sights with the students.” In addition, it was an “enthusiastic crowd of over a thousand spectators gathered at the athletics park” and added: “As you would expect, the wearers of the red and black were overwhelmingly, but when the Carolina Tally-ho came down the field, followed by the daughters of St. Mary’s car, the numbers stopped counting. “

Carolina won the game 6-0 when a touchdown was four points and the conversion was two points. The only touchdown came on a game that would later help change the course of football history – an inadvertent forward pass that was illegal at the time but sparked a spectator’s imagination to campaign for a much needed rule change.

Tar Heels left-back George Stephens scored on a seventy-yard forward pass from left winger Edwin Gregory just five minutes into the game. Warner argued with the referees that the pass was illegal, but neither of them looked well at the pass and let the game hold.

Stephens remembered the play almost half a century later in a 1940 story in The citizen of Asheville:

“The ball was picked up in the middle by Joe Whitaker, our quarterback, and handed to captain Ed Gregory, who was playing on the left end, as he charged into the backfield. If I remember correctly, the game had to come out of the tackle It was allowed at that time to pass the ball behind the line of scrimmage as long as the pass was lateral and not forward.

“Well, we’ve had several games where the ball carrier would pass to a teammate if he was tackled before crossing the line of scrimmage, but I don’t remember if that particular game was one of them. either, not long after Gregory got the from Whitaker, I remember looking up just as he tossed the ball to me. I was maybe five yards or more from him, and I didn’t know it was a forward pass, not a side pass. I just grabbed the ball and walked through open ground until a touchdown. “

John Heisman was Auburn’s young coach on the pitch that day, looking for an upcoming opponent Georgia. Heisman and many others around the sport thought football was a great game, but it had become too violent. Gambling as it existed in the late 1800s and early 1900s was far beyond anything acceptable in a civilized society. Football was more like rugby, and the ball was about the size of a small watermelon. Forward passes were not allowed, resulting in short side throws, large scrimmages of players fighting for the ball and vicious shots. The game rivaled professional baseball in terms of fan appeal, but it was a brutal sport where players locked their arms in mass formations and used their heads like rams, and this was before the advent of the helmet.

Heisman appealed to Walter Camp, the well-established coach considered in many circles to be “the father of football,” and argued that what he saw from North Carolina that day in Atlanta was the answer. to open the game and disperse the players. Camp was a former Yale coach who lost just two games in five seasons at New Haven and was now Stanford’s coach and the head of the football rules committee. Heisman was twenty-six and had a more progressive outlook on football than Camp, ten years his senior.

Unfortunately, Heisman’s idea fell on deaf ears. Camp believed that the pass would allow luck to play too much of a role in the game and lead to eccentric plays. He believed violence was essential to the character of the sport, and one of his sympathetic committee members referred to “lightweights” in the discussion of how passing and receiving would change the game. pass would give, in essence, a more “sississified” type of football.

After a series of deaths over the next decade, however, President Theodore Roosevelt summoned the leaders of major football schools to the White House in December 1905 and ordered them to clean up their sport – or he would see it. was dissolved. Finally, from this meeting came the legalization of the forward pass.

Meanwhile in Atlanta, the Tar Heels after beating the Bulldogs boarded a train to Nashville and knocked out the Vanderbilt Commodores 12-0, then moved on to Sewanee. Worthy of a team that had played two games in three days, the Tar Heels have not scored any points. Fortunately, they did not allow any, as the game ended in a scoreless draw.

The team arrived in Sewanee on Tuesday morning in less than favorable condition for playing football; exhausted from their long journey and lack of sleep and still feeling the effects of two tough matches just played with Georgia and Vanderbilt, they were far from their true form “, The tar heel reported.

Stephens said the second game with Georgia was the result of a challenge.

“The Carolina alumni gave us a big banquet after the Sewanee game, and while we were there the challenge to play a second game was received from Georgia,” he said. “Our money was almost used up, and pretty much all we had was our train ticket home. So we figured we could scoop up a few bucks by replaying them, which we did. We completely convinced them that our team was good enough to do two in a row and that the first win was no accident. “

Four games in seven days? Wow.

“On the way from Sewanee to Atlanta, Mr. Trenchard worked endlessly on the players with hot water and liniment,” The tar heel reported. “The result was that we entered Georgia’s second game on a much better pitch than Sewanee’s game and the result proved we were superior to Georgia without a doubt.”

Carolina beat Georgia again, this time by a score of 10-6. The tar heel said the game was played in the middle of a lot of mud and “moderate rain fell throughout the game”.

“On their recent trip, the team were proud, deserve warm congratulations from the student body and revealed the secret that the Southern Football Championship will soon be ours,” The tar heel observed.

Carolina finished the year 7-1-1 and edged its opponents 146-17 in posting their best record in their eighth year of football.

“In every place they visited they won admiration for their behavior and no doubt made many new friends for Carolina”, The tar heel noted. “And that pride also comes from the great increase in ‘collegial spirit’ that our new growth in athletics and all other branches of college life has instilled in us.”

Imagine the equivalent today: Caroline faces Georgia Tech on Saturday, travels to Knoxville to face Tennessee on Monday, a quick turnaround to Vanderbilt on Tuesday, then returns to Atlanta for a rematch with the Yellow Jackets on Thursday.

Lee Pace has written extensively on this “first pass” and its consequences in his book “First Pass — The Day College Football Chartered a New Course”. Write to him at leepace7@gmail.com and the following @LeePaceTweet.

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