Egg in Your Beer
Barry Wood Revisited
It's been 20 years since Barry Wood hung up his cleats and published a brilliant defense of college football against criticism which at the time was not true.
Today, however, his discussions of over-emphasis, commercialism, and the harmful fervour of "alumnus fanatics" take on new significance. Meanwhile, the former All-American quarterback and captain of the 1931 Crimson eleven has become a distinguished hospital director prominent research doctor, and head of the Washington University Medical School department of medicine.
Wrapped up in his medical career, the Doctor sees less and less that he likes in whatever football he finds time to follow.
To begin with, Wood called spring practice "a form of over-emphasis that can't be defended" and added. "I think it ought to be eliminated in all schools." He, himself, by the way, was always too busy with baseball, tennis, and hockey to go out for spring practice. A charter resident of Dunster House, Wood was also president of the Student Council, a member of Phi Beta Kappa his junior year, First Marshal of the Class of 1932...
Two-Platoon System Confusing
Those were the days when a football eleven was just that. Wood was an out-standing defensive halfback as well as a triple-threat offensive star. He greeted the current platoon system "with mixed feelings." Pleased to see more students getting a chance to participate, the Doctor, nevertheless, regarded the change as confusing and disadvantageous to the spectator.
On the more optimistic side, Wood did mention a few technical improvements he found in football--the place kick, for instance. Wood and the players of his day converted extra points and booted field goals by drop kick so as to gain an extra blocker, but he admits now that the modern place kick "is more accurate and quicker."
Another addition, the "T" formation, impressed Wood as "complicated, but very effective." His coach in 1931, Eddie Casey '19, employed the more orthodox and less razzle-dazzle single and double wings to collect wins over Texas, Holy Cross, and five other opponents against only one defeat, a 3 to 0 Yale upset.
Although he is a Harvard Overseer, Wood also owes allegiance to Washington University, a former gridiron non-entity which gained overnight notoriety after inclusion on next fall's Crimson schedule. Wood wouldn't go out on the limb to predict the winner, but he did say that the Bears are a tough "T" team, with two or three outstanding ballplayers and a strong first string. He wasn't sure, however, that they would have the depth to keep up with Harvard next October.
Continuing to talk about the St. Louis school. Wood added, "I'm really enthusiastic about Washington's amateur program." Neither offering athletic scholarships nor compelling unwilling students to play. Washington has been refreshingly free of recent abuses. The Doctor spoke of basketball scandals and schools which gave up football because of financial losses and then concluded, "All the universities are going to have to do that (follow Washington's exemplary program): it's just become a farce."