This is the fifth installment of a history of Harvard Football written for the Crimson by James L. Knox '98, coach of the Harvard Jayvee football teams from the Haughton to the Harlow regime.
During the stretch from 1876 to 1889 Harvard and Yale played in New Haven, Boston, New York, and at Holmes Field and Jarvis Field in Cambridge. In 1889 and until the break in relations in 1894, the game was played on a neutral field at Hampden Park, Springfield.
The game of 1885 was omitted through Faculty edict barring football with other colleges.
The game of those days was started with a wedge. The field was 110 yards long and of the present width.
Cleated shoes were first worn in 1881. No pads and head guards were worn, and both teams remained on the field during intermissions. The game was rough, injuries few, and penalties unknown.
There were no set formations or signals until a start in this direction was made in 1883.
Perhaps a modern team would like to face the 1881 Harvard schedule, a part of which read: Saturday! October 12. Brittania at Montreal; Monday October 21, Michigan at Boston; Wednesday, November 2, Pennsylvania at New York; Saturday, November 5, Columbia at Cambridge.
There were no coaches until 1881, and then it was only spasmodic until Arthur Cumnock, of the Class of '91, got George Adams and George Stewart to start a coaching system at Harvard in 1890. Harvard won that year by 12 to 6. in spite of the fact that Yale boasted of the great Hefileilnger and Bum McClung (later Treasurer of the United States) on its team. Cumnock also appointed Dr. Bill Conant as ozar of the physical side of his team. and Jim Lathrop became the trainer.
Spring football was inaugurated also by Cumnock in 1882, and he installed the first tackling dummy ever faced by any squad. For the first time in football history the team at Springfield left the field between the halves for a medical going-over and rest in a temporary house erected just outside the grandstand. Yale, on seeing Harvard leave the field, betook themselves in the old and very cold barge which had brought them to the field.
From 1891 to the World War, football passed through a series of struggles for its very existence. Grossing exaggerated charges of injuries incurred on two occasions threatened the game's demise, but Walter Camp, of Yale, on one occasion, and Dr. Dexter of Illinois, on the other, brought forward such irrefutable data to stamp the stories of the game's opponents with the proper degree of exaggeration.
It is true that errors did creep is but they were merely gradual steps and are easier to recognize as errors when viewed in retrospect than the were at the time.
Among the features which around the ire of the game's critics was the Deland Flying Wedge, contributed by the Harvard team in 1892.
In 1892 the Vitascope offered $25,000 for movies of the Yale game, but it was to be played on a field 55 yards long. This belief that the movies should dictate the game was still in vogue is 1922 and 1932 as far as the movie companies were concerned.