Sound Football Advice From the Days Before That Infernal Forward Pass

As I am sure you have noticed, it has been a light weekend of posting for me, for which I beg your pardon; other commitments have occupied my time, and will continue to do so periodically in the weeks ahead, but I did not want to leave you entirely in the lurch, so I thought I would share something from an old edition of The Red and Black.

The complete archives of the University of Georgia’s independent student newspaper are available on-line and leafing through old issues from every era serves as an entertaining pastime (except insofar as the mug shot from my days as a columnist between 1995 and 1997 is concerned). Take, for instance, the front page of the November 6, 1900, edition.

The lead story in that issue concerned the annual Inter-Collegiate Oratorical Association contest, which was won by Mercer University on the strength of the speech by Walter F. George, who is now the namesake of that institution’s law school.

My attention, however, was drawn to the editorial authored by A.H. Patterson, which was entitled "About our Football Season." Opined Patterson:

There has been some idle talk about college during the past week to the effect that our season has not been a success so far, and that it would therefore be useless to continue it.

It is difficult to understand how we can be so blind to all considerations of honor and loyalty as to think for a moment of endorsing suck [sic.] a weak, cowardly, and ruinous policy as that. . . .

The schedule has been well arranged: Clemson at Athens, Nov. 10th; North Carolina at Raleigh, Nov. 17th; A.&M. College of N.C. at Raleigh, Nov. 19th, and Auburn in Atlanta, Nov. 29th. A better schedule could not be devised. Much experience will be gained in breaking up the trick plays and heavy interference of the Clemson team, and a week later we have a good chance to defeat North Carolina. . . .

Back from the North Carolina trip, we settle down to a week’s final practice and polishing up, and then---Auburna delenda est.

The duty and privilege of the team is plain, and the whole University, nay, the whole state, is looking to them to meet these teams from other states and wrest from them honorable victory. If defeat should come instead in one or two cases, let it be also honorable, and no blame can accrue to any one who does his best.

But the rest of us,---each one of us,---has a duty also at this time, and that is to rally around the team, watch them practice, be courteous enough to stay on the side-lines and give them the whole field, and encourage them in every way to keep in good training and in good heart.

Alas, Patterson’s faith was somewhat misplaced; the 1900 Georgia squad (they would not become known as the Bulldogs for another 20 years) closed out the campaign with four straight setbacks to post back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in school history. The Red and Black’s losses to Clemson, North Carolina, and Auburn came by a combined margin of 138-5; aside from the Athenians’ loss to North Carolina in 1898, those were the three most lopsided defeats in Georgia history to that point.

Nevertheless, Patterson’s attitude is admirable, particularly his adoption of the same attitude toward Auburn that Cato the Elder reserved for Carthage. (I hate Auburn.)

With the kickoff of the Bulldogs’ 2008 campaign only just over 40 days away, we as fans should begin preparing ourselves for the season that lies ahead. Over a century ago, A.H. Patterson minced no words in informing us what sorts of fans we ought to be. Throughout Bulldog Nation, he who has ears, let him hear.

Go ‘Dawgs!

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