An All-American Yale player, Stagg brought football to what is now Springfield College and coached the institution’s first team in 1891. After arriving as a graduate student and instructor in 1890, Stagg posted a notice inviting students and faculty to play football for the institution. On an open field overlooking Lake Massasoit, the team would practice and play the less important games, while playing bigger games downtown. The first year ended with a 5-3 record, highlighted by a 26-0 defeat of Amherst and a contest against Yale at Madison Square Garden, the first-ever indoor football game. Yale fielded a team of five varsity players, two substitutes, and a group of Yale graduates. Springfield College, at this time, had less than fifty students from which to draw. Stagg was the only experienced player on the Springfield College squad and found his team outsized by an average of twenty pounds per man. In a great contest, Springfield College showed true courage and pride, but ultimately lost 16-10. The newspapers labeled Stagg’s team the “Stubby Christians,” commending the team for the surprise they gave everyone in attendance and how they outplayed the giants from New Haven. After coaching for fifty-seven years at number of different institutions, he became the dean of college football coaches. Stagg pioneered the huddle, the man in motion, the end-around, and the Statue of Liberty play, among others. During October 2006, the refurbished Benedum Field was renamed the Amos Alonzo Stagg Field. In The Fireside Book of Football, Edwin Pope describes Stagg as “football’s Ben Franklin, Alexander Bell, and Thomas Edison all rolled into one.” As of the 1890s, standard football rules had not been established, and punching, kicking, and holding were commonplace tactics while the play field was any length agreed upon by the participants. There were no five-yard strip lines running across the field and no linesmen. The game was divided into forty-five minute halves, and once the game started no player could leave the field unless injured. There was no neutral zone between the two scrimmage lines, and instead of a kickoff to start the game, the center merely touched the ball to his toe, then tossed it to a running back while the other players provided interference.
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