1903 M-Chicago Football Video

Submitted by dcblue92 on August 26th, 2016 at 3:47 PM


I stumbled on this Library of Congress video of Michigan playing Chicago in 1903.  I'd seen photos and short clips, but never full video of a game during this time. It is remarkable how different the game was.  In fact, it doesn't seem like it would be that much fun to watch.  Michigan won the game (a rivalry at the time) 28-0 to finish the season 11-0-1. I thought others might find it interesting as well.





August 26th, 2016 at 3:52 PM ^

This is fantastic - thanks for posting. 

Looks like a pretty good crowd; didn't think college football drew that much back then.



August 26th, 2016 at 4:46 PM ^

Actually, what seems to have stopped the "point-a-minute" era is the fact that they went from 5 yards for a first down to 10.  Before 1905, teams had 3 downs to get 5 yards.  From 1906-1911, it was 3 downs to get 10 yards.  It wasn't until 1912 that they settled on the 4 downs / 10 yards that you see today.  Football from 1906-1911 was extremely low scoring (as I am sure you can imagine). 

The rules committee in 1906 created a neutral zone that still exists today--before then, the line of scrimmage went through the center of the ball and offense and defense could line up nose to nose.  They thought that the neutral zone would offset the extra 5 yards, but it really didn't work out tthe way they hoped.



August 26th, 2016 at 4:05 PM ^

@dcblue92: I was trying to get to 100 MGOBLOG points so I could post this very same Library of Congress video as my first post.  I'm glad you are able to share it with everyone.


August 26th, 2016 at 4:14 PM ^

thanks for posting it. I've always wondered what games looked like back then. Pretty tough game, just lining up and banging against each other all day with very little padding on a dirt field.  Also did you notice the high tempo offense, could've been Oregon of today..


August 26th, 2016 at 4:50 PM ^

Yost absolutely ran a "hurry up" offense--it was Michigan's trademark then the way it is now for Oregon or Indiana.

To show how little has changed in 110+ years, there are multiple instances of Yost complaining to opposing coaches, newspapers, officials, and the conference office about other teams faking injuries in order to slow down his offense.


August 26th, 2016 at 4:32 PM ^

It was a very rough game back then.  A lot of the "innovations" that have happened since then such as the forward pass were done to make the game safer, not for competition or asthetic/entertainment reasons.

It's actually similar to where we are now.  The very survival of the game was in doubt due to serious injuries.  It had to adapt to address that and survive.  

The same thing will happen again.  The game will look very different 100 years from now if it is still going to be around.


Michology 101

August 26th, 2016 at 6:55 PM ^

I remember watching this footage before and was very intrigued by the film. The game of football originated from the sport rugby. Some people felt rugby could be a better game if a few rules were slightly changed.

Though true rugby fans weren't going to abandon the way their sport was played. Therefore football was created to be something different, but it still wasn't a whole lot different from rugby at that time.