On Oct. 26, 1907, the “single wing” offense was unleashed on U. Penn by Pop Warner and the Carlisle Indians. With the center able to snap the ball to three backs (TB, FB, QB), the options of run, handoff, or pass were endless. The birth of the single wing (now called the “wildcat”) transformed football from a move-the-pile brawl, to the fast, open game we watch today.
What did the single wing do to #4 ranked U. Penn? Two stats tell it. Carlisle had 402 yds. to Penn’s 76, and 22 first downs to Penn’s 3. The Philadelphia Press told it this way:
“With racial savagery and ferocity the Carlisle Indian eleven grabbed Penn’s football scalp and dragged their victim up and down Franklin Field, not relinquishing their grip until the seventy minutes of the time allotted to the process was up and the figures 26 to 6 told the tale.”
No matter how ugly you spin it – the Carlisle Indians had opponents on and off the field – Carlisle gave us a new game. So on Oct. 26, wish modern football, “Happy Birthday!”
Next: Indian Trouble at New York’s Polo Grounds.