What University of Washington football looked like 100 years ago
Major college football and methods of communication were more than slightly different one hundred years ago, as illustrated by this postcard image and message from 1911.
This real photo postcard depicts the University of Washingtons first football game of the 1911 season, pitting Gil Dobies UW varsity against .Lincoln High School! Not surprisingly, the UW squad prevailed by a score of 42-0.
Rather than tweeting or blogging about this contest, postcard-author JBW, aka Burl sent this photo and missive from Seattle up north to R.S. Wilson in Burlington, WA (see below)
This contest was the UW football squads first game of the 1911 season, and took place at Denny Field in Seattle, the home grounds for UW football from 1895 to 1920, when the Purple and Gold (the nickname “Huskies” wasn’t adopted until 1922) moved into Husky Stadium.
Look closely at the photo postcard for Gil Dobie, 20 games into his 61-game undefeated streak as UW football coach, assuming his usual sideline crouch.
Dobie arrived at Washington as a 29-year-old in 1908 after having coached just two seasons on the collegiate level, at the University of North Dakota. Dobie went undefeated in his two years in North Dakota (total record of 8-0), foreshadowing one of the most remarkable coaching tenures in Univerity of Washington athletic history.
Over the next nine years, Dobie compiled a 58-0-3 mark as his various Washington squads combined to outscore opponents by 1,930 points to 118.
Nicknamed Gloomy Gil, the Dour Dane and The Apostle of Grief, Dobie presented the mien of a stern disciplinarian and perfectionist so determined to get the best out of his players that he once made them engage in a full practice immediately after a 53-0 victory. Dobie, according to newspapers of the day, thought his team had played sloppily.
Despite his glittering record, Dobie met with bad end at Washington. When a UW player was accused of cheating on an exam, Dobie sided with the player against the wishes of UW administrators, particularly school president Henry Suzzalo, who detested football and its growing influence on campus. Suzzalo elected to make an example out of Dobie, firing him over great protests in the Seattle community.
Undeterred, Dobie went on to win three national championships as the head coach at Cornell University, and made a fortune in the stock market, as well.
Dobie’s 1911 team, pictured above in its season-opening game against Whitman, went on to complete an undefeated season (7-0-0), outscoring its opponents 277-9.
(Wayback Machine is published every Tuesday as part of Sportspress Northwests package of home-page features collectively titled, The Rotation.)