College football oddities – then and now

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Do you love odd history?  Is it possible to overdose on it?  For the sake of caution, let’s only pull a few tantalizing oddities from our 150-year vault of college football history.

First, we’ll look at some of the strangeness that has occurred in this century, then dig deeper to see what our ancestors were up to.

This century . . .

Did you know that Dillon Sterling-Cole of Arizona State was recently placed on the Johnny Unitas watch list for the top quarterbacks in college football?  That’s pretty cool because Dillon Sterling-Cole isn’t even listed among the top two quarterbacks on his own team.

Is it possible to carry the ball just one time in your four-year career, gain just three yards, and yet set a college football record?   On November 19th, 2016, Joe Thomas Sr. of South Carolina State did it.  One carry.  Three yards.

So what made him special?

He was 55 years old — the oldest ball carrier to ever gain yardage in a college football game.

With a nod to Michigan fans who say they own this title, we salute BYU, after its string of 361 games without suffering a shutout ended in November of 2003. It was the end of a streak that lasted for 28 years.

The NCAA career passing record is over 17,000 yards, set by Timmy Chang of Hawai’i.

Before home games, the Ohio State band spells the word “Ohio” in script.  With the word “State” not included, some opponents have rubbed their hands and exclaimed, “Oh goody, we’re playing the Bobcats!”

Joe Miner is mascot for Missouri Science and Technology.  He leads fans with a pick-axe, a pistol, and a slide rule.  The slide rule might be all that is needed however since MST’s obscure opponents include Lindenwood, Miles, Truman State, and McKendree.

Did you know that Stanford University constructs its Tree mascot new each season? Maybe now they can tell us what that has to do with their  team nickname, the Cardinal.

In September of 2017, Louisiana Tech had the ball with second and goal near the Mississippi goal line.  Two plays later, Louisiana Tech actually punted.  Why?  Because on second down, a high snap caused an 85-yard loss that gave them fourth-and-93 at their own seven yard line.  You can see the play here

Cheerleaders at Marshall University have complained of leg cramps after high-kicking the spelling of their team nickname, Thundering Herd.   “Gimme a T, gimme a H . . . never mind.”

Before this century:

The longest losing streak in college football history was set by Prairie View A&M in a stretch that last for more than nine years.

We’ve all heard about Georgia Tech beating Cumberland 222-0 in 1916.  What we sometimes miss is that Tech had 1,620 rushing yards.

In a strange game at the Orange Bowl, Miami University played against an imposter opponent.

When football in America began in 1869, there were originally 25 players from each team on the field.  Not until 1880 was the number reduced to 11.

The longest field goal in American football history at any level is 69 yards set by Swedish-born Ove Johansson of Abilene Christian in 1976.  It was Johansson’s only year of college football.  He had only four attempts in the NFL before being cut.

Paul “Bear” Bryant of Alabama was often quoted as saying he’d probably croak within a week if he ever quite coaching college football.  For once he was wrong.  It took four weeks.

Imagine being a student at San Jose State back in the days and you had to yell, “Go Teachers!” because that was the team’s nickname.  The ever-sympathetic administration at SJSU heard their pleas and changed the name—to the Pedagogues.

Two NFL oddities that we just can’t resist . . .

Houston Oiler quarterback George Blanda threw 42 interceptions in 1962, an average of three per game (14 games).

Also from Houston’s NFL team, quarterback David Carr was sacked 76 (s-e-v-e-n-t-y s-i-x !) times in the 2002 season.  Guess that explains his 21 fumbles.