Thursday, September 14, 2006

Goin' Old School

How's this for a history lesson:

Perhaps the most important pass in football history came in the University of North Carolina's victory over Georgia Tech in 1895.

The Carolina punter in desperation threw a pass to a teammate -- an illegal play at the time. But his action resulted in a 70-yard touchdown and a UNC victory because no penalty was called.

John Heisman, who later had a trophy named for him, was watching and saw the pass as a way to reduce the violence in football.

He pushed for the legalization of the pass for more than 10 years before it became legal in 1906.

There were restrictions.

The quarterback had to move at least five yards to either side of center before passing. Horizontal lines were added to the field every five yards to make officiating easier. Combined with the yard lines, the field was a grid, thus we have the gridiron.

By 1910, quarterbacks could pass, up to 20 yards, if they were five yards behind the line of scrimmage. Receivers were credited with touchdowns for passes caught in the end zone. (Previously they had been touchbacks.)

The game credited with revolutionizing the passing game was Notre Dame's 35-13 victory over Army in 1913. Notre Dame passed for 243 yards in the win.