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Tradition and Transformation: 125 Years in 125 Items: Football

Case 2: Football

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On Thanksgiving Day of 1892, the first football game was played on campus with 500 in attendance.  The Gonzaga team had been put together only weeks before the event.  They were coached by Henry Luhn, who had played at Notre Dame. They played the Spokane Amateur Athletic Club (SAAC), which consisted of young lawyers and other professional men, who had graduated from universities on the East Coast.  The football field measured one hundred and twenty yards from goal to goal and the period of play was two 35 minute halves.  It was 3 downs to make 5 yards.  The game ended in a tie: 4-4.  

Football became a major attraction for the student body.  For the next five years they would play a couple of games against Spokane High School.  However, the style of play led to many injuries.  This forced authorities at Gonzaga to limit football except for intramural football.  By 1905 when the forward pass was introduced, a more open style of game was played, Gonzaga continued to play the game on and off until World War II.

Item 15: Gonzaga vs. Montana: Yells, November 23, 1912

Item 15: Gonzaga vs. Montana: Cover: Yells, November 23, 1912

 

Item 15: Gonzaga vs. Montana: Yells, November 23, 1912

Printed cheers that students could use while watching the football game against the University of Montana. This is an 8 paged booklet.

Item 16: Gonzaga vs. Washington State College, 1923

Item 16: Gonzaga vs. Washington State College, 1923

In the 1920s football became a major sport at Gonzaga with the arrival of Coach Gus Dorais. He started what would be the finest Gonzaga football program. Under his leadership, GU began to use a passing game which gave him a 20-13-3 record in 5 seasons. A rivalry was developed between Gonzaga and Washington State College, now Washington State University. Football ended during World War II as there were not enough college aged men available to play. The administrators decided not to resume football due to its cost.

Item 17: 1922 Football Banquet Menu/ Program, January 11, 1923

Item 17: 1922 Football Banquet Menu/ Program, January 11, 1923

Gonzaga’s 1922 record was 5 wins and 3 losses. The last page has players’ autograph.  This was the team that played in San Diego in December 1922 against undefeated West Virginia. As said by Eddy Orcutt of the San Diego Union: “Two weeks ago San Diego was asking, “Who is Gonzaga?” Yesterday afternoon on the stadium field defending the Blue and White goal only 30 yards behind their backs – with about 12 minutes to play and the West Virginia score 21 to 0 against them – the Gonzaga Bulldogs gave their own answer. Their answer is known all over the United States today, and the Gonzaga’s last quarter onslaught will pass into one of the colorful traditions of East-West football.”

Item 18: Football Stadium, 1927

Item 18: Football Stadium, 1927

With civic involvement, a football stadium was built on campus in 1922.  Dominating a large portion of campus, the stadium cost $100,000 was considered the finest in the west.  The grandstands could hold 12,000 spectators.  It included a football field, a quarter-mile regulation track with eight lanes, baseball diamond, press boxes, clubhouses, and restrooms.  Lights were added in 1931.  In addition to hosting Gonzaga games and events, this stadium was used by the city of Spokane.  Because it took up so much property and Gonzaga no longer had a football team, it was torn down in 1949.

Item 19: Football Letterman Sweater, 1939

Item 19: Football Letterman Sweater, 1939

Donated by Bert Jacobson’40, who played quarterback and kicker during the last years of football at Gonzaga.  He died at age 94 on September 3, 2012 and had been the last surviving Gonzaga football alumnus.

 

Item 20: Bert Jacobson ‘40, about 1939

Item 20: Bert Jacobson ‘40, about 1939

He was 160 pounds and “Fast as a deer".  He was from Spokane he was the team’s chief offensive threat, runner, passer, fine defensively and a great pass catcher. 

Item 21: Football, 1939

Item 21: Football, 1939

The football has been mislabeled as “Texas”, but newspaper clippings show that it was actually Texas Tech. Gonzaga won 6 – 0 on October 7, 1939. 

 

Item 22: “Bulldogs Live Up to Name in Cutting Down Favored Texas Tech, 6 to 0”, Spokesman-Review, October 8, 1939

Playing in Lubbock, Texas, the Gonzaga Bulldogs defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders 6 to 0 in their second annual game.  Looking for revenge after the previous year’s loss, the Bulldogs won with a touchdown half way through the fourth period.  

Item 23: Gonzaga University versus Eastern Washington College of Education, Official Football Program, November 8, 1941

Item 24: Gonzaga vs. Eastern Washington College of Education General Admissions Ticket, November 8, 1941

 

Tickets priced at $.75, the game was played at Gonzaga University Stadium on Saturday, November 8, 1941

Exhibition Info

Exhibition is now closed.

 

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