The Wow Boys: A Coach, a Team, and a Turning Point in College Football

The Wow Boys: A Coach, a Team, and a Turning Point in College Football

The Wow Boys: A Coach, a Team, and a Turning Point in College Football

The Wow Boys: A Coach, a Team, and a Turning Point in College Football

Synopsis

In 2002 ESPN rated football's shift to the modern T-formation offense as the second best sports innovation of all time--just behind baseball's free agency. The story behind the move to the T-formation is also the story of a season unparalleled in the annals of college football--the year Stanford's new coach, fresh from seven dismal seasons with the University of Chicago, deployed an out-of-favor offense to take a team of talented underdogs to a Rose Bowl victory.

The Wow Boys (the title refers to the nickname the team earned at its very first game) chronicles Stanford's miraculous 1940 season, from the surprise hiring of coach Clark Shaughnessy and his marshalling of the previously untapped talents of left-handed quarterback Frankie Albert, runners Hugh Gallarneau and Pete Kmetovic, and fullback Norm Standlee, to his reintroduction of the T-formation and its profound and enduring effect on football. James W. Johnson gives a game-by-game rundown of this dramatic season as well as an in-depth account of Shaughnessy's accomplishment in the face of overwhelming criticism and skepticism. This story is one of tenacity, character, and radical ideas prevailing against formidable odds--a sports revolution engineered one play at a time.

Excerpt

The period between 1936 and 1941 was one of the most remarkable in the history of the United States—economically, politically, artistically, and athletically.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt beat Alf Landon in the November 3, 1936, election, as Americans gave him a mandate to continue his New Deal program designed to lift the country from the throes of a long Depression. the airship Hindenburg exploded at Lakehurst, New Jersey, a catastrophe that brought an end to lighter-than-air transportation on May 6, 1937.

Adolph Hilter’s Nazis were marching through Europe. They took over Austria on April 10, 1938. On June 25 Roosevelt signed legislation raising the minimum wage from twenty-five cents to forty cents an hour. On September 3, 1939, France and Great Britain declared war on Germany, but Roosevelt said the United States would remain neutral. On October 12 four hundred Londoners were killed by a heavy German air raid. in 1940 Winston Churchill became prime minister of Great Britain.

Congress passed the Selective Service Act on September 16, 1940, requiring men between the ages of twenty and thirty-six to register for the military draft. Roosevelt won an unprecedented third term on November 5, 1940, over Republican Wendell Willkie. Congress passed the forty-hour workweek into law. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, killing three thousand U.S. sailors and sinking most of the navy’s Pacific fleet. the next day the United States declared war on Ja-

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