The History of College Football
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|In 1968 Arnold Friberg was commissioned by the Chevrolet, a
division of General Motors, to paint a series commemorating the 100th anniversary of
American intercollegiate football. He created four paintings, each representing major
turning points in the intercollegiate game. Starting with the first American
intercollegiate game, Rutgers vs. Princeton in 1869, and finishing with a classic USC vs.
UCLA struggle in 1969 Friberg captured both the physical and emotional highlights of 100
years of the game.
In "The First Game: Rutgers vs. Princeton, 1969" the artist shows players with
no protective clothing, utilizing the "Flying Wedge." In this offensive
strategy, players positioned in a "V" pattern drove down field leveling
everything in their path. Those first games were so brutal that some players were trampled
to death. At one time even the rugged Theodore Roosevelt condemned the "sport"
as too brutal.
In "The Coach: Knute Rockne in the Locker Room at Notre Dame," Friberg shifted
his perspective to a locker room of the 1920s. Rockne, a master at helping team
members refine their skills, is probably most often remembered for his ability to motivate
his players and generate team spirit. Former Notre Dame players of the Rockne-era upon
seeing this work exclaimed that Fribergs painting captured "exactly where and
how Rockne stood."
"The Passing Game: Alabama vs. Tennessee, 1934," marks the beginning of a new
offensive era. The forward pass was used so effectively in this game that thereafter it
became an increasingly important part of college football. This painting shows
Alabamas Don Hutson, still considered one of the all-time greatest receivers, about
to haul in a strike from quarterback Millard "Dixie" Howell. Playing at end for
Alabama in this game was Bear Bryant, long before he made his mark as the coach of the
The final painting , "O.J. Breaks for Daylight: USC vs. UCLA, shows a clash of modern
football titans, still containing all the hard-charging excitement of the first game a
century before. USCs star halfback of the era is shown completing an unusually long
and spectacular run to clinch another victory for the Trojans.
The First Game:
Rutgers vs. Princeton, 1869
The Passing Game:
Alabama vs. Tennesse, 1934
O.J. Simpson Breaks for Daylight:
USC vs. UCLA, 1969
(The third in this series, "The Coach: Knute Rockne in the
Locker Room at Notre Dame," is shown on the previous page.)
All four paintings are oil on canvas and each measures 37.5" x
60". Although two are shown here in black and white, all four paintings are full
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