The man behind the name of the D-III title game
“All football comes from Stagg.” — Legendary Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne on Amos Alonzo Stagg.
All anybody I run into on the streets or follow on Twitter is talking about today is the re-re-re-re-re-rematch in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl between the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater — two-time defending champions, winners of three of the last four Stagg Bowls — and Mount Union College — 10-time winners of the NCAA Division III championship.
Seriously? Seven consecutive matchups between UWW and MUC in the championship? This is an unprecedented, unheard of, and bizarre to a certain extent, run of mutual success.
And, you couldn’t avoid discussion of the big game during Stagg Bowl XXXIX hype week.
For example, take this morning, and a stop to the local grocery store, where sports fans were stocking up on snacks and drinks for tonight’s game. A worker at the store asked me, “How are you doing today? Can I help you find anything? Who do you got tonight?” Well, U Dub Dud, of course.
Conversation at the local Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf was dominated by the Stagg Bowl. A fellow patron was pondering if the Warhawks can stop the dynamic Jasper Collins (highlight). Another patron countered with a thought on Levell Coppage — he did score the winning TD in last year’s game — and his impact on the game.
At work, banter around the watercooler focused on the big bowl game (and only bowl in which the two competing teams went through a grueling playoff for the right to participate) that unofficially kicks off the college football bowl season (4 p.m. PT on ESPN2).
It’s great that America has really taken to this game.
Lost in the hoopla is the game’s namesake, Amos Alonzo Stagg.
Mention the game’s name to anybody and the first reaction is, “the what bowl?”
Who was Amos Alonzo Stagg?
Arguably the most important individual in the history of American sport.
Check out the long list of Stagg’s innovations that athletes and sports fans take for granted today (not in chronological order):
Names on the back of player jerseys.
The tackling dummy.
The lateral pass.
The man in motion.
The linebacker position.
The Statue of Liberty play.
For good measure, Stagg also created a little something called the baseball batting cage.
If that’s not enough, Stagg scored the lone basket for the losing side in the very first public game of basketball (final score, 5-1), played in front of a crowd of 200 people in Springfield, Mass. He’s like a sort of Forrest Gump of early American sport.
Stagg made those innovations a necessary part of the modern game during more than 50 years as a college football coach, most of which at the University of Chicago (1892–1932), which was a member of the Big Ten at the time (and a seven-time conference champion and two-time national champion under Stagg’s careful watch).
If that’s not enough, Stagg’s name was also attached to the University of Chicago’s home football stadium, under which on Dec. 2, 1942 a team of Manhattan Project scientists created the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, which had a bit of a hand in altering human history.