College Yearbook Football Art | United Watch


Good Saturday morning, Uni Watchers. I hope everyone had a good week. I’m currently in the middle of a bonspiel (it’s a curling tournament) and my rink isn’t doing too well. We’re playing again this afternoon, so I’ll be basically off the grid for most of the day. Unfortunately, there won’t be a ticker tomorrow because I just won’t have time (but we’ll still have the full SMUW with all the trimmings). Sorry.

Moving along…

I come back today with Timothy Brown, who was a guest writer in August, when he penned this fantastic article on old-school football gear. Tim returns today with another excellent look at the art of college yearbook football. I think you are going to really like this one!

Here is Tim:

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College Yearbook Football Art
by Timothy P. Brown

The typical fan who hears the term “football art” probably first thinks of program covers from the 1930s to the 1950s. Other categories of art or design that may come to mind include magazine covers , various forms of advertising and team logos. Each has produced iconic designs that cross the boundaries of space and time. However, an underrated category of football art is that of student-created illustrations in university yearbooks.

Few university yearbooks of the late 1800s and early 1900s included color images. Over the next few decades yearbooks increasingly used color illustrations on section title pages for the athletics section or individual sports such as football. Part of the appeal of these illustrations is that the students created them as peers of the athletes participating in the games. Most of the illustrations were as mundane as the teams they represented, while others were exceptional, standing out in the otherwise black-and-white yearbooks.

The images shown below were found in yearbooks published between 1907 and 1931. Their main themes include running backs, cheering fans and battered heroes drenched in the thrill of victory often draped in a blanket. Would other themes be important?

The first image shows a beautiful UNC student dressed in Carolina Blue and waving a pennant. Wonderful!

1908 North Carolina Yearbook

The Tar Heels’ main rival at the time was Virginia. Here we see the Cavalier hero being carried from the field after a big win.

Virginia Yearbook 1914

A grainier image depicts the Virginia Tech Hokies struggling to escape their opponent’s grip and an apparent tornado.

Virginia Tech Yearbook 1915

Moving north towards Big Ten country, a Badger punter sends one into the clouds while his teammates on the sidelines rest and warm up.

Wisconsin Yearbook of 1917

Football is a key social event for Texas fans who sit wisely in the stands to avoid the midday sun.

Texas Yearbook 1917

The University of Denver dropped football after the 1960 season. Maybe they were overshadowed by the people in the art department.

Denver Yearbook 1918

Another charming fan decked out in a fur coat cheers on the Penn Quakers.

Pennsylvania Yearbook 1920

A Boston College player escapes the rumble of the day, hoping to end the day in the rumble seat with his future best girl.

1925 Boston College Yearbook

Little Coe College runs through the opponent in a green jersey, surely on the way to a touchdown and a win.

1925 Coe College Yearbook

Men on the bench and crowds of fans cheer Kansas State to victory, a common occurrence in the 1920s.

Kansas State Yearbook of 1928

Southern Cal was a bit of a gamer in the football world until the 1920s when players like this guy brought them to national prominence, including their first two Rose Bowl victories.

1928 Southern California Yearbook

Virginia Tech reappears, this time in a huge stadium in a big city, so the Hokies are clearly the visiting team. Curiously, they play on a field of eighty meters.

1932 Virginia Tech Yearbook

Although color illustrations were used occasionally after World War II, color photographs replaced illustrations and the golden age of football illustrations in university yearbooks came to an end. Yet other beauties from the golden age of graphic arts are waiting to be discovered. We will provide updates when we find them.

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Fantastic article, Timothy, thank you so much for sharing. If you liked this, you will definitely enjoy his website, Football Archeologywhich “digs into the history of the gridiron to examine how the evolution of football shapes the game today”.

A color by any other name

One of my Sunday Morning Uni Watch trackers, Dennis Bolt (who both tracks the PAC-12 and has been faithfully running the Duck Tracker for several years) has a great blog post that looks at the ridiculous names some of the PAC-12s come up with for various colors. It is definitely worth reading it!

Check it here!


United Tweet of the Day

Clip-art logo has never looked so good…

And finally…

So much for the morning edition. Many thanks to Timothy for another great article!

There will be (at least) two more posts today, and the ticker will go live around 9am, so be sure to keep checking back.

Have a great Saturday everyone and play well!




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