A Championship Season

Alumnus William Comerford (PhB 1934) wrote to Hutchins and declared that his son would not attend the University of Chicago. He also warned Hutchins that the decision would "drive from Chicago's enrollment the real American youngsters who in the long run are the healthiest students."

For the healthy students who remained, football continued at the intramural and club level, which gave many the chance to participate rather than observe. Meanwhile rumors continued to float around campus about the resurrection of varsity college football, and a significant division among students arose over the issue. Some believed football was an essential feature of student life while other students formed organizations like OAF (Organization Against Football) to bar its return. The administration eventually took the middle ground and reintroduced football to the University in 1969 at the same varsity level at which it competed in other intercollegiate sports for men and women. Student athletes played without scholarships, and crowds numbered in the hundreds rather than the thousands. From its humble beginnings to its lofty heights, football at the University of Chicago had come full circle.

Football team, 1905


The fabled 1905 football team won the University of Chicago's first sole conference championship. Chicago had been co-champs in 1899, but won the championship outright in 1905 by going undefeated and untied and capping the season with a 2-0 victory over perennial power Michigan. Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, the "Grand Old Man," is seated at the top center. Photograph by Martyn.

Walter Eckersall in action, ca. 1905


A legendary figure on the collegiate gridiron, Walter Eckersall was a three-time All-American. Many of his greatest performances as a Maroon quarterback took place on the athletic grounds north of 57th Street which students named Marshall Field. The field was renamed in 1913 for Amos Alonzo Stagg.