1872 College Football Summary

Can you imagine a college football season with just six schools participating?

Well, for those who were alive during this season, that's all that would made-up college football's third season.

Of the select six, three made their playing debut, Yale and Stevens Tech in the East; and the first school from another part of the country, the State University of Iowa (that would later become the University of Iowa.)

The pair of newbies combined for a 2-2 record, as listed Evolvement of Early American Foot Ball Through the 1890/91 Season); with Yale claiming it share of its first of many Retro-active National Championships.

As with any sporting event, the ability to score more points that your opponent is the "name of the game."

"In 1872 the rule was changed to read: "To win a game six goals are necessary, but the side shall be considered the victors which, when the game is called, shall have secured the greatest number of goals, provided that number be two or more.To secure a goal, the ball must pass between the posts."

But like a lot of the early rules, changes were often made on the spot.

For example, when Yale stated before its first game that the winner would be determined by making 5 of 9 goals. With 20 players per side, the team handed Columbia its third loss of the season; as the latter finished with a 1-3 mark.

In the Columbia and Rutgers contest, the teams battled three hours and produced just one goal; as Rutgers opened the season with a 1-goal to 0 triumph.

Iowa began its football history with a a 4-goal victory, shutting out the students from its Law School. The team finished the season with a 5-goal to 4 setback to the Iowa City Town Team.

Heading back East, Princeton finished its third season with a winning mark, 2-0; Rutgers was 2-1 losing to Princeton as 20 players per side met on the on its own College Field. (Both of Rutgers' victories came over Columbia, by a combined 6-goal to 2 tally.)

Columbia (1-3) played a 4-game schedule, tying Princeton and the State University of Iowa with the most goals registered this season, as each school registered 8 goals.

Though not officially part of the rules during this season, official were noted in the Princeton-Rutgers contest a representative from each school was used.

Yale stated its case for such as well: Four judges and a referee. "There shall be two judges for each goal, and a referee to who all disputes shall be refereed."

1872 Leaders (min. of 2 games) show:

  • Offensive Scoring Leader (Most Scored)
    Princeton (2-0) 8 Goals
    Columbia (1-3) 8 Goals
    State University of Iowa (1-1) 8 Goals
  • Defensive Scoring Leader (Least Allowed)
    Princeton (2-0) 6 Goals
  • National Champions (Retroactive)
    Princeton (2-0)
    Yale (1-0)

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