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The Football Situation - October 1926 Alumnus magazine

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The Football Situation
The Alumnus, October 1926

Babe Hollingbery, 1926
What the football season of 1926 has in store for the Cougars is of course problematical. However, it is safe to say that the outlook is as good or better than it has been for several seasons.

In the first place, there is a goodly number of lettermen from which to build a team. In all, fifteen of last year's veterans are on hand to greet the new coach. This may or may not be a matter of great importance. It all depends upon how these veterans fit into Coach Hollingbery's scheme of things.

Lettermen mean very little to the present coaching staff. All of those turning out for the team will be given an equal chance to win the coveted letter. Each candidate must stand or fall on the record of his present performance, and not on the basis of laurels won during the past. The players are new to the coaches, and as a consequence they all look alike insofar as the past is concerned.

Very little has been said by Coach Hollingbery with reference to the style of play that will be used. Gossip has it among the fans that the style of play will depend largely upon the ability of the men the coach has under him. Hollingbery's teams in the past have been noted for playing a fast and shifty brand of the gridiron game.

In the second place, the fans may expect to see eleven fighters on the field wearing the colors of the Staters. The coach has said that he will not have a man on his team who will not fight every minute of the game. Coach Hollingbery has a fighting personality and he has succeeded in impressing the importance of this matter on the minds of his players.

The fans have felt in the past that the Cougars have not been playing with a will to win. The Alums have stood on the sidelines, watched the game, and left the field disgusted with the brand of fight displayed by his team. He didn't so much mind seeing his team defeated but he did object to having them quit.

There is a spirit of optimism prevailing on the campus as this is written. The demand is for a fighting football team, but not necessarily a team that will win the Pacific Coast conference championship.

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Football Outlook Is Bright
The Alumnus, October 1926

“Washington State has been in the football slump long enough; we’re not going out to fight for the college this fall, we’re out to win.”

Washington State College football coaches, 1926
With this statement Coach O.E. (“Babe”) Hollingbery sounded the keynote of the 1926 season at the first practice of the year, September 15, when 30 picked candidates took to Rogers field for an initial workout. From now until snow flies the ping of the pigskin on cleated shoe, the staccato bark of coaches and the thud of heavy linesmen hitting the charging machine will echo between the grand stands, for Hollingbery and Bailey are out to win ball games.

With a complete change of play style slated for the Staters and seven regulars lost from last year’s varsity, all hut the most rabid enthusiasts realize that the task is not going to be a simple one. Seven games, including three on the home field and two within close range, are scheduled this year, with the Homecoming game against Oregon set for November 13.

Fifteen lettermen were included it, the first turnout of the season on the 15th, when the Cougars, in company with eigth other teams of the Pacific Coast conference, were released for practice by the conference rules. Included in the number were lettermen for every position on the team, should Babe want to line them up in old positions. Such a situation, however, is extremely unlikely, since lettermen under one coach are not as valuable as lettermen whom a coach develops himself, and good men in one style of play may not fit into another at all.

Were it to be supposed for the sake of argument that “Babe” did want to put a letter eleven on the field, he would have a man for every position. In the backfield would be “Butch” Meeker, idol of Los Angeles fans and rated to be one of the most popular scoring backs who eyer worked on the local field, at quarter; Joe Koenig and Charlie Sweet at halves, and Carl Gustafson and Jackey at full. Koenig, after a desultory early season last year, handicapped by throat trouble, came into his own in the Hawaiian games and displayed a corking game of ball, and Hollingbery is counting heavily on him. Sweet has been grabbing opportunity by the forelock this summer practicing punting while working at a harvest plant in Walla Walla.

On the line “Buck” Bailey could summon a trio of high class wingmen in Johnny Parkhill, Gerald Exley and Norman Taylor. At tackle “Ox” Hansen and Fritz Kramer could carry the load, while at guards LeRoy Bendix, Stan Young and Bill Smith would be available. Eugene Dills and John Timmons would be snapping the ball back from the center position.

But don’t imagine that these 15 men will grab off the places indicated. “Babe” Hollingbery has decided football opinions of his own and one of them is that a good freshman is a coach’s biggest bet. Spring practice showed a half dozen aces from last year’s rook squad whom Pullman fans will probably see cavorting in regular berths before the season is far under way. On the line there are Jack Graham, Harry Spiedel, Melvyl Dressel, Forrest Curry and Stephen Chester, while in the backfield the best bets seem to be Pete Mitchell, Robert McCord, Ted Rohwer, Lloyd Hem, Paul Turner and Daniel Horan.

Graham, 182-lb. stick of dynamite at center, is a real bet, and lettermen will hump to keep him from the place. Spiedel looms as a strong candidate at tackle, and his 195 pounds will carry him far in the competition. A latecomer, Hawkins, plans to change from the backfield to make a bid for a wing berth, while “Coop” Currey of Spokane is also an end candidate. Dressel and Chester will try for places at either guard or tackle.

In the backfield a real battle is promised by the yearling graduates. Hein and Horan will press any man on the squad for the fullback’s position, which at the moment is wide open to all corners, while McCord can run at either half or full, although a bit light for the latter place. Pete Mitchell of Seattle, at quarter, will have Paul Turner of Spokane as his chief frosh opponent. Turner’s best bet is his punting ability, the former Hillyard high star having sent the pigskin 56 to 60 yards consistently during spring training. Ted Rohwer, a scrapper from the first whistle, is a quantity to be figured on in any lineup of the backs.

“Hollingbery and the old Cougar fight” will be the battle cry of the crimson and gray as workouts progress and with the coming of a new staff of coaches and a more optimistic and enthusiastic spirit than has been present in years, followers of W.S.C. sports look for a climb in the college’s athletic affairs after a five-year slump. Players and coaches realize that building up the old winning spirit will do more toward restoring State’s lost prestige than any single factor, and all are cooperating to put over the deal.

Only the most wildly optimistic are talking “championship” this year—“Babe” Hollingbery never mentions it—but all are boosting for an eleven which will be in the top division of the Coast conference and one which will fight from whistle to whistle in every game. In the face of the keenest competition which has been known on the Coast in years the program blocked out for the local collegians is not a light one.

Compared with the letter winners who are reporting to other coaches, Hollingbery’s quota is a light one, the University of Southern California having 33, Washington 20, and so on down the line, but the new Cougar mentor has another problem in that the lettermen are not of his own making. With a change in coaches there is always the problem of a new style of play to be learned, and an emblem winner in one style may not fit into another type of football technique at all. One thing is certain: any letterman who battles his way into the first eleven this season will do it because he has real football ability and not because he holds a letter sweater.

Seven men showed caliber enough to carry on to first team lineups for the first three sessions. On the forward wall Kramer, Hansen and Spiedel have been working shoulder to shoulder in the offensive lineup and the trio look hard to break into. Meeker and Koenig in the backfield seem almost as certain of places, while Rohwer, Graham and Horan have also been secure so far in their positions.

Nearly half of the 30 men turning out have spent the summer in the harvest fields of the Big Bend and Palouse country and should be in top condition for the hardest of grinds. Incidentally pre-season condition is a very vital matter with the Cougars, since the first game of the season falls just three weeks from Friday against the scrapping College of Idaho team from Caldwell, which has provided the Inland Empire with many gridiron upsets behind the triple-threat work of one Lowell in the backfield and “Big” Munn, brother of the famous wrestling star, at tackle. From then on the Cougars take the road for three weeks, including jaunts to the lair of the championship-touted Thundering Herd of the University of Southern California at Los Angeles, and the 1925 champions, University of Washington, at Seattle.

The complete schedule follows:
October 2—College of Idaho at Pullman.
October 9—University of Southern California at Los Angeles.
October 16—Montana at Pullman.
October 23—University of Washington at Seattle.
November 6—University of Idaho at Moscow.
November 13—University of Oregon at Pullman (Homecoming).
November 25—Gonzaga at Spokane.

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Cougars Have Faith in Hollingbery’s Record
The Alumnus, October 1926

Can O. E. (“Babe”) Hollingbery repeat his preparatory school and club coaching records at Washington State College? If he can the long, sad story of Cougar defeats of the last five years is over, provided the new mentor’s California victory sheet is an index.

Back in 1920 “Babe” decided to take on a bit of the coaching game in connection with his San Francisco business connections. Having once made up his mind he decided to do the thing right and signed up with the Link-Wilmerding high school and the Bates preparatory school for his first dip into the mentoring business. His high school crew proved the class of the city high school league, winning every conference game, the city pennant, and a semi-finalist position in the state title race. The record shows eight wins and two losses.

The following season, encouraged by his successes, Hollingbery branched out and took on the Olympic club with the two schools. From 2:00 to 4:00 each afternoon the Bates crew romped about under Babe’s tutelage, from 4:00 to 6:00 Link-Wilmerding held forth and from 6:00 to 8:00 the club men took the field. The preps came through in wonderful style, winning seven straight games and challenging for the state title. The high school repeated the previous season’s record in titles, winning eight, losing one and tying one; and the club men came through with six wins and four losses.

In 1922 the new Cougar coach stuck to the high school and copped the San Francisco city title for the third straight time. The following season again found his charges the class of the Bay City with the city title scalp hanging from their belts and nine wins and a single loss chalked up against them. In 1923 the high school, although winning 13 games, dropped two crucial contests and found themselves out of the title race. On the basis of their record, however, they were entitled to compete for the state title in the California Interscholastic Federation and battled into the final round.

With such a sparkling record behind him, Hollingbery dropped the high school game and concentrated on club coaching for the seasons of 1924 and ‘25. The first year his eleven nabbed six games and dropped four, while this last season they ran wild over the best in the Orange State and turned in an undefeated season with 11 wins, including victories over Stanford and California. The latter game was the first setback for the Golden Bear in five seasons, during which time they had run up a string of 45 straight wins.


The 1926 Football Season:

Cougars vs. Montana Grizzlies - November 1926, The Alumnus magazine

Cougars vs. Idaho - November 1926, The Alumnus magazine

Cougars vs. U.S.C. Trojans - November 1926, The Alumnus magazine

Cougars vs. Huskies - November 1926, The Alumnus magazine

The Victory Team - December 1926, The Alumnus magazine


The 1926 W.S.C. Football Team

A gallery from the December 1926 issue of The Alumnus magazine

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