As impressive as his track and field achievements were, Dietz will always have a place in Cougar lore because of his exploits on the gridiron, specifically a performance New Year's Day 1916. (Video of the 1916 Rose Bowl)
Entering the 1916 Rose Bowl game, at the time called the Tournament of Roses Football Game, the talk was of Brown University freshman star running back Fritz Pollard. In fact, Pollard and Brown were given so much respect that, despite a 5-3-1 record, the Rhode Island school was considered the favorite over a 6-0 Washington State College team that had outscored its opponents by a 190-10 margin.
But when the game was over, the talk was about Washington State and its senior fullback Carl Dietz. Dietz rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown, in addition to handling punting and kicking duties, to lead Washington State to a 14-0 win over Brown at Tournament Park in Pasadena. (Pollard, who the next year earned Walter Camp All-America accolades and would be eventually enshrined to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was limited to 43 rushing yards.)
The performance was so impressive that Dietz was retroactively named the game's most valuable player by the Tournament of Roses Committee.
Dietz's play and Washington State's performance, in what would become the first of the continuous Rose Bowl games, left an impression on the game's referee, Walter Eckersall. Eckersall compared the Cougars to an undefeated Cornell team that later would be declared national champions.
"It is the equal of Cornell," said Eckersall, who a decade earlier was an All-American quarterback for the University of Chicago. "There is not a better football team in the country. I do not believe I ever saw a better one at any time. This fellow Carl Dietz hits the line harder than any man I have ever seen.
"Carl Dietz bore the brunt of both the defensive and offensive playing while his punting hardly could have been improved upon," Eckersall would later say. "In other words, Dietz is a great back, who would bear watching by any team in the east."
Coach with same surname
When Dietz began his time at Washington State four years earlier, a trip to Pasadena seemed an unlikely way for him to end his football career at the school. At only 17 years of age, Dietz played end as a freshman in 1912 and played halfback during the 1913 and 1914 campaigns.
In those three seasons, playing for Coach John Bender, WSC amassed a combined record of 8-11. Bender was fired, replaced by William "Lone Star" Dietz (no relation to Carl) and WSC embarked on its historic season.
Carl Dietz played a crucial role in leading Washington State to its undefeated record, a fact not lost on his head coach with the same surname. The Washington State Coach penned an article in the Nov. 28, 1915 issue of The Spokesman-Review, giving his thoughts on the All-Northwest team.
Coach Dietz, of Sioux Indian heritage, began his piece talking about Carl Dietz and quickly
removed any doubts of whether he was related to his star player.
"Carl Dietz (he's no relations of mine, look at his red head!) is my first selection. He played three positions on my team this year -- end, fullback, and halfback. He is my choice for captain. The manner in which he has carried out successfully his plan of battle has kept the men fighting. He has had a steady and inspirational influence upon them and has elicited my great admiration. He has also taken the rule book on more than one occasion and showed officials where they were wrong and won an argument on the field. He is one of the best captains I've ever seen."
Important gridiron battle
After rolling through the 1915 regular season, Washington State gained the admiration of the Tournament of Roses Committee, who was renewing its football tradition after more than a decade of chariot races replaced a lopsided 1902 game when Michigan defeated Stanford 49-0.
The Tournament of Roses invited Washington State and Brown to Pasadena to play in a game that the Los Angeles Times described as one of the most important gridiron battles of the year.
It had rained in the days before the game, and the weather was no different New Year's Day as rain fell throughout the game and limited a crowd anticipated to be as many as 20,000 to 7,000. But the inclement weather did not deter Washington State and after a scoreless first half, WSC took control with two second half touchdowns, the last a 4-yard run by Dietz, to secure the win.
The Los Angeles Times account of the game included, "There was no fluke in the victory. There can be no detracting from the greatness of Washington's eleven. The east can no longer overlook the west."
Brown assistant coach Walter Sprackling was quoted in the Los Angeles Times saying, "Washington State defeated us today because (Lone Star) Dietz had the better team but we do not feel that we are disgraced by any means. As a matter of fact, we lost to the greatest football team we had played during the 1915 season, and when I say that I am making no exceptions."
Dietz performance in Pasadena served as the culmination of his Washington State athletics career but not his time at the school. Graduating with honors in the spring of 1916 with a degree in electrical engineering, Dietz stayed in Pullman to serve as an assistant coach to Lone Star during the 1916 season.
World War I
Editor's Note: The following story is the 11th installment of the Stories That Live Forever series. The series originated in 2007 to commemorate Memorial Day and honor the names listed on the Washington State University Veterans Memorial on the WSU campus. Beginning Veterans Day 2008, the scope of the series was expanded to include Washington State student-athletes who have served, or are serving, the United States in the military. Click here for the entire series.
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