Introduction Part I: Before 1901 Chapter 1: The praying pitcher - Amos Alonzo Stagg Chapter 2: Judicious expenditures of money Chapter 3: The cleanest team on earth Chapter 4: Closed fists, closed eyes, closed minds Chapter 5: The human hurricane - Fielding H. Yost Part II: 1901-05 Chapter 6: 1901 off the field - Coast-to-coast Yost Chapter 7: 1901 on the field - Hurrying up, eating everybody up Chapter 8: 1902 off the field - Stagg's empire fights back Chapter 9: 1902 on the field - A point a minute Chapter 10: 1903 off the field - Football's greatest interception Chapter 11: 1903 on the field - Incredibly, Mich-again Chapter 12: 1904 off the field - Alabaster Alonzo Stagg Chapter 13: 1904 on the field - Authentication denied Chapter 14: 1905 off the field - The nadir Chapter 15: 1905 on the field - Equal to the task Part III: Aftermath Chapter 16: Fully dismantled Chapter 17: Fates Notes Acknowledgments Index About the Author
John Kryk is the national NFL columnist for the Toronto Sun and Postmedia. He has been awarded for his spot news reporting, sports photography, and section editing. Kryk is the author of Natural Enemies: Major College Football's Oldest, Fiercest Rivalry-Michigan vs. Notre Dame (2007).
Using archival materials, Kryk chronicles the lives of two pioneering coaches: the University of Michigan's Fielding H. Yost (1871-1946) and the University of Chicago's Amos Alonzo Stagg (1862-1965). While Yost is mostly forgotten today, his fast-paced 'point-a-minute' offense was an early precursor to modern no-huddle attacks. The venerated Stagg, who coached into his 90s, carefully burnished his pristine reputation as a paragon by moralizing about corruption in college football while demonizing the professional game as pure evil. Kryk discovered Stagg to be a shady recruiter and found that his dubious sportsmanship was expressed by publicly questioning the eligibility of players on rival teams prior to each game. There was a great deal of open resentment of Stagg's duplicity and insincere, ostentatious purity by his early contemporaries; for example, some referred to him as 'Great-I-Am.' Kryk doesn't dispute Stagg's greatness as a coach and innovator but suggests a fuller perspective of him, also advocating a reassessment of Yost as an imaginative strategist in football history. VERDICT Essential reading for those interested in the early history of college football. * Library Journal * At the start of this account of one of the rivalries in early American collegiate sports, Kryk, the national NFL columnist for The Toronto Sun and Sun Media, promises a no-holds-barred battle royal between two iconic football coaches, University of Chicago's Amos Arnold Stagg and University of Michigan's Fielding H. Yost. Football, which caught America's attention in the 1890s, first attracts fans with a violent gladiator edge, where linemen stood and mauled opponents at the scrimmage line, often injuring them with fractured skulls, dislocated shoulders, broken noses, and an occasional death. Neither of these coaches, Stagg nor Yost, lives up to their pristine reputations, Kryk writes, with serious violations in eligibility, tactics, and illegal payments to players from alumni despite their winning ways. A surprisingly large number of innovative rules and regulations occur during the reign of the combative pair, obsessed with victories at all costs. . . .Kryk shows a real knack for the turn-of-the-century period, sport, and the bitter rivals. * Publishers Weekly * Anybody who assumes that friendly rivalries characterized college football in the early 1900s only has to read Stagg vs. Yost to revise their perceptions. John Kryk paints the period as one in which corruption, under-the-table payments, and overzealous boosters were beginning to sully the sport's image. The author zeroes in on the fierce competitiveness between two legendary coaches of the day, Michigan's Fielding H. Yost and the University of Chicago's Amos Alonzo Stagg, as a case study in how two prominent coaches pushed the boundaries. Stagg was obsessed with toppling the powerhouse Wolverines to the point that he was willing to hedge on the principles he publicly proclaimed. Access to newly available correspondence helps to authenticate the intensity of the rivalry. * The Christian Science Monitor * The University of Michigan's Fielding H. Yost and the University of Chicago's Amos Alonzo Stagg are two coaches and two different styles of coaching that are featured in this new book written by John Kryk. Mr. Kryk is a NFL columnist for the Toronto Sun and Postmedia. He has developed an interesting comparison and review of both coaches examining some overlooked aspects of Stagg's career and dealings especially when looking at his recruiting techniques and constant questioning of other teams players eligibility before the game. Stagg may be viewed in a much different light after reading this book while one may embrace more fully Yost and his impressive and innovative offense schemes. This is a well researched and interesting book that looks at Stagg's career more closely and embraces what i have always felt was the overlooked career of Yost. I especially enjoyed the chapters on the 1904 season also. I would recommend this book for any football library. * Gridiron Greats * I read and enjoyed Stagg vs. Yost: The Birth of Cutthroat Football by John Kryk this month, which chronicles the early days of college football when the Ivy League schools ruled the East, and a handful of schools that would eventually be part of the Big Ten ruled the West. The teams in the West really revolved around the rivalry between the University of Chicago coached by Alonzo Stagg, and the University of Michigan coached by Fielding Yost. Access to a large volume of official documents from both schools as well as personal correspondence allowed Kryk to reconstruct the ways teams even in the earliest days constantly tried to one-up each other for recruits, including cutting corners and offering benefits. The big takeaway is that there was never a 'good old days' where college football was pure; free from all the temptations and extra incentives offered to today's players. . . . [T]his is a great historical gem for any college football fan regardless of affiliation. * Jeff Nelson | Pastor, Spiritual Director, Writer * How a famous University of Chicago coach (Amos Alonzo Stagg) pulled out all the stops to reverse his team's fortunes against a dominating rival at Michigan (Fielding Yost). If you think college football today is awash in greed, corruption, and a win-at-all-costs ethos, this book is a useful reminder that those things are nearly as old as the sport itself. * Sports Biblio: The Athletic Experience in Books, History and Culture * Overall, Kryk successfully supports Lester's depiction of Stagg as not just college football's 'Grand Old Man' but as a calculating, hypercompetitive coach willing to compromise amateur ideals in order to win . . . Kryk also provides a strong argument for Yost to be considered alongside Stagg, Glenn 'Pop' Warner, John Heisman, and Knute Rockne as the best coaches in early college football history. This is especially true in an age where 'Hurry Up' offenses and playing with tempo are stressed in college football. Yost pioneered that strategy over a century ago and should be remembered for it. Beyond the author's intended focus, the amount of turnover year-to-year on college rosters and the competition among teams for current players were particularly interesting. With eastern schools raiding western teams and western teams raiding smaller schools, I gained an increased appreciation for just how 'cutthroat' college football was at the time. I would recommend Stagg vs. Yost to both a scholarly and general audience. It serves as a solid example of primary source research and is an enlightening, accessible account of the personalities and contradictions in early college football history. * Sport in American History * I can't imagine the number of hours of research John Kryk put into writing Stagg vs. Yost-really impressive. I particularly enjoyed the direct irony of `what goes around, comes around' in college football. Recruiting and cheating scandals? Tempo offense? Are we talking 1905 or 2015? Highly revealing and entertaining. -- Mike Mayock, NFL Network analyst The best cure for nostalgia is a healthy dose of honest history. Kryk delivers that by the bucket in Stagg vs. Yost, where wax figures come to life, revealing themselves to be far more clever, corrupt, complex and occasionally noble than we ever could have imagined. (Spoiler alert: when you finish, you might conclude Stagg's name should be taken off the Big Ten trophy, and Yost's should replace it.) Kryk provides real scholarship, original insights and page-turning stories. In the process, he shows us how it all started-and why it still matters. If you care about college football, and especially Michigan football, you'll devour Stagg vs. Yost. -- John U. Bacon, author of Endzone: The Rise, Fall and Return of Michigan Football This is revisionist sports history at its best. Generations of football fans have grown up with the legends of the founders of the game, particularly the great coaches Amos Alonzo Stagg and Fielding Yost. Stagg created the famous Chicago "Monsters of the Midway" and Yost created University of Michigan Big Blue football. Stagg also applied religion to sports and Yost exemplified the spirit of the American Age of Invention. Sports history has long marked them as exemplary individuals. John Kryk overturns the legends and myths on Stagg and Yost. Basing his book on pain-staking research in the archives of the universities where Stagg and Yost worked, and turning up many never-previously-seen memos and correspondence, he convincingly portrays these men as swashbuckling entrepreneurs overwhelmed by ambition. In so doing, Kryk strips Stagg and Yost of their sainthood but reveals two fascinating characters, men who created many of the elements in what became America's most popular sport, football. Stagg vs. Yost is a must-read for every fan of college sports history, in fact, for every person interested in how college sports grew to its gargantuan form. Highly recommended. -- Murray Sperber, author of Shake Down the Thunder: The Creation of Notre Dame Football Meticulous research allowed John Kryk to write this story of the Chicago-Michigan football rivalry as if he were there. He came to know more behind-the-scenes facts than any of the decision-makers on either side knew. He could see how they bent rules, both written and unwritten, and cleverly concealed their tracks from each other. This work features two great coaches, Stagg and Yost, but it lets the reader gain insight about many "big time" rivalries in the early years of college football. It is an excellent writing and deserves a wide reading. -- John Behee, author of Fielding Yost's Legacy This book is a masterpiece. Through his meticulous research, Kryk deftly weaves the tale of this remarkable drama that played out at the dawn of the 20th century, much of it unknown until now. By tying together private correspondence with news accounts of the day, Kryk cuts through the facade of purity and reveals the Machiavellian maneuvering of these two iconic coaches and their alumni supporters. Stagg vs. Yost also provides a fascinating look at football at the start of the 20th century, a period that gave birth to the unwieldy modern football behemoth and the wild popularity that the sport enjoys today. Particularly striking is Kryk's exposure of Stagg, a man associated with the idealism of amateur competition and whose name alone adorns the Big Ten championship trophy. Stagg vs. Yost is a brilliant follow-up to Natural Enemies and Kryk once again raises the bar for college football historians. -- Greg Dooley, Michigan football historian, MVictors.com John Kryk's new book ranks with my favorites in the genre. The writing is as clean as the history is rich and heretofore un-mined. Kryk's genius is that he makes events 115 years in the past feel like last week. I read the book over a couple of days and then, lamenting that it ended, read it again. I can't recommend it highly enough. -- Craig Ross, author of The Obscene Diaries of a Michigan Fan