1947 - 64 Cardinal 
(Authentic Reproduction)




The Stanford football program has a great football tradition, one much richer than the average college fan would realize. Coaches? Perhaps some of the names are familiar; Walter "The Father Of Football" Camp, Fielding "Hurry Up"  Yost, Glenn "Pop" Warner, Clark Shaughnessy, John Ralston, and Bill Walsh. All except Bill Walsh are members of The College Football Hall Of Fame and Walsh of course, has earned his way into The Pro Football Hall Of Fame through his enormous success with the San Francisco Forty-Niners.  Camp, Yost, and Warner are recognized as true pioneers of the game and Shaughnessy is an individual that truly should be known to more casual fans as he was the "Father Of The T-Formation." He coached at the University Of Chicago and examined the Pro-T used by George Halas and his professional Bears team. Thinking, or perhaps obsessing upon ways to improve it, he thought he had found some answers but Chicago, a former powerhouse, dropped the football program and Shaughnessy was hired at Stanford before the 1940 season. He pronounced the installation of his version of the T-Formation, a brand new offense that was seen as blasphemous by traditionalists and Single-Wing stalwarts. The famed "Pop" Warner who had coached Stanford from 1924 through 1932 with a .781 winning percentage, clearly stated with disdain, "If Stanford wins a single game with that crazy formation, you can throw all the football I ever knew into the Pacific Ocean."  Stanford went 10-0, defeating Nebraska in the Rose Bowl 21-13!  Shaughnessy was the College Coach Of The Year and brought his offensive ideas to other schools and tenures with the professional Rams and Bears. In the early-thirties, Stanford had the "Vow Boys", a team that vowed as freshmen, never to lose to USC and they didn't. Shaughnessy's group was known as the "Wow Boys" and with the help of assistants Marchmont Schwatz, destined to take over the head post when Shaughnessy left The Farm as Stanford was known, and future Lombardi right-hand-man Phil Bengston, QB Frankie Albert, Norm Standlee, Chuck Taylor, and Bruno Banducci became names that remain as legends to the present day at Stanford. Their success, especially in the national radio broadcast of the Rose Bowl, changed the entire game as it made the revolutionary T-Formation acceptable. ("The Wow Boys", A Coach, A Team, And A Turning Point In College Football by James Johnson was published in November of 2006).     
As did many other schools, Stanford suspended intercollegiate football because of the Second World War for the 1943, '44, and '45 seasons. When the program was resumed in 1946, Marchmont Schwartz, who had guided the team to a 6-4 record in 1942 after Shaughnessy left, returned also. Line coach Bengston joined him and the collection of War vets and youngsters yielded a very good 6-3-1 squad built around the rushing of FB Lloyd Merriman. Wearing new plastic Riddell RT helmets that were white with no markings, and with high hopes for '47, the squad was dealt a crushing physical and psychological blow when one member was struck and killed by a train, another by a car, and a third starter broke an ankle. With Merriman leaving school to play pro baseball with the Cincinnati Reds, the team went 0-9 and the only humor that could be found came with a line that became a standard wisecrack among players and coaches for many years. As Coach Schwartz was delivering instruction on line play, and stressing that any game is usually won or lost by the play of the linemen, one of his top linemen was gazing at the freshmen practice field and Schwartz asked him where most games were won or lost. "At Stanford, Coach" came the response. The '48 team improved to 4-6 with a pair of one point 7-6 losses to rivals USC and Cal. The team moved the ball well all season between the twenty-yard lines but had difficulty scoring consistently. A talented group of sophomores joined the team for the 1949 season, giving Schwartz his best record at 7-3-1. Big Bill McColl was a soph end but as an outstanding athlete, he was used at tackle, linebacker, and safety as well as both offensive and defensive end positions. Highly recruited, McColl had his pick of schools but chose Stanford, seeking "the best education possible...with a top notch medical school." A true scholar-athlete and two-time All American at end in 1950 and '51, McColl attended medical school between professional seasons with the Chicago Bears for whom he played eight years of top-level ball, and became an orthopedic surgeon whose sons later excelled as Stanford football players and students. He was later voted into The College Football Hall Of Fame. The success of 1949 triggered optimism for 1950 and the 5-3-2 record and tie with Cal was a definite disappointment. McColl and Gary Kerkorian were the stars with the latter often sending his passes to the All American end. Soured by the pressure of recruiting, the strict admissions standards at The Farm, and the grousing of alumni, Schwartz announced his resignation after coaching the West to victory in the annual Shrine Game, deciding that he would seek an alternative means to support his large family.    
Oklahoma's Bud Wilkinson and Cleveland Browns Paul Brown were the top two choices to replace Schwartz as head coach but the job was ultimately given to former Stanford guard and 1942 All American Chuck Taylor. Taylor had returned as freshmen coach after a War stint in the Navy and had compiled a 14-0-1 record leading the frosh. He also coached rugby and wrestling but left in 1949 to serve as line coach for the pro Forty-Niners. On February 3, 1951, he became the head man at his alma mater. His debut was tremendous, a 9-1 mark that was only slightly marred by a loss to Illinois in the Rose Bowl after Kerkorian was injured. Utilizing the players he had coached when they were freshmen, Taylor let QB Gary Kerkorian and two-time All American end Bill McColl lead the way with an effective passing game. Among the backs was Olympic Decathlon Gold Medal winner Bob Mathias who was the go-to carrier in clutch situations and a big-time return man. In a battle of unbeatens, the Indians defeated USC 27-20 and lost only the finale to rival Cal and their fine All American back Johnny Olszewski. Taylor was Coach Of The Year while Kerkorian, Dick Horn, and Norm Manoogian made All Coast. 1952 would be more difficult as Taylor and his rebuilding team came back to earth with a 5-5 record which included losses to all three of their in-state rivals. RB Bill Rogers ran for a record ninety-six yard TD but the workhorse was FB Mathias, who had to do his running behind a line that missed Norm Manoogian who had suffered an early season knee injury. Chuck Essegian kept the defense together.
Upsetting Rose Bowl-bound UCLA 21-20 highlighted the 6-3-1 record of '53  that featured the nation's leading passer in QB Bobby Garrett. Battery-mates Sam Morley and John Steinberg and return man Ron Cook provided the rest of the offensive fireworks and they could have made it to the Rose Bowl if not for the field goal kicked by USC with fourteen seconds on the clock. All Coast tackle and team captain Norm Manoogian returned to action on both sides of the ball. Losing QB Garrett and the top two receivers left this inexperienced squad with a 4-6 mark at the end of the 1954 season. Un-recruited and non-scholarship soph QB John Brodie preferred golf and Taylor was the perfect head coach for Bordie's relaxed approach to the game of football. John Stewart was on the receiving end of most of Brodie's passes and young Paul Wiggin provided heft and speed at tackle. Despite some talent, a lack of depth and experienced had the Indians shutout in consecutive games against Navy and UCLA, the latter a 72-0 debacle. A year of experience made for an improved 6-3-1 mark in 1955 with two of those three losses against the teams that eventually squared off in the Rose Bowl, Michigan State and UCLA. Big wins came against Ohio State, USC, and Cal. QB Brodie threw for 1024 yards and five TD's to lead the conference in passing. Paul Wiggin was a terror on defense as an early advocate of weight training and was named a first team All American.
After the '56 season, the player numerals were removed from the white helmet and this style, exactly the same plain white shell that was worn from 1947 through 1955, was maintained through the 1964 season. In '57 two missed conversions produced two losses and cost the Indians the Rose Bowl berth as they finished 6-4. QB Jack Douglas was a senior replacement for Brodie and HB Lou Valli became the rush threat. Soph end Chris Burford teamed with Joel Freis as a good receiving combo. Chuck Taylor had decided to leave coaching at the conclusion of the season and took on an administrative role in the athletic department, leading to the search for a new head man. However, Chuck Taylor like a number of other Stanford players and coaches, was immortalized as a member of The College Football Hall Of Fame. It appeared that Dartmouth's Bob Blackman or Utah's Jack Curtice would be the next head coach and on January 16, 1958 the nod went to Curtice. The folksy Curtice had the reputation of an offensive innovator which would fit in well at Stanford. His teams at Utah had won and in the process had established a national reputation behind the passing of Lee Grosscup. Curtice was also given credit for having invented the "Utah pass" or shovel pass that brought Utah a conference championship. He had recruited well with Grosscup and future St. Louis Cardinal Hall Of Famer Larry Wilson as his team leaders. "Cactus Jack" had been the head coach at West Texas State in 1940 and '41 and was so involved with the program that he wrote the official school fight song before moving on to the head job at Texas Western (Texas El Paso) where he had great success from 1942 through '50. His Utah teams from 1951 through 1957 were wide-open, pass-oriented units that put a lot of points on the board so it was felt that he would do well but his 1958 team only went 2-8 and scored but ninety-six points. The team led the conference in passing offense but was last in rushing and unfortunately, solidly last in almost all defensive categories. QB's Bob Nicolet and Dick Norman, receiver Chris Burford, and HB Skip Face provided the sparks and they almost toppled Rose Bowl bound rival Cal before losing 16-15. Injuries forced the use of different backfield combinations in the first eight games with Nicolet the conference leader in passing, and Norman second. Burford's forty-five receptions earned him All Conference honors and was third highest in the country. 
In 1959 the team was better than its 3-7 record with close losses in four games but the defense remained porous. With Dick Norman at QB, the Indians led the nation in passing offense, with Chris Burford as the All American primary receiver.He tied the NCAA record with sixty-one receptions for 756 yards giving him 106 catches in two seasons and gained entry to The College Football Hall Of Fame. Burford became the AFL Dallas Texans' very first number-one draft choice and was an integral part of their first Super Bowl team, playing through 1967. Norman had a huge game against Cal completing thirty-four of thirty-nine throws for 401 yards in a losing effort. These single-game records stood for decades. HB Skip Face ranked second in the country having scored one hundred points. With Dick Norman at QB and Skip Face at FB, more great offense was expected in '60 but with only three other starters returning from the '59 team, the inexperienced group posted a winless 0-10 record. With all new receivers, Face became the go-to guy, catching twenty-nine passes out of his backfield position. The lack of team speed hurt and the morale was poor, leaving Curtice to sit in the locker room most of the night and ponder the squad's performance after the 34-20 mid-season upset by lowly San Jose State. Reflecting upon the disaster of the season, the head coach was determined to force improvement.
Improvement was expected for the 1961 season with the arrival of highly-touted soph QB Steve Thurlow but he was sidelined early with a bout of mononucleosis. Soph T Al Hildebrand became the team leader but the undermanned squad was forced to rely on a short-passing game due to poor line play. Second leading receiver in the conference with twenty-two catches, end George Honore was the only Stanford player to earn All AAWU mention. Finally beating rival Cal 20-7, the Indians could only improve to 4-6.
Back at QB and healthy for '62, Thurlow led the squad to two opening wins but they then dropped three straight and finished with a 5-5 record that reflected their inconsistency. T Al Hildebrand again played well on both sides of the ball but the improved record would not save Curtice's job. Some felt that the Texas-based coach could not recruit the type of athlete that would be attracted to Stanford. The academic requirements were stringent, they did not allow junior college transfers, and there were no football scholarships per se, only need-based grants which severely limited recruiting efforts. It was also felt that there were some influential alumni who successfully limited the number of African-American players on the team. Curtice was seen as "a nice guy" by his players but there was a defeatist attitude that permeated the squad. Curtice enjoyed further coaching success, moving on to the University Of California at Santa Barbara where he was the AFCA College Division Coach Of The Year in 1965.   
With former Stanford player and head coach Chuck Taylor coming in as the new Athletic Director, outgoing AD Al Masters' final major hire was to bring in John Ralston as the new head football coach just prior to spring practice in 1963. A former linebacker on two Cal Rose Bowl teams, Ralston served his alma mater as an assistant before taking the head post at Utah State in 1959. His 31-11-1 record and two Skyline Conference championships with strong offensive play made him an attractive choice. Ralston immediately was faced with the difficulty of recruiting top athletes to Stanford. Though the 3-7 debut record wasn't too different from that of Curtice's years, the players noted the much higher level of organization, discipline, and an influx of junior college athletes. Steve Thurlow was moved from QB to right halfback and performed well enough to be drafted by the Giants and play in the NFL from '63 through 1968 with the Giants and Redskins. Soph HB Ray Handley was also emerging but the only conference win was over rival Cal. The Indians did gain a measure of respect as they beat Notre Dame 24-14 on national television. 1964 showed that the offense scored only 150 points but there was significant defensive progress, yielding 138 as DT Gary Pettigrew led the way with an All Conference performance. Soph QB Dave Lewis, a Chuckchansi Tribe Indian fired the offense with HB Ray Handley rushing for 936 yards. The 5-5 record again included a victory over rival Cal and excitement was building.

If interested in any of these Stanford helmets please click on the photos below.