A Few Penalty Flags for Sports Coverage

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

In Steve Yanda's Sept. 3 Sports piece comparing Notre Dame's Four Horsemen and other college football legends to today's players, he wrote that the backfield "was one part brute force, one part electric elusiveness, and two parts devastating speed."

There was no "brute force" associated with the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame's 1924 team -- none of the players weighed more than 162 pounds or stood more than six feet tall. The Army team that Notre Dame defeated that year outweighed the Notre Dame players by an average of 20 pounds. In addition to speed and elusiveness, Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne eschewed brute force in favor of deception, especially the Notre Dame "shift," a pre-snap movement that opposing coaches called illegal motion.

Also, the caption under the photo of the Four Horsemen described Notre Dame's win over Army as an upset. However, reporting in the New York Times before the game indicated that Notre Dame was favored, and the betting odds were 7 to 5 in favor of the "westerners."

-- Michael K. Bohn

Alexandria

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