In American football, a T formation (frequently called the full house formation in modern usage, sometimes the Robust T) is a formation used by the offensive team in which three running backs line up in a row about five yards behind the quarterback, forming the shape of a "T".
Numerous variations of the T formation have been developed, including the Power-T, where two tight ends are used, the Pro T, which uses one tight end and one wide receiver, or the Wing T, where one of the running backs (or wingback) lines up one step behind and to the side of the tight end. Any of these can be run using the original spacing, which produced a front of about seven yards, or the Split-T spacing, where the linemen were farther apart and the total length of the line was from 10 to 16 yards.
The T formation is often said to be the oldest offensive formation in American football and is claimed to have been invented by Walter Camp in 1882. However, as the forward pass was legalized, the original T became obsolete in favor of formations such as the single wing. Innovations, such as a smaller, more throwing-friendly ball, along with the invention of the hand-to-hand snap in the 1930s, led to the T's revival.
The original T formation is seldom used today, but it was successful in the first half of the 20th century. The formation led to a faster-paced, higher-scoring game. The T formation was made famous by Stanford University under Clark Shaughnessy in 1940, Notre Dame under Frank Leahy; the Fighting Irish won four national titles in the 1940s, and by the University of Oklahoma in the 1950s to win 47 games in a row and three national titles. The formation was also the key weapon used by the Chicago Bears, who had used the T formation since the team's inception in 1920, to defeat the Washington Redskins, 73–0, in the 1940 NFL Championship Game and immortalized afterward in their fight song. Shaughnessy helped the Bears prepare for the game against the Redskins. He has been called "The father of the T formation".
The T-formation was viewed as a complicated "gadget" offense by early football coaches. But NFL owner-coach George Halas and Ralph Jones of the Chicago Bears along with University of Chicago coach Clark Shaughnessy, University of Texas coach Dana X. Bible, and Notre Dame coach Frank Leahy were advocates. Shaughnessy was as an advisor to Halas in the 1930s at the head coach at the University of Chicago.
The T became much more viable in 1933 when passing was legalized anywhere behind the line of scrimmage (previously, the passer had to be five yards behind the line). Halas recruited Solly Sherman, the Quarterback for the University of Chicago because of his experience with the T-Formation under Clark Shaughnessy. Solly then taught Sid Luckman the system. Sherman, a former half back, had torn his meniscus in college, and converted to quarterback his senior year when Shaughnessy installed the T-Formation at the University of Chicago. Eventually he played backup to Sid Luckman with the Bears in 1939 and 1940 and retired so that he could join the war effort. Sid Luckman went on to win four NFL championships in the 1940s. Sid Luckman, in his book Luckman at Quarterback written in 1949, stated that several hundred plays in the Chicago Bears play book, gave him over 1,000 options for man-in-motion deceptions, complicated blocking schemes and multiple passing options not previously available. The last team to run the single-wing in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers, converted to the T in 1953. Since that time, the T, and all its variants, have dominated offensive football and created the American football now employed throughout the NCAA and NFL.
The T is referenced in the Chicago Bears fight song, "Bear Down, Chicago Bears", written after the 1940 championship over Washington. "We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation, with your T formation..."
Additionally, two books detail the development of the T with the Bears. "The Chicago Bears" by Howard Roberts written in 1947, credits several coaches including Ralph Jones and Clark Shaughnessy for upgrading the T and teaching it to a succession of Bears QB's. "The Wow Boys" by James W. Johnson written in 2006 tells the story of the Stanford University football season of 1940. The arrival of Shaughnessy and his T offense led to a 10–0 season and a victory in the Rose Bowl over heavily favored University of Nebraska. The Bears' thumping of the Washington Redskins, 73–0, a few weeks later caused a sensation. The T swept college and pro football. The brain trust that created the T was always anchored by Coach Halas, who had the savvy for what worked and an eye for the players that fit.
While unpopular today, the key innovations of the T still dominate offensive football. The T was the first offense in which the quarterback took the snap from under center and then either handed off or dropped back to pass. Other offenses up until the 1940s used the QB (usually called the "blocking back") primarily as a blocker and the snap usually went to a halfback or tailback. For example, in 1942 and 1943 Hall of Fame passers Sammy Baugh and Sid Luckman both made the Associated Press All-Pro Team - Baugh as tailback and Luckman as quarterback. With the T formation, te quarterback under center makes offenses very unpredictable since it is difficult to predict the play called based on formation alone. Second, the T allowed running backs to receive the hand-off from the quarterback and hit the "hole" at near full speed. This allowed more complex blocking schemes and gave offenses a temporary, but significant advantage. Other advantages offered by the T were: the ability of the QB to fake various handoffs (which led to "option" plays), plays developed much faster than with the single-wing, far fewer double-team blocks were required because the back hit the hole more quickly, the back could choose a different hole than originally planned (due to single-blocking across the line), the center was a more effective blocker because his head was up when he snapped the ball, and backs could be less versatile than required of single-wing backs. The use of the T Formation in Canada is slightly different because it is used in 12 man football. Another very popular variation is the Shotgun-T because it allows the quarterback to read the defense more effectively. It is very popular in high school football. It is rarely used in professional or college football. It is mostly used for sweeps. The T Formation is also being run out of the Pistol.
The T formation is still used in a few instances at the high school level. Some smaller colleges and high schools, particularly in the Midwest, still use the T. It is also still used on some levels as a goal line formation (often called a "full house" backfield today). Its simplicity, and emphasis on running, makes it particularly popular as a youth football formation.
The Chicago Bears T made great use of "man-in-motion" effectively making one of the three running backs into a receiver as he left the backfield. Thus, the T, originally designed as a more dynamic running offense, became a far more powerful passing offense than the single-wing, greatly enhancing its appeal. The two-back backfield naturally evolved into the "pro set" with only two running backs in the backfield and a "flanker" permanently posted out in a wide receiver position. Teams initially used a flanker primarily in the "slot" (on the strong side) because the hashmarks were still quite wide, as in college ball. In 1972, the hash marks were moved to their present position, 70 feet, 9 inches from each sideline. This made the strong side / weak side far less of a factor and allowed the opening up of the passing attack. The pro set further evolved into today's complex offenses.
Virtually all modern offensive formations are variations on the T theme. A notable exception is the Shotgun formation, first used by the San Francisco 49ers in 1959/1960, popularized by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1960s and the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s, and now widely used in pro and college football. Most professional teams still utilize the shotgun formation but it is generally limited to passing downs. The "I" formation, first popularized in the AFL by the Kansas City Chiefs, circa 1968, is another variation of the T used extensively by high school and, until recently, many college teams. The I is a strong running formation, with the fullback positioned forward with a tailback behind, providing mass at the point of attack. The "power I" places all three running backs in a line behind the quarterback, making it a very powerful running formation but difficult to pass from. The Chiefs of the late 1960s often sent one of the three backs in motion. The Wishbone formation, once dominant in college football but now virtually extinct, was another T variation, with the fullback positioned very close behind the quarterback, flanked by two halfbacks. This was a very strong running formation with the famous "triple option" where the quarterback could handoff to the fullback, run it himself, or pitch to the trailing halfback. It was run with great success by Darrell Royal's Texas teams, Barry Switzer's Oklahoma teams, Woody Hayes' Ohio State teams, and Paul "Bear" Bryant's teams of the 1970s. This formation required a talented, running quarterback. It fell out of favor because well-coached, physical defenses can stop the option and the wishbone is a poor passing formation.
The 1940 Chicago Bears season was their 21st regular season and 5th postseason completed in the National Football League. The club posted an 8–3 record under head coach George Halas. Behind NFL greats Sid Luckman and Bronko Nagurski, the club gained a berth in the NFL Championship. There the club stormed the Washington Redskins under the brand new formation known as the T formation to claim their fourth league title.1940 National Football League All-Star Game (December)
The 1940 National Football League All-star Game (December) was the professional football league's third all-star game. The game pitted the Chicago Bears, the league's champion for the 1940 season, against a team of all-stars. The game was played on Sunday, December 29, 1940, at Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles, California before an overflow crowd of 21,000, with members of the Stanford and Nebraska football teams also in attendance; the two were scheduled to play in the Rose Bowl, with Nebraska using the All-Star Game to research the Bears' T formation, which was being used by Stanford head coach and former Bears assistant Clark Shaughnessy. The Bears defeated the All-Stars by a score of 28–14.The Bears were an 8–5 favorite over the All-Stars after crushing the Washington Redskins 73–0 in the championship game a few weeks prior. Luke Johnsos coached the Bears in place of George Halas, who was hospitalized following an appendectomy. The All-Stars were coached by Ray Flaherty of the Washington Redskins. John Olds was the referee for the game.Quarterback Ace Parker of the Brooklyn Dodgers was voted into the game, but declined participation due to ankle and shoulder injuries he suffered during the season. His decision sparked a clash with NFL President Carl Storck, who warned him of potential expulsion from the league should he not play until Dodgers owner Dan Topping successfully pulled him out without consequence. Rather than the All-Star Game, Parker decided to play two charity games in Virginia over the following weeks.1940 Stanford Indians football team
The 1940 Stanford Indians football team, nicknamed the "Wow Boys", represented Stanford University in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) intercollegiate competition during the 1940 season. First-year head coach Clark Shaughnessy inherited a team that finished with a 1–7–1 record the previous season. He installed his own version of the T formation, a system that had largely fallen into disuse since the 1890s and was viewed as obsolete. The Indians shocked observers when they won all ten of their games including the Rose Bowl, which prompted several selectors to declare them the 1940 national champions. Stanford's dramatic reversal of fortunes prompted football programs across the nation to abandon the single-wing formation in favor of the new T formation.1947 Maryland Terrapins football team
The 1947 Maryland Terrapins football team represented the University of Maryland in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) college football in its 27th season as a member of the Southern Conference.
Jim Tatum served as the first-year head coach and replaced Clark Shaughnessy who had been asked to resign. Tatum replaced Shaughnessy's pass-oriented version of the T formation with the option-heavy split-T offense. During his nine-year tenure at College Park, Tatum would become the winningest coach in school history. In 1947, he got off to a good start and significantly improved from Shaughnessy's 3–6 record of the season prior.
The highlight of the season was a berth in the 1948 Gator Bowl, the first postseason game in school history. NCAA-scoring leader Lu Gambino ran for 165 yards and scored all three touchdowns for Maryland. The game ultimately ended in a stalemate.1950 Gator Bowl
The 1950 Gator Bowl was the fifth edition of the Gator Bowl and featured the Maryland Terrapins representing the University of Maryland and the Missouri Tigers representing the University of Missouri. It was the first-ever meeting of the two teams.Maryland was led by third-year head coach Jim Tatum, who had engineered one season turn-arounds at Maryland and previously Oklahoma. Missouri was coached by his former boss, Don Faurot, under whom Tatum had previous been an assistant coach for the U.S. Navy's Iowa Pre-Flight team. This game was the first in a six-game series between the former colleagues and would last for the remainder of Tatum's tenure at Maryland.The game was described as a "proving ground" for the split-T formation, which was employed by both teams. Several prominent Southern coaches were in attendance at the game to watch the formation, including Bob Neyland of Tennessee, Wally Butts of Georgia, Frank Howard of Clemson, George Barclay of Washington & Lee, and Tom Nugent of VMI.1950 Princeton Tigers football team
The 1950 Princeton Tigers football team represented Princeton University in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) intercollegiate competition during the 1950 season. The Tigers were led by sixth-year head coach Charlie Caldwell, a future College Football Hall of Fame inductee, who utilized an "unbalanced" version of the single-wing formation. The Princeton offense, which made use of the buck-lateral series, was one of the last successful employers of the single-wing formation, which had been made obsolete by the modernized T formation.Princeton finished with a perfect undefeated record of 9–0, and the Tigers outscored their opponents 349–94. Against other future Ivy League teams, Princeton compiled a 5–0 record.Some selectors named Princeton the national champions, most notably the NCAA-recognized Poling System and Boand System. Princeton was ranked sixth in the Associated Press and eighth in the United Press final polls. After the season, Tigers halfback Dick Kazmaier, tackle Holland Donan, and center Redmond Finney received first-team All-America honors. Kazmaier and Donan were eventually inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.1951 Pro Bowl
The 1951 Pro Bowl was the National Football League's inaugural Pro Bowl which featured the league's outstanding performers from the 1950 season. The game was played on Sunday, January 14, 1951, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California in front of 53,676 fans. The American Conference squad defeated the National Conference by a score of 28–27. The player were selected by a vote of each conferences coaches along with the sports editors of the newspapers in the Los Angeles area, where the game was contested.The National team was led by the Los Angeles Rams' Joe Stydahar while Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns coached the American stars. The same two coaches had faced each other three weeks earlier in the 1950 NFL Championship Game in which Brown's team had also defeated Stydahar's. Both coaches employed the T formation offense in the Pro Bowl.Cleveland Browns quarterback Otto Graham was named the game's outstanding player.5–3 defense
In American football, the 5–3 defense is a defensive alignment consisting of five down linemen and three linebackers.A formation
In American football, the A formation was a variation of the single-wing formation used with great success by the New York Giants of the 1930s and early 1940s. This formation was masterminded by Giants coach Steve Owen and relied heavily upon Hall of Fame center Mel Hein for its success.
The A formation differed from the traditional single-wing in that the quarterback played further back from the line and closer to the center. It also place the backfield opposite the "strong" side of the unbalanced line, providing more flexibility in the running game (though less power). The wingback is on the opposite side compared to the single-wing and the quarterback is the primary passer, rather than the tailback. The name of the formation was arbitrary, not from its slight resemblance to the letter "A", unlike formations named "I", "T", "V", and "Y" for the shapes formed by the backs' positioning; Owen labeled the standard single wing his team's "B" formation.One major advantage of the A is the center could snap the ball to any of three players; typically to the fullback or blocking back for runs and the quarterback for passes. The fourth back, the wingback, became a crucial part of the system when Owen introduced a half-spin sweep series in 1938 which featured a wide sweep play to the motioning wingback, a dive inside by the deep fullback, and a bootleg threat away from sweep action by the quarterback. This triple-threat, highly deceptive series anticipated the Wing-T Buck Sweep series by well over a decade.A great center like Hein was a major asset, albeit not essential, in running the A formation — however only the Giants used this set-up with any frequency. This gave the Giants an advantage in that teams had to prepare specifically to defend the A whenever they played New York.
Coach Owen experimented with the A from the early 1930s on. Mel Hein joined the Giants in 1931, but Owen didn't use the A full-time until 1937. The Giants, using the A, became the first team to win their second official NFL championship games when they defeated the Green Bay Packers 23-17, adding this 1938 title to their 1934 defeat of Chicago. Green Bay ran the Notre Dame Box, another unique single-wing variant. The 1938 win was the last time the A brought the Giants a title, however, as George Halas' modern T formation began to dominate professional football after 1940. Mel Hein retired after the 1945 season and proved difficult to replace. The Giants and their A formation were beaten for the NFL championship by the Chicago Bears and the T in 1941 and 1946. Owen finally installed the T formation as an additional offense in 1948, although the Giants continued to run the A through his retirement in 1954. No other team used the A formation in the NFL and the offense today is used only by some aficionados at and below high school varsity level. Ted Seay is known to many of them as a coach who decades later developed greater passing possibilities from the nearly forgotten A.Bear Down, Chicago Bears
"Bear Down, Chicago Bears" is the fight song of the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. It was written in 1941 by Al Hoffman under the pseudonym Jerry Downs, though Hoffman appeared to have little connection to Chicago. The song was written during the early stages of the "Monsters of the Midway" Era, as well as the year after the Bears had shocked the professional football world by defeating the Washington Redskins in the league championship game by the score of 73-0, which remains the largest win margin in any game in the history of the NFL.At home games, a version of the song recorded in 1993 by Bill Archer and the Big Bear Band is played every time the Bears score.
The lyrics are as follows:Bear down, Chicago Bears, make every play clear the way to victory;
Bear down, Chicago Bears, put up a fight with a might so fearlessly.
We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation with your T-formation.
Bear down, Chicago Bears, and let them know why you're wearing the crown.
You're the pride and joy of Illinois, Chicago Bears, bear down.
After the Bears' Super Bowl XX-winning 1985 season, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed the song.The song was featured in Madden NFL 11's soundtrack.Clark Shaughnessy
Clark Daniel Shaughnessy (originally O'Shaughnessy) (March 6, 1892 – May 15, 1970) was an American football coach and innovator. He is sometimes called the "father of the T formation" and the original founder of the forward pass, although that system had previously been used as early as the 1880s. Shaughnessy did, however, modernize the obsolescent T formation to make it once again relevant in the sport, particularly for the quarterback and the receiver positions. He employed his innovations most famously on offense, but on the defensive side of the ball as well, and he earned a reputation as a ceaseless experimenter.
Shaughnessy held head coaching positions at Tulane University, Loyola University New Orleans, the University of Chicago, Stanford University, the University of Maryland, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Hawaii, and in the National Football League with the Los Angeles Rams. Shaughnessy also served in advisory capacities with the Chicago Bears and the Washington Redskins.
He reached the height of his success in 1940, in his first season at Stanford, where he led the Indians to an undefeated season that culminated with a Rose Bowl victory. That year, he also helped prepare the Chicago Bears for the 1940 NFL Championship Game, in which they routed Washington, 73–0. Shaughnessy's successes showcased the effectiveness of the T formation and encouraged its widespread adoption. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1968. Shaughnessy also coached college basketball at Tulane University. He played college football at the University of Minnesota.Forrest England
Forrest William "Frosty" England (October 29, 1912 – June 25, 2002) was an American football coach and college athletic administrator. He served as the head football coach at Arkansas State College—now known as Arkansas State University—from 1946 to 1953 and at the University of Toledo from 1954 to 1955, compiling a career college football record of 57–29–11. England was the author of the book Coaching the T Formation: A Veritable Bible of T Formation Coaching Information for Coaches and Players published in 1948.England earned a bachelor's degree from Illinois College and a master's degree from the University of Missouri. After retiring from coaching he had a career in real estate.I formation
The I formation is one of the most common offensive formations in American football. The I formation draws its name from the vertical (as viewed from the opposing endzone) alignment of quarterback, fullback, and running back, particularly when contrasted with the same players' alignments in the T formation.
The formation begins with the usual 5 offensive linemen (2 offensive tackles, 2 guards, and a center), the quarterback under center, and two backs in-line behind the quarterback. The base variant adds a tight end to one side of the line and two wide receivers, one at each end of the line.List of formations in American football
The following is a list of common and historically significant formations in American football. In football, the formation describes how the players in a team are positioned on the field. Many variations are possible on both sides of the ball, depending on the strategy being employed. On offense, the formation must include at least seven players on the line of scrimmage, including a center to start the play by snapping the ball.
There are no restrictions on the arrangement of defensive players, and, as such, the number of defensive players on the line of scrimmage varies by formation.Notre Dame Box
The Notre Dame Box is a variation of the single-wing formation used in American football, with great success by Notre Dame in college football and the Green Bay Packers of the 1920s and 1930s in the NFL. Green Bay's coach, Curly Lambeau, learned the Notre Dame Box while playing for Knute Rockne in the late 1910s. Rockne learned it from Jesse Harper, who learned it from coach Amos Alonzo Stagg. It contained two tight ends, and 4 backs. The formation often featured an unbalanced line where the center (that is, the player who snapped the ball) was not strictly in the center of the line, but close to the weakside.
Players line up in T formation then shift to a box formation. The Notre Dame Box differed from the traditional single-wing formation in that the line was balanced and the halfback who normally played the "wing" in the single-wing was brought in more tightly, with the option of shifting out to the wing. These two changes made the backs' formation resemble a square (hence "box") and made the formation less predictable, allowing offenses to run more easily to the "weak" side. Additionally, the halfback became a more viable runner than in the single-wing and the quarterback, normally just a blocking back in the single-wing, could become a passer since the center could snap the ball directly to him. The Notre Dame Box relied on a great deal of deception, caused by backs shifting frequently, rather than the pure power of the single-wing. Teams would often adopt the Notre Dame Box if they lacked a true "triple threat" tailback, necessary for effective single-wing use. Rockne's innovations with this formation involved using complicated backfield shifts and motion to confuse defenses, and adapting it as a passing formation. The formation was originally designed as a brute-force running formation, since it had 7 players to one side of the center and only 2 on the other.
Although modern use of this offensive formation is largely defunct and exterminated among college and professional teams, several high school football teams across the United States have revived the Notre Dame Box offense and have been highly efficient and successful. Three notable high schools that successfully implemented the Notre Dame Box offense extensively are Western Harnett High School in Lillington, North Carolina, Nauset Regional High School in Eastham, Massachusetts, and Isabella High School in Maplesville, Alabama.Quarterback
A quarterback (commonly abbreviated "QB"), colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line. In modern American football, the quarterback is usually considered the leader of the offensive team, and is often responsible for calling the play in the huddle. The quarterback also touches the ball on almost every offensive play, and is the offensive player that almost always throws forward passes.Sid Luckman
Sidney Luckman (November 21, 1916 – July 5, 1998) was an American football quarterback for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL) from 1939 through 1950. During his 12 seasons with the Bears he led them to four NFL championships (1940, 1941, 1943, and 1946).
Sportswriter Ira Berkow wrote that Luckman was "the first great T-formation quarterback", and he is considered the greatest long-range passer of his time. He was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1943. Luckman was also a 3× NFL All-Star (1940–42), 5× First-team All-Pro (1941–44, 1947), Second-Team All-Pro (1946), 3× NFL passing yards leader (1943, 1945, and 1946), 3× NFL passing touchdowns leader (1943, 1945, and 1946), 3× NFL passer rating leader (1941, 1943, and 1946), named to the NFL 1940s All-Decade Team, had his Chicago Bears No. 42 retired, and tied the NFL record of 7 touchdown passes in a game.
Luckman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965, and in 1988 he was declared a joint winner of the Walter Camp Distinguished American Award. Following his retirement from playing, Luckman continued his association with football by tutoring college coaches, focusing on the passing aspect of the game.Single-wing formation
In American and Canadian football, a single-wing formation, created by Glenn "Pop" Warner, was a precursor to the modern spread or shotgun formation. The term usually connotes formations in which the snap is tossed rather than handed—formations with one wingback and a handed snap are commonly called "wing T" or "winged T". The single wing was superior to the T formation in its ability to get an extra eligible receiver down field.Split-T
The split-T is an offensive formation in American football that was popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Developed by Missouri Tigers head coach Don Faurot as a variation on the T formation, the split-T was first used in the 1941 season and allowed the Tigers to win all but their season-opening match against the Ohio State Buckeyes and the 1942 Sugar Bowl versus Fordham. Jim Tatum and Bud Wilkinson, who coached under Faurot with the Iowa Pre-Flight Seahawks during World War II, brought the split-T to the Oklahoma Sooners in 1946. After Tatum left for Maryland in 1947, Wilkinson became the head coach and went on to win a record-setting 47 straight games and two national titles between 1953 and 1957.
|Division championships (21)|
|Conference championships (4)|
|League championships (9)|
|Current league affiliations|
Championship seasons in bold
|Bowls & rivalries|
|Culture & lore|
National championship seasons in bold
|Bowls & rivalries|
|Culture & lore|
National championship seasons in bold
|Bowls & rivalries|
|Culture & lore|
National championship seasons in bold
|Bowls & rivalries|
|Culture & lore|
National championship seasons in bold
|Bowls & rivalries|
|Culture & lore|
National championship seasons in bold