Stark Football Letters

No Bevo, no “burnt orange,”, and no “Hook ‘em.” No email, no cell phones, no 747s. The NCAA was barely five years old, the forward pass was a controversial rule change, and a touchdown was worth five points. The year was 1910 and these were just some of the conditions under which H.J. Lutcher Stark, UT football team manager at the age of only 22, cobbled together a season consisting of seven games.

Much of the communication between team managers was in the form of handwritten letters, ferried from Austin to places as far away as Boulder, Colorado, and back again. Presented here are scans of the letters that Stark wrote to other team managers during the process of setting up the schedule for the 1911 football season. In addition to hand-written letters, the collection is sprinkled with examples of the most current technology Stark had available–telegraphs. With the curt, abbreviated syntax emblematic of telegraph language, these dispatches illustrate the effort required to create a season’s schedule.

Taken as a whole, the collection evidences the issues and struggles involved in the establishment of a relatively “new” sport. In these letters you’ll find contention over which rules to play under, how much money the school should pay a visiting team, as well as the perceived strength or weaknesses of an opposing team. Also in these letters you’ll find the persistence, shrewdness, and intelligence that served Lutcher Stark well during the 24 years he served on UT’s Board of Regents–12 of them as Chairman—both of which remain records.