It's true the Oklahoma City University football teams were merely average while playing 11 men against 11 men.
But in the 12 vs. 12 game, the Goldbugs of four decades ago were the biggest winners of all time. They competed in the only four 12-man games ever played, winning twice and tying once.
Oswald "Dozen" Doenges, who played for the Goldbugs and later coached them through four lean but colorful seasons, invented the 12-man game and talked four opponents, two each in 1940 and 1941, into trying his experiment.
It wasn't really 12 against 12, but each side did have an extra man on the field of play. He was the signal caller. After calling the play, the signal caller backed off and watched the execution of the play, taking no part in the action.
He then had just 13 seconds to get the next play under way.
"My game is the fastest type of football," Doenges claimed. "The colleges are going to have to speed up the going or the pros will be taking over the national spotlight."
Those words of 1940, of course, turned out to be most prophetic ones. And, while the 12-man idea of Os did not catch on, the need he saw to change signal calling practices did. In 1940, a substitute sent into the game was not allowed to talk in the huddle. Nor, could plays be signaled in from the bench.
The first 12-man game was played in San Antonio on Nov. 19, 1940, with coach Mose Simms of St. Mary's agreeing to try Doenges' idea when OCU dropped in for a visit.
The original 12th men on the field were Doenges and Simms, themselves. But to start the second half, they retired to the sidelines and let two players do the honors. The game was a 6-6 tie with Simms calling the touchdown play for St. Mary's and Melvin Decker, normally a center, calling the matching one for OCU in the second half.
A few years later, Simms joined the OCU staff as football business manager.
Late in the 1940 season, OCU notched its only victory 21-12 over McMurry (Texas) in a 12-man game.
In 1941, OCU lost a season-opening 12-man match to Southwestern (Kan.), 7-0, but another Doenges innovation stole the show that night.
He introduced his "V for Victory" formation, employed a transposed T formation "which enables the man in motion to swing back for a reverse, lateral or pass while the other three backfield men become blockers" and used a "V" huddle.
Staying with the Victory theme, he got the opposing coach's permission to have his starting linemen wear the letters V I C T O R Y instead of numbers and his starting four backs to wear Dot-1, Dot-2, Dot-3 and Dash, the musical victory symbol.
OCU's last triumph in 1941 by a 27-13 count over stint at OCU.
rolled up 19 first downs and 446 rushing yards in that one, exactly what Doenges had envisioned his hurry-up attack would do.
The Chiefs also introduced double-dime night in 1941, charging only 20 cents for any seat in the house. However, it wasn't as great a bargain as you might think since the usual going rate for an OCU game had been 25 cents.
The coming of war before another football season ended Doenges' creative coaching stint at OCU.
This story is but one chapter BIOG: NAME:Archive ID: 82374