Coach Brought Creative Touch To OCU Football

Ray Soldan Published: August 29, 1982
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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.

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