1890 Nebraska Old Gold Knights football team

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1890 Nebraska Old Gold Knights football
Nebraska state champion
1890 record2–0
Head coachLangdon Frothingham (1st season)
1891 →

The 1890 Nebraska Old Gold Knights football team represented the University of Nebraska in the 1890 college football season. The team was coached by Langdon Frothingham. Nebraska played no home games.

Before the season[edit]

1890 was the first year that Nebraska fielded a football team. Dr. Langdon Frothingham (April 21, 1866 – July 29, 1935), a veterinary physician and graduate of Harvard University who had been hired to the faculty in 1889 to teach physiology, agriculture, and bacteriology at Nebraska, was named as coach of Nebraska's first football team, mainly because he had brought a football with him. It is unclear if Dr. Frothingham ever traveled with the team to either of their two games. He broke his leg while preparing the team for their second game; he may have coached the second game on crutches or may have already left the school before then (Dr. Frothingham left the university sometime in 1891 to teach in Dresden, Germany).[1][2][3][4]


November 273:30 p.m.at Omaha YMCAOmaha, NEW 10–0
February 14at DoaneCrete, NEW 18–0




1890 Nebraska Old Gold Knights football team
Official Roster
  • Anderson, Arthur L
  • Chandler, Charles T
  • Gerrard, Ernest QB
  • Hyde, Frederick G
  • Johnston, James HB
  • Johnston, W.M. PLAYER
  • Lord, Harrison T
  • Mockett, Ebenezer HB
  • Morrow, Frank FB
  • Mosher, Bradley FB
  • Oliver HB
  • Porterfield, James T
  • Skiles, Charles E
  • Stockton, William G
  • Strohman, Charles PLAYER
  • Troyer, Albert FB
  • Troyer, L. E. E

Coaching staff[edit]

Name Title First year
in this position
Years at Nebraska Alma Mater
Langdon Frothingham Head Coach 1890 1890 Harvard
Jack Best Trainer 1890 1890–1922
Albert Troyer Manager 1890 1890 Nebraska

Game summaries[edit]

Omaha YMCA[edit]

Nebraska at Omaha YMCA
1 2Total
Nebraska 4 6 10
Omaha YMCA 0 0 0
  • Date: 1890-11-27
  • Location: Omaha YMCA Ball Park, Omaha, NE

The University of Nebraska fielded their first team, as yet without an official name, for the inaugural game of the football program against the YMCA of Omaha. Approximately 500 students from the Lincoln campus were in attendance, which was a significant traveling group considering the transportation options of the era and the approximately 55-mile journey. In this early era of American football, The game was divided merely into two halves instead of four quarters, touchdowns were worth four points, and field kicks after touchdowns were worth two.

Omaha started the game with possession and drove 40 yards before giving up a fumble to Nebraska. Nebraska failed to capitalize, coming as close as 1 yard from the end zone before a penalty setback eventually resulted in the drive coming up empty. Omaha's subsequent possession ended early when an attempt to kick the ball out of the end zone failed and the kicker was tackled for a safety by Charles Chandler and James Porterfield, marking Nebraska's first-ever points scored and putting them ahead 2-0. After several possession changes, Nebraska came close enough to try for a field goal. However, the play was executed as a drop-kick, and although it went through the uprights it was ruled as a punt by the officials, and no points were awarded.

Nebraska soon after forced an Omaha fumble in their end zone, but Omaha recovered it to prevent the touchdown, instead suffering another safety which brought the scoreboard to 4–0 Nebraska.

After a third safety early in the second half, Nebraska led 6–0. The teams then traded possession several times without scoring, until Nebraska's Albert Troyer broke through the line and scored a touchdown for four more points, however the field kick afterward missed, and the score then remained 10–0 until time expired.

The YMCA's team colors were white and red, a pairing that would eventually be adopted by Nebraska. A rematch game in Lincoln was mentioned in the local newspaper, to be played a few weeks later, but was not played.[7][8]


Nebraska at Doane
1 2Total
Nebraska 14 4 18
Doane 0 0 0

The Nebraska football team, now christened the "Old Gold" and eventually remembered as the "Old Gold Knights", played the second and final game of the program's inaugural season against Doane College in Crete, Nebraska.

Nebraska started slowly on their initial possession, but then exploded with a 50-yard pass to Ebenezer Mockett, and a subsequent 25-yard touchdown run by Oliver. The field kick was good and Nebraska was ahead 6–0. Later in the half, Oliver scored another touchdown, but the field kick failed and left Nebraska ahead 10–0. Just before halftime, Ebenezer Mockett rushed for another touchdown and Doane found themselves down 0–14 at the break.

During the second half, both teams struggled, resulting in numerous kicks and fumbles as the teams traded possession. Eventually, the Doane kicker dropped the ball in the endzone, which was recovered by James Porterfield for another Nebraska touchdown. Again, the field kick failed, and the score would remain 18–0 until time expired.[7]

After the season[edit]

Coach Frothingham suffered a broken leg while participating in a practice scrimmage in preparation for the Doane game. After spending just the one year teaching at Nebraska, he would teach at the Veterinary College of Dresden and Yale's Sheffield Scientific School before returning to Boston to teach at Harvard from 1901 until his retirement in 1928.

Having won both of their games against the only other viable Nebraska-based teams, the 1890 Old Gold Knights claimed what amounted to the Nebraska State Championship.


  1. ^ "Husker Football History, Over a Century of Winning Tradition" (PDF). University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletics Department. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  2. ^ Stubbs, E.L. (1966). "Biographical sketch: Langdon Frothingham". Veterinary Pathology. 3 (5): 565–567. doi:10.1177/030098586600300513.
  3. ^ Lemonds, Leo L. (1985). "Dr. Langdon Frothingham, Nebraska's first football coach - a premier pioneer veterinary pathologist". Veterinary Heritage. 8 (2): 10–13. PMID 11620868.
  4. ^ "Dr. Langdon Frothingham".
  5. ^ "Football - 1890 Schedule/Results". University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletics Department. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  6. ^ "Nebraska 1890 Roster". University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletics Department. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  7. ^ a b "Husker Press Box - 1890 Game Recaps". University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletics Department. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  8. ^ "Nebraska vs. Omaha YMCA 1890". HuskerMax. Retrieved 2009-11-06.