1907: The year of perfection
During the past 100 years of Beaver football, there have been many great defenses to wear the Orange and Black...the 1933 Iron Men, the 1942 Rose Bowl champions, the Giant Killers of 1967, the defense that stopped the Huskies 21-20 in 1985...the list is long and distinguished.
But which was the greatest of all?
According to the OSU Football Media Guide prepared by OSU's Sports Information Department, the greatest defensive performance of all time at Oregon State was turned in at the beginning of the last century.
From 1906-1908, the defensive units of coach F.S. Norcross yielded but four points in 72 quarters! Let's do the math on this together. That's about 18 games in which the total points scored against the Beavers was less than that of a single touchdown.
This remarkable achievement was highlighted by the 1907 season in which the Beavers finished the campaign undefeated, untied and without giving up a single point...the almost mythical "pristine" season. This remains the only perfect season in OSU football history.
The only points scored against Oregon Agricultural College, the name of the school at the time, came in the last game of the 1906 season against Willamette University in Salem.
With 17 minutes gone in the first half, WU's Curtis Coleman kicked a drop kick from OAC's 23-yard line and scored a field goal, worth four-points under turn-of-the-century football rules. Coleman was the son of WU President John H. Coleman.
Afterwards, even in defeat, the entire student body from Corvallis marched lock-arm and lock-step down the streets of downtown Salem singing Oregon State fight songs.
Fred Stevenson Norcross had arrived in Corvallis in the late summer of 1906 to coach the football team, OAC's third-choice in a job hunt that had begun in April of that year.
It proved to be one of the best hires in Oregon State history.
Norcross won 14 games over a three-year period, losing only four games and tying three.
His 1907 squad won the championship of the Western United States.
He was a graduate of the University of Michigan and had played quarterback for Fielding Yost's "Point-a-Minute" squads of the early 1900s.
--George Edmonston, Jr.