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Minnesota Football: #TBT 100 Years Of Playing Illinois On TV, kinda

Before ESPN, streaming internet, or even radio if you weren't at the game it was tough to enjoy the action. The 1915 Minnesota - Illinois game was the first Gopher game to be filmed. The whole 'college football on T thing, yeah Minnesota paved the way for that.

1915 conference champs
1915 conference champs

On October 30th, 1915 two unbeaten teams, Minnesota and Illinois faced off, likely to decide who would win the conference. Interest was high, and Gopher fans were probably nervous, Captain Bernie Bierman was injured and not playing. If you weren't traveling to the game the best you could hope for is reading about it in the next days newspaper. However a new experiment with filming football games was being tried out, that would let some watch the game.

From the October 31, 1915 Minneapolis Tribune.

Motion pictures will tell Minneapolis fans tho whole story of the Minnesota-Illinois football game yesterday at Urbana. From the time the invading Gophers disembarked from their special car at the Chicago Union station. Friday until tho last whistle ended the game, Th Tribune Northwest Weekly camera man followed the fortunes of the Minnesota team so that football fans might have a film story of the contest.

Motion picture photographers had been ruled off the field previous to the game by Coach Zappkte because he was afraid rival coaches might steal the secrets of the Illini plays from tho film. But by special arrangement with Alan J. McBean, Minnesota manager, and George Huff, manager of athletics at Illinois, William A. Lochren of The Tribune- Northwest Weekly succeeded in getting permission for The Tribune camera man on the field.

Both touchdowns of the game were caught in tho "movies." The Gopher touchdown is seen from the time the ball was put into play until Sprafka plunged across the line.

The film will reach Minneapolis Mon­day morning and will be included in the current release of the weekly, showing first at tho New Palace and Strand and later at other local theaters.

If you were in Minneapolis for the game but wanted live updates the students had figured out a method for that also.

Several hundred students found the plays as shouted from the tickers at the top of tho stand too slow, and hurried down to Fourteenth avenue south­east, where a miniature canvass field and ball was suspended across the street. As tho team showed unexpected fight and kept the ball mostly in Illinois territory, the crowd gained hope and broke into cheer after cheer.

In 1925 students watching ticker updates drawn on a blackboard. Via MNHS.

Film didn't catch on, and wouldn't for some time. It wasn't until 1939 that college football made it live onto TV, when the Gophers practice was put on KSTP. An actual football game wouldn't be televised until October 31st, 1953 in a game against PITT. Last fun(?) fact about the Gophers and moving images, the first game to be telecast in color? You guessed it, the 1962 Rose Bowl where Minnesota beat UCLA 21-3.