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Review: The Wow Boys - The 1940 Stanford Indians and the T Formation

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'The Wow Boys' tells the story of the 1940 Stanford Indians (Stanford's mascot was the 'Indian' until 1972) football team. Coach Clark Shaughnessy arrived at Stanford in 1940 and installed the "T" formation. The result was to change football forever. Most teams ran a single wing offense at the time - the "T" was considered an outdated formation that had died in the 1890's, but Shaughnessy's T included innovations such as the 'man in motion' and deception plays such as the counter.

The 'The Wow Boys isn't about coaching football - missing are play diagrams and technical information about the "T" as it differed from the standard single wing offense of the time. Instead it tells the story of the team through game by game accounts of what it was like to be playing football in 1940 as a member of the Stanford Indians. Detailed are the exploits of quarterback Frankie Albert, running backs Hugh Gallarneau and Pete Kmetovic, and fullback Norm Standlee.

Did you know that in 1940 it was against the rules for a player who'd been substituted to speak in the huddle until after he'd been in for a play? Or that once he was substituted, he couldn't be taken out until the start of the next quarter? Ever heard of card stunts? What about the cheers the crowd did? How did college football's status compare among other major sports of the time? The book touches on each of these, giving the reader an excellent view of what college football was like in 1940.

Nebraska played their first bowl game, the 1941 Rose Bowl, against the Stanford Indians. The book does a great job of capturing the Rose Bowl fervor that swept Nebraska, the reason as to why it was Nebraska's first bowl game, and the action of the game itself.

If you're someone who enjoys watching the History Channel or you'd like to know more about the history of football, you'll love 'The Wow Boys'. It is an easy read and truly transports you back to 1940, leaving you with a a deeper respect of the game.

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