Penn-Princeton football

Penn-Princeton football cartoon
Photo credit: University Archives

Penn began playing intercollegiate football in 1876, but it wasn’t until 1892 that the team became known as a pigskin powerhouse.

Penn Law student George Woodruff took the coaching reigns in 1892, and added the element of deception to Penn’s game. He more than made up for the University’s lack of heavy hitters by focusing on agility and speed on the field.

His theories begat success. In Woodruff’s first year of coaching, Penn had its most successful season to date, boasting the stellar record of 16-1, with the only loss coming against Yale. Gathered among those 16 wins was Penn’s first victory over Princeton, which came after 16 straight years of defeat at the hands of the Tigers.

This cartoon, published in 1892, celebrates the 6 to 4 victory over Princeton, and is also one of the earliest uses of a Quaker to represent a Penn sports team.

The Penn-Princeton rivalry has lasted through the ages, and will pick up again on Saturday, Nov. 7 at the Homecoming game, when the Quakers seek to best the Tigers on the field. Surely some Penn faithful will keep in mind some of the words in this cartoon: “But now the Tiger’s dead and cold/And his chops are food for the Quaker bold.”

For more information on historical events at Penn, visit the University Archives web site at

Originally published on October 15, 2009