This book details the life of Percy Haughton, college football’s first modern coach. A true innovator of the game, his Harvard squads went 71-7-5 during his tenure and were deemed national champions three times.
In many ways, college football in the 1910s resembled what we still see today. A half century old, there were already concerns about violence and corruption. There were skyrocketing coaches’ salaries, stadium arms races, bragging rights, and meddling boosters. There were recruiting excesses and cheating. And from Harvard coach Percy Duncan Haughton, there was a sophistication of football that would surprise many fans today.
In The Coach Who Strangled the Bulldog: How Harvard's Percy Haughton Beat Yale and Reinvented Football, Dick Friedman tells the fascinating story of a football genius. The sport’s first modern coach, Haughton systematized the game and utilized passing, speed, and deception. In nine seasons at Harvard, Haughton’s squads went 71-7-5 and three times during his tenure the Crimson were deemed national champions. Haughton’s system perfected line blocking, employed tactics such as the delayed handoff, and eschewed huddles. His practices were scripted to the minute and he had revolutionary ideas on conditioning.
The Coach Who Strangled the Bulldog is not only a captivating biography of an influential coach from the early days of college football; it is also a history of the sport itself. Featuring timeless photos and tirelessly researched, this book provides valuable insight into the game today—how it has evolved and how it has stayed surprisingly the same.
Dick Friedman is the football correspondent and contributing editor for Harvard Magazine. He worked for four decades as an editor and writer at People, TV Guide, and Sports Illustrated. At SI he covered the NBA, baseball, college basketball, and golf. Friedman also helped edit several of SI’s coffee-table books, including on pro and college football, and was a contributor to College Football’s Best (2016). Since 2014 Friedman has been a contributor to SI’s sister publication Golf Magazine.