2015 NFL season
The 2015 NFL season was the 96th season in the history of the National Football League, the 50th of the Super Bowl era. The season began on Thursday, September 10, 2015, with the annual kickoff game featuring the defending Super Bowl XLIX champion New England Patriots hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers; the season concluded with Super Bowl 50, the league's championship game, on Sunday, February 7, 2016, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, with the Denver Broncos defeating the Carolina Panthers 24–10. During the 2015 season, the Oakland Raiders, the St. Louis Rams, the San Diego Chargers announced their intentions to relocate back to Los Angeles in the ensuing offseason. NFL owners only approved the relocation of the Rams, by a vote of 30–2 on January 12, 2016. Thus, 2015 ended up being the Rams' last season in St. Louis; the 2015 NFL League Year began on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. ET. On Saturday, March 7, clubs started to contact and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players who became unrestricted free agents upon the expiration of their 2014 contracts at 4:00 p.m. ET on March 10.
On Tuesday, March 10, 2015, clubs exercised options for 2015 on all players who have option clauses in their 2014 contracts, submitted qualifying offers to their restricted free agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation, submitted a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2014 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit, "Top-51" began, all clubs must be under the 2015 salary cap, all 2014 player contracts expired at 4:00 p.m. ET and trading period for 2015 began.. A total of 453 players were eligible for some form of free agency at the beginning of the free agency period. Among the high-profile players who changed teams via free agency were cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Tramon Williams and Byron Maxwell. Four players were assigned the non-exclusive franchise tag by their teams, which ensured that the team would receive compensation were the player to sign a contract with another team.
These players were wide receivers Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas, linebacker Justin Houston, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. One other team used the transition tag, which offers the player's current team a chance to match offers from other franchises and guarantees draft pick compensation if a tagged player signs elsewhere; the player given the transition tag was Charles Clay. On March 19, 2015, Clay signed a five-year, $38M contract with the Buffalo Bills, after the Dolphins elected not to match the offer. An unusually large number of big name players switched teams via trade prior to the 2015 season. Eagles coach Chip Kelly used; the Philadelphia Eagles traded 2-time All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso. The Eagles traded Pro Bowl quarterback Nick Foles along with their selection in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft to the St. Louis Rams for quarterback Sam Bradford; the New Orleans Saints traded All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham along with their fourth-round selection in the draft to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for All-Pro center Max Unger and the Seahawks' first-round selection in the draft.
The Saints traded away Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs and wide receiver Kenny Stills. The Detroit Lions acquired All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata from the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for draft picks to help make up for the loss of Ndamukong Suh in free agency; the 2015 NFL Draft was held April 30 – May 2, 2015, in Chicago. The draft process began with the NFL Scouting Combine, where draft-eligible players were evaluated by team personnel, held in Indianapolis on February 17–23. On October 2, 2014, Auditorium Theatre in Chicago was announced as the official site of the draft; the previous fifty NFL drafts had been held in New York. The 2015 NFL Draft was the first to feature an outdoor component, where fans would be able to see the Commissioner on the Auditorium Theatre stage from across the street in Grant Park. In the draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made Florida State University quarterback Jameis Win
The Cleveland Browns are a professional American football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns compete in the National Football League as a member club of the American Football Conference North division; the Browns play their home games at FirstEnergy Stadium, which opened in 1999, with administrative offices and training facilities in Berea, Ohio. The Browns' official colors are brown and white, they are unique among the 32 member franchises of the NFL in that they do not have a logo on their helmets. The franchise was founded in 1945 by businessman Arthur B. McBride and coach Paul Brown as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference; the Browns dominated the AAFC, compiling a 47–4–3 record in the league's four seasons and winning its championship in each. When the AAFC folded after the 1949 season, the Browns joined the National Football League along with the San Francisco 49ers and the original Baltimore Colts; the Browns won a championship in their inaugural NFL season, as well as in the 1954, 1955, 1964 seasons, in a feat unequaled in any of the North American major professional sports, played in their league championship game in each of the Browns' first ten years of existence.
From 1965 to 1995, they made the playoffs 14 times, but did not win another championship or appear in the Super Bowl during that period. In 1995, owner Art Modell, who had purchased the Browns in 1961, announced plans to move the team to Baltimore. After threats of legal action from the city of Cleveland and fans, a compromise was reached in early 1996 that allowed Modell to establish the Baltimore Ravens as a new franchise while retaining the contracts of all Browns personnel; the Browns' intellectual property, including team name, training facility, history, were kept in trust and the franchise was regarded by the NFL as suspended, with a new team to be established by 1999 either by expansion or relocation. The Browns were announced as an expansion team in 1998 and resumed play in 1999. Since resuming operations in 1999, the Browns have struggled to find success, they have had only two winning seasons, one playoff appearance, no playoff wins. The franchise has been noted for a lack of stability with quarterbacks, having started 30 players in the position since 1999.
Through the end of the 2018 season, the Browns' win–loss record since returning to the NFL in 1999 is 95–224–1. In 2017, the Browns became only the second team in league history to finish a season 0–16, joining the 2008 Detroit Lions. Through the 2018 season, the Browns hold the longest active playoff drought in the NFL, at 16 seasons; the history of the Cleveland Browns American football team began in 1944 when taxi-cab magnate Arthur B. "Mickey" McBride secured a Cleveland franchise in the newly formed All-America Football Conference. Paul Brown was the team's namesake and first coach; the Browns began play in 1946 in the AAFC. The Browns won each of the league's four championship games before the league dissolved in 1949; the team moved to the more established National Football League, where it continued to dominate. Between 1950 and 1955, Cleveland reached the NFL championship game every year. McBride and his partners sold the team to a group of Cleveland businessmen in 1953 for a then-unheard-of $600,000.
Eight years the team was sold again, this time to a group led by New York advertising executive Art Modell. Modell fired Brown before the 1963 season, but the team continued to win behind running back Jim Brown; the Browns won the championship in 1964 and reached the title game the following season, losing to the Green Bay Packers. When the AFL and NFL merged before the 1970 season, Cleveland became part of the new American Football Conference. While the Browns made it back to the playoffs in 1971 and 1972, they fell into mediocrity through the mid-1970s. A revival of sorts took place in 1979 and 1980, when quarterback Brian Sipe engineered a series of last-minute wins and the Browns came to be called the "Kardiac Kids". Under Sipe, the Browns did not make it past the first round of the playoffs. Quarterback Bernie Kosar, who the Browns drafted in 1985, led the team to three AFC Championship games in the late 1980s but lost each time to the Denver Broncos. In 1995, Modell announced he was relocating the Browns to Baltimore, sowing a mix of outrage and bitterness among Cleveland's dedicated fan base.
Negotiations and legal battles led to an agreement where Modell was allowed to move the team, but Cleveland kept the Browns' name and history. After three years of suspension while Cleveland Stadium was demolished and FirstEnergy Stadium built on its site, the Browns started play again in 1999 under new owner Al Lerner; the Browns struggled throughout the 2000s and 2010s, posting a record of 95–224–1 since their 1999 return. The Browns have only posted two winning seasons and one playoff appearance since returning to the NFL; the team's struggles have been magnified since 2012, when the Lerner family sold the team to businessman Jimmy Haslam. In six seasons under the Haslam ownership, the Browns went through four head coaches and four general managers, none of whom had found success. In 2016 and 2017 under head coach Hue Jackson, the Browns went 1–31, the worst two-year stretch in NFL history, received the number one overall draft pick in both of those years; the Browns are the only National Football League team without a helmet logo.
The logoless helmet serves as the Browns' official logo. The organization has used several promotional logos throughout the years.
Tully Cameron Banta-Cain is a former American football linebacker. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in the seventh round of the 2003 NFL Draft, he played college football at California. Banta-Cain earned two Super Bowl rings during his first stint with the Patriots, he played for the San Francisco 49ers. Tully Banta-Cain is of Scottish/Irish descent, he is the cousin of former MLB outfielder Jeffrey Leonard. While attending Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, Banta-Cain won All-League honors playing outside linebacker as a senior, was the League's Defensive Player of the Year as a junior, gained more than 1,000 yards as a running back. Banta-Cain played college football at the University of California Berkeley where he finished his career with 112 tackles and 26.5 sacks. He redshirted in 1998, appeared in five games as a freshman in 1999; as a sophomore, Banta-Cain recorded 35 tackles and 5.5 sacks, as a junior in 2001, he started every game at defensive end and tallied eight sacks and 33 tackles.
As a senior in 2002, Banta-Cain was named to the All-Pac-10 first team and was the team's Defensive Most Valuable Player, finishing with 39 tackles, 13 sacks, 22 tackles for a loss. His 26.5 career sacks ranked third in the school's record books behind Regan Upshaw and Andre Carter. Banta-Cain was drafted by the New England Patriots in the seventh round in the 2003 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, he played in nine games recording 11 tackles and one sack against the Buffalo Bills on December 27. In 2004, he played in all 16 games and finished the season with 28 tackles, 1.5 sacks and his first career interception again against the Buffalo Bills on November 14. He was part of the Super Bowl XXXVIII winning team; the following season, he only managed to record nine tackles and 0.5 sacks but again was part of the team which won Super Bowl XXXIX. In his final year with the Patriots, he played in all 16 games including five starts and finished the season with 43 tackles and a career-high 5.5 sacks.
Banta-Cain was signed to a 3-year $12 million deal by the San Francisco 49ers as an unrestricted free agent on March 3, 2007. In his debut season, Banta-Cain started in four consecutive games until suffering a high ankle sprain during the 2nd quarter of a close 9–7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. However, Banta-Cain continued to play due to a timely bye week following the injury, allowing him to not miss a game and still record a career-high 61 tackles and 3.5 sack on the year. He scored the game-winning touchdown, in a November 25, 2007 game against the Arizona Cardinals, by recovering a fumble in the endzone in overtime; the win snapped an eight-game losing streak. He ended the year with ten starts and the 49ers ended the season with a 5–11 record. In his second season with the 49ers, Banta-Cain was inactive for the first four games of the season under Mike Nolan activated to start on sub packages and special teams against the New England Patriots recording a half a sack and 5 tackles. Banta-Cain did not play another defensive snap for the season.
The team finished with a 7–9 record. He was released under Mike Singletary on February 10, 2009. Just eight days after his release from the 49ers, Banta-Cain was re-signed by the New England Patriots on February 18, 2009. Banta-Cain was released on October 19 and re-signed the next day to a new contract through the 2011 season. However, the signing was not official as of the end of the regular season, he started 10 of the 16 games he played in 2009, recording a career-high 10 sacks. Banta-Cain was re-signed to a three-year contract on March 5, 2010, the first day of free agency; the deal included a $6 million signing bonus, averages $4.5 million per year. However, that yearly average can be raised to as high as $6 million if all performance incentives are met, raising the maximum value of the 3-year deal to $19 million. In Week 2 of the 2010 season, Banta-Cain started against the New York Jets, recording eight tackles and one sack in the Patriots loss. In the second quarter, Banta-Cain was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness, was pulled from the game in favor of rookie Jermaine Cunningham, who replaced Banta-Cain as a starter in the Patriots' base defense for the next game.
Banta-Cain went on recording 45 tackles and five sacks. On July 29, 2011, it was announced. Cal Bears bio New England Patriots bio San Francisco 49ers bio
2010 Pro Bowl
The 2010 Pro Bowl was the National Football League's all-star game for the 2009 season. It took place at 8:00 PM EST on Sunday, January 31, 2010, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, the home stadium of the Miami Dolphins and host site of Super Bowl XLIV; the television broadcasters were Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden. The AFC won the game 41–34; the 2010 Pro Bowl was held on the weekend before the Super Bowl, the first time that the Pro Bowl was held before the championship game, the first time that the Pro Bowl was held somewhere other than Aloha Stadium in Honolulu since 1980. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the move was made after looking at alternatives to strengthen the Pro Bowl; the game was moved up in order to prevent a conflict that would have taken place if the game had taken place on February 13 or 14, with the game facing against the NBA All-Star Game, Winter Olympics, Daytona 500. Due to the change, players from the conference championship teams, who were going to play in the Super Bowl the following week—the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints—did not participate.
As a result, for the first time in Pro Bowl history, rosters for the AFC and NFC teams were not allowed to include any players from the teams that would be playing in the Super Bowl to avoid major injuries to members of either team. However, these players were still required to be on site for the Pro Bowl to collect a bonus payment from the NFL. Several NFL players spoke out against the decision regarding timing of the game. NBC sportscaster Al Michaels was skeptical of the changes, telling the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that "the thinks playing it before the Super Bowl will add to the buzz, it won't." Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian came out against the change, explaining that it seemed disruptive and "stupid" to have players voted to the Pro Bowl, only to have to sit out because they're playing in the Super Bowl, but still have to show up to the game to collect a bonus payment. ESPN aired the game instead of CBS; the game was the first Pro Bowl to be broadcast on internet radio. As part of a catch in the league's broadcast contracts, the Pro Bowl has, to this point, never been broadcast on the NFL's FieldPass system due to it being broadcast by Westwood One.
The NFL had negotiated internet broadcast rights with all 32 of its teams, but never did so with Westwood One. When contracts were renegotiated in 2009, Westwood One's broadcasts were added to FieldPass, along with it, play-by-play of the Pro Bowl; the Sports USA Radio Network provided the commentary for Westwood One, with SUSA's Larry Kahn on play-by-play and Dan Fouts sharing color commentary with Westwood One's Boomer Esiason. Notes: bold denotes player who participated in game a Replacement selection due to injury or vacancy b Injured player. Official Pro Bowl website at NFL.com 2010 Pro Bowl on IMDb
The Pro Bowl is the all-star game of the National Football League. From the merger with the rival American Football League in 1970 up through 2013 and since 2017, it is called the AFC–NFC Pro Bowl, matching the top players in the American Football Conference against those in the National Football Conference. From 2014 through 2016, the NFL experimented with an unconferenced format, where the teams were selected by two honorary team captains, instead of selecting players from each conference; the players were picked in a televised "schoolyard pick" prior to the game. Unlike most major sports leagues, which hold their all-star games midway through their regular seasons, the Pro Bowl is played around the end of the NFL season; the first official Pro Bowl was played in January 1951, three weeks after the 1950 NFL Championship Game. Between 1970 and 2009, the Pro Bowl was held the weekend after the Super Bowl. Since 2010, it has been played the weekend before the Super Bowl. Players from the two teams competing in the Super Bowl do not participate.
For years, the game has suffered from lack of interest due to perceived low quality, with observers and commentators expressing their disfavor with it in its current state. It draws lower TV ratings than regular season NFL games, although the game draws similar ratings to other major all-star games, such as the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. However, the biggest concern of teams is to avoid injuries to the star players; the Associated Press wrote that players in the 2012 game were "hitting each other as though they were having a pillow fight". Between 1980 and 2016, the game was played at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii except for two years. On June 1, 2016, the NFL announced that they reached a multi-year deal to move the game to Orlando, Florida as part of the league's ongoing efforts to make the game more relevant; the first "Pro All-Star Game", featuring the all-stars of the 1938 season, was played on January 15, 1939 at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. The NFL All-Star Game was played again in Los Angeles in 1940 and in New York and Philadelphia in 1941 and 1942 respectively.
Although planned as an annual contest, the all-star game was discontinued after 1942 because of travel restrictions put in place during World War II. During the first five all-star games, an all-star team would face that year's league champion; the league champion won the first four games before the all-stars were victorious in the final game of this early series. The concept of an all-star game was not revived until June 1950, when the newly christened "Pro Bowl" was approved; the game was sponsored by the Los Angeles Publishers Association. It was decided that the game would feature all-star teams from each of the league's two conferences rather than the league champion versus all-star format, used previously; this was done to avoid confusion with the Chicago College All-Star Game, an annual game which featured the league champion against a collegiate all-star team. The teams would be led by the coach of each of the conference champions. Prior to the Pro Bowl, following the 1949 season, the All-America Football Conference, which contributed three teams to the NFL in a partial merger in 1950, held its own all-star game, the Shamrock Bowl.
The first 21 games of the series were played in Los Angeles. The site of the game was changed annually for each of the next seven years before the game was moved to Aloha Stadium in Halawa, Hawaii for 30 straight seasons from 1980 through 2009; the 2010 Pro Bowl was played at Sun Life Stadium, the home stadium of the Miami Dolphins and host site of Super Bowl XLIV, on January 31, the first time that the Pro Bowl was held before the championship game. With the new rule being that the conference teams do not include players from the teams that will be playing in the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl returned to Hawaii in 2011 but was again held during the week before the Super Bowl, where it remained for three more years; the 2012 game was met with criticism from fans and sports writers for the lack of quality play by the players. On October 24, 2012, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had second thoughts about the Pro Bowl, telling a Sirius XM show that if the players did not play more competitively, he was "not inclined to play it anymore".
During the ensuing off-season, the NFL Players Association lobbied to keep the Pro Bowl, negotiated several rule changes to be implemented for the 2014 game. Among them, the teams will no longer be AFC vs. NFC, instead be selected by captains in a fantasy draft. For the 2014 game, Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders were chosen as alumni captains, while their captains were Drew Brees and Robert Quinn, along with Jamaal Charles and J. J. Watt. On April 9, 2014, the NFL announced that the 2015 Pro Bowl would be played the week before the Super Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on January 25, 2015; the game returned to Hawaii in 2016, the "unconferenced" format was its last. For 2017, the league considered hosting the game at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, which if approved would be the first time the game had been hosted outside the United States; the NFL is considering future Pro Bowls in Mexico and Germany. The NFL hopes that by leveraging international markets with the star power of Pro Bowls, international pop
The Arizona Cardinals are a professional American football franchise based in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The Cardinals compete in the National Football League as a member of the league's National Football Conference West division; the Cardinals were founded as the Morgan Athletic Club in 1898, are the oldest continuously run professional football team in the United States. The Cardinals play their home games at State Farm Stadium, which opened in 2006 and is located in the northwestern suburb of Glendale; the team was established in Chicago in 1898 as an amateur football team and joined the NFL as a charter member on September 17, 1920. Along with the Chicago Bears, the club is one of two NFL charter member franchises still in operation since the league's founding; the club moved to St. Louis in 1960 and played in that city through 1987. Before the 1988 season, the team moved west to Tempe, Arizona, a college suburb east of Phoenix, played their home games for the next 18 seasons at Sun Devil Stadium on the campus of Arizona State University.
In 2006, the club moved to their current home field in Glendale, although the team's executive offices and training facility remain in Tempe. The franchise has won two NFL championships, both; the first occurred in 1925, but is the subject of controversy, with supporters of the Pottsville Maroons believing that Pottsville should have won the title. Their second title, the first to be won in a championship game, came in 1947, nearly two decades before the first Super Bowl, they returned to the title game to defend in 1948, but lost the rematch 7–0 in a snowstorm in Philadelphia. Since winning the championship in 1947, the team suffered many losing seasons, holds the longest active championship drought of North American sports at 70 consecutive seasons after Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs ended their 108 year drought in 2016. In 2012 the Cardinals became the first NFL franchise to lose 700 games since its inception; the franchise's all-time win-loss record at the conclusion of the 2018 season is 560–762–40.
They have been to the playoffs ten times and have won seven playoff games, three of which were victories during their run in the 2008–09 NFL playoffs. During that season, they won their only NFC Championship Game since the 1970 AFL–NFL merger, reached Super Bowl XLIII; the team has won five division titles since their 1947–48 NFL championship game appearances. The Cardinals are the only NFL team who have never lost a playoff game at home, with a 5–0 record: the 1947 NFL Championship Game, two postseason victories during the aforementioned 2008–09 NFL playoffs, one during the 2009–10 playoffs, one during the 2015–16 playoffs. From 1988 through 2012, the Cardinals conducted their annual summer training camp at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff; the Cardinals moved their training camp to State Farm Stadium in 2013. The stadium was the site of the 2015 Pro Bowl, unlike in past years, where it was held at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii; the stadium played host to Super Bowls XLII and XLIX, will host Super Bowl LVII in 2023.
The franchise's inception dates back to 1898, when a neighborhood group gathered to play in the Chicago South Side, calling themselves Morgan Athletic Club. Chicago painting and building contractor Chris O'Brien acquired the team, which he relocated to Normal Field on Racine Avenue; the team was known as Racine Normals until 1901, when O'Brien bought used jerseys from the University of Chicago. He described the faded maroon clothing as "Cardinal red" and the team became the Racine Street Cardinals; the team became in 1920 a charter member of the American Professional Football Association, which two years was rechristened to National Football League. The team entered the league as the Racine Cardinals, however the name was changed in 1922 to Chicago Cardinals to avoid confusion with the Horlick-Racine Legion, who entered the league the same year. Except for 1925, when they were awarded the championship after the Pottsville Maroons were suspended, the Cardinals experienced only minimal success on the playing field during their first 26 seasons in the league.
During the post-World War II years, the team reached two straight NFL finals against the Philadelphia Eagles, winning in 1947 – eight months after Charles Bidwill's death – and losing the following year. After years of bad seasons and losing fans to the cross-town rivals Chicago Bears, by the late 1950s the Cardinals were bankrupt, owner Violet Bidwill Wolfner became interested in a relocation. Due to the formation of the rival American Football League, the NFL allowed Bidwill to relocate the team to St. Louis, where they became the St. Louis Cardinals. During the Cardinals' 28-year stay in St. Louis, they advanced to the playoffs just three times, never hosting or winning in any appearance; the overall mediocrity of the Cardinals, combined with a then-21-year-old stadium, caused game attendance to dwindle, owner Bill Bidwill decided to move the team to Arizona. Not long after the 1987 NFL season, Bidwill agreed to move to Arizona on a handshake deal with state and
Pittsburgh Panthers football
The Pittsburgh Panthers football program is the intercollegiate football team of the University of Pittsburgh referred to as "Pitt", located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Traditionally the most popular sport at the university, Pitt football has played at the highest level of American college football competition, now termed the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, since the beginning of the school's sponsorship of the sport in 1890; as of the 2013 season, Pitt competes as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Pitt has claimed nine national championships and is among the top 20 college football programs in terms of all-time wins, its teams have featured many coaches and players notable throughout the history of college football, among all schools, the fifth most College Football Hall of Fame inductees, the twelfth most consensus All-Americans, the third most Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees. The Panthers are coached by Pat Narduzzi. Pitt plays home games at Heinz Field which they share with the National Football League Pittsburgh Steelers and utilize the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Performance Complex as their practice facility.
Football at the University of Pittsburgh began in the fall of 1889 when the school was still known as the Western University of Pennsylvania referred to as WUP, was located in what was known as Allegheny City and is today the city of Pittsburgh's North Side. A 130-pound WUP student, Bert Smyers, along with senior student John Scott, assembled a football team that year composed of only three players who had witnessed the sport; the team played in one informal game, a loss against Shady Side Academy, in which Smyers made himself quarterback and Scott played center. In preparation for the following year, the first season of football recognized by the university and his teammates took up a collection and purchased a football for practices and games. In Smyers' case, his uniform was pieced together by his sister; the first official game for the university was played on October 11, 1890, when the Allegheny Athletic Association's opponent, Shadyside Academy, failed to appear for its game at Exposition Park.
Allegheny A. A. called Smyers. In an inglorious start to Pitt football history, WUP was defeated 38–0. Smyers' team next faced Washington and Jefferson College, losing 32–0, but closed out its inaugural three game season with the university's first win, a 10–4 victory over Geneva College; the following season saw. Smyers suffered a broken nose in a 40–6 loss to Washington and Jefferson, a school that would become one of WUP's fiercest early rivals; the WUP team did record the school's first shutout with a 6–0 win over Geneva, as well as the school's first blowout in a 54–0 win over Western Pennsylvania Medical College who became affiliated with WUP in 1892 and became the university's medical school when they merged in 1908. The most important development for the second season of football was Smyers recruitment of Joseph Trees from Normal University of Pennsylvania; the 210 pound Trees became WUP's first subsidized athlete and in life, made millions in the oil industry and became an important benefactor for the university and athletic department.
Today, Trees Hall, an athletic facility on the University of Pittsburgh's main campus in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, bears his name. The first winning record for the university came in the third season of competition in 1892, when the team posted a 4–2 record; the following season in 1893, the team had its first official coach, Anson F. Harrold, who led the team to an unremarkable 1–4 record. However, during that season the first contest was played in what would become a 96-game series versus Penn State, thus originating one of the longest and fiercest rivalries for both schools. In 1895, the school suffered a 1–6 season under coach J. P. Linn; the 1895 season was notable for the first Backyard Brawl on October 26, 1895, with WUP losing to West Virginia 8–0 in Wheeling, West Virginia. The university did not see another winning season until Fred Robinson led WUP to a 5–2–1 record in 1898. In 1899, Robinson continued his success with a 3–1–1 record, giving the school its first back-to-back winning seasons.
This was followed by two more consecutive winning seasons, including a record seven-win season in 1901 under coach Wilbur Hockensmith. That season, Hockensmith led the school to its first victory over West Virginia, a 12–0 shutout in Morgantown on October 5, 1901. In the early years of the 20th century, interest in college football grew both in Pittsburgh and throughout the nation. In 1903, Arthur St. Leger "Texas" Mosse was hired away from the University of Kansas, brought several of his players with him. Other players were recruited from surrounding Western Pennsylvania colleges, including star half back Joseph H. Thompson; the 1903 season, the first under Mosse, was the university's first winless season at 0–9–1. In one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history, Mosse led WUP to an undefeated 10–0 season, the school's first, in 1904; the 1904 team surrendered only one touchdown on the way to collectively outscoring opponents 406–5. That season saw the school's first victory over Penn State, a 22–5 rout, as well as a 53–0 shutout of West Virginia.
The success of this period can be attributed to actions taken by the university's administration, led by newly installed chancellor Samuel McCormick who took special interest in athletics at the university. Encouraged by university trustee George Hubberd Clapp, the administration more engaged in supporting the athletic program dur