In American football, a T formation is a formation used by the offensive team in which three running backs line up in a row about five yards behind the quarterback, forming the shape of a T. The T formation is said to be the oldest offensive formation in American football and is claimed to have been invented by Walter Camp in 1882. However, as the pass was legalized, the original T became obsolete in favor of formations such as the single wing. Innovations, such as a smaller, more throwing-friendly ball, along with the invention of the snap in the 1930s. The original T formation is used today, but it was successful in the first half of the 20th century. The formation led to a faster-paced, higher-scoring game, Shaughnessy helped the Bears prepare for the game against the Redskins. He has been called The father of the T formation, the T-formation was viewed as a complicated gadget offense by early football coaches. Shaughnessy was as an advisor to Halas in the 1930s athehead coach at the University of Chicago, the T became much more viable in 1933 when passing was legalized anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. Halas recruited Solly Sherman, the Quarterback for the University of Chicago because of his experience with the T-Formation under Clark Shaughnessy, Solly then taught Sid Luckman the system. Sherman, a half back, had torn his meniscus in college. Eventually he played backup to Sid Luckman with the Bears in 1939 and 1940, Sid Luckman went on to win four NFL championships in the 1940s. The last team to run the single-wing in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers, since that time, the T, and all its variants, have dominated offensive football and created the American football now employed throughout the NCAA and NFL. The T is referenced in the Chicago Bears fight song, Bear Down, Chicago Bears, well never forget the way you thrilled the nation, with your T formation. Additionally, two books detail the development of the T with the Bears, the Chicago Bears by Howard Roberts written in 1947, credits several coaches including Ralph Jones and Clark Shaughnessy for upgrading the T and teaching it to a succession of Bears QBs. The Wow Boys by James W. Johnson written in 2006 tells the story of the Stanford University football season of 1940, the arrival of Shaughnessy and his T offense led to a 10-0 season and a victory in the Rose Bowl over heavily favored University of Nebraska. The Bears thumping of the Washington Redskins 73-0 a few weeks later caused a sensation, the T swept college and pro football. The brain trust that created the T was always anchored by Coach Halas, who had the savvy for what worked, while unpopular today, the key innovations of the T still dominate offensive football. The T was the first offense in which the quarterback took the snap from under center, other offenses used the QB primarily as a blocker and the snap usually went to a halfback or tailback
The T formation, described as the "regular formation", in Fielding Yost's 1905 book Football for Player and Spectator
Clark Shaughnessy, the "father of the T formation."