The Wolfpacker

Nov./Dec. 2020

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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48 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY TIM PEELER W ith the current ubiquity of televised college sports, it's hard to believe that there was a time when having a full game broad- cast live was a controversial proposition. Yet 70 years ago this fall, professional and collegiate sports au- thorities were split over the brewing changes brought by broadcast television and the impact it would have on attendance. NC State was on the front line of that controversy, thanks to a regionally broadcast game in College Park, Md., on Oct. 21, 1950. And, in grand fashion, the Wolfpack pulled off one of the biggest upsets in program history that no one ever talks about. That afternoon, head coach Beattie Feathers took his team to newly dedicated Byrd Stadium to face No. 8 Maryland, led by UNC graduate and former (and future) Tar Heel head coach "Sunny" Jim Tatum, in his third season with the Terps. It was just the second game ever played in the 47,000-seat, $1-million, on-campus venue, which opened three weeks earlier with a 35-21 victory over Navy. The previous year, Tatum's team compiled a 9-1 record and won the Gator Bowl, finishing in the final Associated Press rankings for the first time in school history at No. 14. That season included a nar- row 14-6 victory over the Wolfpack at Riddick Stadium. The unique thing about the season was Maryland's infrequent par- ticipation on one of the loose regional broadcasts of college football games on the short-lived DuMont Network, a national rival of NBC, ABC and CBS that went dark in 1954. Only two schools, Penn on NBC and Notre Dame on the DuMont Network, had season-long deals to broadcast their home games. Since the Fighting Irish were playing at Indiana that weekend, Du- Mont opted to broadcast the State-Maryland game, featuring Mel Allen doing the play-by-play. That day, four games were available for East Coast viewers: Southern Cal at Navy in Baltimore, Harvard at top-ranked Army, Purdue at UCLA and NC State at Maryland. However, the Wolfpack- Terrapins game was blacked out in the Baltimore market. Televised football was exceedingly rare in those days. The first college football game broadcast was on Sept. 30, 1939, an experi- mental showing of the game between Fordham College and Waynes- burg (Pa.) College, followed the next weekend by a broadcast of Kansas State and Nebraska. Maryland, however, participated in what is called the first com- mercial broadcast of a college game when it hosted Penn in 1940, thanks to advertisement from the Philco television company. Live broadcasts all but ended during World War II, but in 1950 compet- ing networks paid for the rights to broadcast a handful of nationally prominent schools. In 1951, the NCAA banned all television broadcasts, saying tele- PACK PAST NC State Won Its First Televised Football Game 70 Years Ago NC State head coach Beattie Feathers (center with clipboard) and his staff led the 1950 Wolfpack, which brought a 1-3 record into the nationally televised game, to the stirring upset of a Maryland team that was ranked eighth in the country and favored by three touchdowns. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS

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