Santa Clara's football history stretched from 1896 until 1992. The first decade was somewhat spotty; football was new, and was run largely as a student-led club activity. Indeed, there is no official record of Santa Clara playing between 1898 and 1902. Between 1902 and and 1905 games were held with other clubs, high schools, and military schools, with one varsity game against Stanford (which Stanford won 6-0). But during this early period Santa Clara's great rivalry with St. Mary's College was born. They first played on Thanksgiving Day in 1896, with Santa Clara's 'Missionites' winning over the St. Mary's 'Collegians' by 46-4. St. Mary's dropped football for a year after this, but came back to play in 1898 - losing this time by a score of 56-0. St. Mary's didn't play again for ten years.
Football, then as now, was a brutal sport - perhaps even more so then. Due to mounting injuries and deaths, President Teddy Roosevelt threatened to ban the sport unless rules and protections were put into place. A long process of governmental and academic negotiation led to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) being formed in 1910. During this time many colleges, including Santa Clara and St. Mary's, instituted rugby as a replacement sport for football. The two schools resumed their rivalry in 1909. Football again became the major school sport after the First World War, and the Little Big Game continued, with Santa Clara (now known as the Broncos) and St. Mary's (the Gaels) trading dominance, until Santa Clara stopped its football program in 1992.
This digital collection features selected game programs drawn from our physical collection in Santa Clara University Library's Archives and Special Collections. The digital collection contains programs from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, showing the development of the sport, and the rivalry, during these decades. Visit A&SC to see more programs and related Little Big Game paraphernalia. The Santa Clara University Men’s Football and Rugby Club Records, 1869-1993, document the history of men’s football and rugby over a 120-year period and an 85-year period, respectively. The records consist of media guides, newspaper clippings, rosters of players and coaching staff, score cards and season schedules. The media guides are publications used by local and national media to track the teams, and include historical records, photographs, player profiles, season previews and team statistics.
For a complete description of the collection, visit the Online Archive of California's finding aid at http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/c8cc140r/.