A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 25, 2015
Basketball on Grass (football spread offense)

A pass-happy pro football team with a spread offense is sometimes called “basketball on grass.” The term has been cited in print since at least 1950, when it was observed in the Boston (MA) Traveler, “Because of the frequent use of forward passes in pro football games, some of its critics in the midwest are calling the pro-gridiron pastime ‘basketball on grass.’”

Joe Tiller was Purdue University’s football coach from 1997 to 2008, and his passing offense was frequently dubbed as “basketball on grass.” However, the “basketball on grass” term has been used long before this.


Wikipedia: Joe Tiller
Joe Tiller (born December 7, 1942) is a former American football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at the University of Wyoming from 1991 to 1996 and Purdue University from 1997 to 2008, compliling a career college football record of 126–92–1. Tiller is known as one of the innovators of the spread offense.
(...)
Purdue (1997–2008)
Tiller inherited a program that had only had two winning seasons in the previous 18 years. However, the Boilermakers made an immediate splash in the second game of his rookie season with a nationally-televised upset of Notre Dame. Tiller would go on to lead the Boilermakers to ten bowl berths in twelve years, most notably the 2001 Rose Bowl. Prior to Tiller’s arrival in Purdue had played in only five bowl games, most recently the 1984 Peach Bowl. On September 20, 2008, in a game versus Central Michigan, Tiller won his 85th game at Purdue to become the winningest coach in school history, topping the previous mark set by Jack Mollenkopf (1956–1969). Tiller’s “basketball on grass” offense was well renowned for its ability to score and score effectively, befuddling opposing defenses. This was especially the case when quarterback Drew Brees led the team from 1997 to 2000. His Purdue squads were shut out only once, by Penn State, in a 12–0 defeat at Ross–Ade Stadium on October 28, 2006.

4 December 1950, Boston (MA) Traveler, “Take It From Me” by Neal O’Hara, pg. 43, col. 1:
Because of the frequent use of forward passes in pro football games, some of its critics in the midwest are calling the pro-gridiron pastime “basketball on grass.”

4 January 1954, Lincoln (NE) Star, “Gus Dorais, Founder Of The Forward Pass, Dies” (AP), pg. 3, col. 6:
In the years that followed football teams around the nation slowly, but surely, began realizing the importance of the overhand forward pass. It has become such a part of the game that today many term football as “basketball on grass.”

3 September 1970, The Daily Independent (Kannapolis, NC), “Noted Coach Vince Lombardi Dies Of Cancer” (UPI), pg. 1B, col. 4:
When Lombardi took over at Green Bay, pro football was tending to become a pass happy game that some critics called “basketball on grass.”

Google Groups: rec.sport.football.college
I-AA Preview for Oct. 17, 1992 (3 of 4)--Games of Interest
Patrick L Dunn
10/15/92
(...)
PREDICTION: In Columbus, Ohio, I suffer greatly from ECIAAMB when it comes to getting information about Big Sky teams.  I know well that this is going to be basketball on grass.

Google Groups: rec.sport.football.college
Second Section I-AA Preview Vol2 Num5 Week of OCT 2
coope...@cobra.uni.edu
10/1/93
(...)
PDunn> IDAHO OVER UTAH: In their last game Idaho beat up on Weber St. 56-0. 
Pdunn> That is pretty impressive.  And, they seem to have a decent running
Pdunn> game to go with the obligatory Big Sky run-and-gun basketball-on-grass
Pdunn> style passing attack.  I look for a very eye opening result this weekend.

Google Groups: rec.sport.football.canadian
Pepper (Was -Re: The CFL needs 4 DOWNS...)
Theodore Kamena
7/21/95
(...)
Rita has this rep as an offensive wizard, but over the years he’s become increasingly conservative. In his early years in B.C., they talked about basketball on grass. By the end, people in B.C. were bored with the Lions predictability.

Google Groups: rec.sport.football.college
IRISH VS MICHIGAN
Dennis
9/11/05
(...)
We have a new weapon known as the option wrinkled into our basketball on grass, and ND has to be able to score over 30 to keep it close. Boilers just need to pass 20 points and they get a W this year.

Google Groups: alt.sports.college.ohio-state
FOSML: Plain Dealer on OSU Playbook
Clemmons, Scott E.
11/10/97
The Plain Dealer
November 9, 1997 Sunday, FINAL / ALL
NOT DUSTING OFF AN OLD PLAYBOOK
BILL LIVINGSTON
MINNEAPOLIS
(...)
Yet Purdue’s “basketball on grass” is the hottest new look in the league. The Buckeyes probably will go only as far as Germaine’s arm takes them.

Google Groups: rec.sport.basketball.women
Football on wood
capri...@my-deja.com
3/28/00
They describe wide open no back offenses on football teams as basketball on grass. Rutgers does the opposite- football on wood. Their win over Georgia tonight had to be the most physical women’s game I have ever seen.

Google Books
Paul Keels’s Tales from the Buckeyes’ Championship Season
By Paul Keels
New York, NY: Sports Pub. LLC
2003
Pg. 58:
Joe Tiller’s Purdue offense had become known as one of the many “Basketball on Grass” teams with their multiple wide receivers and downfield passing attack

Google Books
Tiller: Not Your Average Joe
By Joe Tiller
New York, NY: Sports Publishing
2011
Pg. ?:
Chatper 17
BASKETBALL ON GRASS
AKA SISSY BALL)
During our stay at Purdue, the media has used a couple of nicknames to describe the one-back spread offense—“Basketball on Grass” and “Sissy Ball.”I shouldn’t really blame the media, as I provided them with those terms to describe our style of play.

Twitter
Carey Malone
‏@CareyM06
@Bryan_Rivals @QBreland basketball on grass as coined from a former Purdue coach. Pass, pass, pass
10:52 AM - 25 Oct 2015

Hook ‘Em Headlines
October 25, 2015
These Longhorns Aren’t Fun, But Effective
by Donny Hunt
The Longhorns ground attack becoming the staple of this offense.
The term basketball-on-grass was coined to describe the outbreak of up tempo, high octane spread offenses that racked up yards and points at will.  With that in mind, I humbly submit the term golf-on-the-gridiron to describe the Texas Longhorn’s new offensive identity, because it is about as fun as watching a high school golf tournament.

Twitter
Austin Lewis
‏@austinlewistn Austin Lewis Retweeted FloydFaithful
Basketball on grass can work (WKU, Troy, ECU, TCU, Baylor, Oregon, etc) Austin Lewis added,
FloydFaithful @FloydFaithful
@austinlewistn The biggest thing some are seeing as the hold-up is the same-ol’ recruiting philosophy. “Basketball on grass” does not work.
9:25 PM - 25 Oct 2015

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Sunday, October 25, 2015 • Permalink