Random observations on oskie

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 17 02:12:04 UTC 2010

Feel free to use or discard...

In light of USC/Tennessee football coaching turnover, "General" Bob
Neyland's Seven Maxims briefly came back into the national focus. One of
them is "Ball, *oskie*, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang
tackle...for this is the winning edge." Apparently, it is a common
source of puzzlement.

> Enough with the middlemen. It's time to take the question to the very
> top. Enter John Bunting, a man who has spent his entire life in
> football. He coached for three different NFL teams and was a defensive
> coach for his entire coaching career before arriving at North
> Carolina. This was a man who would know oskie.
> Or maybe not.
> "It's an interception term," he said with a smile. "I don't use it. I
> hate it. I didn't invent it and I don't know what it means and I don't
> know where it came from. I have been called upon to use it as a
> player. If you find an Ohio State player, they might be able to tell
> you. It goes all the way back to Woody Hayes."
> Not to quibble, Coach, but it apparently goes back even further than
> that. According to http://www.oskie.com (no, seriously, it really does
> exist), the term goes all the way back to General Bob Neyland at
> Tennessee. In fact, it was one of his seven maxims of football. "Ball,
> oskie, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle...for this
> is the winning edge," according to Neyland. He was unavailable for
> further comment since he is, technically, dead.

One recent youth coaching manual states simply,

> Oskie Oskie is word that some coaches and players use to announce that
> they have just gotten an interception.

Athletic Journal (1950--no issue identified) has a similar description.

> It is well to have the man making the interception call "oskie" when
> he catches the ball.

UD has the same explanation, although it also has an unrelated entry for
"Oskie Woskie".

But searching GB actually reveals another turn of the century usage--in
university and fraternity cheers.

(1906) <Note that a number of other chants on that page contain
references to graduating class by year, including "nineteen-two" and
> Oskie! Wow! Wow!
> Wiskie! Wee! Wee!
> Oli-muck-e-i!
> K. U. Medic-ki!

> Come back and renew old acquaintances--
> Come back and join us with big "Oskie Wow-Wow."
> We will guarantee you a lively time.--
> Homecoming invitation sent out by University of Oregon.

> Then [Kappa=Delta] almost raised the roof by the "Oskie-woy-woy" yell
> of Illinois.

> And "Chet" Cleveland tried to give an Oskie-Wow-Wow for Illinois all
> alone, and I had to help him out, although I was at the other end of
> the room.

> ...traditions that will make chills play tag up and down a student's
> spinal column when he hears an Oregon "Oskie," that will encourage a
> seasoned first year man to fight for a green cap which he once
> considered unsightly.

> You fellows from the Oskie-Wow-Wow and from the hicks and the sticks —
> you fellows from the little towns.

> With an Oskie Wow, Wow, Illinois," and many a Rah, Rah, Rah, for
> Georgia, V. M. I., Norwich, Michigan, and Massachusetts Aggie, 234
> students shouted their farewell to Fort Ethan Allen on July 21.

There is a reference to "oskie-wowow" on p. 60 of Newsweek that is only
identified as vol. 16, 1940.

Another is in 1958 Values in culture and classroom: a study in the
sociology of the school, By H. Otto Dahlke (p. 205--snippet only)
> For the present, therefore, the mass entertainment pattern with all
> its implications will remain. Oskie Wow Wow— Skinnie Wow Wow Rah, rah, ...

All other hits are on proper names or simply misidentified names (except
one early reference that actually reads "oxide" in the text).


PS: US Army Captain Robert Neiland (1892-1962) coached Tennessee from
1926 to 1952 with some interruptions--including during WWII, when he was
promoted to Brigadier General before returning to Tennessee. His
graduated from West Point in 1916 amd later got an engineering degree
from MIT.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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