Football is returning to Mansfield University, home to the first night outdoor football game in America in 1892 - just on a smaller scale.
Sprint football makes it debut Saturday when the Mountaineers host Cornell, right in time for the north-central Pennsylvania school's annual celebration of its place in college football lore.
The game will be like any other college game this weekend, but there's one catch: Players can't weigh more than 172 pounds.
``It's just going to be neat as all get out,'' Mansfield coach Dan Davis said Wednesday in a phone interview. ``The way sprint is played, it lends a lot more to 1890s (football) because of the pure love of the game.''
Once a football member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, Mansfield dropped its Division II program following the 2006 season because of budget constraints.
,000, Davis said, which is about one-quarter the cost of the old program.
Those ``XXXL'' uniforms left over from the old days are out the door. New uniforms had to be purchased.
``Even XL is too big,'' Davis said.
The biggest difference between sprint and regular college football is the quickness of players, Davis said.
Except for the weight limitations, the rules are the same as the ones used in FBS games. Coaches also use similar schemes; for instance, the spread offense is used in the sprint game, just like the pass-happy formation has grown in popularity among FBS schools.
``Even on the offensive and defensive lines, there's a lot more action,'' Davis said.
Besides Mansfield and Cornell, the non-scholarship Collegiate Sprint Football League also includes Navy, Army, Penn and Princeton.
Mansfield is the first public institution to gain membership to the league. A provisional member of the league in its first season, the Mountaineers will play a full conference schedule starting in 2009.
Davis took the head coaching job in March after serving as defensive coordinator at Division III MacMurray College in Illinois.
``It's been the same as starting a brand new program from scratch, except instead of having a year, you have to do things in nine months,'' Davis said.
ed from far-off states, like receiver 5-foot-11 Ryan Bernaiche from Hollis, Maine, and 5-foot-5 quarterback Danny Moss from Anchorage, Alaska.
The team's site even includes a link to an online form for people interested in joining.
The College Football Hall of Fame recognizes Mansfield as having hosted the first outdoor football game played at night, a scoreless tie in 1892 between Wyoming (Pa.) Seminary and what was then known as the Mansfield State Normal School.
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On the Net:
Mansfield sprint football: http://www.gomounties.com/Sprint-Football/sprinthomepage.html
Collegiate Sprint Football League site: http://www.sprintfootball.com

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