"Football - apparently a modification of English Rugby and soccer - was introduced in 1877 through the influence of the English colony in Decorah and the efforts of Knut Seehuus, '81. As many as 75 would play on a side; "preps" had to stay on the sidelines for fear they would be injured. The big game was on Founders Day in October. This type of football continued until 1891, when J. C. M. Hanson, '82, on a visit to the college, explained the American game to the boys; later he coached them by correspondence. A team was organized under the captaincy of Erling A. Bothne, '94, who later played guard at Northwestern University." [Luther College 1861-1961, David T. Nelson, p 120]
This photo shows an early football scrimmage, circa 1893.