Football Footnotes: Samford's Revenge of the Nerds

Football Footnotes: Samford's Revenge of the Nerds

Postby SU DOG » Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:01 pm

The year was 1980 and Seibert Stadium was considered one of the finest Intramural-Only facilities in the nation. Samford had dropped football after the 1973 season, and Intramurals was the only game going on there. There was one Intramural Team, however, that totally dominated and inflicted punishment on all the other teams of the league, and that team was The Lawyers. One of their members was a former Wake Forest player named Charlie Crist(who would later become Governor of Florida and a controversial politician in that state). Crist went to Dean Brad Bishop of The Cumberland Law School(acquired by Samford in 1961) with a novel idea. He wanted to form a football team to go over and play the Georgia Tech Junior Varsity, in a revenge rematch of that infamous 1916 debacle that saw Tech slaughter the Cumberland Bulldogs 222-0. Dean Bishop's simple answer was "Charlie you are crazy."

Crist was persistent, however, and soon Bishop conferred with Tech officials who were surprisingly interested in the possibility of the rematch. A few ground rules were agreed upon. Only enrolled students were to be eligible - no alumni or "ringers". The game would be played at Grant Field on the morning of October 17, 1981(65th anniversary of the original blood-bath) before the Tech vs Auburn Game scheduled for that afternoon. Dean Bishop, a former Samford Bulldog himself, was to be the HC for the Cumberland Lawyers. He had two volunteers, who had been local high school coaches to be his offensive and defensive coordinators.

Things really began to come together for the game to actually be played. The Lawyers had former players from Alabama, Auburn, Wake Forest Tennessee, Georgia, Duke, Carson Newman, William & Mary, and FSU. There were a total of 20 players from various college rosters ready to fight in Cumberland's quest to regain some gridiron respectability. Probably the two most notable were Charlie Trotman, who had been a 3 year starting QB for Auburn, and Bama's Ricky Davis, an All-SEC DB who had just returned from playing 4 years in the NFL. Bishop posted a notice around campus asking if any others, with at least high school playing experience, would be interested. He was absolutely shocked when he found 70 signatures on those lines. Bishop arranged a practice schedule for his team. There would be 2 weeks of spring training and 6 weeks of fall work before the October date. Coach Jimmy Fuller of JSU had agreed to bring his JV Gamecocks down to scrimmage the Lawyers at Seibert.

Suddenly the news of this possible rematch began getting attention. On the national front, both Sports Illustrated and ABC asked to be informed of any developments. Both venues wanted to be able to provide some coverage. Bishop estimated about $100,000 of good publicity could be gained. Locally, one alumnus had arranged to provide uniforms for the team by renting those stored from the former Alabama Vulcans, a Birmingham pro team that became defunt in 1979. Other alumni were planning to get busses to carry those interested over to Atlanta. That along with the large Samford Atlanta Alumni group would insure that those Fighting Cumberland Lawyers would have very good fan support.

The year 1980 turned into 1981, and Dean Bishop was still waiting for details from Tech concerning the game. He contacted Grantland Rice, the Tech AD, and Rice again expressed his excitment about the game. Rice, however, said that the final decision would be left up to HC Bill Curry. On march 18, Bishop received a letter from Curry who expressed regrets that the game would not be played. He said that plans to field a JV Team(that played a 4 game schedule the season before) for that fall had been scrapped. Curry had concerns because of injuries and thought he might need some of those Freshmen and Sophomore players for Tech's varsity games.

Could a pick-up team from the Cumberland School of Law actually have been competitive with the Georgia Tech Junior Varsity? Dean Bishop was asked this question later on and his answer was, "I wouldn't have gotten involved with it if we couldn't." "I think so," Trotman said. "We had several guys who not only had played college football, but REAL GOOD college football." Dr. Bishop, who to this very day is still a professor at the Cumberland SOL, does not think the opportunity will ever present itself again. He cites the fact that having that many outstanding ex-collge football players enrolled was probably a one time situation.

Who knows how that game would have turned out, but I have drawn one certain conclusion. It is DEFINITELY A FORFEIT - no doubt about it. The record books should accurately reflect that fact and read Georgia Tech vs Cumberland 1916 - Tech W Georgia Tech vs Cumberland 1981 - Cumberland W. REVENGE ACCOMPLISHED!!!
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Re: Football Footnotes: Samford's Revenge of the Nerds

Postby sudog03 » Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:36 pm

Bravo!
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Re: Football Footnotes: Samford's Revenge of the Nerds

Postby Cujo » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:54 pm

Good work, SU Dog. I bestow upon you the unofficial title of Board Historian, which should be added to your signature line.
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Re: Football Footnotes: Samford's Revenge of the Nerds

Postby funkychicken » Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:18 pm

Great story SU DOG. Oh, what might have been.
I’m curious about the JSU connection to the story. Did the scrimmage take place, and if so, how did that go? I don’t remember hearing anything about this back then, but I didn’t always have my ear to the ground.
If the rematch game with GT had taken place, win or lose, Samford would have reaped a ton of publicity.
Again, a great story and keep up the good work.

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Re: Football Footnotes: Samford's Revenge of the Nerds

Postby Smurf » Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:29 pm

Cujo wrote:Good work, SU Dog. I bestow upon you the unofficial title of Board Historian, which should be added to your signature line.


I'll second that motion.

SU DOG, per the edict of the board, please compose a signature line as described above.

Thanks.
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Re: Football Footnotes: Samford's Revenge of the Nerds

Postby SU DOG » Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:37 pm

[quote="funkychicken"]Great story SU DOG. Oh, what might have been.
I’m curious about the JSU connection to the story. Did the scrimmage take place, and if so, how did that go? I don’t remember hearing anything about this back then, but I didn’t always have my ear to the ground.
If the rematch game with GT had taken place, win or lose, Samford would have reaped a ton of publicity.
Again, a great story and keep up the good work.

I don't think that scrimmage ever took place. I do not know if that was to be held in the spring or in the fall. Let me also say a word about JV Teams. D-1 freshmen were allowed to play varsity football beginning in 1972. That rule change, along with Title 9, and other mounting espenses, slowly took a toll on JV Teams, and there are only a few schools that have those scheduled games today(Navy is one exception). I believe that Terry Bowden had the last Samford JV Team. The only opponent that I recall was Marion Institute. There, Terry discovered a running back that his JV defense could hardly tackle, and promptly signed him to play at Samford. Bulldog fans will recognize the name as one of the BEST RBs in the history of Samford Football - Sukarno "Tank" Edwards.
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Re: Football Footnotes: Samford's Revenge of the Nerds

Postby Cujo » Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:42 pm

SU Dog, you forgot the JV game against UAB that ended in a bench clearing brawl. UAB was starting up football and their renegade thugs couldn’t handle getting their hats handed to them.

Tank was the best running back in Samford history. Bold statement, but he should have been playing in the SEC. I still remember his mom passed just before the EKU game and there was some question if he would play. Just before kickoff he came running out in full uniform and had an amazing game in one of the most amazing games in Samford history.
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Re: Football Footnotes: Samford's Revenge of the Nerds

Postby FUBeAR » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:17 pm

Best one yet, SU DOG!

...but you know FUBeAR has to add some (hopefully) interesting purple-tinted prose to your awesome tales...

If they had played that game in ‘81, Cumberland might have won. But, if they had played it in ‘84, there is no doubt the Lawyers would have prevailed!

You see, by ‘84 Cumberland was especially rich in Football Talent. First came former Montgomery Sidney Lanier Poet star, 2-Time SoCon Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner, Blue/Gray Game participant, and FU All-American & Hall of Fame Member (and FUBeAR’s roommate), OT Charlie Anderson, who was a 3L at Cumberland in ‘84. Also, he had been joined there back in ‘82, fresh off his almost-made-it stints that summer with the Denver Broncos & Denver Gold (USFL), by FU All SoCon TE, the 6’5” 255, Terry Clark. But, wait, there’s more...in ‘84, FU All-American OG, Dan Sleet, started his 1L year at Cumberland. Those 3 STUDS often lined up beside each other on the right side of the Paladin Offensive Front as Furman was dominating the SoCon in ‘80 & ‘81. As an example in ‘81, they cleared the way for FU to gain 270 yards on the ground against Florida’s greatest-ever Rushing Defense (Wilbur Marshall, David Galloway, Robin Fisher, et al). The next highest rushing yards against UF by any other opponent that year was 135 - half of what Charlie, Terry, and Dan led FU to by moving Gators out-ta-way! Georgia Tech (varsity) gained 35 yards rushing on 33 Attempts against UF that year, by the way.

Line those 3 up on the right side of the Cumberland Lawyers’ OL and Justice Ginsberg (of today) would have gone for over 100 and 3 TD’s against those poor Jacket Freshmen!

Epilogue: Charlie is now a prominent Attorney in Montgomery and is the Proprietor of all of Pre-Paid Legal’s services in Alabama. He had one son play Football at Furman & his youngest is now an OLman at UNC. Terry is a prominent Labor Law Corporate Defense Attorney in Winston-Salem, NC and still one BIG dude. Dan is a Federal Judge in Tampa and his daughter plays volleyball for Furman. While I’m sure a substantial potion of their largesse ends up in Greenville, I would be quite surprised if any of them are not regular financial contributors to the Cumberland School of Law...as long as none of that money goes to Samford Football! :twisted:
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Re: Football Footnotes: Samford's Revenge of the Nerds

Postby SU DOG » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:43 pm

Cujo I cannot believe that I forgot the home and home series with UAB. I witnessed both games and the other game was played at Legion Field. Samford won all 3 - the two games and, from what I saw the fight also.
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Re: Football Footnotes: Samford's Revenge of the Nerds

Postby SU DOG » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:48 pm

FUBeAR, I don't think 3 former FU players in 1984 would stack up against the talent there in 1981. No disrespect for those good players, but they must have needed lots more help from the other Paladins because the Gators trounced them 35-7.
Nevertheless, I do like your contributions to these footnotes, and find them interesting.
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