Football Footnotes - Funniest Game Ever Part 1

Football Footnotes - Funniest Game Ever Part 1

Postby SU DOG » Wed Mar 06, 2019 8:04 pm

[Yeah, it is the Cumberland vs Ga. Tech game. The only SU connection is the one to the Law School I guess, but hopefully this post will provide some insights to the game that you will not see anywhere else. While I had four references for my research, the most used is a Samford publication - The Cumberland Lawyer Magazine of November 1969. Of course, there are no remaining players alive now. Quotes are from transcripts of years ago]

Cumberland had been a football powerhouse in the early 1900s. In one season the Bulldogs(later Phoenix) had beaten Bama(44-0), LSU(41-0), and Tulane(28-0) all in a 5 day road span. :o By 1916, however, the school had run into financial problems, and all athletic funding was cut off. George E. Allen(who later would become successful in politics and an adviser to 3 U.S. Presidents), was the team manager and de facto Athletic Director. He had gotten out letters to all opponents that Cumberland would not field a team. Somehow, he had forgotten to send one to Tech.
In the spring of that year the Cumberland Baseball Team had walloped Tech 22-0. Yellow Jackets alums screamed out for revenge. John Heisman(yes, THAT Heisman), had even accused Cumberland of cheating by using ringers in that game. Tech's football coach told Cumberland that failure to compete in the October scheduled game would mean paying the $3,000 fine of the contract. Now, some Cumberland historians have said that the school was in such financial straits that this would actually mean closing down the university. Heisman also offered a $500 guarantee for the visitors. Allen felt obligated and recruited 18 frat(Kappa Sigma) brothers and a few other friends to sign up. Most of the team consisted of law students. A. L. McDonald(later a successful attorney in Louisville KY), who survived as a Cumberland HB, said "we had very little practice, but Allen kept reminding us that we couldn't afford to lose that money".

Allen had plans to try and pick up some Vandy players when the train stopped in Nashville, but they had an upcoming game and that plan failed. To make matters worse, 3 of the guys either mutineered or got lost there, leaving them with 16 total players. To make matters even worse, some Terch alumni had persuaded Heisman to play 2 different teams and alternate by quarters. The team that scored the most total points would be treated to a steak dinner. Both Tech squads swore to get those steaks.

David Harsh(later head of a law firm in Memphis), who played in the Cumberland line said, "We never should have taken on Tech. They had us somewhat outclassed." A statement that was eventually labeled as the greatest understatement in the annals of college football.

The Cumberland Team had a classy set of signals - or so they thought. Quarterback Morris Gouger(later Presiident of the National Bank of Robstown texas) said "each player was named for a vegetable. If I wanted to send the RHB over LT, I would call 'Turnip over Cabbage'. Or a pass from QB to LE would be 'Tomato to Carrot.' The troule was that Tech made vegetable stew out of us.'

Next Wednesday in Part 2: Game Action
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