Friday, September 23, 2005

Hangin' a 'hundy

GT pounds Cumberland University 222-0 (Photo from Cumberland University)

There's been a lot of talk this week about Texas Tech hangin' a 'hundy on poor Indiana State (which is a horrible team, granted). And of course, any time people bring up the magic number of 100 - there is guaranteed to be talk of GT's 222-0 beatdown of poor little Cumberland University. Mentions of TT and the scoring records are up today with Most Valuable Network, Every Day Should Be Saturday and others mentioning that game.

There are a lot of rumors, stories and other such nonsense surrounding that win - so I thought I'd try and gather a clearer picture of what exactly happened that day in Atlanta, when John Heisman's Golden Tornado beat Cumberland silly. Much of this information (and all the pictures) are from the Cumberland University website dedicated to the game, though there is other information used as well.

Southern football at this point in time was a backwater, nobody gave it any national recognition. The football powers of the time were on the coasts (Penn, Cal, Harvard, Army, etc) and no southern team had ever won a national title. Coach Heisman had been at Clemson and Auburn before GT, and was determined to prove that southern football deserved recognition. GT was by far the dominant program in the south with Heisman at the helm (incidently hired by GT after his Clemson team beat Tech 73-0). When the Cumberland game was played in 1916, GT was in the midst of a 33 game winning streak - outscoring their opponents 1,599 to 99. That's a ridiculous average score of 48 - 3. Cumberland wasn't the only victim with a brutal score as well, since NCSU lost 117-0 in 1918. Heisman almost certainly used the opportunity to run up the score on Cumberland to get national attention - and it worked. Georgia Tech went undefeated the next year in 1917 and won the first national championship ever for a southern school.

In addition to that motive, Heisman was a sore loser from the previous year's baseball game with Cumberland - where it's strongly rumored they used ringers from a local minor league team (note: I cannot find any proof of this anywhere, but that's long been the story). Cumberland was signed on to play a football game with GT the next year, but during the offseason the president of Cumberland resigned and the new president cancelled the football team. The student manager tried to get out of all the contracts, but GT (and others) held firm. Heisman was going to get his pound of flesh. Cumberland ended up playing 4 or 5 games that season, but nobody clearly remembers any but the historic beating.

Some funny facts about the game:

#1 - The second half was cut short by 15 minutes, it could have been much worse than 222-0
#2 - Neither team had a first down, GT scored every time they had the ball
#3 - Despite not getting a first down and having -28 yards of offense, Cumberland actually had a 10 yard completion ... on 4th and 22.
#4 - The famous comment, "Pick it up yourself, you dropped it" after a fumble actually happened.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a play-by-play of the game, which is also hosted on the
Cumberland University site. It has some gems in it, including these:

Spence kicked off for Tech to Murphy who returned 10 yards to the Cumberland 10. Murphy fumbled, Spence recovered for Tech at the 10.

Spence scored on the next play and converted. Tech 147 to 0."


"Preas kicked off for Tech to Gouger who returned 10 to the Cumberland 10. Gouger fumbled at the line of scrimmage and Preas recovered, running the ball in for a Tech score. Preas converted and it was 112-0."

I want to see TT's kicker try to pull something like that off tommorow.

(J.H Preas Jr. pictured to the right - he had a pretty nice game, to say the least).

In short, Mike Leach and his boys might hang a 'hundy on Indiana State tommorow. I don't think they will, but even if they do - they're still 122 short of what Heisman and his Golden Tornado managed to pile up in only 45 minutes of football. It's almost certain that that record is safe forever, mostly because a school as good as GT was at that point in time will never play anyone as bad as Cumberland was ever again. Indiana State is light years closer to TT than Cumberland was to Heisman's Tech teams.

There is a thread over at The Hive discussing the game that has some more information. It seems that the game isn't an official NCAA record because they didn't begin keeping official records until 1937, despite first organizing in 1906.


Blogger Newspaper Hack said...

I don't know if you've heard this, but I remember reading back in the day (like, elementary school) that one of the Cumberland players didn't even know what a "down" was. Yikes.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

I find that hard to believe since Cumberland had a football team (and a good one) up until that season.

They tied Heisman's Clemson team 11-11 in what would be Heisman's final game at CU, actually.

In other words, I doubt that story is true.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

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8:55 PM  

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