Open main menu

1903 Clemson Tigers football team

The 1903 Clemson Tigers football team represented the Clemson Tigers of Clemson Agricultural College during the 1903 college football season. The team was a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) and played all its games on the road, compiling a 4–1–1 record and 2–0–1 in the SIAA.[1][2]

1903 Clemson Tigers football
1903 Clemson Tigers football team (Oconeean 1904).png
SIAA co-champion
ConferenceSouthern Intercollegiate Athletic Association
1903 record4–1–1 (2–0–1 SIAA)
Head coachJohn Heisman (4th season)
CaptainHope Sadler
Home stadiumBowman Field
← 1902
1904 →
1903 SIAA football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Clemson + 2 0 1     4 1 1
Cumberland + 4 1 1     6 1 1
Sewanee 5 1 0     7 1 0
Vanderbilt 5 1 1     6 1 1
Mississippi A&M 2 0 2     3 0 2
Georgia 3 2 0     3 4 0
Ole Miss 1 1 1     2 1 1
Texas 0 0 1     5 1 2
Kentucky State 0 0 0     7 1 0
Alabama 3 4 0     3 4 0
Auburn 2 3 0     4 3 0
Tennessee 2 4 0     4 5 0
Georgia Tech 1 4 0     3 5 0
Tulane 0 1 1     2 2 1
Mercer 0 1 0     0 1 0
Nashville 0 2 0     2 2 0
LSU 0 5 0     4 5 0
SW Presbyterian            
  • + – Conference co-champions

Most notably, the team competed in an early conference championship game, tying Cumberland 11–11 in the contest. This is John Heisman's last season coaching Clemson. The Tigers thrashed Georgia Tech 73–0, leading to Heisman's later job-offer at Tech.

Before the seasonEdit

For the 1903 season, point values were different from those used in contemporary games. In 1903 a touchdown was worth five points, a field goal was worth five points and a conversion (PAT) was worth one point.[3]

The team's captain was Hope Sadler. This was the last season with both Sadler and Carl Sitton at ends. One writer recalls, "Sitton and Hope Sadler were the finest ends that Clemson ever had perhaps."[4]


October 10at GeorgiaW 29–0
October 173:30 p. Georgia TechW 73–0
October 28vs. North Carolina A&M*Columbia, SC (rivalry)W 24–0
November 14at North Carolina*Chapel Hill, NCL 6-11
November 21at Davidson*W 24–0
November 26vs. Cumberland
T 11–11
  • *Non-conference game


Season summaryEdit

Week 1: at GeorgiaEdit

The season opened with a defeat of the Georgia Bulldogs 29–0. Clemson fumbled on a number of plays.[6]

The starting lineup was Sitton (left end), Forsythe (left tackle), McKeown (left guard), Garrison (center), Derrick (right guard), Cogburn (right tackle), Sadler (right end), Maxwell (quarterback), Furtick (left halfback), Wood (right halfback), Hanvey (fullback).[6]

Week 2: at Georgia TechEdit

Clemson at Georgia Tech
1 2Total
Clemson 51 22 73
Ga. Tech 0 0 0

The Bulldogs offered Clemson a bushel of apples for every point over 29 it scored against rival Georgia Tech. Clemson would win 73 to 0 on a mud-soaked field,[7] leading to Heisman's later job at Tech.[8] Sitton had to sit out the game.[9]

Jock Hanvey

Clemson as a team rushed for 615 yards, and fullback Jock Hanvey rushed for 104 yards in the first half.[10] The first score came on a 20-yard run by Hanvey.[11]

The starting lineup was Ellison (left end), Cogburn (left tackle), Derrick (left guard), Garrison (center), Forsythe (right guard), McKeown (right tackle), Sadler (right end), Maxwell (quarterback), Furtick (left halfback), Wood (right halfback), Hanvey (fullback).[7][11]

Week 3: North Carolina A&MEdit

In the third week of play, North Carolina A&M was beaten by Clemson 24 to 0. While A&M gained much using conventional football, Clemson had to use many trick plays.[12] Oliver Gardner played for A&M. Heisman got married soon after the game.[13]

Week 4: at North CarolinaEdit

Clemson at North Carolina
1 2Total
Clemson 6 0 6
UNC 11 0 11

The North Carolina Tar Heels handed Clemson its only loss of the season, 11–6. Carolina's Newton scored first, with a bloody nose.[14] He also scored the second touchdown. Clemson had one touchdown by Johnny Maxwell called back due to an offside penalty.[14]

The starting lineup was Sitton (left end), Cogburn (left tackle), Derrick (left guard), Garrison (center), Forsythe (right guard), McKeown (right tackle), Sadler (right end), Maxwell (quarterback), Wood (left halfback), Furtick (right halfback), Hanvey (fullback).[14]

Week 5: at DavidsonEdit

Clemson at Davidson
1 2Total
Clemson 18 6 24
Davidson 0 0 0

Clemson won easily over Davidson 24–0. One writer noted "Clemson playing against eleven wooden men, would attract attention."[15] Carl Sitton had a 60-yard touchdown run.[15]

The starting lineup was Sitton (left end), Cogburn (left tackle), Derrick (left guard), Garrison (center), Forsythe (right guard), McKeown (right tackle), Sadler (right end), Maxwell (quarterback), Wood (left halfback), Furtick (right halfback), Hanvey (fullback).[15]


"SIAA championship game"Edit

Clemson vs. Cumberland
1 2Total
Clemson 0 11 11
Cumberland 11 0 11

Clemson tied Cumberland 11–11 in a game billed as the "SIAA Championship Game." Cumberland rushed out to an early 11–0 lead. Wiley Lee Umphlett in Creating the Big Game: John W. Heisman and the Invention of American Football writes, "During the first half, Clemson was never really in the game due mainly to formidable line play of the Bridges brothers–giants in their day at 6 feet 4 inches–and a big center named "Red" Smith, was all over the field backing up the Cumberland line on defense. Clemson had been outweighed before, but certainly not like this."[16]

Quarterback John Maxwell returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

A contemporary account reads "The Clemson players seemed mere dwarfs as they lined up for the kickoff. To the crowd on the sidelines it didn't seem that Heisman's charges could possibly do more than give a gallant account of themselves in a losing battle."[16] A touchdown was scored by fullback E. L. Minton (touchdowns were worth 5 points).[17] Guard M. O. Bridges kicked the extra point. Halfback J. A. Head made another touchdown, but Bridges missed the try. After halftime, Clemson quarterback John Maxwell raced 100 yards for a touchdown. Clemson missed the try. Cumberland fumbled a punt and Clemson recovered. Cumberland expected a trick play when Fritz Furtick simply ran up the middle and scored.[18] One account of the play reads "Heisman saw his chance to exploit a weakness in the Cumberland defense: run the ball where the ubiquitous Red Smith wasn't. So the next time Sitton started out on one of his slashing end runs, at the last second he tossed he ball back to the fullback who charges straight over center (where Smith would have been except that he was zeroing in on the elusive Sitton) and went all the way for he tying touchdown."[16] Jock Hanvey kicked the extra point and the game ended in an 11–11 tie.

Fritz Furtick

The winning team was to be awarded the ball. Captain W. W. Suddarth of Cumberland wanted captain Hope Sadler of Clemson to get the ball, and Sadler insisted Suddarth should have it. Some ten minutes of bickering was resolved when the ball was given to patrolman Patrick J. Sweeney, for warning the media and fans to stay down in front and allow spectators to see the game.[18] The school claims a share of the title;[19][20] Heisman pushed for Cumberland to be named SIAA champions at year's end.[21] It was Heisman's last game as Clemson head coach, who was hired at Georgia Tech.[22]

The starting lineup was Sitton (left end), Cogburn (left tackle), Derrick (left guard), Garrison (center), Forsythe (right guard), McKeown (right tackle), Sadler (right end), Maxwell (quarterback), Wood (left halfback), Furtick (right halfback), Hanvey (fullback).[23]

Florida coachesEdit

Marvin Bridges and Clemson players Jock Hanvey and Jack Forsythe all coached at Florida colleges the next season. Bridges coached at the University of Florida at Lake City, and Forsythe was the head coach of the Florida State College with Hanvey as his assistant. Forsythe went on in 1906 to be the first coach of the Florida Gators.


Depth chartEdit

The following chart provides a visual depiction of Clemson's lineup during the 1903 season with games started at the position reflected in parenthesis. The chart mimics the offense in a T formation

Carl Sitton (4)
Gil Ellison (1)
H. L. Cogburn (4) Puss Derrick (1) Bill Garrison (5) Pee Wee Forsythe (4) Max McKeown (4)
Pee Wee Forsythe (1) J. A. McKeown (1) Puss Derrick (1) H. L. Cogburn (1)
Hope Sadler (5)
John Maxwell (5)
L. S. Wood (3) Jock Hanvey (5) Fritz Furtick (3)
Fritz Furtick (2) L. S. Wood (2)



Player Position Games
Hometown Prep school Height Weight Age
H. L. Cogburn tackle 5
Puss Derrick guard 2 Chapin, South Carolina 195
Gil Ellison end 1
Jack Forsythe tackle 5 Brevard, North Carolina
Bill Garrison center 5
Max McKeown guard 5
Hope Sadler end 5 York Co., South Carolina 154
Carl Sitton end 4 Pendleton, South Carolina 5'10" 170


Player Position Games
Hometown Prep school Height Weight Age
Fritz Furtick halfback 5 Sandy Run, South Carolina 170
Jock Hanvey fullback 5 Abbeville Co., South Carolina
John Maxwell quarterback 5
L. S. Wood halfback 5




  1. ^ "2016 FOOTBALL MEDIA GUIDE" (PDF). Clemson Athletics. 2016. pp. 200–208. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  2. ^ John de Saulles. "Foot Ball in the South". Spalding's Football Guide: 93.
  3. ^ "Scoring values". University of Alabama Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Archived from the original on December 2, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
  4. ^ "Vetter Sitton Clemson Coach". The Anderson Daily-Intelligencer. January 21, 1915.
  5. ^ "1903 Clemson Tigers Schedule and Results".
  6. ^ a b "Clemson Tigers Win In A Walk". The Atlanta Constitution. October 11, 1903. p. 6. Retrieved May 9, 2016 – via  
  7. ^ a b Woodruff 1928, p. 143–144
  8. ^ Mandle Parrish (October 31, 2000). "Clemson-Georgia Tech Series". Archived from the original on 2015-07-21. Retrieved 2015-07-19.
  9. ^ Sam Blackman (October 8, 2015). "Tiger-Tech Tales". Archived from the original on 2016-09-14. Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  10. ^ Foster Senn (October 17, 1987). "This Day in Tiger Football". Clemson University Football Programs – Clemson vs Duke: 81.
  11. ^ a b "Tech Slaughtered By Clemson Tigers". The Atlanta Constitution. October 18, 1903. p. 7. Retrieved May 9, 2016 – via  
  12. ^ "Eighteen To Naught". News and Observer. October 29, 1903. p. 1. Retrieved May 9, 2016 – via  
  13. ^ Blackman 2016, p. 49
  14. ^ a b c "For Carolina The Tide Has Turned". News and Observer. November 15, 1903. p. 1. Retrieved May 5, 2016 – via  
  15. ^ a b c "Clemson Defeats Davidson". The Charlotte Observer. November 22, 1903. p. 5. Retrieved May 9, 2016 – via  
  16. ^ a b c Umphlett 1992, pp. 66–67
  17. ^ Sam Blackman (December 15, 2014). "Clemson's "First Bowl Game"". Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  18. ^ a b Sahadi 2014, p. 98
  19. ^ "Football".
  20. ^ "Cumberland Blues". May 17, 2013.
  21. ^ Langum 2010, p. 95
  22. ^ Heisman 2012, p. 138
  23. ^ "Clemson Tigers Tie Cumberland". The Atlanta Constitution. p. 1. Retrieved May 9, 2016 – via  
  24. ^