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1903 Cumberland Bulldogs football team

The 1903 Cumberland Bulldogs football team represented Cumberland University in the 1903 college football season. The team was a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA), compiling a 6–1–1 record. The Bulldogs notably beat Vanderbilt and tied John Heisman's Clemson at year's end in a game billed as the "SIAA Championship Game." They also beat Alabama, LSU, and Tulane in five days. The school claims a share of the SIAA title. It has been called "the best football team in the history of Cumberland."[1][2]

1903 Cumberland Bulldogs football
Cumberland Bulldogs football team (1903).jpg
SIAA co-champion
ConferenceSouthern Intercollegiate Athletic Association
1903 record6–1–1 (4–1–1 SIAA)
Head coachA. L. Phillips (2nd season)
CaptainW. W. Suddarth
Seasons
← 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

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]

ScheduleEdit

DateTimeOpponentSiteResult
October 33:00 p. m.at VanderbiltW 6–0
October 203:00 p. m.at SewaneeL 6–0
Tennessee Medical College*W 86–0
November 7Grant University*W 92–0
November 14at AlabamaW 44–0
November 163:00 p. m.at LSUW 41–0
November 18at TulaneNew OrleansW 28–0
November 26vs. ClemsonT 11–11
  • *Non-conference game

[4][5] Games with Kentucky State College and Kentucky University were cancelled.[6][7]

Season summaryEdit

at VanderbiltEdit

Cumberland at Vanderbilt
1 2Total
Cumberland 6 0 6
Vanderbilt 0 0 0

Cumberland upset the Vanderbilt Commodores 6–0. Four minutes after the game started, Waterhouse had the decisive touchdown. M. O. Bridges had his right collarbone broken.[8]

The starting lineup was Waterhouse (left end), M. L. Bridges (left tackle), James (left guard), Smith (center), Cragwall (right guard), Suddarth (right tackle), Spencer (right end), Smiser (quarterback), Head (left halfback), Newton (right halfback), M. O. Bridges (fullback).[8]

SewaneeEdit

Cumberland at Sewanee
1 2Total
Cumberland 0 0 0
Sewanee 0 6 6

Cumberland suffered the season's only loss to the Sewanee Tigers. Henry D. Phillips plowed through the line for the deciding score.[9]

The starting lineup was Waterhouse (left end), M. L. Bridges (left tackle), James (left guard), Smith (center), Cragwall (right guard), Suddarth (right tackle), Spencer (right end), Smiser (quarterback), Head (left halfback), Anderson (right halfback), Minton (fullback).[9]

Tennessee Medical CollegeEdit

Cumberland defeated Tennessee Medical College 86–0.[10]

Grant UniversityEdit

Cumberland then walloped Grant University of Athens 92–0.[11]

AlabamaEdit

To close the regular season, Cumberland beat Alabama, LSU, and Tulane all by shutout in five days. Red Smith and Head starred in the 44–0 defeat of Alabama.[12] Cumberland outweighed Alabama by an average of nearly 30 pounds.[12]

The starting lineup was Waterhouse (left end), M. L. Bridges (left tackle), M. O. Bridges (left guard), Smith (center), Cragwall (right guard), Suddarth (right tackle), Spencer (right end), Smiser (quarterback), Head (left halfback), Anderson (right halfback), Minton (fullback).[13]

LSUEdit

Cumberland at LSU
1 2Total
Cumberland 18 23 41
LSU 0 0 0

Just two days later, Cumberland beat W. S. Borland's LSU Tigers 41–0. The starting lineup was Ashley (left end), M. O. Bridges (left tackle), Lieper (left guard), Smith (center), Cragwall (right guard), Suddarth (right tackle), Sanders (right end), Smiser (quarterback), Head (left halfback), Anderson (right halfback), Minton (fullback).[14]

TulaneEdit

Two days later still, Cumberland defeated Tulane 28–0.

PostseasonEdit

"SIAA championship game"Edit

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

Cumberland tied John Heisman's Clemson Tigers in a game billed as the SIAA championship. Cumberland rushed out to an early 11 to 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."[15]

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."[15] A touchdown was scored by fullback E. L. Minton (touchdowns were worth 5 points).[16] Guard M. O. Bridges kicked the extra point. Halfback J. A. Head made another touchdown, but Bridges missed the try.

 
M. O. Bridges

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.[17] 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."[15] Jock Hanvey kicked the extra point and the game ended in an 11–11 tie. 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.[17] Heisman pushed for Cumberland to be named SIAA champions at year's end,[18] and the school claims a share of the title.[19][20] It was Heisman's last game as Clemson head coach.[21]

The starting lineup was Waterhouse (left end), M. L. Bridges (left tackle), M. O. Bridges (left guard), Smith (center), Cragwall (right guard), Suddarth (right tackle), Spencer (right end), Smiser (quarterback), Head (left halfback), Anderson (right halfback), Minton (fullback).[22]

PlayersEdit

LineEdit

Player Position Games
started
Hometown Prep school Height Weight Age
Milton. L. Bridges tackle Cornersville, Tennessee 6'4" 225
Marvin O. Bridges guard Cornersville, Tennessee 6'4" 225 25
William Cragwell guard
Red Smith center Mooney 6'0"
C. M. Spencer end
W. W. Suddarth tackle
C. E. Waterhouse end

BackfieldEdit

Player Position Games
started
Hometown Prep school Height Weight Age
J. C. Anderson halfback
J. A. Head halfback
E. L. Minton fullback
Booker Smiser quarterback

Awards and honorsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Winstead Paine Bone. A History of Cumberland University. pp. 137, 260.
  2. ^ "Fine Football in Southland". The Courier-Journal. October 25, 1903. p. 25. Retrieved May 16, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  3. ^ "Scoring values". RollTide.com. University of Alabama Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Archived from the original on December 2, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
  4. ^ "1903 schedule".
  5. ^ "Athletics". Cumberland University Bulletin: 32.
  6. ^ "No Game At Lexington". The Courier-Journal. November 3, 1903. p. 8. Retrieved December 21, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  7. ^ "Kentucky University Game Cancelled". The Courier-Journal. October 27, 1903. p. 8. Retrieved December 21, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  8. ^ a b "Cumberland Wins". The Tennessean. October 4, 1903. p. 7. Retrieved May 8, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  9. ^ a b "The Varsity Triumphs Over Cumberland". Sewanee Purple. 20 (8). October 27, 1903.
  10. ^ "Clemson Team Much Crippled". The Atlanta Constitution. November 11, 1903. p. 9. Retrieved December 22, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  11. ^ "Cumberland's Easy Victory". The Courier-Journal. November 8, 1903. p. 4. Retrieved December 21, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  12. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-05-08. Retrieved 2016-05-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Woodruff 1928, p. 150
  14. ^ "Louisiana Is Very Easy". The Times-Democrat. November 17, 1903. p. 11. Retrieved January 3, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.  
  15. ^ a b c Wiley Lee Umphlett. Creating the Big Game: John W. Heisman and the Invention of American Football. p. 67.
  16. ^ Sam Blackman (December 15, 2014). "Clemson's "First Bowl Game"". Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  17. ^ a b Lou Sahadi. "24. 1903 Game With Cumberland". 100 Things Clemson Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.
  18. ^ Langum, David J. From Maverick to Mainstream: Cumberland School of Law, 1847-1997. p. 95.
  19. ^ "Football".
  20. ^ "Cumberland Blues". May 17, 2013.
  21. ^ John M. Heisman. Heisman: The Man Behind The Trophy. p. 138.
  22. ^ "Clemson Tigers Tie Cumberland". The Atlanta Constitution. p. 1. Retrieved May 9, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  • Woodruff, Fuzzy (1928). A History of Southern Football 1890–1928. 1.