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The 1918 college football season had no clear-cut champion, with the Official NCAA Division I Football Records Book listing Michigan and Pittsburgh as national champions.[1]

World War I's impact on colleges in the country, and the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 eliminated most of that year's scheduled college football games.[2] However, to boost morale of the troops, many military organizations fielded teams to play against collegiate programs. This is exemplified no more strongly than in a letter published in the Spalding Guide from US president Woodrow Wilson:

"It would be difficult to over-estimate the value of football experience as a part of a soldier's training. The army athletic directors and the officers in charge of special training schools in the cantoments have derived excellent results from the use of elementary football and other personal contact games as an aid in developing the aggressiveness, initiative and determination of recruits, and the ability to carry on in spite of bodily hurts or physical discomforts. These qualities, as you well know, were the outstanding characteristics of the American soldier." -Woodrow Wilson (1919 letter)[3]

A huge military offensive was planned by the Allied countries in the spring of 1919, so all able-bodied men of ages 18 to 20 were scheduled to be drafted in the fall of 1918. As an alternative, the men were offered the option of enlisting in the Student Army Training Corps, known as SATC, which would give them a chance to pursue (or continue pursuing) their educations at the same time as they participated in a 12-week war-training session. This was essentially an alternative to boot camp. The colleges were paid by the government to train the future soldiers, which enabled many of them to avoid closure. The program began on October 1, 1918.[4] Most of the students who were potential football players were under the auspices of the War Department's SATC program.[5]

In an early September meeting between college and War Department officials in Plattsburg, Missouri it became clear that the training regimen envisioned for the soldiers could be incompatible with participation in intercollegiate athletics.[5] On September 13, 1918 newspapers around the country reported that the War Department had asked colleges to reexamine their football schedules.[6][7] In August and September, athletics backers successfully argued that athletics training was an important part of military training, and the season was back on.[8][9][10]

The influenza outbreak was colloquially called Spanish flu. Most flu outbreaks disproportionately kill juvenile, elderly, or already weakened patients, but the 1918 pandemic predominantly killed previously healthy young adults.[11] To maintain morale, wartime censors minimized early reports of illness and mortality in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States.[12][13] Papers were free to report the epidemic's effects in neutral Spain (such as the grave illness of King Alfonso XIII).[14] This created a false impression of Spain as especially hard hit,[15] thereby giving rise to the pandemic's nickname, "Spanish Flu".[16] By the end of the pandemic, between three to five percent of the world population had died as a result,[17] making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.[18][19][20]

Contents

Conference and program changesEdit

School 1917 Conference 1918 Conference
Carlisle Indians Independent School closed
Southern Methodist Mustangs Independent Southwest

Season summaryEdit

Perhaps the highest profile game was a highly publicized War Charities benefit staged at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh in front of many of the nation's top sports writers, including Walter Camp. The game pitted John Heisman's undefeated, unscored upon, and defending national champion Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets against "Pop" Warner's Pittsburgh Panthers who were sitting on a 30-game win streak. Pitt defeated Georgia Tech 32-0.

Rose BowlEdit

The Rose Bowl, then the only bowl game, pitted the Mare Island Marines of California and the Great Lakes Navy from Great Lakes, Illinois. By that point, it was a celebration of victory following the end of fighting in World War I on November 11, 1918. Great Lakes Navy would defeat Mare Island Marines 17-7.

Conference standingsEdit

The following is a potentially incomplete list of conference standings:

1918 military service football records
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Great Lakes Navy         7 0 2
Mare Island Marines         10 1 0
Chicago Naval Reserve         7 0 0
Camp Greenleaf         9 0 0
League Island Navy         6 0 0
Cleveland Naval Reserve         5 1 0
Camp Hancock         4 1 2
Camp Taylor         3 1 1
Camp Lewis         6 2 0
Mather Field         2 1 0
Camp Dodge         2 1 1
Camp Grant         3 3 0
Camp Gordon         2 4 0
Camp Jackson            
1918 Big Ten football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Michigan + 2 0 0     5 0 0
Illinois + 4 0 0     5 2 0
Purdue + 1 0 0     3 3 0
Iowa 2 1 0     6 2 1
Minnesota 2 1 0     5 2 1
Northwestern 1 1 0     2 2 1
Wisconsin 1 2 0     3 3 0
Indiana 0 0 0     2 2 0
Ohio State 0 3 0     3 3 0
Chicago 0 5 0     4 6 1
  • + – Conference co-champions
1918 IIAC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Southern Illinois           2 1 0
1918 NCAA independents football records
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Navy         4 1 0
Pittsburgh         4 1 0
Army         1 0 0
Notre Dame         3 1 2
Villanova         3 2 0
Dartmouth         3 3 0
USC         2 2 2
Penn State         1 2 1
Washington State         1 1 0
Drexel         0 1 0
1918 Missouri Valley football standings

Due to events related to World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic, the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association did not schedule any official conference games, recorded no standings, and awarded no title for 1918.
Conference members:
1918 PCC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
California $ 2 0 0     7 2 0
Oregon 2 1 0     4 2 0
Washington 1 1 0     1 1 0
Oregon Agricultural 0 2 0     2 4 0
  • $ – Conference champion
1918 Rocky Mountain Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Colorado Mines $ 2 0 0     4 0 0
Denver 3 1 0     3 2 0
Colorado 1 2 0     2 3 0
Colorado College 1 2 0     1 2 0
Colorado Agricultural 0 2 0     0 2 0
  • $ – Conference champion
1918 SAIAA football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
VPI $ 3 0 0     7 0 0
Maryland State 2 0 1     4 1 1
Davidson 2 0 0     2 1 1
Richmond 1 0 0     3 1 1
Johns Hopkins 0 0 1     0 0 1
NC State 0 1 0     1 3 0
St. John's (MD) 0 1 0     0 1 0
William & Mary 0 1 0     0 2 0
VMI 0 2 0     1 3 0
Washington and Lee 0 2 0     1 2 0
Georgetown 0 0 0     3 2 0
  • $ – Conference champion
1918 SIAA football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Georgia Tech $ 3 0 0     6 1 0
Vanderbilt 2 0 0     4 2 0
Mississippi A&M 2 0 0     3 2 0
Clemson 3 1 0     5 2 0
South Carolina 2 1 1     2 1 1
Furman 1 3 0     3 5 1
Sewanee 0 1 0     3 2 0
The Citadel 0 1 1     0 2 1
Auburn 0 2 0     2 5 0
Ole Miss 0 2 0     1 3 0
Wofford 0 2 0     0 3 0
  • $ – Conference champion
  • There were several SIAA schools that did not field a team due to World War I.
1918 Southwest Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Texas 4 0 0     9 0 0
Oklahoma 2 0 0     6 0 0
Texas A&M 1 1 0     6 1 0
Rice 1 1 0     1 5 1
Arkansas 1 2 0     3 4 0
SMU 1 2 0     4 2 0
Baylor 0 2 0     0 4 0
Oklahoma A&M 0 2 0     4 2 0
  • No champion recognized[21]

Minor conferencesEdit

Conference Champion(s) Record
Central Intercollegiate Athletics Association No champion
Inter-Normal Athletic Conference of Wisconsin No champion
Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference College of Emporia
Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association No champion
Nebraska Intercollegiate Conference Unknown
Ohio Athletic Conference Wittenberg 3–0–0
Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference No champion
Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference No champion
Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Talladega

Awards and honorsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Official 2009 NCAA Division I Football Records Book (PDF). Indianapolis, IN: The National Collegiate Athletic Association. August 2009. pp. 76–77. Retrieved 2009-10-16.
  2. ^ "War Conditions Coupled With Epidemic Have Big Effect On 1918 Sports". 2016-02-03. Archived from the original on February 3, 2016. Retrieved 2016-02-03.
  3. ^ Camp, Walter, ed. (1919). Spalding's Official Foot Ball Guide 1919. p. 178.
  4. ^ Shearer, Benjamin F. (August 1979). "An experiment in military and civilian education: The Student Army Training Corps at the University of Illinois". Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. 72 (3): 213–224. JSTOR 40191276.
  5. ^ a b Bushnell, Edward R. (September 8, 1918). "War Department's action makes serious problem for college athletics: Whether usual sports can be continued is question that must be threshed out; Difficult problem faces colleges on account of military training edict". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  6. ^ "Colleges may drop football as a sport: Suspension of all schedules requested by Washington as war measure". New York Times. September 13, 1918. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  7. ^ "Football knockout by War Department: No elevens for colleges with training corps; Four hundred leading institutions are hit by ruling". Boston Globe. September 13, 1918. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  8. ^ Tranter, Edward (September 13, 1918). "Sports Review". The Buffalo Enquirer. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  9. ^ "Football season opens this week: Gridiron game will prosper in all of Uncle Sam's camps". The New York Times. September 22, 1918. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  10. ^ "Football season in United States to open within very short time". Winston-Salem Journal. September 26, 1918.
  11. ^ "The Influenza Epidemic of 1918". Archives.gov. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  12. ^ Valentine 2006.
  13. ^ Anderson, Susan (29 August 2006). "Analysis of Spanish flu cases in 1918–1920 suggests transfusions might help in bird flu pandemic". American College of Physicians. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  14. ^ Porras-Gallo & Davis 2014.
  15. ^ Barry 2004, p. 171.
  16. ^ Galvin 2007.
  17. ^ "Historical Estimates of World Population". Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  18. ^ Patterson & Pyle 1991.
  19. ^ Billings 1997.
  20. ^ Johnson & Mueller 2002.
  21. ^ http://www.thompsonian.info/swc-historical-standings.pdf