Post Season Events
The Colonels were 7-2. They had lost two tough games on the road, but in reality, the Harvard and Georgia Tech games had assured the team that the next year, 1921, would be great.
Bo had pulled his teammates together after the return from Atlanta when his meeting in the Boyle-Humphrey Gymnasium had resulted in each player standing and shouting, "WE ARE CENTRE!" over and over.
If there was a special spirit prior to that moment, and there was, it was now almost a supernatural force, dedicated to just one goal.
"WE ARE CENTRE!"
"WE ARE CENTRE!"
"WE ARE CENTRE!"
"WE ARE CENTRE!"
Offers and requests to play Centre were coming in from all over the country. Centre was the hottest ticket, by far, of any team in the country. Everybody wanted a piece of the action!
Columbia University wanted the Colonels to come to New York on October 29, 1921, to play at the Polo Grounds. The prediction was that the game would draw 65.000 fans. Centre had to reluctantly wire back that the date proposed was already filled by the rematch with Harvard.
Interest in the "Wonder Team" was further promoted by a piece put out by the Publishers Autocaster Service, a company which supplied inserts for papers across the country to include in their regular distribution. On Sunday, November 21, readers all across the country found that the featured subject of their insert was, "The Praying Colonels of Centre College."
On that same Sunday, the Louisville "Courier-Journal" published an editorial about Centre.
CENTRE AS UNIFIER
The echoes of the Centre-Harvard game are still reverberating. It has been the wonder game of the football season, but its effects transcend even its importance as a sporting event. The great reputation of Centre preceded the team to Boston and the Praying Colonels found more that 45,000 people in the Crimson stands, with 10,000 more outside the great stadium to see the eleven men from an insular Kentucky college do battle with the giants of the East.
The editorial recounted at length the wonderful way that Centre and all of the fans from Kentucky had been treated.
If the Harvard faculty and the men and women of Boston and Cambridge could hear all that has been said in Kentucky about Harvard's hospitality and broadmindedness, they would realize that Harvard has taken a new hold on the South. The Centre College boys, when they came home, were outspoken and unreserved in their praise of the sportsmanlike conduct, the unexpected welcome, the generous cheers, and testified that no Southern hospitality could ever be greater than that which they had felt and known in Yankee land.
The moral of the event is the oneness of America and lack of provincial jealousies. It is true that people who live in the large cities often effect to look down on the rural population as being less sophisticated, but even this feeling is almost always good natured, and the great number of boys from the country who have become important figures in Chicago and New York belies the right of superiority of metropolitan citizens.
The press, the railroad, the telegraph, and the telephone have often been given the credit for the unity between different sections of the country. Now, a football team has shown itself a valuable factor in the nationalizing process.
A November 27 article appeared in the "Advocate" stating a reader had a dream that Bo, on October 29, 1921, crossed the Harvard goal line for the winning score.
That same paper reprinted a story which had appeared in the Lexington "Herald" which exemplified how the Centre-Kentucky rivalry had gone from Wildcat domination to the overwhelming superiority of the Colonels.
BEAT CENTRE, 1921 BATTLE CRY OF WILDCATS
What will be the battle cry of the Kentucky Wildcats in 1921?
What words are on the lips of every member of old State?
What is the ambition, hope and prayer of the Blue and White?
The tables had totally turned. From a 68-0 massacre in 1916, Centre was now to Kentucky what Harvard had become to Centre- an obsession to meet their rival on the gridiron and to emerge victorious.
Bo was the only Colonel to make Walter Camp's 1920 All-American team which was announced in "Collier's Weekly" in December.
Walter Camp's 1920 All-American team announced in Collier's
He was placed on the second team at the quarterback position. Princeton's Donald Lourie led the Tigers to a 6-0-1 record, the tie being with Harvard, 14-14, and he was picked as the first team quarterback. Ben Boynton of Williams was the third team pick. Camp mentioned Red Weaver in his "honorable mention" classification.
Bo McMillin, second team-1920
Bo was the first team selection on the Boston "Telegram" All-American eleven, and Walter Eckersall, who was a three-time Walter Camp honoree from 1904-06, put Bo on his first team in his Chicago "Tribune" squad.
Bo made first team All-American on the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) team, as well as on the team picked by Frank G. Menke, (1885-1954), noted sports authority who wrote "The Encyclopedia of Sports."
Harvard had three selections on Camp's team. Tom Woods was a first team tackle, and Arnold Horween and Charles Havemeyer were on the third team at fullback and center, respectively.
Bill Fincher of Georgia Tech, the same Fincher who reportedly kicked Sully Montgomery in the face in the game in Atlanta, was placed on the first team, at end.
Much more recognition was gained by the Colonels as 8 All-Southern teams were announced by various newspapers below the Mason-Dixon Line.
Bo made 5 of the teams, Red Weaver and Terry Snowday each made 3, and Bill James and Sully Montgomery were selected on 2 of the newspaper elevens.
The "All-Southern, All-Southern" team was announced on November 29. It was composed by taking all of the selections and compiling the "best of the best." Centre had 3 men, Bo, Red Weaver and Bill James, on the first team. Georgia Tech also had 3, Auburn and Georgia had 2, and the eleventh spot went to an Alabama player.
Of course, Centre dominated the All-Kentucky team, taking each of the positions. Robb and Snowday were the ends, James and Montgomery, the tackles, Cregor and Roberts were the guards, and Weaver was at the center slot.
Bo, Army, Lefty Whitnell and Hump Tanner made up the backfield.
There was no doubt who ruled in the Bluegrass. Centre College was the undisputed "Champion of Kentucky."
On the last night of November, the Centre football team banquet was held at the Gilcher. There were 125 people in attendance. The coveted gold "C" was awarded to 24 players and team manager, Thad McDonnell.
Centre football team banquet at the end of the regular season with the starters and Uncle Charlie before the Harvard game
The lineup for the program which included Bo previewing the prospects for 1921. The topic for Dr. Ganfield was interesting, to say the least. Hopefully, it was in jest.
1920 Letter winners were:
Thad McDonnell - manager
Kentucky’s senators, Governor Morrow, sportswriters including Damon Runyon, Grantland Rice and Howard Reynolds, prominent businessmen and civic leaders from all over the country, and alumni from various locations, sent telegrams and letters which literally filled a basket placed at the head table.
Of note, Walter Camp's wire was read at the banquet and published in the local paper.
"I want to congratulate Centre College and its football team, as well as the residents of Danville, not as I did last year upon such remarkable victories, but upon the fine football spirit displayed, and the real success of the team's trip to the East, and the sportsmanlike way in which Centre represented Kentucky."
Arnold Horween, the Harvard captain and third team All-American, sent his regrets and said that college duties prevented his attending, "but I should like to take part in honoring a team which has proved itself such a worthy opponent for any team in the country. Harvard football men will not soon forget the Centre College team of 1920, not only on account of the high caliber of football it played, but also on account of the gentlemanliness and true sportsmanship of its members who played the hard, clean game that everyone admires. I sincerely hope that athletic relations will continue between Centre and Harvard for the benefit of both colleges. Sincere personal regards to Captain McMillin and his men."
Harvard Coach Robert Fisher sent a letter which was read at the banquet.
"The game between Centre and Harvard certainly has caused favorable comment in this part of the country. We can truthfully say that we have never met a team that displayed cleaner sportsmanship that Centre, and it is just such contests that will help the great game of college football. I look forward to meeting you again next fall."
Uncle Charlie introduced each member of the team and asked them to say a few words. When it was Bo's turn, he was asked to come forward and the head of the Chamber of Commerce reached under the table and pulled out a certificate which had been sent over from Frankfort by the office of Governor Morrow.
Kentucky's Governor Edwin P. Morrow, 1919-1923
Captain Bo McMillin had been promoted to Colonel Bo McMillin. Governor Morrow had made Bo a Kentucky Colonel, and a letter accompanying the certificate stated," ... and you Sir, have been promoted from the Captain of the Wonder Team of Kentucky to a Colonel on my staff."
The "Kentucky Colonel" honor was bestowed for noteworthy accomplishments
After receiving the honor, Bo spoke, and his comments concentrated on Harvard. It was always, Harvard.
"The Eastern papers said we would have stage-fright before the large Harvard crowd. The only time I have stage-fright is when I have to give a speech."
"I'm not really certain why we didn't defeat Harvard this year. We really felt we could win. Next year, we expect the score will be on the right side of the ledger. If each man on the squad makes up his mind, right now, at this very moment that we can beat Harvard, we will."
"We must make sacrifices. We must continuously train. The ambition of my life has been to play some Eastern eleven and beat them. The Chief began telling us more than seven years ago that we could achieve that goal if we had that belief that we were capable. I believe it! I believe that we can beat Harvard! And I ask that each man begin to prepare for the game with Harvard in 1921."
Bo got teary eyed talking about the Chief, the man who had meant so much to him in shaping his life. The Chief was back in Chicago, but Bo wanted everyone to know how much he felt that the team owed the man who first had the dream.
"I love the Chief as a son loves his father. The measure of the man was shown when he pulled me aside early in 1917 and said we need a bigger man than he was to coach the Centre team, and that man was Uncle Charlie Moran."
The final event of the banquet was to announce the team captain for 1921. Bo had announced that he didn't want to be considered. He had held the position for the past two years, and he wanted someone else to assume the position. He wanted to concentrate all of his energies on Harvard.
As was the custom, only letter-winners could vote, and they retired to an adjoining room. Bo said he wasn't going to vote, that he felt there were too many who were qualified.
The first ballot had Army and Bill James with 8 votes each, Red Weaver got 5, and Sully Montgomery and Tom Bartlett each received a single vote.
It was decided to narrow the candidates to the top two, and Army was elected in a 13-10 tally.
The guests and team stood and cheered when Bo introduced, "Captain Norris 'Army' Armstrong, from Fort Smith, Arkansas!"
Norris "Army" Armstrong, the captain elect for 1921
It had been a memorable night at the Gilcher Hotel.
After all of the honors and all of the accolades, there was one last selection that thrilled everyone who followed the Colonels, perhaps more than all of the others combined.
Each year, the Harvard "Crimson," the university publication since 1873, selected the greatest players to appear in games played by the Crimson during the previous season. The "Crimson" billed those chosen as the "Mythical eleven picked from all of the brilliant players who have thrilled gridiron lovers with their play."
There were 4 from Harvard, 4 from Princeton, 2 from Yale, and but one player from other than the "Big 3."
Bo McMillin rounded out the squad.