Chapter 64

Post-Season Honors and Recognition/ The 1921 All- American Team and Colonels' Banquet

All-American teams for 1921 were being announced. Of course, a Walter Camp selection was the most prestigious. 

For 1921, Camp put Red Roberts on his first team at an end position, and Bo made the second team at quarterback. With Red's selection, Centre had 3 Walter Camp, first-team All-Americans who had played together, Bo and Red Weaver in 1919, and now Red Roberts, the smallest school to ever be so honored.

In 1921, Red Roberts was placed on Camp's first team at an end position and Bo was again put on the second team at a quarterback position.

Red had just been selected as Centre's 1922 captain prior to the selection of the 1921 All-American team. See below.

Terry Snowday received honorable mention in Camp's selections. 

There were other All-American teams announced.

Walter Turnbull of the New York "Herald" had Red Roberts on his first team at end and Bo on his third team at quarterback.

Fred Haynor of the Chicago "Daily News" picked Bo on his first team as a halfback and Bill James on his second team at end. Haynor left Red Roberts off his selections altogether. It sometimes hurt Red when selections were made because it was hard to categorize him. Was he a fullback, tackle or end?

Second to Walter Camp's teams, as far as prestige, was that picked by Lawrence Perry, "noted authority on college sports." Perry put Bo in a first team slot at halfback. Perry said of Bo, "McMillin's merits are too well known to require commendation. In the words of Dr. Johnson- it is vain to praise him and useless to blame him. He lacks none of the equipment that goes to make up a great back."

Charles Brinkley, a Camp All-American in 1912 and 1913 as a back at Harvard, put Bo and Red on his first team, Bo at halfback and Red at end.

The United Press placed Bo and Red on its second team at quarterback and end.

Finally, one of the most respected All-American squads was that selected by 267 football coaches across the country and published in "Football World," based in Columbus, Ohio. Bo was picked as the first-team quarterback and Red was placed on the second team, this time as a guard.

George Owen, Harvard's great junior fullback, joined Red on the second team.

"All-Southern Teams" were announced by newspapers all over the South at the end of the 1921 season. It was the last year before many southern colleges withdrew from the S.I.A.A. and formed the Southern Conference of which Centre was excluded.

There were 30 publications which announced their selections and then a composite of the 30 teams was announced.

Bo made all 30, the only player to be unanimously picked. Red Roberts made 26 teams, only topped by Georgia Tech's Red Barron who made 28 of the newspaper's choices. 

Bo, unanimously, and Red received major recognition

Bo had become so famous nationally that in 1921 a horse was named for him which would later run in the Kentucky Derby, "Bo McMillin."

A.E. Hundley and Sons, thoroughbred breeders, sold the yearling to Tom Pendergast, the Kansas City, Missouri politician who later controlled the Democratic Party in the city for a quarter of a century.

"Bo McMillin" was noted in the caption to have won on "fast and heavy tracks," just as his namesake

Pendergast's horse was considered to be Derby material after finishing first in the Sanford Memorial at Saratoga in 1922, and won the Bluegrass Stakes at Lexington's Keeneland Race Track, run before the Derby, in 1923.

Unfortunately, the Bo on the track wasn't as swift as the Bo on the gridiron on Derby day. Jockey Danny Connelly rode his mount to a 12th place finish in a field of 21. Zev won the 49th running in 2:05 2/5 on a fast track. 

( The picture below has the time incorrectly stated as 1:05 2/5. It was 2:05 2/5. )

Bo had become so widely recognized that in November, he was contacted by the Lexington Motor Company from Connersville, Indiana to appear in a series of ads to promote its Lexington "Minute Man" Six automobile. A photographer was engaged and had Bo pose with a 4 door convertible model on Cheek Field.  It is unknown what financial arrangement was made, but it was obvious that having one of the country's most famous athletes prominent in your promotions was a good business decision.   

Other offers came to Danville but Bo was apparently as interested in his reputation off the field as he was on it. 

Bo posing in Lexington "Minute Man" Six wearing new uniform that Centre had bought for the trip to the West Coast. Old Main in background left

                                                       Another view of the Six with the Cheek Field southside bleachers behind 

Bo received business propositions from individuals hoping to cash in on his national reputation. Mr. Al O. Ray from Fort Worth pitched an oil company bearing Bo's name which was turned down. 

An additional honor came Bo's way when it was announced that Centre's Louisville Alumni Club had commissioned an oil portrait of him to be painted by the noted portrait artist, Charles Sneed Williams. At the unveiling it was stated that the likeness was to hang in Old Centre so that, "students in years to come may look at it and hear tales of the star's prowess on the gridiron."

Unfortunately, the portrait is hanging somewhere other than on the Centre campus if it is hanging at all. Hopefully, some member of Bo's family has it, but no one knows for certain if it still exists.


The team banquet was held at K.C.W. on the evening of December 9, hosted by the Danville Chamber of Commerce.

There were 44 players included at the banquet. Many had been but scrubs, having rarely been in an actual game, or possibly having never even suited up. However, their contribution was recognized and appreciated for their contribution to the team, as George Joplin had pointed out with such feeling in the "Messenger" just before the Transylvania game.

Out on Cheek Field every afternoon the spectators will see a crowd of red-jerseyed youths fight for all they are worth to check the dynamic assaults of the first and second teams. The first team will have their turn smashing into the mass of red. Then the second team, all fresh, will open up their guns. When the powder has cleared away, and the scrimmage is over, one will find a battered, bleeding, weary, heavy-footed gang still holding the fort. Their goal line may have been crossed a dozen times during the afternoon, but they have battled and are inwardly proud of their showing.

The toastmaster of the banquet was Judge E.V. Puryear of Danville who started things off with his topic being about the Harvard game.

Back of every great and good thing stands the greater thing that produces it; behind the Centre College football team stands the great spirit of Centre College, and back of that, the members of the team in their right thinking and clean playing.

Judge Puryear went on for some time in that vein, and then reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a hand-written poem which he must have labored over for several days.

Have you ever heard the story of Old Centre's glory? 
How her team made things hum in the big stadium, 
And on a Saturday laid Harvard away,
Along with VPI and those who die,
When they meet the might of a Centre Fight?

How with Arm who was strong and Bo who was mighty 
She shocked them all and made them look flighty,
With Bill James behaving like Jesse James Uster, 
And Uncle Charlie directing with Roscoe as booster?

Did you hear how Chapin, like he had a strong toddy, 
Went down right now when tackled by Snoddy?
How the line of old Harvard was made to look meager, 
By Gordy and Jones and Gibson and Cregor?

Did you hear about Kubale, Centre's hot tamale- 
Too hot to handle, he held them quite jolly,
With the help of the line and the lengthy Shadoan, and 
Whenever they started, the boys stopped them a-going? 

Never, they say, was such football yet 
Displayed in a game as was shown by Bartlett,
And in skill in stopping the forward pass,
And in all that makes football, Centre showed class. 

'Twas all the boys that did it- they're heroes every one, 
The whole darn line and Rubarth and Covington.
The score looked fine, they wrote it, "Centre is now 6," 
And underneath they added, "Harvard, she is nix."

We tanned them good and proper in a satisfactory manner, 
We had the team to do it, and we took along our Tanner.
I expect, maybe, that you got the word, 'Twas a little talked about,
And several persons heard it, including Dr. Stout. 

But then, if you know it all, there's no more to be said, 
Except, of course, to mention, 'Twas a whole lot due to Red. 

The judge managed to get Roscoe and all of the 16 players who got into the Harvard game included in his poem, if you made the "Centre showed class" account for young Ray Class, who was in for one play, the missed field goal. The word "Uster" must rhyme with "booster," but "Jesse James Uster?" The meaning is unclear, but apparently had some contemporary reference.

After the poem, Tiny Thornhill spoke on, "The line, God bless the line."

Each of the players gave a short talk. Lefty Whitnell once again sang his rendition of "The World is Round, but it's Crooked, Too."

Letter winners were announced. Those awarded the coveted gold "C" included: 

             Army Armstrong       George Jones
             Tom Bartlett               Ed Kubale
             Don Beane                  Clifton Lemon
             George Chinn             Bo McMillin
             Ray Class                     Chick Murphy
             Herb Covington         Red Roberts
             Ben Cregor                  Frank Rubarth
             Royce Flippin             Bill Shadoan
             Dick Gibson                Terry Snowday
             Minos Gordy              Hump Tanner
             Bill James                   Case Thomasson
                                                   Johnny McGee- ( team manager ) 

Bo's 1921 football letter certificate record signed by Uncle Charlie. 

The last event of the evening was to have the letter winners move out of the banquet for a private meeting to elect next year's captain.

The voting didn't take but a few minutes. The 1921 leader, Captain Armstrong, brought the attendees back to order and announced that he had the pleasure of introducing, "the captain of the 1922 Centre College Colonels, James 'Red' Roberts."

James "Red" Roberts was the 1922 team captain. The recent previous captains before 1922 were Bracken Tate ( 1917 ), Madison "Matty" Bell ( 1918 ), Alvin Nugent "Bo" McMillin ( 1919-20 ), Norris "Army" Armstrong ( 1921 ). The Walter Camp 1921 All-American selections were announced in the December 24 issue of "Collier's National Weekly" magazine after the team banquet.

Red stood up to speak. Normally the big guy was good on his feet, but his election had left him in somewhat of an emotional state.

"People, we must have the same coaching system that we have had for the past few years. This is the greatest question before the minds of the American people at the present time."

There were cheers and laughter.

"I am coming back here next year to play football, and if the boys will stand by me, we will clean the map off the United States."

There was prolonged laughter.

"But, really now, talking serious, and so forth and so on."

As Red mopped his forehead, time had to be taken out for several minutes to allow those attending the banquet to recover from their laughter, many nearly literally rolling on the floor.

George Joplin was in attendance.

Red attempted to thank his mates for the captaincy, but, arising for the speech, words failed him. After trying out a dozen choice adjectives, and finding that they were leading him to nowhere in particular, he sat down with the remark, "Gus King is right. I don't know ten words."