Looking Back On 1921 Season and Spring, 1922
The post-season scrambled the picture for the best team of 1921. Three undefeated and untied teams had played in bowls, and none emerged unblemished. California and Washington and Jefferson both went into the Rose Bowl with perfect records and tied 0- 0. Centre went West at 9-0-0 and split in 2 bowls to end at 10-1-0.
There were 3 undefeated, untied teams at the end of the season.
There were also 3 who were undefeated but once tied.
Washington and Jefferson 10-0-1
Eight teams had one loss.
Notre Dame 10-1-0
Georgia Tech 8-1-0
Utah State 7-1-0
Which was the best team in 1921?
Centre would have been a lock if it had beaten Texas A&M, but it didn't, and the loss hurt the school's certainty of being selected number 1 by sportswriters and "experts."
The undefeated Iowa Hawkeyes had a reasonable claim.
Iowa 52 Knox College 0
Iowa 10 Notre Dame 7
Iowa 14 Illinois 2
Iowa 13 Purdue 6
Iowa 41 Minnesota 7
Iowa 41 Indiana 0
Iowa 14 Northwestern 0
Certainly the win over Notre Dame was big, as it was the only loss that the Irish had for 3 years, having gone 9-0 in both 1919 and 1920.
Knox College was weak, and, as stated earlier, of the Hawkeyes' opponents, none had a winning record, and combined, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern and Purdue were a woeful, 11-24.
Still, that Notre Dame win was important as was the fact that Iowa only gave up 22 points all year.
Cornell had a good year, of that there is no doubt. The Big Red played tough defense, only surrendered 21 points during the year, but their schedule included Saint Bonaventure, Rochester, Western Reserve and Springfield.
Cornell 41 St. Bonaventure 0
Cornell 35 Rochester 0
Cornell 110 Western Reserve 0
Cornell 31 Colgate 7
Cornell 59 Dartmouth 7
Cornell 41 Columbia 7
Cornell 14 Springfield 0
Cornell 41 Pennsylvania 0
Cornell's decisive victory over a 6-2-1- Dartmouth team was impressive. However, the combined record of Colgate, Columbia and Penn was only 10-11-5.
Still, Cornell should be given consideration.
Lafayette 48 Muhlenberg 0
Lafayette 6 Pittsburgh 0
Lafayette 27 Dickenson 0
Lafayette 20 Bucknell 0
Lafayette 28 Fordham 7
Lafayette 35 Rutgers 0
Lafayette 38 Pennsylvania 6
Lafayette 44 Delaware 0
Lafayette 28 Lehigh 0
Undefeated, somewhat of a weak schedule, tough defense, big win over a good Pitt team, virtually unknown outside of their area because they didn't venture far from Easton, Pennsylvania. That's about as good a summary of Lafayette as can be given.
However, Lafayette was one of the 3 teams in 1921 with a perfect record. So who was the best?
Certainly, Centre would merit a place in the top 2 or 3.
In the spring of 1922, my freshman year, I tried out for and made the baseball team. There were only a few of us but what really got me enthused about being included was that several of the football players were on the team. It gave me a chance to play a little baseball even though I didn't play enough to letter but it mainly let me hang around the guys who had brought such glory to our school. Even though Army Armstrong was a senior, we developed a friendship which carried on through the years, especially later when we were both members of Centre's Board. Ben Cregor later became my broker and Red Roberts and I had that special "father-son" relationship.
Six members of the football team were on the 1922 baseball team. Shown on the front row, far left to right in line- Ben Cregor, Jimmy Green, Red Roberts, Chick Murphy and Herb Covington. Red Robertson is on the 2nd row, far left, and next to him is Robertson's long-time friend Crep Hays from Elizabethtown, the young man who the Robertson brothers joined in the upper Pullman bunk on the journey to the Auburn game. Army Armstrong, far right on 2nd row, with Young Hall in the background.
Army Armstrong used stationery from his days as captain of the 1921 team later in his life as shown on this letterhead which indicates how important that period of his life remained. The letter is about a photo which Ed Kubale, captain of the 1923 team, had sent Army. Also, Army laments that the "K.U." ( University of Kentucky ) yearbook is filled with "hippie" junk which apparently dates this letter to the 1960's.
The last official function of the school year was the annual Centre College Carnival. In what was becoming routine, another football player, so admired on campus, was elected King of the Carnival.
"Well, tear my sox !" Red exclaimed when told of his selection.
Red Roberts- King of the Carnival, Spring 1922
And so the 1921-22 year was over. The Old Centre yearbook for 1922 contained full pages and summaries of 32 seniors. As a class, they had made their mark, and each in his own way had done much for putting Centre on the map.
An article carried by a Louisville paper, and picked up by the Associated Press, was dated June 12.
The class of 1922 which will be graduated June 14, 1922, is the largest in numbers to be graduated from the little college in many years. Only two previous classes in the 103 year history of the school have been larger than that which graduates this year. Those were the classes of 1903 and 1904, due to the consolidation of Central University, then located in Richmond, Kentucky, into the Centre College of Kentucky.
Of the 32 featured in the yearbook, 29 earned degrees. Ben Cregor, Joe Murphy, Tom Moran, Red Roberts and team manager Johnny McGee all received their diplomas. ( Army and Bill James had actually graduated the pervious year, but returned for their extra year of eligibility.)
Bo didn't have enough credits to walk across the stage. However, a degree from Centre was extremely important to him, and he took courses after leaving Danville and came back in 1937 and received not only his sheepskin, but a long, appreciative ovation from students, faculty and guests who were as delighted as he at his accomplishment.
Bo McMillin, graduate, proudly receiving his academic, not honorary degree, at Centre's commencement in 1937.
There was one damper on an otherwise wonderful period.
Tiny Maxwell, the rotund official who worked both the 1920 and 1921 Harvard games, the same Tiny Maxwell who came up to Bo after the great victory and said, "Mr. McMillin, here is your ball," was involved in an automobile accident, and died June 30, 1922, at age 38.
Maxwell had also refereed the Centre- Texas A&M game.
My first year at Centre during 1921-22 had been wonderful. I'd gotten to see the team play in Danville, against Clemson, Virginia Poly, and of course, the great win over Kentucky at Homecoming.
I'd gone over on the day train to see the Transy game in Lexington. The Auburn game in Birmingham and staying at the Tutwiler was a trip to always remember, plus we played such a perfect game that afternoon. I was at the W&L game in Louisville, the game where Red Roberts brought his donkey.
My only regret was that I hadn't gotten to the Harvard game, but at least Howard did, and he told me so many stories about it that I almost felt I'd been there.
I joined Howard's fraternity, Phi Delta Theta. Red Roberts, Tom Bartlett, Hump Tanner, Terry Snowday, Bill Shadoan, Charles Cecil, Hope Hudgins, and Les Combs were all members of the football team and were Phi Delts. One reason that I remember so much about what was going on with the team was that if the guys weren't talking about girls, they were talking about football.
George Swinebroad, the head cheerleader, was a Phi Delt, and the team manager, Johnny McGee, was also.
First Row- Jake Yeager, Charlie Cecil, Leslie Combs II, Garrett Noonan, B.Y. Willis, Johnny McGee, Howard Robertson- Middle row- Jimmie Randell, John Eads, Ed Alexander, Ed Prewitt, Hope Hudgins, John Dugan, Crep Hays Top row- Red Roberts, George Swineboard, Bill Shadoan, Henry Honaker, Tom Bartlett, Terry Snowday Standing far left-DeLos Hibner, Randy Schmalhorst Standing far right-Red Robertson, Hump Tanner
Bold Face individuals were players on the football team along with Johnny McGee who was the team manager and George Swineboard who was a cheerleader.
When I was in high school back in Elizabethtown, I never wanted the summer vacation to end and have classes start up again. When I was at Centre, it was just the opposite. I couldn't wait for summer to end so that I could get back to school!
One more thing. I wasn't the greatest student, but I always made my grades, and one of the reasons that I passed in my courses was that I was determined to come back to school and be able to follow the team.
I'm sure that I wasn't the only one who made sure that he passed so he could come back.
Centre football certainly was an incentive.