It really wasn't a good sign for the future of Centre football that the school depended so heavily on "The Immortals" and a few others during the 1924 season, and rarely substituted. This pattern was especially noticeable during the game in New York with West Virginia, and the final 4 games against the Southern Conference teams.
During the West Virginia game, there were but two substitutions, Bob Wallace and Jim Priest.
During the Kentucky game, there were also just two subs, Priest and William Kagin.
Down in Knoxville against Tennessee, Jim Priest started for the injured Frank Rubarth who didn't make the trip. The only subs were Kagin and Carl Hilker.
During the Alabama game, all eleven starters played the entire 60 minutes except Walter Skidmore, who came out due to an injured foot, which later proved to be a fracture in his instep. The only replacement was Jim Priest who relieved Skidmore with just 2 minutes of play remaining.
There were no subs at all during the Georgia game. None.
Basically, Centre played just 15 men in 1924. Certainly that didn't speak well for the team's depth, or for 1925. Centre had excellent starters and a few adequate subs, but talent and experience fell off sharply as the coaches looked down the bench for available help.
The letter winners in 1924 who earned the gold "C" were;
( 1 ) Alexander Bush
( 2 ) Herb Covington
( 3 ) Minos Gordy
( 4 ) Ed Kubale
( 5 ) Carl Hilker
( 6 ) Clifton "Hennie" Lemon
( 7 ) Howard Lynch
( 8 ) George McClure
( 9 ) Jim Priest
(10) Elmer Rabenstein
(11 ) Frank Rubarth
(12 ) Walter Skidmore
(13) Robert "Case" Thomasson
(14) Robert Wallace (15 ) Reginald Wilson
( William Kagin, a sophomore, subbed in the Transylvania game and also against both Kentucky and Tennessee. He didn't play against Valparaiso, West Virginia, Alabama or Georgia. I have been unable to determine if he lettered during 1924. One indication that Kagin didn't was the fact that at the team banquet on the night of December 2nd at the City Restaurant, there was mention of
"the fifteen" which in all probability was for the letter winners. It was for certain that Kagin earned his letter during the 1925 and 1926 seasons. )
Five of the "Immortals" were named to various "All-Southern" teams for 1924, the last year that Centre would have significant post-season honors given to multiple players.
Hennie Lemon- 5 teams at end
Herb Covington- 4 teams at quarterback
Ed Kubale- 4 teams at center
Minos Gordy- 1 team at tackle
Howard Lynch- 1 team at guard
Walter Skidmore, a junior and the team captain in 1925, was placed on 2 "All-Southern" teams at the tackle position.
Added to the lack of manpower in the varsity line-up was the situation with the freshman team. Red Roberts actually took the "Lieutenants" to Lexington to play UK's first year men, the "Kittens," and only had his 11 starters. There were no replacements. Had there been an injury, he would have had to throw in the towel, or perhaps borrow a player from Kentucky.
Analysts could see what was happening. Centre had brought in a core group of young men from Texas who, along with others, had taken the college to the peak of the football world after the Great War. However, the talent hadn't been adequately replaced over the years, especially not after the great group which had entered in the fall of 1921 and the introduction of the "Freshman Rule" for 1922. With the "Seven Immortals" graduating, and so little help due to come from the 1924 freshman team, things were beginning to look bleak for 1925.
Of course, it's easier to see what the future holds once one has lived through it. While there were definite worries after the successful- actually spectacular- finish of the 1924 season, many felt that Centre was destined to continue on, playing the "big boys" and to have winning campaigns.
It wasn't to be.
One factor was that after Centre's enrollment nearly reached 300 during the 1923-24 academic year, it began to decline, and lesser numbers on campus were reflected in lesser numbers on the gridiron.
1918/19 134 ( Centre's S.A.T.C. war season)
1919/20 181 ( The big win over West Virginia )
1920/21 191 ( Harvard- 31 Centre-14)
1921/22 257 ( Centre- 6 Harvard- 0 )
1922/23 284 ( Harvard- 24 Centre- 10)
1923/24 292 ( The new stadium to be built )
1924/25 223 ( "The Seven Immortals" graduate)
1925/26 241 ( Chief Myers' last year )
While a loss of 69 students wouldn't cause even a ripple at a large state college, the drop-off from 1923/24 to 1924/25 of that number of enrollees equated to a 23% decline.
Especially telling was that during the 1925/26 school year, there were only 130 young men in the upper 3 classes who were eligible to play football. The "Freshman Rule" was beginning to literally rule.
Even with the small student body, a college the size of Centre could compete if the will had been there to make recruitment and winning a priority of the school. When Dr. Ganfield was president, he indeed encouraged that such a policy be implemented.
That determination was no longer a major part of the Centre mission. The underlying sentiment of much of the faculty was that athletics had somewhat replaced academics as a focus of the college. They wanted the emphasis at Centre more oriented to the classroom. With Dr. Ganfield gone, Dr. R. Ames Montgomery, president from 1922-26, led what was to be a de-emphasis of football during his tenure.
Much of what Dr. Montgomery had to do was dictated not only by the faculty but also by the actions of the Southern Association of Colleges.
Reestablishing accreditation for the college had to be his top priority, and he was torn by the necessity of achieving that goal versus the desire to have Centre remain in the top tier of college football. It was basically a no-win situation for Montgomery.
If he listened to the alumni and students and townspeople who were pushing for Centre's football program to be maintained at its former level, he would run afoul of the desires of the faculty and some of the Southern Association members.
If he listened to the desires of the faculty and Southern Association, Centre's athletic program, particularly the football team, would suffer an inevitable decline.
Dr. Montgomery did the best that could be done under the circumstances, but he resigned in 1926, a short tenure certainly influenced by the controversy involving Centre's ambivalence about how its athletic program should be conducted.
Dr. R. Ames Montgomery
The Chief came back for another year, the 1925 season. Harold Ofstie stayed on as assistant coach and Red Roberts was replaced by Bill Shadoan who had departed Valparaiso after that college developed some serious financial challenges.
The 1925 season was summarized quite accurately in the 1926 "Old Centre" yearbook.
In scoring points and winning games, Centre experienced a most unsuccessful season; but in showing fight and winning honor, it compares with the great teams of the past.
Possessing but few experienced men and composed to a great extent of green material, Centre put on the field a team that, win or lose, demanded the respect of all its opponents.
The 1925 Colonels went 3-6. Centre's 3 wins were against in-state teams with little reputation.
Centre 10 Kentucky Wesleyan 0
Centre 0 Oglethorpe 20
Centre 13 Michigan State 15
Centre 13 Western Kentucky 0
Centre 0 Kentucky 16
Centre 0 Tennessee 12
Centre 3 Georgetown ( DC ) 41
Centre 34 Georgetown ( KY ) 6
Centre 0 South Carolina 20
The Michigan Agricultural College ( State ) game, played at Macklin Field in East Lansing on October 17 , was a fine effort, and Centre almost won.
Macklin Field built in 1923 in East Lansing with a capacity of 13,064.
The Colonels were down at the half, 12-0, came back in the second half to lead 13-12 with touchdowns scored by Walter Skidmore and Reginald "Mutt" Wilson, and seemingly had the victory. State had the ball on the Centre 42 with a minute to play and faced a 4th down. The "Old Centre" summary of the season described what transpired.
With the wind against him and from a difficult angle, Smith kicked a beautiful and seemingly impossible goal. A few seconds later the game ended, 15-13, in favor of Michigan State.
Paul Smith was a substitute halfback who did the kicking for the college which was changing its nickname from "Aggies" to "Spartans" in 1925.
( Michigan State had a 3-5 record in 1925. The losses were to Lake Forest, Michigan, Penn State, Colgate and Wisconsin. Besides Centre, wins were over Adrian College, a little liberal arts school in Michigan, and Toledo. )
Georgetown, in the District of Columbia, was the destination of the annual "trip East" on November 14th.
While Georgetown was 8-1 for the year, with the only loss being 3-2 to Uncle Charlie's Bucknell team, the "Hilltoppers" weren't exactly up there in the stratosphere of the football heavens. ( The "Hoyas" nickname was adopted in 1928. ) Their opponents in 1925 included Drexel, Mount St. Mary, Lebanon Valley, King College of Tennessee, and the Quantico Marines.
Nonetheless, Centre was easily dispatched, 41-3.
Georgetown's Lou Metzger, who scored 3 TD's, gains 15 yards during the rout of Centre. The Colonels led early after converting on a field goal and then gave up 41 unanswered points. There was a significant crowd at the game held at Washington's Clark Griffith Stadium, but the "Glory Days" essentially ended with the 6th "trip East."
1925 Centre team in Washington, DC with President Calvin Coolidge, hands folded. The gentleman with cane and holding a hat is Richard P. Ernst, Republican Senator from Kentucky, 1921-1927. Elmer Rabenstein, a stand-out back who played such a vital role on the 1924 team and was deemed the "greatest back ever to play on Tennessee soil" by Knoxville writers in Centre's 1924, 32-0 win, is far left. Carl McClure is just above Rabenstein's left shoulder on 2nd row. Walter Skidmore, Centre's 1925 captain, is just over the left shoulder of Senator Ernst.
In the annual Kentucky game, Elmer Rabenstein was hurt and couldn't play. Centre had virtually no offense during the contest, and the 16-0 loss finally made good the perennial cry over in Lexington, "This is the year!"
At last! A compilation of headlines about the Wildcat's 1925 win occupied a full page in Kentucky's 1926 yearbook, the "Kentuckian." There had been 9 years, or 8 games. Due to there being no game in 1918, there was the variance in the headlines. The lower right headline, "Sting Of Many Defeats Gone," described how relieved Kentucky was to finally chalk up a victory over the Colonels.
Program showing the 1925 score, the first Centre loss to UK since 1916
Centre managed to beat Kentucky in 1926, 7-0. The members of the team were given little gold footballs with a white, enameled "C" with the date and "State Champions" engraved. It was Centre's last win over its greatest rival.
The last ever win by Centre over UK
Gold football awarded to members of 1926 team. The little football is in the possession of the author.
The football was awarded to James Maurice Fendley ( 1903-1968 ) who was in the class of 1928. James was a member of the freshman team in 1924 when my father was the team manager and a fellow Phi Delt. He played high school football in Frankfort, Kentucky and was honored as being a member of the first Traditional Bank/Frankfort High School Athletic Hall of Fame created in 2019.
Fendley's little football taken with a different camera
Centre got blown out by the Wildcats 53-0 in 1927, played competitively in 1928, losing by but 8-0, and was outclassed in 1929, 33-0, being shutout for 3 straight years by a cumulative margin of 94-0.
After the 1929 game, Kentucky sent word that it no longer wanted to play the Colonels. Centre couldn't believe it, and protested vehemently.
"When we had the upper hand against Kentucky, we never even considered dropping the Wildcats from our schedule, as well we could have."
Kentucky put out a press release that it was going to concentrate on Southern Conference opponents which it could certainly do as there were 23 members. There was a significant protest throughout the state. Centre threatened to sever all relationships. Kentucky held firm, and the two colleges never again met on the gridiron. Like Penn and Princeton over 3 decades previously, the schools later met in the "minor sports."
( Centre opened its spring 1960 baseball season against Kentucky in a game in Lexington. I was a freshman and in my first ever at bat as a college player, I somehow managed to homer over the left field fence. In rounding the bases, I tripped over second. It's difficult to go from total elation to abject humiliation in 180 feet, but I managed it. We lost, 10-5. )
Batting 8th in the lineup, I homered the first time I ever appeared in a college game. It was the highlight of a rather pedestrian career. The error was not highlighted, an author's prerogative.
Kentucky would never have ended the series without first gaining the upper hand. It would have been taken as surrendering. But after winning the last 3 games, the state school thought it could move on, having finally become the top program in Kentucky.
The series, begun in 1891, ended with Centre coming out on top, 20-13-2. Kentucky's "Media Guide" has the record at 18-11-1. It is incorrect. There seems to be some confusion about counting games in the early 1900's when Centre was called Central University of Kentucky. Either way, Centre had a significant winning margin during the games between the two colleges.
( Chapter 126 has an explanation of the Central University- Centre College situation.)
Harold Ofstie, assistant coach, took over when the Chief didn't return in 1926. He was 6-10-2 during his two seasons. The days of pouncing on the big schools were over.
During Ofstie's tenure, Centre lost to Tennessee, 30-0, Michigan State, 42-14, West Virginia, 21-0, and Vanderbilt, 53-6.
Just 3 years after the wonderful 1924 season, the Associated Press sent out a story in December of 1927 which appeared in newspapers all over the country. Centre had completed the last 3 campaigns with a combined 9-16-2 record.
Fickle fate is quick to forget the stellar accomplishments of the past for those of the present.
Little Centre College probably offers as fitting example of fleeting fame as any in the realm of football. A few years ago, Centre sprang into the spotlight with a sterling eleven. It swept aside all before it. The "Praying Colonels," as the team was known, because it always knelt in prayer just before starting a game, soon got to be the talk of the gridiron world.
Coached by Charlie Moran, veteran National League umpire, Centre turned out such twinklers as Bo McMillin, Red Weaver, Red Roberts, Army Armstrong, Herb Covington, and others. Some gained All-American recognition.
It wasn't long before little Centre College, situated in the Bluegrass of Kentucky, was the most sought after school in the game. Offers came from far and wide. Centre was the biggest attraction in football.
Even Harvard asked Centre to come to Cambridge. Centre accepted; in fact, met the Crimson at its Soldiers Field enclosure several times. In 1921, Centre chalked up one of its greatest feats in defeating Harvard, 6-0.
Centre's reign at the top was short-lived, however. The shining McMillin, Weaver and Roberts and others were graduated, leaving the Kentucky school nothing much save memories of other campaigns.
During the last years, Centre has done little in football. Its teams have met defeat with too much regularity and mostly at the hands of schools the Colonels would have considered hardly more than set-ups in the winning days. Only recently, Vanderbilt swamped Centre, 53-6.
In a word, Centre has slipped out of the limelight about as fast as it reached the purple heights seven or eight years ago.
No longer does the little hamlet close up shop and turn out en masse to welcome home the conquering heroes. No longer does the band play triumphant airs to lead Centre's mere handful of students in a snake dance throughout the main section of town.
Uncle Charlie is no longer guiding the Danville school's destinies.
Centre College is just a little Kentucky school now.
In 1928, Centre reached back into the past and hired Ed Kubale as its head football coach. "Kube," captain of the 1923 squad, certainly had the heritage. He had played every game from 1921 through the 1924 season, 37 in all, and during those years as the team's center, the Colonels had rolled to 30-5-2 record.
Kubale was the coach for 10 seasons, and his record was a respectable 52-40-4. However, during his tenure, Centre was beginning to downgrade the schedule, playing such schools as Western Kentucky which the Colonels barely beat, 7-6, in 1929.
When the Colonels took on one of the more powerful programs, the result was becoming predictable.
Notable losses were: 1929 Centre 6 Tennessee. 40
Centre 0 Kentucky 33 ( the last year )
1930 Centre 0 Tennessee 18
Centre 7 Northwestern 45
Centre 0 Kansas State 27
The 1930 game with Kansas State had particular interest to football fans across the country. Bo McMillin had left Centenary after 3 years and signed on at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa. where he coached through the 1927 season. He then assumed the head coaching position in Manhattan, Kansas to lead the Kansas State Wildcats' program. It was no coincidence that Bo had arranged an invitation for his old team and his former teammate, Ed Kubale, to come to Kansas State for a game.
In 1931, an old name from the past re-entered the picture in an attempt to once again promote Centre's fortunes, a decade after the momentous 1921 victory over Harvard.
Howard Reynolds, still the sports editor of the Boston "Post," proposed a game between the Colonels and another college in his hometown, not Harvard this time, but Boston College.
The 27-man, 1931 edition of the Centre College "Praying Colonels" posed in front of the Boyle-Humphrey Gymnasium
Just as he had in 1919, Reynolds took the train from Boston to Danville in order to be able to write about Centre for his paper and to draw attention to the upcoming game which was scheduled on Armistice Day, November 11, 1931. Reynolds had made many friends in Danville a decade ago and still kept in contact with them. He wanted Centre to somehow once again reach the level of football acclaim that it had previously held and felt he could play a role as he had done before.
Howard Reynolds, once again in Danville, Kentucky
Reynolds also was featured in the program for the game which was to be played in Fenway Park where the Colonels had practiced before the 1921 game with Harvard.
Centre-Boston College program with Howard G. Reynolds featured, at the top of list of contributors, left corner
Howard Reynolds' article highlighting the players for the Colonels and Eagles in the program for the game.
The headline above indicated what Reynolds sought for Centre- ".. a Power Once More. "
Editor's note attached to Reynolds' article reminding readers of his critical role in helping Centre College reach national prominence in the world of college football a decade previously.
Coach Ed Kubale as pictured in the 1931 Centre-Boston College program
The starting Centre team as it appeared for the game with Boston College
A close game determined by a blocked kick with a recovery in the end zone in the 4th quarter
After the 1931 close loss, Centre traveled to Boston 3 more times to play Boston College, these times at the Eagles' new home turf in Chestnut Hill at Alumni Field.
( Boston College played at its Alumni Field on campus, Fenway Park, or later at Braves Field, until its present Alumni Stadium was built in 1957. )
The Colonels were shut out in each of the subsequent games.
1932 Boston College-6 Centre-0 1933 Boston College-6 Centre-0 1934 Boston College-7 Centre-0
In the 1932 game, Cecil "Freckles" Hamilton, Centre's quarterback, far left, runs against Boston College. The Colonels reportedly outplayed the Eagles but lost, 6-0, when BC ran back a punt 65 yards for the only score of the game.
It was somewhat like Thomas Wolfe's epic novel written in the 1930's, "You Can't Go Home Again." Despite Howard Reynolds' desire to be the catalyst for Centre's re-emergence back to the top of the college football world, it simply wasn't to be.
( Howard Reynolds joined the Boston "Post" in 1899 as a 20-year-old. He became the Sports Editor in 1909, a post that he held until retiring in 1946. He spent his retirement in Weld, Maine where he died at age 84 on December 23, 1963. )
From 1931 on, Centre was playing teams like Wittenburg, Washington University of St. Louis, Mercer, old Kentucky rivals Georgetown and Transylvania, Chattanooga, Murray (Ky.), Birmingham-Southern, John Carroll, Morehead (Ky.), Marquette, Marshall, Wabash, and Southwestern ( now Rhodes.)
When the Colonels tried to step it up, the picture was less than pretty.
1933 Centre 0 Pittsburgh 37
1934 Centre 0 Tennessee 32
1935 Centre 13 Temple 25
Centre 0 Indiana 14
Centre 14 Tennessee 25
Centre 0 Mississippi 26
1936 Centre 7 Temple 50
Centre 0 Indiana 38
Centre 13 West Virginia 26
1937 Centre 0 Indiana 12
1938 Centre 6 Villanova 35
Quinn Decker took over in 1938 and compiled a 14-17-2 record. A memorable effort by the Colonels occurred in 1939 when Centre traveled to West Point and lost a very close game to Army, 9-6. The Cadets were a decent squad, having tied a good Penn State team and played well against tough Notre Dame, losing 14-0.
1939 Army team
The Colonels fought the good fight against Army in 1939
The Lexington "Herald" included the following in its coverage of the game- "The Centre scrappers were certainly iron men today. Quinn Decker, their coach, only used six substitutes today during the fray, and from the second period on, the Colonels' yellow shirts were soaked with sweat."
Army sent in 21 subs and finally wore down the Colonels who led 6-0 after the first 3 periods, getting 2 points on a safety and then 7 points after a blocked punt and successful extra point during the last quarter.
Michie Stadium at West Point as it was built in 1924 and as it still appeared when the Colonels played there some 15 years later, in 1939. The only changes had been the enlargement of the press box and the addition of lights.
Centre was shutout 2 weeks later by a 4-5-1 Virginia Tech team in Blacksburg and finished at 1-5-2.
Virginia Tech-28 Centre-0
The only win in 1939 was against old foe Transylvania, 26-0.
Transylvania, which fielded its last ever team in 1941, provided Centre its only win in 1939
The final attempts at playing with the major colleges came in 1941 and 1942. In 1941, Centre went down to Atlanta, making its first appearance in the city since the game with Georgia Tech in 1920 when the Colonels felt they had been the victims of poor sportsmanship. This time, in a clean game, they just got thumped.
The University of Georgia won, 47-6.
Quinn Decker was inducted into the Army Air Corps as a lieutenant and Centre had to find a new coach for the 1942 season.
Laird Holt, who had played for Tennessee, took over the position.
On October 17, 1942, little Milligan College, a faith-based liberal arts school in Tennessee, lying on the banks of Buffalo Creek in the Northeastern part of the state, was invited to travel to Danville to play Centre.
The "Buffs" won, 7-6.
Perhaps that contest should have been fair warning of what was to follow the next Saturday. In the last game ever with the major colleges, Centre went down to Nashville and was slaughtered by a Vanderbilt team which just the week before been handled 33-0 by Mississippi State.
The Commodores won, 66-0.
The next week, Centre was 0-4 and playing Hanover on the road. At the end of the first quarter, unbelievably, Coach Holt had to leave the field and report for military service in the Navy! Paul Coop, the basketball coach, who had played football for Centre during the 1937-39 seasons, took over the reins and Centre won the game, 42-12.
Coaches Holt and Coop who served during the war season of 1942
Coop led the Colonels to a 40-7 win over Roanoke College the following week in Danville before ending his brief tenure with a 61-14, season-ending loss in Chattanooga to the University of Chattanooga. Ed Kubale, at the time serving at Southwestern ( Rhodes ) as Director of Athletics, came up from Memphis to assist Coop prior to the Roanoke game.
Centre shut down its program totally during the war years, 1943-45. The pads stayed in the lockers, and attention was paid to the war in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific.
Centre became part of the Army flight training program in early 1943. By the end of the program in June 1944, close to 1800 young men had passed through the program and 51 had died. The students who had been enrolled at Centre when the program was enacted were transferred to the K.C.W. campus.
Carrying gear near Old Main in 1943. "Mitch" Rubin, left and Private Shelton, right
Shelton posing at the stadium in military uniform, not the Gold and White of the Colonels
Appreciating the past with Red Roberts and Bo featured
Carl "Swede" Anderson, the head trainer during the Colonels' "Golden Years," was asked to get the program back up and running so that the college could field a team in 1946.
The schedule was modest. The results weren't so great, but at least Centre was back on the gridiron, even if the school was blanked during its first post-war effort, and had a record of 0-7.
Centre 0 Maryville ( Tn. ) 19
Centre 6 Mississippi College 26
Centre 0 Wabash 16
Centre 20 Hanover 27
Centre 18 Middle Tennessee 19
Centre 7 Sewanee 52
Centre 0 Arkansas State 14
Back on the gridiron but not in the winning column. Program from the 1946 loss to Wabash signed by the players and Coach C. R. "Swede" Anderson and Joe Brummett, who coached football, basketball and track at Centre from 1952-61. Also signing was Briscoe Inman, Centre '49, who is mentioned below.
"Swede" had a 14-23-2 record in 5 seasons, and went out on a winning note, having gone 6-1-1 in 1950, with the following record:
Centre 26 Tusculum 0
Centre 14 Maryville 7
Centre 7 Anderson ( In. ) 7
Centre 9 Wabash 7
Centre 24 Hanover 14
Centre 24 Southwestern ( Rhodes ) 0
Centre 16 Sewanee 8
Centre 3 Georgetown College 7
Briscoe Inman was the coach from 1952-56 and 1963-65. Inman had an overall record of 38-24-2 in his 8 years directing the program.
A memorable season was 1955.
The Colonels were 8-0 and hardly challenged. Herb Covington, little "Covey," one of the "Seven Immortals," had a son, George, on the team.
Centre-Washington and Jefferson, 1955, at W&J
The 1955 team outscored its opponents, 245-53.
Centre 28 Otterbein ( Oh. ) 13
Centre 17 Maryville 0
Centre 24 Washington and Lee 7
Centre 28 Southwestern ( Rhodes ) 13
Centre 53 Georgetown College 0
Centre 27 Hanover 13
Centre 28 Sewanee 0
Centre 40 Washington and Jefferson 7
The Tangerine Bowl, in Orlando, was established in 1947 as a post-season affair for small colleges. It later evolved into one of the premier big-time, major college bowls, and of this writing is called the Citrus Bowl. Early on, the Tangerine Bowl was called "The Little Bowl with the Big Heart," because all of the proceeds went to charity.
Centre was invited to play in the January 1, 1956 game due to its great 1955 season, and everyone associated with the school was fired up about the possibility of traveling down to Florida over the holidays.
The college turned down the invitation. Coach Inman later stated his team wouldn't play because he coached a group of young men who were first class, who played for a first-class college, and they were offered second-class accommodations and second-class transportation and expenses.
Apparently, Coach Inman didn't think that the Tangerine Bowl was "The Little Bowl with the Big Heart."
While the Tangerine Bowl officials didn't seem to adequately appreciate the Colonels, others did.
Document sent to Red Robertson in 1955 in appreciation for providing awards to team members acknowledging their great, undefeated 1955 season. Signees included Little All-American Gene Scott, who led the nation in rushing yards for small college backs in 1955, H.G. Reed, who averaged 9.5 yards per carry, 2nd in the nation, and George Covington, the son of Herb "Covey" Covington, star quarterback in the 1920's during Centre's years as the nation's "Wonder Team." Army Armstrong, team captain during the 1921 season in which Centre defeated Harvard, 6-0, signed the document, "Thanks, Robbie....", which was the name Red Robertson was often called. Besides the present coaches noted at the top left of the document, Briscoe Inman, Joe Brummett, and Bill Decker, future Centre coaches signing were players Herb McGuire and Steele Harmon.
In 2005, the 1955 team was enshrined into the Centre College "Athletic Hall of Fame," joining the 1921 team which had been inducted in 1998, only the second time such an honor had been bestowed .
1955 undefeated, "Hall of Fame" team. Coach Briscoe Inman is first row, far left. Dudley Doneghy, who joined the Centre staff as a trainer and "rubber" in 1919, ended his career after the 1955 season and is far right, first row. Gene Scott is #27 in the middle of the first row, and H.G. Reed is #21, top row, far left. George Covington is #53, the 4th player from the left, first row.
Roster for 1955 Centre team
In 1970, there was a drive by some Centre alumni to try to put Harvard and Centre back on the field at Harvard Stadium for a 1971 game which would have celebrated the 50th anniversary of Centre's win in 1921. The idea caught on in Cambridge. Even though the game wasn't played, alumni at Harvard campaigned for the next few years to have Centre return.
The feeling was that the game could once again fill the great horseshoe on the Charles.
Harvard's attendance had generally fallen off to such a degree that it was felt that the publicity generated by attempting to recreate the atmosphere of the Centre-Harvard games of 1920-22, when Harvard and other members of the "Big 3" ruled, could be the spark needed to regenerate fan interest.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to stage another game? Put the Colonels up at the Lenox, not much changed from the early 20's.
The Lenox where the Colonels stayed in 1921 and 1922
Send the team to a performance at the Colonial Theatre, still thriving down Boylston across from the Boston Common.
Colonial Theatre-106 Boylston Street
Site and program from where the Colonels and fans saw the Ziegfeld Follies
Have a jazz band like the "Centre 5" or Centre "Six" play at a dance in the Boston Garden and invite all of the fraternities and sororities and clubs to dress in period attire and recreate the dance steps of the day.
The "Centre 5"
Centre "Six" with Red Robertson's brother, Howard Robertson, '25, and the author's uncle, far left
See if the members of the Harvard Club would host the Colonels for a dinner as they did in the past.
Purchase "retro" uniforms to try to somewhat duplicate the look of the equipment of the day.
Harvard's uniforms during the Centre games
Dress the cheerleaders as they were at the game, as well as the officials.
Cheer the same cheers, with megaphones.
Wave the same pennants.
Play the same songs and have the Harvard Band dressed as before.
Try to get as many owners of cars from the era to drive them to the game. Find some period buses to take the Colonels from the Lenox to Harvard Stadium with a motorcycle escort. Give prizes for the most authentic period clothing worn to the game.
1921 car and attire of the period
Print the program for the game as it was earlier. Have a modern Roscoe, dressed as before, waving a Centre pennant and "do the cakewalk, and pigeon wing."
Could the tickets have a "retro" look?
Print a front page of the era with the type of print used and a preview and coverage of the game.
Just flat out, do everything possible to recreate the atmosphere of the wonderful, early 20's!
Wouldn't it be significantly historic to schedule another game between Harvard and Centre?
Or, if not possible, recreate those memorable days in a movie?