|1916 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football|
National champion (Billingsley)
|Conference||Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association|
|1916 record||8–0–1 (5–0 SIAA)|
|Head coach||John Heisman (13th season)|
|Offensive scheme||Jump shift|
|Home stadium||Grant Field|
|1916 SIAA football standings|
|Georgia Tech +||5||–||0||–||0||8||–||0||–||1|
The 1916 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team represented the Georgia Tech Golden Tornado of the Georgia Institute of Technology during the 1916 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association football season. Georgia Tech was a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA). The Tornado was coached by John Heisman in his 13th year as head coach, compiling a record of 8–0–1 (5–0 SIAA) and outscoring opponents 421 to 20. Georgia Tech played its home games at Grant Field. One writer claimed the 1916 team "seemed to personify Heisman." This was the first team to vault Georgia Tech to national prominence.
The season featured the 222–0 defeat of Cumberland, the largest margin of victory in football history. Tech scored the second-most points in the nation, behind Georgetown. Everett Strupper was third in the nation in scoring, including 16 touchdowns.
Several players received post-season honors. Pup Phillips was the first Tech center selected All-Southern, and was selected third-team All-America by Walter Camp. Along with Phillips and Strupper, tackle Walker Carpenter, guard Bob Lang, and fullback Tommy Spence were also All-Southern.
Before the season
Star halfback Ev Strupper was partially deaf; because of his deafness, he called the signals instead of the team's quarterback. When "Strupe" tried out for the team, he noticed that the quarterback shouted the signals every time he was to carry the ball. Realizing that the loud signals would be a tip-off to the opposition, Strupper told Heisman: "Coach, those loud signals are absolutely unnecessary. You see when sickness in my kid days brought on this deafness my folks gave me the best instructors obtainable to teach me lip-reading." Heisman recalled how Strupper overcame his deafness: "He couldn't hear anything but a regular shout. But he could read your lips like a flash. No lad that ever stepped on a football field had keener eyes than Everett had. The enemy found this out the minute he began looking for openings through which to run the ball."
|September 30||Mercer||W 61–0|
|October 7||Cumberland*||W 222–0|
|October 14||Davidson*||W 9–0|
|October 21||North Carolina*||W 10–6|
|October 28||Washington & Lee*||T 7–7|
|November 4||Tulane||W 45–0|
|November 11||Alabama||W 13–0|
|November 18||at Georgia||W 21–0||10,000|
|November 30||Auburn||W 33–7|
The 222–0 defeat of Cumberland was the largest margin of victory in football history. Cumberland, a Presbyterian school in Lebanon, Tennessee, had discontinued its football program before the season but was not allowed to cancel its game against the Engineers. The fact that Cumberland's baseball team had crushed Georgia Tech earlier that year 22–0 (amidst allegations that Cumberland used professionals as ringers) probably accounted for Georgia Tech coach John Heisman's running up the score on the Bulldogs. (Heisman was also the Engineers' baseball coach.) Another possible reason for Heisman's plan to run up the score was the practice among the sportswriters of the time to rank teams based on how many points they scored. Since this statistic did not account for the strength or weakness of a team's opponent, Heisman disagreed with the amount of weight the writers tended to assign to it, and he may have unleashed his players on Cumberland to make his point.
Cumberland received the opening kickoff and failed to make a first down. After a punt, the Engineers scored on their first play. Cumberland then fumbled on their next play from scrimmage, and a Tech player returned the fumble for a touchdown. The Bulldogs fumbled again on their next play, and it took Tech two runs to score its third touchdown. Cumberland lost nine yards on its next possession, then gave up a fourth touchdown on another two-play Tech drive.
With a 42–0 lead midway through the first quarter, Strupper broke clear and could have scored easily, but he intentionally grounded the ball at the one-yard line to allow Georgia Tech tackle J. Cantey Alexander to score the first touchdown of his career. A teammate later recalled the play as follows:
Strupper swapped positions with Alexander ... The team didn't want to make it too easy for Cantey, though. The other boys wouldn't block for him or help in any way. As soon as the ball was snapped, they ran away from the line and out of the play completely. Leaving poor Cantey to go it alone. Finally, on fourth down, a bruised and weary Alexander got the ball across while his teammates howled with laughter.
|“||As a general rule, the only thing necessary for a touchdown was to give a Tech back the ball and holler, 'Here he comes' and 'There he goes.||”|
|— The Atlanta Journal, 1916|
The Engineers led 63–0 after the first quarter and 126–0 at halftime. Tech added 54 more points in the third quarter and 42 in the final period. Cumberland's only effective defense was an extra point blocked with a sort of human pyramid.
Sportswriter Grantland Rice wrote, "Cumberland's greatest individual play of the game occurred when fullback Allen circled right end for a 6–yard loss."[n 1] At halftime, Heisman reportedly told his players, "You're doing all right, team, we're ahead. But you just can't tell what those Cumberland players have up their sleeves. They may spring a surprise. Be alert, men! Hit 'em clean, but hit 'em hard!" However, even Heisman relented, and shortened the quarters in the second half to 12 minutes each instead of 15.
The starting lineup was: Preas (left end), Bell (left tackle), West (left guard), Phillips (center), Alexander (right guard), Carpenter (right tackle), Puckett (right end), Guill (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Shaver (right halfback), and Spence (fullback).
The starting lineup was: Dunwoody (left end), Bell (left tackle), Lang (left guard), Phillips (center), Fincher (right guard), Carpenter (right tackle), Senter (right end), Morrison (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Johnston (right halfback), and Spence (fullback).
After six minutes of play, Everett Strupper caught a punt and ran 55 yards for a touchdown. Five minutes later, Tommy Spence kicked a goal from the 33–yard line. In the fourth quarter, Carolina scored on a forward pass from Folger to Ramsey which set up a touchdown.
The starting lineup was: Dunwoody (left end), Mauck (left tackle), Preas (left guard), Phillips (center), Lang (right guard), Carpenter (right tackle), Senter (right end), Morrison (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Johnston (right halfback), and Spence (fullback).
Washington & Lee
"In a game filled with thrills", Washington and Lee tied Georgia Tech 7–7 in the season's lone blemish for Tech. Tech had to play without Senter or Spence. All the scoring was done in the first ten minutes. W&L's Hall of Fame captain Harry Young returned a punt to Tech's 37–yard line. After two runs brought the ball to the 30, Adams worked the ball to the score in three plays. Strupper threw a touchdown to Bell for Tech's score. The Generals threatened to score throughout the second period.
The starting lineup was: Dunwoody (left end), Mauck (left tackle), Alexander (left guard), Phillips (center), Lang (right guard), Carpenter (right tackle), Bell (right end), Morrison (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Johnston (right halfback), and Glover (fullback).
The starting lineup was: Dunwoody (left end), Mauck (left tackle), Alexander (left guard), Fincher (center), Lang (right guard), Carpenter (right tackle), Bell (right end), Morrison (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Shaver (right halfback), and Guill (fullback).
The starting lineup was: Dunwoody (left end), Alexander (left tackle), Fincher (left guard), Phillips (center), Lang (right guard), Carpenter (right tackle), Bell (right end), Guill (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Shaver (right halfback), and Spence (fullback).
Tech easily beat Georgia 21–0 in the season's only road game. After a scoreless first quarter, Johnston ran for 25 yards around right end, and plunges from Spence soon got a touchdown. In the third quarter, Spence scored again. Tech was then aided by a half-the-distance-to-the-goal penalty by Georgia. The drive ended with a 15–yard touchdown run from Strupper. The starting lineup was: Dunwoody (left end), Alexander (left tackle), Lang (left guard), Phillips (center), Fincher (right guard), Carpenter (right tackle), Bell (right end), Morrison (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Johnston (right halfback), and Spence (fullback).
Tech overwhelmed rival Auburn 33–7 to clinch a share of the SIAA title. Tech end Dunwoody scored a touchdown when he recovered a fumble and raced 20 yards. Center Pup Phillips also had a score, falling on a punt he blocked. Auburn's star was Moon Ducote.
The starting lineup was: Dunwoody (left end), Alexander (left tackle), Fincher (left guard), Phillips (center), Lang (right guard), Carpenter (right tackle), Bell (right end), Morrison (quarterback), Strupper (left halfback), Johnston (right halfback), and Spence (fullback).
Tech scored the second–most points in the nation, behind Georgetown. Everett Strupper was third in the nation in scoring, including 16 touchdowns. The team was retroactively selected as the national champion for 1916 by the Billingsley Report.
Awards and honors
Center Pup Phillips was selected for Walter Camp's third-team All-America and was the first Tech center selected All-Southern. Tackle Walker Carpenter, guard Bob Lang, fullback Tommy Spence, and halfback Everett Strupper were selected All-Southern along with Phillips. Spence got Camp's honorable mention.
First World War
The following chart provides a visual depiction of Tech's lineup during the 1916 season with games started at the position reflected in parenthesis. The chart mimics the offense after the jump shift has taken place.
- Several myths have developed around the game. Some have written that Cumberland did not have a single play that gained yards; in fact, its longest play was a 10-yard pass (on 4th-and-22 or 3rd-and-18). One page on Cumberland's website says Georgia Tech scored on every offensive play, but the play-by-play account of the game refutes this and suggests a more likely scenario: that Georgia Tech scored on every one of its sets of downs. However, neither team made a first down.
- Heisman, John M. Heisman: The Man Behind the Trophy. p. 144.
- George B. Underwood (December 3, 1916). "Georgia Tech and Georgetown Lead". The Sun. p. 3.
- "Everett Strupper, Tech Immortal, Passes Suddenly". Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. 28 (4). 1950.
- "Ex-Tech Great Dies Suddenly: Everett Strupper, Member of Unbeaten Teams, Passes in Atlanta". The Anniston Star (AP wire story). 1950-02-05.
- John Heisman (1923-11-09). "Heisman Tells Inside Story of Strupper's Play". Atlanta Constitution.
- "Football Season In Atlanta Opens With Two Games". The Atlanta Constitution. September 30, 1917. p. 1. Retrieved August 4, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Georgia Tech Overwhelms Mercer In The First Game". The Wilmington Morning Star. October 1, 1916. p. 3. Retrieved April 23, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Litsky, Frank (2006-10-07). "In 1916, a Blowout for the Ages". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
- Paul, Jim (1983). You Dropped It, You Pick It Up. Baton Rouge, LA: Ed's Publishing Company. ISBN 99934-0-444-6.
- Nash, Bruce (1990). Football Hall of Shame. Schuster Merchandise. ISBN 978-0-671-72922-6.
- Davis, Parke H. (1916-10-15). "Yellow Jackets-Cumberland Score Was Record One; Tops the List According to Statistics Compiled Showing All Scores Past the Century Mark". The Atlanta Constitution. pp. A3.
- Mercer Bailey (1956-10-07). "Tech Beat 222-0, in 1916 Game". The Ogden Standard-Examiner (AP wire story).
- "A Loss That Lives In Legend Cumberland Crashed In Football, 222-0". 1990-08-26. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
- "220-0-the Infamous Cumberland Gap". 1990-09-16. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
- "A Monumental Victory". 2006-10-06. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
- Hal Reynolds (October 8, 1916). "Yellow Jackets Roll Up Two Hundred Points In Beating Cumberland". Atlanta Constitution. p. 3. Retrieved April 28, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Davidson Tough For Georgia Tech". The Tennessean. October 15, 1916. p. 21. Retrieved April 22, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Georgia Tech In Hard Fought Game Beats Carolina". Asheville Citizen. October 22, 1916. p. 28. Retrieved April 11, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Washington and Lee Ties Georgia Techs In Thrilling Game". News and Observer. October 29, 1916. p. 8. Retrieved April 22, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Dick Jemison (November 5, 1916). "Yellow Jackets, Using All Subs, Have Easy Game". Atlanta Constitution. p. 3. Retrieved April 28, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Associated Press (November 5, 1916). "Georgia Tech Has Very Easy Time With Tulane". News and Observer. p. 8. Retrieved April 23, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Georgia Easy Foe For Tech Eleven". The Charlotte Observer. November 19, 1916. p. 13. Retrieved April 22, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Georgia Tech Winner Over Auburn". Washington Post. December 1, 1916. p. 8. Retrieved April 22, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) (2015). "National Poll Rankings" (PDF). NCAA Division I Football Records. NCAA. p. 108. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
- Matt Winkeljohn (November 7, 2009). "Page Ear-marked For Hall of Fame".
- "All-Southern Football Team As Picked By Sport Writers". Augusta Chronicle. December 3, 1916.
- "Spence Air Base". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03.