Random Research: Cumberland Football

by Travis Normand

Everyone has heard of 1916 Cumberland vs. Georgia Tech football game that ended with Georgia Tech shutting out Cumberland, 222-0.  However, what you may not know about is Cumberland’s football troubles that came immediately before and after that famous defeat.

Cumberland’s game with Georgia Tech was their last game of the 1916 season. However, before Cumberland traveled to Atlanta to play Georgia Tech, they were defeated in a game by Sewanee.  That game ended with a final score of 107-0.  In other words, Cumberland closed out the 1916 season with back-to-back losses and a combined score of 329-0.

Unfortunately, the 1917 season didn’t go so well either.  Cumberland only played one game in 1917 and it was against “Tennessee.”  Cumberland was defeated by a score of 105-0.

Mystery Opponent of 1917:  You will notice above that I wrote “Tennessee” (in quotes) when referring to Cumberland’s 1917 defeat.  This is because Cumberland’s 2011 football media guide lists their 1917 opponent as “Tennessee.”  I had assumed that this was the University of Tennessee but the 2014 Tennessee football media guide (page 156) says that Tennessee didn’t field a team in 1917 or 1918 because of World War I.  However, Tennessee did have two unofficial teams during the 1917 and 1918 seasons (see page 162 of the 2014 Tennessee football media guide), but according to the media guide, neither of those teams played Cumberland in 1917.  Therefore, at this point in time, I don’t know who the “Tennessee” team was that defeated Cumberland in 1917.

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