2016 Texas A&M vs. Tennessee: The history and connections between the schools

by Travis Normand
October 7, 2016

[If this post reads like a Facebook fan posting, that is because it is.  I originally posted this on Facebook as a fun informational type of fan post.  However, due to the response I got, I figured I would share it here as well.  I have modified it slightly from the original Facebook post.]

In honor of this weekend’s game between #8 Texas A&M and #9 Tennessee, I am posting some random facts that connect the two schools together (regardless of how much of a stretch some of these facts may be).

I should start by mentioning that General Robert Reese Neyland Jr. (famed Tennessee coach and stadium namesake) is an Aggie and is listed as a member of the Association of Former Students.

Neyland played football at Texas A&M for head coach Charlie Moran (who played on the 1897 Tennessee football team). According to the 1911 Longhorn (Texas A&M yearbook) Neyland was a member of the 1910-1911 Texas Aggie football squad and was listed among the freshman class.

On what appears to be page 222 (the page is not actually numbered) of the yearbook, in the last paragraph, it gives credit to the substitutes “for the important part they played in producing the champions of Texas.”  Among the substitutes mentioned is “Neyland.”  The 1910 Texas A&M football team was known (at the time) as the Champions of Texas due to the fact that they went 8-1, defeating every Texas team they played (with their only loss being to Arkansas).

Neyland left A&M after receiving an appointment to West Point in 1912.  He was appointed by Congressman Sam Rayburn, and graduated from West Point in 1916. Neyland won a national title while playing on the 1914 Army football team.

Later, while working as an assistant football coach at West Point in the early 1920’s, Neyland got help from his former A&M football coach Charlie Moran. Moran (a former Tennessee football player) helped Gen. Neyland land his next coaching job which happened to be at Tennessee.

In 1939, Neyland was the head coach of the Vols and Tennessee went undefeated and un-scored upon in the regular season. In fact, Tennessee outscored their opposition 212-0. I believe that Tennessee is the last major college football program to shut out every regular season opponent.

1939 was also the year that Texas A&M won the AP National Title. A&M won their title despite Tennessee’s accomplishment of shutting out every opponent that very same season.

However, it may be the Tennessee Volunteers who got the last laugh in 1939. The Vols finished the regular season (pre-Bowl game) ranked #2 (behind #1 A&M). While #1 A&M defeated #5 Tulane in the Sugar Bowl, the #2 Vols played and lost to #3 USC in the Rose Bowl. This loss to USC prompted the Dickinson Ranking System to award their 1939 national title to USC instead of A&M, and thus technically A&M “shares” the 1939 title with USC (thanks to Tennessee).

Like Tennessee’s 1939 team, Texas A&M was also undefeated and un-scored upon in 1917 and 1919. The Aggie head coach during those seasons was Dana X. Bible (a Tennessee native). Bible was also the coach at A&M in 1921-1922 when the Aggies defeated Centre College. Centre’s head coach at that time was none other than Charlie Moran.

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Pre-Season 2015 Hype

by Travis Normand

Here are a couple of teams that received a lot of pre-season hype.  As of right now, I am not buying into the excitement . . . but that could change.

  1. Tennessee:  I hope the Vols do well this season, but I will believe it when I see it.
  2. Arizona State:  I think ASU could be a good team but I don’t understand why they started out with a top 15 ranking.
  3. Baylor:  I think Baylor will be a playoff contender, but with their current schedule, I just can’t take them seriously.  Maybe I will start believing once they defeat a quality opponent in a bowl game.
  4. Notre Dame:  They looked very good against the Longhorns in their first game of the season, but that isn’t saying much.  I hope they do well, but am not yet sold that they will make a run at the playoff.  I could be wrong.
  5. Auburn:  With the loss of so many key players from 2014, an 8-5 (4-4) record last year, and a mediocre opening 2015 game against Louisville, I just don’t understand all the hype.

Update: I believe I was arguably right on 1-4 above.  However, there is no question that I was right on Auburn.  Auburn finished in last place of the SEC West (7-6, 2-6).

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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