On the eve of Cumberland University’s 175th anniversary, the school thinks back upon its storied history and one event seems to stand above the rest.  In just two days marks the 100th anniversary of a game that would not only save the school from bankruptcy but also put Cumberland University in the annals of collegiate football for all of eternity – all thanks to our Theta Prime Chapter.
On October 7th, 1916, Cumberland University was set to square off in Atlanta with Georgia Tech – coached by the legendary John Heisman. Only one problem, due to financial trouble, Cumberland dissolved their football program prior to the 1916 season. Still embarrassed about losing 22-0 to Cumberland in baseball the spring before, Heisman (who also coached the baseball team) threatened to sue Cumberland if they backed out of the game. Facing an impending breach of contract suit, Cumberland scrambled to put together a football team.
Team Manager, George Allen, was able to assemble a team of Kappa Sigmas from the Theta Prime Chapter at Cumberland to play in the game. The Brothers traveled down to Atlanta and played Heisman’s Yellow Jackets in what became the most lopsided victory in college football history. Georgia Tech beat Cumberland by an astonishing 222-0 – they even ran out of room on the scoreboard. So Heisman got his vengeance and would take the Yellow Jackets on to win the National Championship the next year – the first southern team to do so. Thus, giving birth to football in the South.
Sam Hatcher, a graduate of Cumberland University who spent his career as a journalist, wrote “Heisman’s First Trophy: The Game that Launched Football in the South” to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the game. The book, which was released on September 15th, is a great read about an interesting piece of our past. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, it can be found on both Amazon and in the Kindle Store.
Coincidentally, this week also marks the 121st anniversary since the founding of the Alpha-Tau Chapter (Georgia Tech – 10/5/1895) and the 129th anniversary of the Theta Prime Chapter (Cumberland University – 10/7/1887)! How cool is that? Hope both of these chapters have an excellent Founders Day! Maybe they should have a rematch to settle the score a century later…