Cumberland - Chapter 9: The Fine Print

A fool thinks himself to be wise,
but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
- William Shakespeare 

     Looking back a hundred years into the past, there are many things we can speculate as being the reasons for Cumberland having a change of heart. All would seem to be legitimate ones on the surface. There was the fact Georgia Tech had put up sixty-one unanswered points in the first week of the football season. There was the fact Heisman’s 1916 Yellow Jackets were so celebrated as a team they’d been given the nickname “Golden Tornado”.

     There was also the rumor Cumberland had arranged some warm-up games to gauge where they stood as a team and the results were less than encouraging. Some accounts of these warm-up games suggested a “terrible 107-0 licking” from Sewanee that resulted in several of the players on the Cumberland team backing out of the following week’s game against Tech. The Sewanee Tigers, just under a hundred miles south of Lebanon in Sewanee, Tennessee, are on record as having rolled over Cumberland the first week of the season by the aforementioned score.

     According to historian G. Frank Burns, other possible opponents Cumberland may have tried to fine-tune their talents against were Bowling Green University (with a possible final score of 0-0), a town team from Hartsville and the Nashville Athletic Club. There was also the one pesky, unmistakable little detail: The game was unsanctioned by the university and had the potential to land the participants into a whole mess of trouble if they were caught. Whatever the actual reason may have been, Cumberland attempted to back out of the scheduled game against Georgia Tech. Not that anyone could legitimately blame them. Even John Heisman includes in his axioms of football wisdom, “When in doubt, punt!”

     Maybe this was merely common sense making its long overdue arrival to a place where it had previously been in dangerously short supply. If this were a horror movie, this would be the moment in the story when the sex-starved teenagers come to the sober realization that it’d be a good idea to vacate the creepy, old cabin located deep in the woods. The sound of the chainsaw in the distance would only hasten the decision. But like the inevitable failure of the doomed teenager’s car engine to start, Coach Heisman had his own surprise waiting for George Allen and his Cumberland team.

     Keep in mind, before his fateful detour into football coaching, John Heisman had earned an Ivy League law education while attending the University of Pennsylvania. Penn continues to this day to be universally ranked among the top-ten law schools in the country. No doubt drawing from this world-class law education, Heisman included a forfeiture penalty of $3,000 that would be charged to Cumberland if the school failed to play the scheduled football game. The trap set for Cumberland was crafted with its own built-in guarantee. Heisman had the team, and the school, by the short hairs. There was no way out. On Saturday, October 7, 1916, the game between Cumberland and Georgia Tech would take place or else Cumberland University would face dire economic consequences.

     This imminent meeting on the football field did not bode well for Cumberland. Now twenty-four years into his coaching career, this was, Heisman believed, the strongest team he had ever assembled. According to author Mark Schlabach in his 2012 book Heisman: The Man Behind The Trophy, “The 1916 Yellow Jackets team seemed to personify Heisman.” They were not only tough and athletic, they were leaders, on the field as well as off of it.

     The Georgia Tech football team had won a share of the southern championship in 1915, although most of the sportswriters gave the title to Vanderbilt. The team featured standouts such as Jim Senter, Froggie Morrison, Everett Strupper, “Big Six” Carpenter, Bob Lang, Canty Alexander, Pup Phillips, Tommy Spence, Talley Johnston, and the future Brigadier General Wooch Fielder.

     In the 1916 Blue Print yearbook, Georgia Tech football players held the positions of Senior Class President, Junior Class Vice-President as well as both titles for each of the sophomore and freshman classes. Georgia Tech players also held top positions in the Tech Athletic Association, Georgia Tech Student Association, YMCA, Honor Court, Chattanooga Club, Cotillion Club, Koseme Society, Society of Textile Engineers, Bible Class and Carnival Committee.

     Coach Heisman, like former president Teddy Roosevelt, believed football to be a maker of men and the evidence seemed to demonstrate his thesis. He assembled a roster that was highly trained and loaded with talent. At the close of the 1915 season, Sportswriter Dick Jemison of the Atlanta Constitution wrote about how well fortified the Yellow Jackets were heading into 1916. The other teams in the conference, noted Jemison, like Georgia, Auburn and Vanderbilt, had more players that had used up their four years of eligibility than Georgia Tech did. Of the twenty-two players who had been awarded letters the previous season, Tech was looking to lose only two. As a result, the starting lineup for the 1916 season looked like this:

LE         Jim Senter

LT         Walker “Big Six” Carpenter

LG        Bob Lang

C          Pup Phillips

RG        Hip West

RT        Canty Alexander

RE        Si Bell

QB        Froggie Morrison

LHB      Everett Strupper

RHB      Talley Johnston (captain)

FB        Tommy Spence

     Senter, Lang, Morrison and Strupper had each received votes for All-Southern in ‘15. Johnston was elected team captain heading into ‘16 with Carpenter being named the alternate. “There were several men who were equally eligible and who stood a chance of being elected to lead the 1916 team,” read the Blue Print prior to the season, “but after it was brought to a vote, Talley Johnston, of bucking fame, was the honored one. With a team that represented Tech like the 1915 bunch, and with Captain Johnston in command, we haven't the slightest doubt the history of last year's team will be repeated. Our new captain believes in preparedness, and he has already started in rounding his teammates in shape for October.”

     At that time, football was the center of the universe at Georgia Tech. Everything revolved around football. The university yearbook devoted twenty pages to the football team (by comparison, the junior class only warranted six). And when a team was successful on the field, the players were transformed into the same sort of larger-than-life campus heroes they are today.

     In a poll of the graduating seniors, members of the Georgia Tech football squad dominated the class voting with senior class president and starting left end James Corbett “Jim” Senter being named Most Popular, Best Man Physically, Best Football Player, Best Baseball Player, Best All-Round Man and Best American Athlete.

     A relative of former heavyweight champion prizefighter “Gentleman Jim” Corbett and highly celebrated for his athleticism, Senter was also named president of the Athletic Association and ANAK Society. Like the other players on the team, he was hyped in the yearbook prior to the season. “Would you believe it, but his name is James Corbett Senter, and he is really related to the famous prize fighter,” wrote the Blue Print about the obviously popular, talented and physically fit left end. “Anyway ‘Big Un’ is the best all-round athlete who has been in these parts for some time. Jim has the honor of being mentioned in the All-American selection this year, and it is no need, therefore, to say he was unanimously chosen for All-Southern. ‘Big Un’ is also captain of the baseball team and our leading pitcher, and besides he plays basketball and is also a good track man. It is our misfortune that Jim graduates this year, leaving one year to his credit to wear the football togs. We hope he will realize how bad we want him to come back.”

     The starting quarterback for the Yellow Jackets was Douglas Eaton “Froggie” Morrison, who’d been Team Captain the previous year and was also the starting catcher on the baseball team. Morrison was named All-Southern for his play in the 1915 football season. He was also second tenor in the Glee Club and vice-president of the Chattanooga Club. His senior year, Morrison did his best “Big Jim” Senter imitation and was named class president as well as president of the Tech Athletic Association, ANAK Society and the Bull Dog Club. When he wasn’t fulfilling his other duties, he also served as vice-president of the Georgia Tech Student Association. In his senior yearbook at Tech, Morrison was named Best Baseball Player, Best American Athlete, Laziest Man and Man Who Has Done Most For Tech.

     His list of activities occupied more than ten lines of space below his yearbook photograph (All-Class football, 13; Manager, All-Class base-ball, '14; Class basketball, '13; Dormitory Inspector; Vice-President, Chattanooga Club; Varsity football, '14, '15, 16, Captain. '15; Varsity baseball, '15, '16; All-Southern football and baseball; Vice-President, Student Association; President, Athletic Association; Vice-President, Koseme, '14-15; Treasurer, Anak, '15-16; President, 16-17; Vice-President, Bull Dog Club, '15-'16, President, '16-'17; Glee Club, '15, 16, '17; Governing Board, '15-16; Student Member, A. I. E. E.; Cotillion Club; President. Class, 17; K Σ). 

     The “Laziest Man” title seems to be a head scratcher when you include it with the rest. Upon earning a degree from Georgia Tech in electrical engineering, his graduation prophecy read “You’ll be football coach some day, we wonder if U. of Ga.?” This was an obvious dig, as the University of Georgia is the cross-state rival of Tech. The prophecy proved true, however, and Froggie Morrison would indeed go on to coach football. After leaving football to serve in World War I, Morrison returned to Georgia Tech as an assistant coach in 1933. Joining Froggie in the backfield was star halfback George Everett Strupper. Affectionately nicknamed “Strup” by his teammates and coaches, Strupper was five-foot seven-inches, weighed less than a hundred-fifty-pounds. Lining up at halfback and safety man, he was one of those smaller, scrappier players who epitomized Heisman’s teams.

     In a 1916 article in the Atlanta Georgian, sportswriter Fuzzy Woodruff declared Strupper the “most feared player on the Tech team” and the “best sidestepper” in the South. Heisman himself could not help singing his praises. “Everett Strupper was a small package of condensed lightning when you turned him loose in an open field with a ball you wanted delivered somewhere in the neighborhood of the enemy’s goal line,” Heisman was quoted as saying in the Gazette News. “He was small, but he was put together like a high-powered motor.”

     Strupper, however, was partly deaf as a result of a childhood illness. “He couldn’t hear anything but a regular shout,” said Heisman. “But he could read your lips like a flash. No lad who ever stepped on a football field had keener eyes than Everett had. The enemy found this out the minute he began looking for an opening through which to run the ball.” The coach would one day remember him as perhaps the best player he ever coached. Sportswriter Morgan Blake went one step further, labeling Strupper “probably the greatest running half-back the South has known.” Strupper was a track star who excelled as a broken fieldrunner. Any carry had the potential to break loose for a big gain. On defense, his ability to read lips gave him a knack for reading plays. In three years of playing on the varsity at Tech, Strupper never played on a losing team, with two games resulting in a tie.

     As impressive as Strupper was, he did not receive the recognition he deserved in the national media in his first year playing for Tech, according to Heisman. The reason Strupper wasn’t selected to Walter Camp’s All-American team after the 1915 season, the coach believed, was the fact he played in the South. All the big football critics were in the North and East and never saw his electrifying ball carrier perform. There was also the issue that, in Strupper’s first season with the team, Heisman used the seventeen-year-old halfback as a substitute, unleashing him on the opposition late in the game if the outcome was in doubt. That way, he would go in fresh when the opposing team was already tired. Heisman even devised a special play just for Strupper called the “spread” formation to open up the running room for him. Anyone who watches football today knows the spread formation is used more now in the sport than it ever has been.

     There was another innovation that came from having Strupper in the backfield. To call the signals, the quarterback stepped to the side of the center and stood with his back to the line so Strupper could read his lips. This led to the ‘direct snap’ where the ball was snapped directly to the backs for a run. This play too is still used today on the gridiron.

     To complement the lightning in the Tech backfield was the inevitable thunder who would follow shortly after. Thomas Louis “Tommy” Spence was considered “one of the greatest fullbacks ever developed in Southern football” and was capable of performing what Heisman called the “high dive stunt over a mass of unruly gentlemen” in order to gain vital yards. Although he had never performed on the gridiron before showing up at the Tech campus two years earlier, he was “a hard man to be dealt with” on defense and a major contributor to holding opponents to a combined 24 points the previous season that included shutouts against Mercer, Transylvania, Georgia and Auburn.

     Even with the electrifying razzle-dazzle from players like Strupper and Spence, as well as Coach Heisman’s innovative, and oftentimes deceptive, play-calling, football was still a rough, violent sport won in the trenches. To win, a team required its fair share of players who were strapping in size and mean enough to bite someone’s ear or nose off, if need be, in order to get a crucial first down or prevent one. Georgia Tech, fortunately, had plenty of those types of players, starting with Walker “Big Six” Carpenter, who also went by “Bill”.

     Measuring in at six-foot two-inches and a hundred and eighty-four pounds, Heisman once said Carpenter “played right tackle in the manner that makes coaches believe life is good.” It is doubtful anyone could drag higher praise from Heisman. The sturdy lineman suffered a serious injury in a game his freshman year that resulted in the loss of a kidney and questions of whether he would ever play football again. Being the player he was, Carpenter returned ready to go for the first game of the next season. In a column he wrote for Collier’s, Heisman recounted the appeal Carpenter made to play:

     “So, you don’t think the loss of a kidney is serious enough, hey?” said Colonel Harris, turning to Bill. “Just how many kidneys do you think you have?”

     “One, Colonel.”

     “You realize, don’t you, if anything happens to that one you’re done for?”

     “Perfectly, sir.”

     “Then,” demanded the Colonel, “why in Heaven’s name, do you want to play?”

     “Because I love the game,” said Bill simply. “Because I’m captain of the team. Because I might just as well risk one kidney as one neck, one heart or one head.”

     “Carpenter,” said the governor slowly, “I’m sorry. I don’t see how we can assume the responsibility.”

     “You don’t have to, sir,” said Bill eagerly, firmly. “You don’t have to. I’m responsible. I’m twenty-one years old. I haven’t a scholastic condition. I’ve never been before Dr. Matheson for misconduct… Of course, I may not make the team. I’ve got lots of good competition. But if Coach Heisman includes me in his line-up - I’ve got to, sir - I’ve got to play. Excuse me, Colonel, but I don’t see how you can keep me out?”

     The Governor arose, looked at the big athlete queerly and then grasped Bill’s hand.

     “Carpenter,” he said softly, “I don’t see how, either. Go on, now. Get out there and play. God and good luck be with you, boy.” 

     On the opposite side of the line was J. Canty Alexander, a mammoth left tackle who was featured in one of the more famous plays in the infamous game against Cumberland. “Talk it up fellows," Carpenter was known to shout out to opponents knowing full well their brash talking would wane as the game wore on. According to reports, as well as being a “proficient linesman”, Alexander was an exceptionally large young man for his day who, “puts his whole life and soul into the game and never gives up regardless of the score.” While his actual physical dimensions are unconfirmed, he played three years of varsity football and was singled out by fellow seniors as the Man with the Biggest Feet.

     If that weren’t enough, a reserve freshman from the scrub team also brought some much-needed tenacity and wickedness to Heisman’s line. William Enoch “Bill” Fincher (the legendary one-eyed lineman who stood six-feet tall and a hundred-ninety pounds) was described by some as being the meanest lineman they’d ever witnessed in action. Fincher was known to present his glass eye to opponents, pretending it was the result of an injury he’d just suffered, and angrily proclaiming, “So, that’s how you want to play!” In a 1973 article of Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine, Lynn Hogan regarded Fincher as “the old rock of the Tech line” whose great strength had become legendary. He was even said to have once stopped a charging Model T. Heisman always had room in his line for players like him.

     There were others who were equally impressive. Starting left guard Robert McDonnell “Bob” Lang was described in the school’s yearbook as “one of the biggest men on the varsity, not only in stature but in spirit as well.” And George Marshall “Pup” Phillips, the genial and popular Tech center, listed at six-feet tall and a hundred and eighty-two pounds, who is fast, powerful and plays havoc with the opponent’s line. Pup later returned to his familiar position in the center of the Tech line in 1919 after leaving Tech to join the American war effort with the Marines.

     Reserve guard James Henry “Jim” Preas was universally regarded as an exceptional all-around athlete. Preas held shot put and discus records and was a champion heavyweight wrestler. While attending Tech, Preas won an unheard of 15 letters, was twice voted All-Southern and held the record for hitting the longest baseball. He was also a talented kicker. After graduating from Tech, while working as an official, “Preas kept the fans entertained at halftime by drop-kicking field goals, starting from 20 yards and sometimes ending up at midfield to split the uprights.” But it was as a lineman that he displayed his moxie on the Tech team. “When he climbs through a line,” they wrote about Preas in the yearbook, “there is room enough to drive an ox cart through.”

     The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets most certainly had an abundance of talent heading into the 1916 football season. They were also armed with the added motivation of being slighted the previous year in being denied their rightful claim to the southern title.

     This added up to plenty of optimism on the part of the Tech faithful, especially from the student body who were responsible for penning this inspiring tribute to the Georgia Tech eleven: 

Bill Shakespeare was an ancient bard
Who wrote the songs of old;
Caesar was some artist
In hoarding up the gold;

John Milton missed his calling
When he started slinging ink,
Should have been a preacher,
That's what I really think. 

Chaucer "uster" string the boys
Some thousand years ago,
He had King Henry buffaloed
In many ways, you know.

A bloke named Spencer used to write,
And "kid" the queen along.
She gave him jobs, government graft,
And believed him, right or wrong.

These antiquated heroes
Whose praise I've tried to sing;
We've only got their remembrances,
And does that count for anything?

But we've got a bunch of bullies,
Who are winning every game,
We term them all the Jackets,
Come on fellows, cheer the same.

     More important than having the best players in the South, Georgia Tech boasted what was almost universally regarded as, by far, the best set of coaches. Heisman was about to turn 47 years-old, just hitting his prime as a football coach. Assistants W. A. Alexander, R. A. Clay and L. W. “Chip” Robert joined him on the coaching staff. “Old Aleck”, as Alexander was called, later replaced Heisman as head coach of Georgia Tech, a position he held for twenty-four years, generating the second most wins of any coach in Tech history.

     Central to the play of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets offense in 1915 was the now-famous Jump Shift, a predecessor to modern day pre-snap shifts. The shift created an unbalanced line for end runs, featuring a greater number of blockers in the direction where the play is headed. The success of this offensive formation paved the way for the “Golden Tornado” nickname given to the team by sportswriters.

     Heisman credited the formation in the school’s yearbook for much of the team’s success in the 1915 season, as well as the team’s legitimate claim for the title. 

     The appended record of games is sufficient to show what manner of team represented Tech last Fall. It was a superb organization in every department of play - powerful at the rushing game, brilliant and dependable in forward pass work, above the average in playing the kicking game, and stubborn to a degree when it came to defensive fighting spirit.

     As usual, however, the most outstanding feature of the team's play was the quality of its open field and end running interference. In this respect, no other Southern teams have ever shown the class exhibited by the Tech elevens of recent years. Not alone in the team system of interference higher than others to be observed in this section, but the individual blocking ability of the men has been brought to a higher stage of perfection and reliability. It was a rare treat to see the Yellow Jackets start out on either a long or a short end run on any dry day of the season. With a firm footing no opposing team of the year showed ability to stop this cyclonic interference, which swept the tacklers aside one after the other, like feathers before the gale.

     Included in the review of the Yellow Jacket’s impressive accomplishments on the gridiron is a less-than-sparkling portrayal of the other team entitled to stake a claim to the 1915 southern championship. The Vanderbilt Commodores, as articulated in the yearbook, had suffered “a heavy defeat” to Virginia and only played one other team of real strength when they played Auburn in the second to last game of the season. Georgia Tech had a highly competitive schedule by comparison, featuring games against LSU, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Heisman’s former team Auburn.

     “If running up big scores on weak teams is the test of a championship team, then Vanderbilt deserves the plum,” the university conceded in 1916, “but Tech at no time tried to run up points.” Heisman, always the Penn-educated lawyer, was setting up a proposition for the sportswriters, either they reward teams for playing honorable, competitive games against worthy opponents or they reward inflated scores against weak opponents. If the sportswriters didn’t thoroughly understand the thesis he was presenting them with, he would take steps to make it unmistakably clear. The coach finishes up his season commencement by pointing out that the 1916 schedule will be similar to the 1915 one. A stronger Washington and Lee team will replace Transylvania while North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Auburn will all remain the same. There is, of course, one school on the 1916 schedule Heisman doesn’t mention by name - Cumberland.

     Heisman would make his point to the sportswriters in a big way. Southern writers such as Grantland Rice, Morgan Blake and Fuzzy Woodruff would all be in attendance at the game. They would get a first-hand demonstration of the perils of not heeding his wisdom. And they would have to write about it. The events of the coming days would determine the ultimate headlines. One can be sure Heisman imagined heroic tales being written that proved a vital and necessary point to the football world. It’s equally safe to assume, George Allen still fantasized about a David and Goliath victory that would shock everyone. This was still a theoretical possibility, after all.

     The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, led by Coach John W. Heisman, opened the 1916 football season by crushing Mercer 61-0 on September 30. On the same day, the Cumberland Bulldogs, led by Student Manager George E. Allen, played their warm-up game against Sewanee. The newspaper reports printed in the Wilmington Morning Star the next day could not have been encouraging for the Cumberland players: 

GEORGIA TECH OVERWHELMS MERCER IN THE FIRST GAME

     Atlanta, Sept. 30—Georgia Tech overwhelmed Mercer in the first football game of the season here today, 61 to 0. Tech displayed nothing but straight football but the Jackets’ speedy backs ran Mercer’s end and broke Mercer’s line at will.

     Sewanee, Tenn., Sept. 30—Displaying considerable drive in the backfield, Sewanee slaughtered Cumberland this afternoon 107 to 0. Cumberland presented weak opposition and 16 touchdowns were made by the Tiger backs on straight football.

    There’s little doubt that, by agreeing to play the game on October 7th against Georgia Tech, Allen had unwittingly put the university in an extremely precarious situation. “He did not, however, schedule the game,” admitted university historian G. Frank Burns in a 1988 newspaper article. “That honor, it was admitted 50 years later, goes to my uncle, John Burns of Chattanooga, who was manager of athletics in 1915-16.” According to left end Charlie Warwick, the game was a result of the Cumberland football team simply looking to generate some national attention for their fledgling program:

     Cumberland had a real good baseball team in the spring of 1916, beating many of the good Southern college teams, and the new president there became a bit ambitious and thought football games should be scheduled with some of the top notch Southern teams, so we wrote to Georgia Tech. Back in those days it wasn’t easy for a smaller school to get on a big team’s schedule. The Georgia Tech people replied that if Cumberland wanted the game, a check for $3,000 must be deposited as forfeit money in case Cumberland did not ‘place a team on the field.’ Well, the check was mailed to Atlanta. Not much was thought about it until the next September - when it appeared that Cumberland would not have a football team.

     With the refusal to cancel the game and the discovery of the forfeiture penalty, the trap Heisman had set up for Cumberland had been fully revealed. Allen had thought himself wise in scheduling a game against Tech for $500, but he had been taken for a fool. Now there was a $3,000 fishhook that had him and the school by the gills. He had to admit, it had been a rough few days.

     All of the Shakespearean players were in place to bring this tightly orchestrated rendezvous with disaster to its dramatic conclusion: the noble king, the charming schemer and the misinformed scribes. Still there was more to be revealed. Everything was not what it seemed. The whole reason the school was in the mess they were in was the result of a deep, dark secret from the year before.

     The previous spring, George Allen (then only a freshman at Cumberland who had earned the title of “class liar” from classmates) had received acclaim for his efforts filling in for Burns at the end of the baseball season. He had only coached a few games, but managed to generate a great deal of excitement for the program. What no one realized at the time, which of course was entirely the idea, was the fact Allen had engaged in some questionable behavior to get the results he did.

     Then only eighteen years of age, and contributing to the Cumberland Weekly school newspaper where he covered the less-than-exciting local news, such as prized pigs and whatnot, Allen didn’t want to write the news. He wanted to be the news. With the upcoming game against Tech, his unique blend of ambition and hubris unwittingly put himself and the school in a terrible position instead of an advantageous one. He hoped to receive acclaim and accolades. Now he’d be subject to nothing but mockery and ridicule. Heisman had outsmarted him somehow. This was payback, clean and simple. Heisman found out Allen had wronged him and now he wanted his revenge.

     Allen had to have been annoyed that he’d been duped. He must have been more than a little perturbed over the fact he allowed someone to get the best of him, just like it burned his biscuits someone was able to get away with more than him at Cumberland and still find a way to graduate. He felt like the professional schemer who just got out-schemed by someone else. He’d been sloppy. Left a loose end. Now it had come back to bite him in the backside. His plan was unraveling all around him. The team had been underwhelming in the opening game against Sewanee. As a result, many of the players backed out. An attempt was made to cancel the game. And then came the discovery that Heisman had them in an ironclad contract that would force Cumberland to shell out $3,000 to Georgia Tech if they didn’t show up to play.

     Like oftentimes in his life, Allen was completely unaware of the path of chaos he had left strewn about behind him like the path of a tornado. He was incognizant to unintended consequences, rarely bothering himself with such matters. He and his football brethren were also unaware of the chess game that was being played between Heisman and the sportswriters. They were oblivious of any titles that had been denied Tech the previous season. The only thing evident to Allen and the Cumberland football players was their inescapable commitment to playing a game the following Saturday in Atlanta against Georgia Tech. The contract Heisman had drawn up was airtight. Cumberland was ensnarled in his web and unable to wrestle free.

     Two-hundred and fifty miles to the south, the mood was admittedly quite different at the Georgia School of Technology. Sometimes the universe lined up to make everything right again. The smile on Heisman’s face must have been reminiscent of the one that crept across the face of The Grinch when he had the “wonderfully awful” idea to steal Christmas from the “Whos” down in “Whoville”.

     Heisman was highly principled, but extremely bull headed. He did not appreciate being made to look bad. The sportswriters had made him look bad by not heeding his concerns. Cumberland had made him look bad in a different way all together. They had not only embarrassed him, they had embarrassed his players. For that they would experience his wrath. It was the backstory that would drive his final act. He had crafted a headline-making spectacle for the greater good of the game. Except his spectacle would require a sacrifice to be made to the football gods. One team had to fall so that all the others might rise. Heisman chose Cumberland because they had sins to atone for. Over the course of the game the approaching Saturday, Heisman would ensure they were properly reconciled with God.


Written by Scott Larson
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