Cumberland: The Story & Characters

The true story of the highest scoring football game in history.

In 1916, a wheeler-dealer assembles a ragtag team of Cumberland University law students to play an unauthorized football game against formidable Georgia Tech, led by legendary coach John Heisman. When the Cumberland players realize their predicament, they are forced to make a difficult decision: play what seems to be an un-winnable game and risk being caught and expelled, or back out and forfeit a financial penalty that will bankrupt the college.

GEORGE ALLEN

The smooth talking protagonist is the perfect blend of southern charm and bullshit. Ranked second to last in a class of 178, the young hustler is as casual with the truth as he is his academics and routinely finds himself in situations way over his head.

COACH JOHN HEISMAN

Legendary coach of the Georgia Tech Engineers whom college football’s most prestigious trophy is named after. As one of the game’s early pioneers, Heisman sees himself as a staunch defender of the integrity of the sport. He is a fierce competitor and strict disciplinarian and, although not particularly talented, performs Shakespeare during the offseason.

JOHNNY DOG NELSON

An aspiring, language-challenged sportswriter for the Nashville Tennessean – and former star halfback for the Cumberland Bulldogs – who first takes an interest in the unauthorized football contest.  

B.F. “BIRD” PATY

The wide-eyed, law classmate of George who, against his better judgment, agrees to help assemble a makeshift team to play a game in secret.  

HOMER HILL

Acting president at Cumberland University responsible for abruptly cancelling the football season. Dr. Hill has a distaste for football – finding the sport crude and barbaric – and aspires to eliminate the program altogether.

CHIP ROBERTS

The Georgia Tech athletic director who has the unenviable task of keeping his strong-willed and highly paid football coach happy and under control.

JUDGE NATHAN GREEN

The universally revered and beloved 89-year-old is the longtime dean of the Cumberland School of Law and one of the school’s founders. 

BEANBALL BUCHANAN & ZIPPY FLOYD

Two oversized semi-pro baseball players out of Nashville owed money by George for participating in a Cumberland baseball game the previous spring.

GRANTLAND RICE

One of the sportswriters involved in a bitter disagreement with Heisman over the process of selecting a national champion and wound up covering the infamous game. Responsible for the phrase “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” 

EVERETT STRUPPER

The legally deaf, All-American Georgia Tech halfback is a small package of condensed lightning whom sportswriter Morgan Blake would go on to call “probably the greatest halfback the South has known.”