Back in the days when football was still known as that game with the pointy ball, the son of German immigrants became the coach at the Georgia Institute of Technology (known to its friends as Georgia Tech). John Heisman became the first coach in college football to be paid for his services. They got their money’s worth. He led the school to its first national championship and had a career winning percentage of .779 which remains the best in Tech history.
The most memorable — or perhaps infamous — game in Heisman’s Georgia Tech career was played on October 7, 1916, with Tech playing host to Tennessee’s Cumberland University. Talk about a nail biter! The plucky Cumberland Bulldogs got off to a bad start, losing the coin toss. Georgia Tech returned the Bulldogs’ first punt for a touchdown. Score 7-0 in less than a minute played. Cumberland fumbled on its first play after the following kickoff. 14-0, with just seconds off the clock. On their next possession, the Bulldogs fumbled once again on their first play. 21-0. It went pretty much the same until the game mercifully ended with a score of 222-0. A record, of course, that still stands.
In Cumberland’s defense, it should be pointed out that the college, on the verge of bankruptcy, had eliminated its football program at the beginning of the season. The school was forced to field a team (fraternity brothers of the team’ student manager) to avoid a $3,000 forfeit fee.
Heisman, who went on to be elected to the Football Hall of Fame and give his name to the trophy for the outstanding college football player of the year, up by 18 touchdowns at the half, told his players not to relent. “We’re ahead, but you just can’t tell what those Cumberland players have up their sleeves.”