Georgia Tech (with a Bills helmet) and CUMBERLAND BULLDOGS (with a somewhat messed up Bengals helmet)

Can Tecmo Super Bowl recreate Georgia Tech 222, Cumberland 0?

Aug 1, 2023

This was supposed to be a review of the unreleased 1996 "Dream Team 2" game for the original PlayStation, but they took my PlayStation and I still haven't gotten anything back. So today we're taking on another challenge: seeing if Tecmo Super Bowl for NES can accurately simulate the biggest beatdown in college football history.

You're familiar with it already. On October 7, 1916, a handful of dudes loosely affiliated with Cumberland College in Tennessee road-tripped to Atlanta where John Heisman (yes, that Heisman) led his Engineers to bludgeon the Bulldogs at what is now Bobby Dodd Stadium.

John Heisman was famous for banning his players from eating or drinking anything he himself disliked, including coffee. This is what John Heisman considered to pass for humor.

Legend has it that during a practice session, a young and inexperienced kicker approached Coach Heisman and confidently declared that he could kick the ball over the goalposts from an astonishing distance away. Intrigued, Heisman decided to humor the young player and said, "Well, son, let's see what you've got!"

With the whole team watching, the kicker backed up several yards and took a mighty swing at the ball. Much to his chagrin and the amusement of his teammates, the ball barely left the ground, stumbling just a few feet ahead.

Coach Heisman, known for his quick wit, couldn't resist making a jest. He turned to the kicker and said with a grin, "Well, that's an excellent kick if we were playing golf!"

ha! ha!

"South Monopolizes Curiosities of the Gridiron"

A news story about the game, and noting that other ridiculous blowouts featured Newberry, and Florida.

The thing is, this article is false. Newberry 159, BMI 0 was not the extant record when 222-0 happened. That record had been broken, but it stood for less than 24 hours.

Enter Oklahoma Central Normal 183, Oklahoma Methodist 0—a game played the day before Georgia Tech-Cumberland, and one essentially forgotten as a result. So let's remember this battle between the two schools now known as the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University:


(I don't know if it's the same "Southwestern" team that played Texas A & M and Kansas State on back-to-back days, but if so it's impressive they kept the College Station ones to only six points after being run up on by a Wildcats team in year #2 of Bill Snyder's tenure.)

CENTRAL NORMAL CRUSHES METHODISTS: Yesterday on the gridiron at Edmond, teh Central Normalites walloped the Oklahoma Methodist University eleven all over teh field. Edmond is wild with joy at the victory.

1916 was, curiously, a down year for the Bronchos. After going undefeated in 1915—dispatching the likes of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A & M, Tulsa, and Rice—the "Central Normalites" only managed an 8-3 record in 1916, which might have also led to everybody overlooking that 183-0 game. Even Wikipedia is wrong about this.

Central Normal was coached by a guy named Charles W. Wantland, a fitting name for a white guy living in Oklahoma. Wantland was a Sooners superstar who made Central a short-lived football powerhouse—until he got fired by Oklahoma governor "Alfalfa Bill" Murray in circumstances that don't sound all that different from those happening today in places like Florida:

A news story calling the governor "Wild Bill" and criticizing his plans to fire C.W. Wantland.
The Tulsa Tribune, May 15, 1931

So it turns out that Coach Wantland wouldn't go on the record as supporting "Alfalfa Bill," and so he and everybody else at what by this point was Central State Teachers were purged.

EDMOND FACULTY UNDERGOES CHANGE: Nine members of the faculty and the athletic department at Edmond have been dismissed in the latest change in the personnels of Oklahoma's educational institutions.
Ponca City News, June 21, 1931

The football stadium would eventually be named after Wantland anyway—until two years ago when somebody put down $10 million to rename it. (That $10 million accounted for just 5% of his earnings that year.)

Anyway, I've got a new nickname for my governor: "Alfalfa Ron."

Enough about the Bronchos. We're here to talk about the Ramblin' Wreck! Let's take a look at that line score:

Screenshot from 2023-07-31 21-28-46.png

The result earned front-page billing on newspapers across the country, but let's focus on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to start:

a full newspaper front page. I'll look at individual parts later, but the top story heds are GERMAN NAVAL SUBMARINE ARRIVES AT AMERICAN PORT | LINER ABLAZE, PASSENGERS AND CREW TAKE TO LIFEBOATS

TIL a German U-Boat made it all the way to Newport. Maybe you did too. Anyway, let's look at that Grantland Rice gamer from the World Series matchup between the Red Sox and Dodgers:

Two terrific detonations that rattled the stands and lifted 38,000 non-combatants from their seats featured the opening battle at Braves' Field this afternoon and furnished the main punch to the world's series baseball game between the Boston Americans and the Brooklyn Nationals. The first deafening crash came in the seventh inning, when Brooklyn blew into countless fragments,

That's some... violent language.

Registration for the election of the next president of the United States closed in Pittsburgh at 10 o'clock last night with the heaviest enrollment for any election in this city with the exception of the mayoralty contest of 1913.

So the first thing you need to know here is that voters, it seems, had to register to vote before each election. The second thing you need to know is that more people caring about voting for their city mayor than voting for U.S. president is correct and the way things still ought to be.

Anyway, here's the part we're supposed to be interested in.

Look at these magnificent stories, all right next to each other: COMMANDER OF GERMAN SEA RAIDER KILLED IN FRANCE, MOB ATTACKS COUNCILMEN, WAKE UP, PITT AND TECH, BASEBALL ROW ENDS IN FATALITY, SIX BALLOONS IN RACE, HEADLESS BODY FOUND, AUTO FALLS 300 FEET, BRITISH STEAMER SUNK, and perhaps the best STAND BREAKS; 75 PERSONS ARE THROWN IN HEAP where we learn none of the 75 people were hurt and that also, ooh! there were fireworks!

There were unidentified balloons in the balloon race! A ghost ship was sunk! A mob in Oklahoma City (no doubt already angry on account of the local team's having lost a football game 183-0 the day before) "man-handled" two councilmen who put the town in debt! THE DEATH OF COUNT VON DOHNA-SCHLODIEN.

And that's before we get to the headless body.

Also, Count von Dohna-Schlodien's death was announced a bit prematurely. 40 years prematurely, in fact. His accomplishments were marked with the stamping of a medal to commemorate his time in charge of the Moewe. It featured a nude man on a beach waving to a ship.

An image showing 'Record Shot - Do not reproduce.'

Alas, our blurb about the Georgia Tech-Cumberland game is insufficient to really get a sense of what happened. Thankfully, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote the entire thing up in its gamer, which—like most newspapers of the time—was more concerned about naming which players were in the starting lineup than identifying what they all actually accomplished on the field.

Tech established a world's record for the highest number of points ever rolled up in a football game yesterday afternooon at Grant field when Cumberland was swamped 222-0. The game was a romp for teh Jackets from the beginning, Cumberland never being able to stop the swift attack of the Tech backs. In the first quearter Tech started out on their record run of points, piling up 63. At the beginning of the second period, practically a new team was sent in and they, not to be outdone by their teammates, ran up another 63 points before the close of the period, making the score at the end of the first half 126,0.

Everett Strupper turning down another touchdown in order to let Canty Alexander get one is perhaps the most insulting part of a 222-0 football game. One of the Cumberland players only agreed to play in the game because he thought he might meet the editor of the above newspaper.

A Georgia Tech team photo

All that said, other contemporary accounts have a man named Froggie Morrison behind center that day, and explanations that in John Heisman's offense, the quarterback never ran the ball. So in our simulation, Froggie Morrison is playing quarterback. The rest of the lineups are pretty much the same as you see above.

The game was incredibly violent, and for more I encourage you to watch this video in which most of the carnage is illustrated.

Our game will likely be violent as well. Every player on Georgia Tech (we borrowed the Buffalo Bills, since they were the first team listed in TSB) is maxed-out statwise. Every player on Cumberland (the Bengals) has a 6 for every quality, the lowest it goes.

Anyway, you're surely tired of all this. Let's watch and see if an NES can re-create history (Tecmo stops counting after 99 points; I edited in the current score throughout the game, but I'm not sick enough to updated it after every score. This is a free newsletter, after all):

OK! So, here's what the simulation got right:

  • There were zero first downs for either team
  • Lots of dudes got seriously hurt
  • Cumberland did not score
  • Cumberland only had three plays with positive yardage
  • Jim Preas was perfect with PATs

And what it got wrong:

  • The final score was 431-0 instead of 222-0
  • Georgia Tech's quarterback rushed for 14 touchdowns instead of zero
  • Georgia Tech's quarterback passed for six touchdowns instead of zero
  • Cumberland's total offense was -508 instead of (conflicting data, but basically half that)

PASSING YARDS: Georgia Tech 183, Cumberland 1
PASSING TOUCHDOWNS: Georgia Tech 6, Cumberland 0
RUSHING YARDS: Georgia Tech 610, Cumberland -507
RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS: Georgia Tech 26, Cumberland 0
TURNOVERS: Georgia Tech 1, Cumberland 20
FUMBLES LOST: Georgia Tech 1, Cumberland 2
INTERCEPTIONS THROWN: Georgia Tech 0, Cumberland 18
SAFETIES ALLOWED: Georgia Tech 0, Cumberland 23
KICK RETURN TOUCHDOWNS: Georgia Tech 11, Cumberland 0
PUNT RETURN TOUCHDOWNS: Georgia Tech 1, Cumberland 0
SACKS: Georgia Tech 57, Cumberland 0


Froggie Morrison: 361 rushing, 14 TD; 183 passing, 6 TD
Alton Concord: 151 rushing, 10 TD; 24 receiving, 1 TD
Everett Strupper: 115 rushing, 5 TD; 4 interceptions, 2 TD
Ralph Puckett: 47 rushing, 1 TD; 83 punt return yards, 1 TD
H.R. Dunwoody: 35 receiving, 1 TD; 436 kickoff return yards, 6 TD, 2 sacks
Jim Preas: 38 rec, 1 TD; 55 return yd, 2 int, 2 TD; FG; 56/56 on PAT
Talley Johnston: 86 receiving, 3 TD
Tommy Spence: 86 receiving, TD
Wally Smith: 145 return yards, 2 TD; sack
Jim Senter: 153 return yards, 2 TD
Shorty Guill: 77 return yards, 6 interceptions, 4 TD
Si Bell: 2 sacks, 5 interceptions, 3 TD
Hip West: 14 sacks, 2 interceptions
Bill Fincher: 30 sacks
William Thweatt: 4 sacks
Theodore Shaver: 3 sacks

Cumberland's quarterbacks threw 11 pick-sixes. They were sacked 57 times, eight of them for safeties. Our player of the game—sorry, Froggie—is Jim Preas, who not only was a perfect 56/56 on extra points but caught a touchdown pass, had two pick-sixes, and even ensured that every Georgia Tech possession ended with a score by hitting a third-quarter field goal to make the score 266-0.

Cumberland's one highlight was a guy named "Whillickers" recovering a Wally Smith fumble.