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1903 Clemson Tigers football team

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1903 record  4–1–1 (2–0–1 SIAA)
Home stadium  Bowman Field
Captain  Hope Sadler
1903 Clemson Tigers football team
Conference  Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association
Head coach  John Heisman (4th year)

The 1903 Clemson Tigers football team represented the Clemson Tigers of Clemson Agricultural College during the 1903 college football season. The team was a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) and played all its games on the road, compiling a 4–1–1 record and 2–0–1 in the SIAA.

Contents

Most notably, the team competed in an early conference championship game, tying Cumberland 11–11 in the contest. This is John Heisman's last season coaching Clemson. The Tigers thrashed Georgia Tech 73–0, leading to Heisman's later job-offer at Tech.

Before the season

For the 1903 season, point values were different from those used in contemporary games. In 1903 a touchdown was worth five points, a field goal was worth five points and a conversion (PAT) was worth one point.

The team's captain was Hope Sadler. This was the last season with both Sadler and Carl Sitton at ends. One writer recalls, "Sitton and Hope Sadler were the finest ends that Clemson ever had perhaps."

Week 1: at Georgia

The season opened with a defeat of the Georgia Bulldogs 29–0. Clemson fumbled on a number of plays.

The starting lineup was Sitton (left end), Forsythe (left tackle), McKeown (left guard), Garrison (center), Derrick (right guard), Cogburn (right tackle), Sadler (right end), Maxwell (quarterback), Furtick (left halfback), Wood (right halfback), Hanvey (fullback).

Week 2: at Georgia Tech

The Bulldogs offered Clemson a bushel of apples for every point over 29 it scored against rival Georgia Tech. Clemson would win 73 to 0 on a mud-soaked field, leading to Heisman's later job at Tech. Sitton had to sit out the game.

Clemson as a team rushed for 615 yards, and fullback Jock Hanvey rushed for 104 yards in the first half. The first score came on a 20-yard run by Hanvey.

The starting lineup was Ellison (left end), Cogburn (left tackle), Derrick (left guard), Garrison (center), Forsythe (right guard), McKeown (right tackle), Sadler (right end), Maxwell (quarterback), Furtick (left halfback), Wood (right halfback), Hanvey (fullback).

Week 3: North Carolina A&M

In the third week of play, North Carolina A&M was beaten by Clemson 24 to 0. While A&M gained much using conventional football, Clemson had to use many trick plays. Oliver Gardner played for A&M. Heisman got married soon after the game.

Week 4: at North Carolina

The North Carolina Tar Heels handed Clemson its only loss of the season, 11–6. Carolina's Newton scored first, with a bloody nose. He also scored the second touchdown. Clemson had one touchdown by Johnny Maxwell called back due to an offside penalty.

The starting lineup was Sitton (left end), Cogburn (left tackle), Derrick (left guard), Garrison (center), Forsythe (right guard), McKeown (right tackle), Sadler (right end), Maxwell (quarterback), Wood (left halfback), Furtick (right halfback), Hanvey (fullback).

Week 5: at Davidson

Clemson won easily over Davidson 24–0. One writer noted "Clemson playing against eleven wooden men, would attract attention." Carl Sitton had a 60-yard touchdown run.

The starting lineup was Sitton (left end), Cogburn (left tackle), Derrick (left guard), Garrison (center), Forsythe (right guard), McKeown (right tackle), Sadler (right end), Maxwell (quarterback), Wood (left halfback), Furtick (right halfback), Hanvey (fullback).

"SIAA championship game"

Clemson tied Cumberland 11–11 in a game billed as the "SIAA Championship Game." Cumberland rushed out to an early 11–0 lead. Wiley Lee Umphlett in Creating the Big Game: John W. Heisman and the Invention of American Football writes, "During the first half, Clemson was never really in the game due mainly to formidable line play of the Bridges brothers–giants in their day at 6 feet 4 inches–and a big center named "Red" Smith, was all over the field backing up the Cumberland line on defense. Clemson had been outweighed before, but certainly not like this."

A contemporary account reads "The Clemson players seemed mere dwarfs as they lined up for the kickoff. To the crowd on the sidelines it didn't seem that Heisman's charges could possibly do more than give a gallant account of themselves in a losing battle." A touchdown was scored by fullback E. L. Minton (touchdowns were worth 5 points). Guard M. O. Bridges kicked the extra point. Halfback J. A. Head made another touchdown, but Bridges missed the try. After halftime, Clemson quarterback John Maxwell raced 100 yards for a touchdown. Clemson missed the try. Cumberland fumbled a punt and Clemson recovered. Cumberland expected a trick play when Fritz Furtick simply ran up the middle and scored. One account of the play reads "Heisman saw his chance to exploit a weakness in the Cumberland defense: run the ball where the ubiquitous Red Smith wasn't. So the next time Sitton started out on one of his slashing end runs, at the last second he tossed he ball back to the fullback who charges straight over center (where Smith would have been except that he was zeroing in on the elusive Sitton) and went all the way for he tying touchdown." Jock Hanvey kicked the extra point and the game ended in an 11–11 tie.

The winning team was to be awarded the ball. Captain W. W. Suddarth of Cumberland wanted captain Hope Sadler of Clemson to get the ball, and Sadler insisted Suddarth should have it. Some ten minutes of bickering was resolved when the ball was given to patrolman Patrick J. Sweeney, for warning the media and fans to stay down in front and allow spectators to see the game. The school claims a share of the title; Heisman pushed for Cumberland to be named SIAA champions at year's end. It was Heisman's last game as Clemson head coach, who was hired at Georgia Tech.

The starting lineup was Sitton (left end), Cogburn (left tackle), Derrick (left guard), Garrison (center), Forsythe (right guard), McKeown (right tackle), Sadler (right end), Maxwell (quarterback), Wood (left halfback), Furtick (right halfback), Hanvey (fullback).

Florida coaches

Marvin Bridges and Clemson players Jock Hanvey and Jack Forsythe all coached at Florida colleges the next season. Bridges coached at the University of Florida at Lake City, and Forsythe was the head coach of the Florida State College with Hanvey as his assistant. Forsythe went on in 1906 to be the first coach of the Florida Gators.

Depth chart

The following chart provides a visual depiction of Clemson's lineup during the 1903 season with games started at the position reflected in parenthesis. The chart mimics the offense in a T formation

Books

  • Blackman, Sam (2001). Clemson: Where the Tigers Play. 
  • Blackman, Sam (2016). If These Walls Could Talk. Triumph Books – via Google Books. 
  • Heisman, John M. (2012). Heisman: The Man Behind the Trophy. 
  • Langum, David J (2010). From Maverick to Mainstream: Cumberland School of Law, 1847-1997. 
  • Sahadi, Lou. 100 Things Clemson Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. 
  • Umphlett, Wiley Lee (1992). Creating the Big Game: John W. Heisman and the Invention of American Football. 
  • Woodruff, Fuzzy (1928). A History of Southern Football 1890–1928. 1. 
  • References

    1903 Clemson Tigers football team Wikipedia


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