Heisman's Revenge: The Story Behind Georgia Tech's 222-0 Demolition of Cumberland

It's been 105 years to the day since maybe my favorite event in sports history. On this day in 1916, John Heisman's — yes, that one — Georgia Tech squad beat the living hell out of Cumberland, a small school in Lebanon, Tenn., 222-0.

Two hundred twenty-two to zero.

Most people have heard the score mentioned and know vaguely of the game, but the stories surrounding what actually happened are fascinating to me. There is a reason Heisman decided he was going to unleash hellfire on a group of guys that wasn't even really a football team.

The year before, Cumberland beat Heisman's Georgia Tech baseball team 22-0 with a team that wasn't actually its own. Cumberland recruited players from the Nashville Volunteers, a semipro team with a handful of guys who played Major League Baseball, and had them dress in the school's uniforms to play Tech.

It was after that Heisman decided he was going to make the school the most embarrassing footnote in the history of collegiate athletics.


But Cumberland didn't even have a football team by the time the 1916 game rolled around. Heisman, determined to play the game and exact his revenge, threatened to charge the school $3,000 if they didn't show up. So George Allen, the same guy who orchestrated the baseball stunt, rounded up some guys from Cumberland's law school to go play one of the best teams in the country. Many of them had never played football before.

Once the game kicked off, it was a bloodbath. Tech scored 32 touchdowns without ever attempting a pass. Cumberland did not get a first down in the game and rushed for a total of -43 yards. It got so bad, Cumberland elected to punt several times after Georgia Tech touchdowns rather than get the ball back just so they wouldn't have to get obliterated by the Tech defense.

Jon Bois has a fantastic video about this game with all sorts of stats and anecdotes that you have to hear to believe. When we discover how to time travel, that day at Grant Field is one of the events I want to go back and watch. I love everything about this football game.