|Game ball from famed 1921 season donated to college
RELEASED: Mar. 25, 2004
DANVILLE, KYThe first week of the men's NCAA basketball tournament provided some pretty big upsets. Alabama, traditionally deemed a football-crazed state, provided a pair of hoops shockers as Alabama-Birmingham downed Kentucky and Alabama defeated Stanford.
But those unlikely outcomes paled in comparison to when Centre College defeated No. 1-ranked Harvard in a 1921 football contest. On Oct. 29 of that year, Centre beat Harvard (undefeated in five years) 6-0 in what the Associated Press called the biggest upset in college football history.
Two footballs signed by members of the 1921 team have been donated to Centre. One of the footballs is a game ball used in a home contest from that season.
The balls, signed by legendary players such as Bo McMillin and Red Roberts, will be on display in Centre's new athletic hall of fame that is part of The College Centre project (www.centre.edu/cc).
Alumnus and board of trustee member Nelson D. Rodes Jr. '54 donated the balls to Centre. The balls previously belonged to his father, Nelson D. Rodes Sr., who graduated from Centre in 1907.
Rodes Sr., who ironically graduated from Harvard Law School in 1911, was a dedicated fan and follower of Centre's football teams. He had been a football player during his years at Centre. The 1921 team signed the balls and presented them to Rodes Sr. after their magical season.
Sports Illustrated's Ivan Maisel, the magazine's senior college football reporter, ranked the contest (referred to as C6-H0 by those at Centre) as one of the greatest upsets ever.
"The Praying Colonels came north from Kentucky to shock the Crimson, the Miami of its day (think about that for a minute). Harvard entered the contest with a 25-game unbeaten string, but Centre was no slouch. Quarterback Bo McMillin, who would lead the Praying Colonels to an undefeated (regular) season, scored the game's only touchdown on a 32-yard run early in the third quarter."
To learn more about the Praying Colonels, nicknamed that because of their penchant for praying together before contests, and to see photographs of the team, visit Centre's special collections on the Web site at http://www.centre.edu/web/library/sc/special/guides.html.
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