Harvard, the nation's dominant football power, was riding a five-year winning streak when the Crimson invited Centre College up to Cambridge for what they thought would be a "warm-up" game, a light workout before facing mighty Princeton the following week.
On Oct. 29, 1921, before 45,000 stunned fans, the Colonels shocked seemingly invincible Harvard, in what some consider the twentieth century's greatest sports upset. Back in Danville, overjoyed students painted the "impossible chemical formula" C6H0 (Centre 6, Harvard 0) on everything in sight, including some cows. One such marking can still be seen on the side of the Centre post office.
The Centre victory was no fluke. The team went undefeated in regular season play, going on to beat other national powerhouses.
On the 75th anniversary of C6H0, Centre challenged Harvard to a rematch. Harvard declined.
For more on how C6H0 has entered the national sports lexicon, see this story.
Centre alumnus Fred Vinson died in 1953—but still makes it to every home football game.
Vinson ('09, '11 law) was a brilliant student and three-sport athlete at Centre who went on to become Chief Justice of the United States. Even as one of the world's most powerful men, he maintained close contact with Centre and always attended football games with his Phi Delta Theta fraternity brothers when he returned to campus.
Just after his death, some of the brothers decided there was no reason Fred couldn't continue to attend the games he enjoyed so much. They took his portrait (which has come to be known as "Dead Fred") to a game. His portrait hasn't missed a home game since then. Sometimes he even travels to away games when Centre faces a particularly tough opponent. There have been reports that a tear can be seen in Fred's eye after a tough loss.
Dead Fred has been featured extensively in national media, including USA Today, the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN. When Centre hosted the Vice-Presidential Debate in 2000, Dead Fred had his own special credential and was the first to be seated. (This story ran in media around the world, from the New York Times to the Arab Daily News.)
The Flame Run
Almost 40 years ago, a striking sculpture called "The Flame" was installed at the center of campus. Soon after, students began a tradition of running from their dorm to The Flame and back—naked!
"The Flame Run" has become such a part of campus lore that is now lends its name to an alumni e-newsletter. Public nudity is against student conduct regulations, so prospective Flame Runners must choose their time well and run really fast—or be prepared to pay the fine.
Kissing on the Seal
A legend has sprung up about the circular brass College seal embedded in the brick walkway in front of Old Centre. The belief is that if two students kiss on the seal at midnight, they'll end up marrying after graduation. This piece of folklore hasn't been scientifically tested, but the proliferation of "double alum" weddings reported in the alumni magazine would lend support to the notion.
The Golden Croquet Mallet
Professors and students from the chemistry and math programs take up their mallets in this annual spring duel. The winner keeps the Golden Mallet trophy in its department display case for a year.