Superbowl highlights Centre’s “12th Man” connection
When the Seattle Seahawks take the field for Sunday’s Super Bowl, they will do so with the support of their fans, known as the “12th Man.” The term is widely used in reference to football fans, and the Seahawks have recently been involved in litigation with Texas A&M over trademarking and the term’s official usage, which is now resolved. However, there are no disputes over its origin, one in which Centre College played an important role.
Coming into the 1921 Dixie Classic, now known as the Cotton Bowl, Texas A&M was 5-1-2 and considered a heavy underdog against a Centre team that was 10-0 and had outscored its opponents 314-6. The Colonels had not only earned their famous 6-0 victory over Harvard that season, but had also shut out teams from much larger schools such as Clemson, Virginia Tech, Kentucky, Auburn and Arizona along the way.
With his team depleted by injuries but hanging on to a 2-0 lead at halftime, Aggies coach Dana X. Bible summoned E. King Gill, a former football player who had left the team to play basketball. Gill did not play, but was the only substitute left on the sidelines as A&M held on for a 22-14 win.
To this day, the entire Texas A&M student body stands throughout each game to symbolize a willingness to serve if called upon. Though Centre was on the losing end on that day in 1921, it helped give birth to one of football’s great traditions.
By Matt Montavon, Sports Information Director