Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin: Plenty of History Behind These Football Rivals

Anthony EmersonAnalyst INovember 11, 2009

Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin Colleges are three liberal arts schools in Maine. They play in the NCAA's Division III, in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. And they can't stand each other.

Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin have been facing each other in sports since the 1870s.

The schools compete in a three-team football tournament (the CBB Tournament), which started in 1965, with each team playing the other two once. It replaced the Maine State Series, which included the University of Maine Black Bears, who moved to a higher level of competition after the 1964 season. 

Bowdoin has won the most CBB championships with 18. Colby's won 14 and Bates eight. There has been three three-way ties and one two-way tie.

Because Colby, Bates and Bowdoin are small, rural colleges, they share many academic resources such as libraries.

The Colby White Mules play at Seaverns Field at Alfond Stadium in Waterville, Maine.

Colby was founded in 1813 as Maine Literary and Theological Institute. MLTI changed its name in 1821 to Waterville College. During the Civil War, the college was on the verge of closing because so many students left to fight. Gardner Colby donated a large amount of money to keep the school open. It was renamed Colby College in his honor.

Colby has never produced an NFL player, but Eric DeCosta, the Director of Player Personnel for the Baltimore Ravens, graduated from Colby in 1993.

The Bates Bobcats play at Garcelon Field in Lewiston, Maine.

Bates was founded in 1855 as New England's first interracial college. The founders were abolitionists, and some of the first students enrolled at Bates were former slaves.

Bates, like Colby, has never produced an NFL player. Or even someone involved with the NFL. But Bates has produced two Red Sox players. Harry Lloyd, class of 1908, played for Boston from 1908 to 1910, then joined the Chicago White Sox from 1910 to 1914. The other is Charles Small, class of 1927, who played for the Red Sox for one season in 1930.

The Bowdoin Polar Bears play at Whittier Field in Brunswick, Maine.

Bowdoin was founded in 1794. It is said that the Civil War "started and ended in Bowdoin." It began when Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote her anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin in Bowdoin's Appleton Hall. The war all but ended when General Joshua Chamberlain, a professor at Bowdoin, was recruited to lead the 20th Maine to Gettysburg. Chamberlain and the 20th defended Little Round Top valiantly. Chamberlain went on to win the Medal of Honor, and became Governor of Maine.

Bowdoin was also the college of President Franklin Pierce. He graduated in 1824.

Despite being the most successful of the three schools in football, Bowdoin also has never produced an NFL player.

The CBB rivalry has been a tradition in Maine since the sport was brought to the colleges in the 1890s. It's as much a tradition in college football as USC-UCLA, Oklahoma-Texas and Ohio State-Michigan.

It's a tradition filled with history. Loaded with history. Three distinguished liberal arts colleges in Maine, fighting each other on the gridiron.


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