Can't Repeat: The 1899 Sewanee Iron Men

Javier ZavaletaContributor IMarch 10, 2010

Sourced from Offenburger.com

The University of the South can be found in Sewanee, Tennessee. It's an Episcopal Private School that made its place in the history of College Football in the year of 1899.

It's easy to say that what happened in the early days of College Football didn't count. It's especially easy for fans of big name schools such as Notre Dame, USC, and the numerous SEC fans that surround me. Why?

Sewanee created its advantages; they were one of the first schools to start a football program in the South. Another one was that they held school through out the year, including the summer, which gave them a long winter break and more practice time than any other school they faced.

You also have to remember that there was no such thing as the NCAA, no passing plays, and schools' winning strategies even included hiring players. So you had at times 25, 28, even 30-year-old men playing for the old alma mater.

There wasn't a crystal ball, no conferences, divisions, or a future in the NFL. There was only the game as it existed, and that was all the fans needed.

The Sewanee Tigers went 12-0-0, produced a College Football Hall of Famer HB Henry G. Seibels, and outscored their opponents 322 to 10. Those 10 points were scored by a John Heisman coached team at Auburn.

However, the one feat that places this team into history's finest moments is the schedule they needed to overcome to win these games. The schedule first included playing five away games in the span of six days. Then these teams were the top tier programs of the day. Before the end, the Tigers travelled over 2500 miles on the road trip. In spite of the adversities, these road warriors shut out the five best teams in the southern half of the United States.

Sewanee joined the SEC in 1932 but left in 1940, having never won a game within that period. It is now a part of Division III and has (still) never offered an athletic scholarship.

If you go to Sewanee, Tennessee today, you can find the All Saints Chapel. There you will find a stained glass window that depicts three or four football players and reads "Sewanee Athletics, 12-0-0 & 5 in 6."

If you look it up, most say Princeton won the year of 1899. If you ask around, many will say those days mean very little. So now I ask you, you "many," do you disregard the 17 in this picture above that gave their greatest effort to make their mark on history? Or is it possible that their legend is what sets the foundation for the South's favorite sport?

  • Oct. 21 at Atlanta: Sewanee 12 Georgia 0
  • Oct. 23 at Atlanta: Sewanee 32 Georgia Tech 0
  • Oct. 28 at Sewanee: Sewanee 46 Tennessee 0
  • Nov. 3 at Sewanee: Sewanee 54 Southwestern University 0
  • Nov. 9 (Thursday) at Austin: Sewanee 12 Texas 0
  • Nov. 10 (Friday) at Houston: Sewanee 10 Texas A&M 0
  • Nov. 11 (Saturday) at New Orleans: Sewanee 23 Tulane 0
  • Nov. 13 (Monday) at Baton Rouge: Sewanee 34 LSU 0
  • Nov. 14 (Tuesday) at Memphis: Sewanee 12 Ole Miss 0
  • Nov. 20 at Sewanee: Sewanee 71 Cumberland 0
  • Nov. 30 at Montgomery: Sewanee 11 Auburn 10
  • Dec. 2 at Atlanta: Sewanee 5 North Carolina 0

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