SI Vault
N. Brooks Clark
December 07, 1981
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the birth (and death) of an idea whose time has never come. On Wednesday, Dec. 9, 1931, four Ivy League football teams—Columbia, Cornell, Pennsylvania and Princeton—met in Yankee Stadium for an exhibition tournament, with all proceeds earmarked for the unemployed. The teams were to be paired in a drawing just before the first kickoff. The winners of the first two games would meet in a third game. Each game was to consist of two 12-minute periods, and in the event of a tie, a panel of judges would determine a winner by a formula that took into account first downs, fumbles, interceptions and yardage gained running, passing and punting. The use of the stadium was provided gratis by the Yankee owner, Jacob Ruppert.
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December 07, 1981

This 1931 Football Tournament Was All Wet, But It Aided The Unemployed

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The game ended at 0-0, and the judges tallied the score at 279-206 for Cornell. But Columbia never got a shot at revenge against the Big Red—the finale was canceled because of the danger of pneumonia. Never completed or repeated, the Quadrangle Tournament has slipped beneath the grander memories of those who took part—much like the punted football that dug into the mud in front of Pentecost. Cliff Montgomery, a Columbia sophomore in 1931, later led the Lions to a 7-0 upset of Stanford as an All-America quarterback in the 1934 Rose Bowl. He remembers that the Quadrangle game was played, and that it was a mess, "but I can't for the life of me remember playing in it." (He did.)

Miserable though the day was, money was raised. In Bill Pentecost's name, for example, $100 was sent to the Family Welfare Association back home in Scranton, which had been particularly hard hit by the decline of its coal industry. He treasures the letter of thanks he got in return. "With times the way they were," he says, "it meant a lot for me to be able to give anybody anything—let alone 100 dollars. That feeling was one I keep with me always."

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