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It was the year HAROLD VANDERBILT, cool as a cucumber and calculating as a Mississippi riverboat gambler, skippered his Rainbow, considered the slower boat, to a narrow America's Cup victory, leaving challenger T.O.M. Sopwith highly angry and despondent as he and his Endeavour sailed for England.
It was the year PRIMO CARNERA reigned as heavyweight champion, though there are those who said that most of his fights were fixed, but certainly not the last one, which he lost to Max Baer.
It was the year HUEY LONG, dictator of Louisiana and football fan supreme, bestowed colonelcies on Louisiana State's touchdown scorers; "elected" a fullback state senator; on occasion paid the way of the student body to out-of-state games; personally led the cheering section and ran across the playing field to argue with opposing coaches.
It was the year in which the men whose subsequent careers are detailed on the following pages played their last season of football. All played the game well, some played it superbly. Pug Lund starred at tailback for Minnesota's national champions and threw the pass that beat Pitt in possibly the finest college football game ever played. Midshipman Slade Cutter, a tackle on the best Navy team in years, beat Army with his toe. Alabama's Don Hutson teamed with Halfback Dixie Howell to bedevil powerful Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
Football gained momentum and an air of spectacle. The size of the ball was again reduced, restrictions on passing eliminated. Forward passes filled the air as never before, and the fans loved it. Howell-to-Hutson stunned plodding opponents in the South, and Southern Methodist made "aerial circus" synonymous with Texas. Notre Dame nipped Army on the clutch passing of Andy Pilney, and Yale's legendary Larry Kelley caught a memorable pass to defeat Princeton. At Colgate, Coach Andy Kerr sparked a new and exciting offensive concept with the development of the lateral pass. Football fever proved highly contagious: Notre Dame students took a new look at the statue of their third president, one arm raised in benediction, and irreverently dubbed him "Fair Catch" Corby. Missouri's coach ordered the men on his squad to stop wearing ties and jackets, don corduroy trousers, start looking more like football players and less like effete scholars.
It was a momentous year for southwestern football as Texas teams toppled northern football powers for the first time. Michigan, fresh from an era of unchallenged supremacy, had its worst season in history and came out a winless last in the Big Ten. Southern California, a perennial power, won only four of 11 games, but down in Kentucky the little-known Murray Aggies sailed through the season undefeated, untied and unscored-upon. At the other extreme, Illinois' Knox College established itself firmly as the nation's No. 1 patsy by losing eight games without scoring a point and running its string of consecutive defeats to 27; coincidentally, the Knox coach lost 27 pounds during that disastrous fall.
New York City was the mecca of college football fans. City College, Manhattan, NYU all fielded teams, and Columbia, with remnants of its 1933 Rose Bowl squad, gave Lou Little his fourth successful season in a row. Fordham's Rams played several intersectional games, including a 14-9 loss to archrival St. Mary's before a capacity crowd at the Polo Grounds; a fine end named Eddie Erdelatz caught the game-winning pass. The biggest crowd of the regular season, some 80,000 subway alumni, jammed Yankee Stadium for the annual Army-Notre Dame contest.
It was a notable year for pre-and postseason play. Tulane defeated Temple in the first Sugar Bowl game and Green Wave Halfback Monk Simons went on to become the bowl's chief administrator. In Chicago a pro-college all-star game was arranged as part of the Century of Progress Exposition, inaugurating an annual midsummer classic. Over 79,000 fans watched the best of the collegians battle Nagurski, Grange and the Chicago Bears to a scoreless tie. The Bears, affectionately-dubbed "Monsters of the Midway," went through 13 regular-season National Football League games without defeat but lost the playoff to the crafty New York Giants, who played in sneakers, on the frozen Polo Grounds turf.
Big names and big schools made the headlines, but the game was played with varying skill and equal enthusiasm all across the nation. Lawyer Ken DeBevoise ran the end-around play for Amherst, engineer Wally Johnson happily savored victory over archrival Occidental, banker Ben Blackford anchored an undermanned St. Lawrence line. Cheers from packed stands and idolatrous cheering sections everywhere proclaimed the arrival of football as a fast, rough, exciting supplement to recovery in America.