It was a dark and dreary day in 1916, a day well suited to the most brutally devastating rout in all of football history. One look at the two teams showed trouble ahead. On the Georgia Tech side were semi-human monsters, gorilla-like behemoths trained by John Heisman, the man footballs highest award was later named after. Heisman was a fanatic. He would not let his Yellow Jackets use soap or water because he considered them debilitating. Nor could they eat pastry, pork, veal, hot bread, nuts, apples, or coffee. His reason? “They dont agree with me,” he growled, “so theyd better not agree with you.” The Yellow Jackets, with eight All-Southern players, were intent on building their reputation. Theyd lured lowly Cumberland to the game with a $500 guarantee. The Cumberland team had several players who had never played football before. The official who accepted the offer had long since graduated and left the team in the hands of the team manager. Even the trip to Atlanta had been a disaster: Cumberland arrived with only 16 players. Three were lost at a rest stop in Nashville. The game began. Georgia Tech scored 63 points in the first quarter, averaging touchdowns at one-minute-and-twenty-second intervals. Even after such a lopsided start, the rest of the game was filled with tension and drama! No one questioned who would win, of course. But could Cumberland players be convinced to finish the game? The manager, George Allen, paced the sidelines, exhorting the team to “hang in there for Cumberlands $500.” They did, and with it collected the honor of the worst loss in college football history: 222-0.
Cumberland also left posterity one of its most memorable football plays. A Cumberland kickoff returnee fumbled, probably from sheer weariness. He yelled to a teammate, “Pick up the ball!”
Replied his teammate, “Pick it up yourself! You dropped it!”