The Vengeful Story Of The Worst Blowout In Football History

45 minutes after it started, the college football game on Oct. 7, 1916 in Atlanta, Georgia, was over. It would go down in the history books as the worst loss ever in football, and the scoreboard held a shocking score, according to The New York Times. This brutal act of vengeance by the winning coach wasn't even related to football. It stemmed from a college baseball game the previous spring.

Legendary college football coach John W. Heisman, the guy the Heisman Trophy was named after, had headed the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team since 1904, per Heisman Trophy, but was also the school's baseball coach. In the spring of 1915, the Cumberland College baseball team from Lebanon, Tennessee, which included professional ringers, trounced Georgia Tech 22-0. On the train home from that game, Heisman let his players have it, calling them "flaming jackasses," among other choice words, according to "It Happened in Atlanta: Remarkable Events That Shaped History." But the coach saved his true spite for the rival college, and if he couldn't get even in one sport, he certainly could in another.

Heisman laid his trap 

In 1915, Cumberland College disbanded its football team, the Bulldogs, but that didn't stop John Heisman from forcing his rival's hand in order to get them on the gridiron. Cumberland attempted to cancel the game against Georgia Tech, but Coach Heisman pointed out that if they didn't play his team, the college would have to pay $3,000 (more than $82,000 today) to Georgia Tech per a contract between the two schools, according to The Football Hall of Shame.

Cumberland, which was on shaky financial footing, scrounged up a team made up of frat brothers and law students in order to fulfill its contractual obligations. Cumberland College's student manager, George Allen, who'd been given the unpleasant task of rounding up players, managed to get 13 students to head to Atlanta to face John Heisman's unbeaten team, per The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. After winning the coin toss, Georgia Tech's Yellow Jackets chose to start on defense and came out strong by knocking Cumberland College's quarterback unconscious on the first play.

Touchdown-a-minute Tech

It only got worse for the Cumberland College Bulldogs from there. Within less than a minute, Tech scored its first touchdown and by the end of the first quarter, Heisman's men had racked up 63 points, per The Los Angeles Times. Cumberland College did manage to gain three yards on one play in the first half, which ended 126-0. Coach Heisman gave his players a pep talk between halves, telling them, apparently with a straight face, "Men, we're in front, but you never know what those Cumberland players have up their sleeves. So in the second half, go out there and hit 'em clean, and hit 'em hard. Don't let up."

Heisman's players listened to their coach, continuing to punish Cumberland College's players. Toward the end of the game, Heisman noticed one of their opponents sitting on the Tech bench and told him he was on the wrong side. The Bulldog answered that this was the "only place I'm safe. If I go back to my bench, I'm liable to get sent back into the game again," per The Football Hall of Shame." Georgia Tech scored 32 touchdowns without a single pass and rushed for 928 yards to 222-0 victory, per The New York Times. "Georgia Tech earns, and earns well, the sobriquet of 'Touchdown-a-minute Tech,'" the sportswriter for The Commercial Appeal quipped after the game.