Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Look Back: Samford Football, 1930's through the 1970's

Cheerleaders in the 1940 Entre Nous.
From the 1930’s until the 1970’s, the history of football at Howard College and then Samford University continued fairly strong. The campus teams, both varsity and freshmen, might not have won a lot of games, but they played with discipline and vigor, according to much of the sports reporting of the era. 
The 1934 season varsity football squad.
In 1934, the Howard College Bulldogs were coached by “Shorty” Propst, during his first year of coaching. The team played seven games, winning 3, tying 1, and losing 3. 

The 1940 varsity football team, as featured in the 1940 Entre Nous.
In 1940, the team played six games. For many years, the big game of the season was known as “The Battle of the Marne” and was played between Birmingham-Southern and Howard College, the two city colleges at that time. In 1940, Howard College lost that game 9 to 6.  

The varsity team in 1945.
During World War Two, football on campus continued. In the 1945 year, the Howard College football team consisted of 36 “sailors”, members of the Navy, and 3 “civilians”. They played only five games in an abbreviated season. 

The homecoming game in 1953.
In 1953, the Howard College team played nine game and won only one of them. The coaches that year were James Sherman, Earl Gartman and Bobby Bowden. 

The 1957 Howard College varsity team.
In 1957, Howard College moved from East Lake in Birmingham to Homewood. The football team in the 1957 season had the best season since 1953 by winning 4 of their 5 games. 

Howard College cheerleaders in 1965.
In 1965, Howard College became Samford University, though we played the 1965 season under the Howard name. 

The 1966 homecoming game.
Our first “Samford Bulldogs” football team won six of their nine games in the 1966 season. 

The 1973 Samford varsity football team in action.
The 1973 football season would end up being the last season for almost a decade. 

In 1974, the varsity football program was ended by President Wright and the board of trustees. The primary reason for this decision was the cost of the program. Dropping intercollegiate football saved the university 300,000 dollars in the 1974-1975 budget.   Students who had entered Samford on football scholarships were permitted to keep their scholarships until graduation and those who wished to transfer to another school to continue playing football were assisted by the university to find placements. The coaching staff was hired by a nearby school which had recently lost its head coach. 

The 1973 Samford varsity football team.
There were a few student protests on campus, but by and large the football program ceased quite quietly and the school turned its focus to basketball. 

Football would return to campus under President Corts in the early 1980s and continues today as one of the important activities on campus. 

Go Bulldogs!

Thanks to Rachel Cohen of the Special Collection for text and photographs.

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