College Football season of 1919

If the Lambert Trophy existed, which team probably would have won it?

The leading eastern teams are listed here in alphabetical order. They were taken from the web site of www.jhowell.net (James Howell)/cf/scores and are shown in the correct order in which the games were played. Quotes are inserted among the entries, followed by the conclusion.

1919 Colgate

10/4 Susquehanna 34- 7

10/11 Brown 14- 0

10/18 Cornell 21- 0

10/25 Princeton 7- 0

11/1 Dartmouth 7- 7

11/8 Rochester 21- 0

11/15 Syracuse 7-13

5-1-1

Writing on page 123 of his book Fifty Years Of Colgate Football copyright 1940 by The Republican Press, Hamilton, New York, author Dr. Ellery C. Huntington wrote: "The defeat by the Orange, in the season's last game, in front of thirty thousand both happy and unhappy spectators, was made the more bitter, if such a thing can be, because it robbed Colgate of the mythical Eastern Championship, but could not deprive the team of the designation - Great."

1919 Dartmouth

9/27 Springfield 40- 0

10/4 Norwich 13- 0

10/11 Massachusetts 27- 7

10/18 Penn State 19-13

10/25 Cornell 9- 0

11/1 Colgate 7- 7

11/8 Pennsylvania 20-19

11/15 Brown 6- 7

6-1-1

"There's just no substitute for contemporary opinion when you're trying to recreate the past." - Brock J. Hanke

1919 Harvard

9/27 Bates 53- 0

10/4 Boston College 17- 0

10/11 Colby 35- 0

10/18 Brown 7- 0

10/25 Virginia 47- 0

11/1 Springfield 20- 0

11/8 Princeton 10-10

11/15 Tufts 23- 0

11/22 Yale 10- 3

1/1 Oregon Rose Bowl 7- 6

9-0-1

In 1919 Dan Daniel of The New York Sun rated Harvard as only 10th in the east and listed his leading teams as 1-Syracuse, 2-Penn State, 3-West Virginia, and 4-Washington & Jefferson.

1919 Pennsylvania

9/27 Bucknell 16- 0

10/4 Penn Military 54- 0

10/11 Delaware 89- 0

10/18 Swarthmore 55- 7

10/25 Lafayette 23- 0

11/1 Penn State 0-10

11/8 Dartmouth 19-20

11/15 Pittsburgh 3- 3

11/27 Cornell 24- 0

6-2-1

Historical accuracy must be viewed by taking into account the reactions and opinions of contemporary observers, not the distorted hindsight produced by such actions as retroratings of previous seasons using a score book or a record book instead of looking for the team who really was perceived as the best.

1919 Penn State

10/4 Gettysburg 33- 0

10/11 Bucknell 9- 0

10/18 Dartmouth 13-19

10/25 Ursinus 48- 7

11/1 Pennsylvania 10- 0

11/8 Lehigh 20- 7

11/15 Cornell 20- 0

11/27 Pittsburgh 20- 0

7-1-0

The New York Times of December 7, 1919 ranked the teams of the east this way:

Group 1: Colgate, Dartmouth, Penn State, Syracuse

Group 2: Harvard, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Princeton, Washington & Jefferson, West Virginia

Group 3: Navy, Yale

(Each group was arranged alphabetically)

Concerning the teams in the second group, the article with the rankings observed: "Of this group Harvard was undefeated, but the Crimson schedule was an easy one and did not bring out the eleven's real strength. Harvard's first hard game was toward the end of the season, and this resulted in a tie."

1919 Pittsburgh

10/4 Geneva 33- 0

10/11 West Virginia 26- 0

10/18 Syracuse 3-24

10/25 Georgia Tech 16- 6

11/1 Lehigh 14- 0

11/8 Washington & Jefferson 7- 6

11/15 Pennsylvania 3- 3

11/22 Carnegie Tech 17- 7

11/27 Penn State 0-20

6-2-1

Writing on page 59 of the 1920 Spalding Football Guide, in the section titled "Foot Ball in Middle States Colleges" George Orton commented: "For the first time in several years, Coach Warner did not produce his usual team at Pittsburgh. He lost a lot of veterans of the 1918 season and did very fine work with the material he had, but to Penn State must be awarded championship honors and every credit must be granted Hugo Bezdek the state coach, who took a lot of comparatively untried material and developed it consistently. From mid season on, they played foot ball of a remarkably high grade. No attempt will be made to rank the other teams in the Middle States. Pennsylvania, Princeton, Syracuse, Colgate and Washington and Jefferson all played ball of about the same grade."

1919 Princeton

10/4 Trinity CT 28- 0

10/11 Lafayette 9- 6

10/18 Rochester 34- 0

10/25 Colgate 0- 7

11/1 West Virginia 0-25

11/8 Harvard 10-10

11/15 Yale 13- 6

4-2-1

Writing on page 121 of his book "The Saga Of American Football" copyright 1955 by The Macmillan Company, author Alexander M. Weyand wrote: "In the East, Penn State, coached by Hugo Bezdek (Chicago), was usually considered the strongest, but it, too, lost a game - to Dartmouth, 13-19."

1919 Syracuse

9/27 Syracuse Alumni 10- 0

10/4 Vermont 27- 0

10/11 Army 7- 3

10/18 Pittsburgh 24- 3

10/25 Washington & Jefferson 0-13

11/1 Brown 13- 0

11/4 Rutgers 14- 0

11/8 Bucknell 9- 0

11/15 Colgate 13- 7

11/22 Indiana 6-12

11/27 Nebraska 0- 3

8-3-0

How they did among each other

Team Group All

Dartmouth 2-0-1 6-1-1

Penn State 2-1-0 7-1-0

Syracuse 2-1-0 8-3-0

West Virginia 2-1-0 8-2-0

Pittsburgh 2-2-1 6-2-1

Colgate 1-1-1 5-1-1

Harvard 0-0-1 9-0-1

Washington & Jefferson 1-2-0 6-2-0

Pennsylvania 0-2-1 6-2-1

Princeton 0-2-1 4-2-1

1919 Washington & Jefferson

10/4 Kiski Preparatory 23- 0

10/11 Carnegie Tech 20- 0

10/18 Westminster PA 16- 0

10/25 Syracuse 13- 0

11/8 Pittsburgh 6- 7

11/15 Bethany WV 14- 0

11/22 West Virginia Wesleyan 33- 0

11/25 West Virginia 0- 7

6-2-0

College football historian Bob Royce had this to say about the situation: "1919 is one really tough year to figure no matter how you try to do it. No single team stood out in the east that year drawing criticism from a lot of sportswriters. What they didn't understand was that with the return of a lot of toughened servicemen, the teams were better than ever and there were more good teams than in most prewar years. The net result was that no one team dominated. Several good, tough teams all played pretty much on a par with one another. As you know, The New York Times couldn't sort out Colgate, Dartmouth, Penn State and Syracuse, lumping them all together as best in the east. Someone that year put together a consensus of the editors of all (or most) of the major eastern newspapers and came up with this widely published list: 1-Penn State, 2-Syracuse, 3-Colgate, 4-Dartmouth, 5-West Virginia, 6-Harvard, 7-Princeton, 8-Pennsylvania, 9-Pittsburgh, 10-Washington & Jefferson."

1919 West Virginia

9/27 Marietta 61- 0

10/4 Westminster PA 55- 0

10/11 Pittsburgh 0-26

10/18 Maryland 27- 0

10/25 Bethany WV 60- 0

11/1 Princeton 25- 0

11/8 Centre 6-14

11/15 Rutgers 30- 7

11/22 Ohio Wesleyan 55- 0

11/25 Washington & Jefferson 7- 0

8-2-0

Conclusion by Bob Kirlin: Whenever I see a team such as Harvard of 1919 listed as "national champion" I mentally shake my head in disgust, since such a selection represents a retrorating based only on finding an undefeated team in a record book or a score book many years after the season. Such a selection has nothing to do with historical reality. Penn State has the best claim to eastern superiority in 1919.