7 College Football Teams Caught Making Up Victories
There are millions of college football fans who don’t live in reality. Every game the team lost was "rigged." Every school except theirs is cheating. The school is never, ever in the wrong except when the NCAA proves the school was in the wrong. It’s one thing when rabid fans can’t accept losing but it's whole other issue when institutions of academia manufacture accomplishments to make the school look better.
Here are seven schools guilty of a little revisionist history--or at least some trolling of their rivals.
Life has gone downhill rapidly for Kansas football. After winning the school’s first BCS bowl game in 2007, the Jayhawks have suffered through four straight losing seasons, with each getting seemingly worse than the last (5-7, 3-9, 2-10 and 1-11 the last four years). But fortunately for them, we live in an age where, just like George Lucas adding all kinds of new creatures to the Star Wars movies, you can use computers to digitally enhance anything—including a football schedule.
As you see in the screenshot above, earlier this month the official Kansas athletics page showed the Jayhawks’ record as 2-11. KU only won one game last season. Where did that second win come from? Well, according to the website, the Kansas spring game counted as a win.
To be fair, KU later removed the phantom win, blaming it on a new software that didn’t exclude the spring game as an exhibition. As bad as they have been lately, could you really blame the Jayhawks for grasping at any straw—computer-generated or not—that they can find?
Alabama claims fifteen national championships in school history. Most of them are either undisputed or they can make a valid argument but then there’s the 1941 “championship.”
That year, the Crimson Tide went 9-2, was shut out twice, finished third in the SEC and was ranked #20 in the AP Poll. But some guy named Deke Houlgate, armed only with a slide rule and a “mathematical system,” somehow figured out that Alabama was the best team in the nation. Even stranger, the Houlgate “championship” was largely ignored until the 1980s when then-Bama Sports Information Director Wayne Atcheson retroactively added five championships the school hadn’t previously claimed—four from the pre-poll era and the 1941 title.
Minnesota was the AP national champion in 1941 after going 8-0. Today, while all but the most die-hard ‘Bama homers admit the 1941 title is a stretch, they proudly wear their “15” gear, claiming its just payback for a 1966 squad that went 11-0 but finished ranked behind two 9-0-1 teams.
While Alabama’s 1941 title may be questionable at best, at least one guy with a “system” claimed them to be the best. That’s better than some titles that have magically appeared at Texas A&M.
Shortly before the Aggies joined the SEC last fall, a handful of new titles mysteriously showed up at Kyle Field. National championships from 1919 and 1927 suddenly joined the long-claimed title from 1939. Those are from the pre-poll era when there was no such thing as a “consensus” national champion, so they're at least arguable. But even more bizarrely, A&M decided to claim Big 12 conference championships in 1997 and 2010.
Just a couple of problems—in 1997, the Aggies were destroyed, 54-15, in the league championship game by eventual champion Nebraska. And, in 2010, Texas A&M finished in a three-way tie in their own division, but finished third in the tiebreaker and didn’t even make the conference championship game.
Apparently the Aggies were just really desperate to try to keep up with their new buddies in the SEC.
They must use a different kind of math in Texas. Just like the Aggies claiming some new mythical championships, their in-state rivals resorted to the same tricks to claim a conference crown.
In 2008, Texas finished in a three-way tie for the Big 12 South division lead. But Oklahoma won the tiebreaker and went on to win the Big 12 and play in the national championship game. However, that didn’t stop the Longhorns from engaging in some revisionist history, granting themselves the 2008 conference championship, albeit with an asterisk, on the wall of their training facility.
And lest anyone forget the power that is Texas athletics, the Big 12 conveniently changed its tiebreaker rules the next year to make sure that the break that went against the Longhorns would never happen again.
Seriously? Another Texas school on this list?
Many teams complain about officiating after a game. But very few have the cojones to troll so hard as to unilaterally decide to change the score. But that’s exactly what Baylor did last year when they didn’t like a call made late in their Holiday Bowl win over UCLA.
On the last play of the game, UCLA receiver Logan Sweet made a 34-yard catch that was ruled a touchdown, making the final score 49-26 Baylor. But a later replay (the call was not reviewed on the field) showed that Sweet was tackled a yard short of the end zone. So Baylor just decided to pretend that last play never happened and, when the Bears players got their Holiday Bowl champions rings, it showed their imaginary preferred score of 49-19.
While not technically a fake win, this is an epic bit of football trolling by the Bears.
An unlikely comeback in one of college football’s longest-running rivalries inspired arguably the greatest piece of college football trolling ever.
In 1968, Harvard and Yale both entered the game at 8-0, the first time in almost 60 years the two teams had met with perfect records. For most of the game, it looked to be a Yale blowout but Harvard scripted the most unimaginable finish possible, scoring 16 unanswered points in the game’s final 42 seconds to eke out an improbable tie.
While the two teams were equal on the scoreboard, the result wasn’t the same for the fans. Dejected Yale alums walked stoically out of the stadium in stunned disbelief while Harvard boosters stormed the field to celebrate. In a rivalry as storied as this one, being able to steal a victory away from Yale certainly felt like a victory for Harvard, prompting the Harvard Crimson to run the famous headline, “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29.”
Entirely accurate? No. But oh so fun trolling of your archrival? Absolutely.
It’s simply known as “The Play.” It is arguably the most well-known series of events in football history.
Down by one with four seconds left, Cal recovered a squib kick, laterals the ball five times and runs for the game-winning touchdown through the Stanford band, which had come out on the field. Despite its iconic place in football history, however, the play is not without controversy. To this day, Stanford faithful insist a Cal player's knee was down before he pitched the ball and that another pitch was a forward lateral. And that is exactly what the Stanford student newspaper tricked thousands on the Cal campus into believing as well.
Four days after the game, students from the Stanford Daily newspaper pulled one of the greatest hoaxes in sports history, publishing a fake version of the Cal student paper, The Daily Californian, which claimed that the NCAA had overturned the final score of the game, giving Stanford a 20-19 win. The pranksters distributed 7,000 of the fake newspapers and its “NCAA Awards Big Game to Stanford” headline across the Berkley campus.
By pre-Photoshop era standards, the newspaper was a magnificent hoax, all the way down mimicking The Daily Californian’s bylines, ads and fonts. Thousands of Cal students fell for the hoax, with shouts and tears of anger across campus. While the hoax was quickly discovered, it goes down as one of the great pieces of trolling in college football history.