clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A TCU History Lesson: 1935

In 1935 TCU claimed its first ever National Championship, but do you know how it came to be?

Associated Press

Football season is a glorious time, and in the case of TCU the glory days kicked off in 1935.

The Frogs had been a dominant team in the early 30s, posting records of 9-2-1, 9-2-1, 10-0-1, 9-2-1 and 8-4 (no, that's not a typo, we went 9-2-1 in three of four years in a row). Looking to break through to the next level TCU promoted assistant coach Leo R. Meyer to head coach, hoping he could get TCU to a major bowl.

At the time, Leo, lovingly known as "Dutch," was also the head baseball and head basketball coach. Over the span of his career(s) he would amass a total record of 230-199-14.

Instantly, Meyer leaned on the rocket-launcher arm of Sammy Baugh to create the beginnings of the modern passing game, and the Frogs took off.

TCU knocked off opponents left and right, including a 41-0 whipping of Howard Payne to open the season. Wins over Arkansas, North Texas, Baylor, Texas and Rice were punctuated with more victories over powerhouse Centenary (that's not a joke, they were actually a powerhouse. In fact, TCU was only an underdog in one game in 1935, and it was to Centenary), Tulsa, Loyola-New Orleans and Santa Clara.

However, there was one loss. A devastating loss at that.

Sitting pretty at 10-0, with a SWC championship and Rose Bowl appearance on the line, TCU faced off against bitter rival SMU in Fort Worth. With the game tied 14-14 late, SMU lined up to punt, but instead faked it and threw a 50 yard pass for a touchdown to seal the win, 20-14. As it turns out, fake punts have been beating us for almost 80 years.

SMU would go on to play in the Rose Bowl, only to get shellacked by the Stanford Indians 7-0.

Meanwhile, TCU went to the Sugar Bowl, where they defeated LSU 3-2 at Tulane Stadium.

With a final record of 12-1, TCU earned a share of the national championship (with LSU, oddly enough) by mathematician Paul Williamson, creator of the Williamson System, one of the bigger football polls at the time.