1899 Auburn Tigers football team

1899 Sewanee Tigers football team

The 1899 Sewanee Tigers football team was a successful college football team from The University of the South, or Sewanee as it is commonly known. The team was one of the first college football powers of the southern United States and the 1899 team in particular was very strong. Despite being from a small Episcopal university in the mountains of Tennessee, the team came to dominate the football in the region during the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Reasons for their success include being one of the first teams in the region and the school session running through the summer with a long winter break, giving the team more practice compared to their opponents.

There is little evidence today at Sewanee of the team's former success. The school does not have a large stadium and is part of the NCAA Division III, which offers players no athletic scholarships. Although Sewanee was a charter member of the NCAA Southeastern Conference when it was formed in 1932, they never won a game and withdrew in 1940. Like some other football powers of yore such as the University of Chicago, Sewanee today emphasizes scholarship over athletics.

The 1899 Season

Sewanee’s 1899 season was very successful. From October 21 through December 2, under the leadership of Coach Billy Sutter and future Football Hall of Famer captain Henry “Diddy” Seibels, the Sewanee team, officially the Tigers but nicknamed the "Iron Men," played and won twelve games, was unscored upon except for one game, outscored their opponents 322 to 10, and were champions of the South. Ten of their twelve opponents are today big-time college football powers including National Champions from 1998 (Tennessee), 2003 and 2007 (Louisiana State), and 2005 (Texas). The Auburn team they beat was coached by the legendary John Heisman, after whom the Heisman Trophy is named.

The 1899 Road Trip

The 1899 Iron Men team's most notable accomplishment was a six-day period from November 9 to 14 which is arguably the greatest road trip in college football history. Manager Luke Lea put together an improbable schedule of playing five big name opponents in six days, all on the road. Sewanee played and shut out them all while travelling by train for 2500 miles. This feat, barring fundamental changes in modern-day football, can never be equaled.

The 1899 Sewanee Football Schedule and Results

Record: 12-0-0 Points: Sewanee 322, Opponents 10

  • Oct. 21 at Atlanta: Sewanee 12 Georgia 0
  • Oct. 23 at Atlanta: Sewanee 32 Georgia Tech 0
  • Oct. 28 at Sewanee: Sewanee 46 Tennessee 0
  • Nov. 3 at Sewanee: Sewanee 54 Southwestern University 0
  • Nov. 9 (Thursday) at Austin: Sewanee 12 Texas 0
  • Nov. 10 (Friday) at Houston: Sewanee 10 Texas A&M 0
  • Nov. 11 (Saturday) at New Orleans: Sewanee 23 Tulane 0
  • Nov. 13 (Monday) at Baton Rouge: Sewanee 34 LSU 0
  • Nov. 14 (Tuesday) at Memphis: Sewanee 12 Ole Miss 0
  • Nov. 20 at Sewanee: Sewanee 71 Cumberland 0
  • Nov. 30 at Montgomery: Sewanee 11 Auburn 10
  • Dec. 2 at Atlanta: Sewanee 5 North Carolina 0


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