Monday, May 22, 2006

Undefeated, Untied and Uninvited

They were part of another era, when small colleges could field good teams. In 1951, the University of San Francisco was 9-0, but despite the perfect record, the Dons were not invited to play in a postseason game. The Orange Bowl passed on San Francisco, saying the game "must have a top gate attraction." But many thought the real reason was the Southern insistence against integration. You see, San Francisco was among only a handful of teams that had African-American players, Ollie Matson and Burt Toler. Matson, the team's fullback who was the leading college rusher that season, went on to win two medals in the 1952 Olympics. Toler had his chance at a pro career dashed by a knee injury, but he became the first African-American NFL game official, working for 25 seasons. The team, coached by Joe Kuharich, who later was the coach of Notre Dame, was loaded with talent. Nine players went on to play in the NFL, five played in the Pro Bowl and three — Matson, Gino Marchetti and Bob St. Clair — are in the NFL Hall of Fame, the most members of any one squad. And the public relations man was none other than Pete Rozelle, who became commissioner of the NFL for 29 years. "If that team had played for Notre Dame, they'd still be writing about us," Marchetti once said. The university honored the team this past weekend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What about the 1939 Tennessee team that went undeafeated and unscored on.