Controversial calls reveal difficulties before instant replay in football
Transcribed from The Tuscaloosa News -November 16, 1937
We look upon the Crimson Tide with admiration and wonder, not only for its ability to pull the fat out of the fire at the last moment but also for the gymnastic feats which it has inspired on the part of some of the South’s foremost sport -writers.
Didn’t win after all
Nine or ten days ago, the Tide had occasion to visit the town of New Orleans and the pleasure of emerging victorious over Tulane in the dying seconds of the game. The cries of anguish had hardly faded out, however, before they were succeeded by the yelps of anger from two or three of the Crescent City sports writers – yelps occasioned by pictorial evidence of the alleged fact that Alabama didn’t win the game after all. This, we believe, will go down as the first case in all the history of football where a sports writer admitted in public that anybody or anything – including a moving picture camera – had a quicker eye and a sharper understanding of the game than he. Heretofore, we have labored under the impression that Argus was merely a Blind Susie when compared with our American sports writers at a football game.
The University of Alabama’s football team in 1937 — after their defeat in the Rose Bowl. In the photograph are Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone, stars of the 1938 film, The Adventrues of Robin Hood. (University of Alabama Library Collections)
Resorted to the Bible
A week later, the boys from Georgia Tech also had an unpleasant example of a Garrison finish on the part of the Tide – and the Atlanta sports writers, perched some 300 or 400 feet from the goal line, contended that the officials of the game, standing on the goal line, couldn’t see – and that Tech, too, “wuz robbed.” The Atlanta boys, unlike the New Orleans boys, were unwilling to shatter the tradition about how good a sports writer can see. They didn’t resort to pictures, or even to profanity – as is there wont on certain occasions. But they went to the scripture and one of them, proclaiming that “To them that hath shall be given and to them that hath not shall be taken away” even that which they hath,” stirred us so emotionally that we were prepared to toss up the sponge and call it a Tech victory. The record books, however, wouldn’t permit that sort of thing. But we are still stirred, and we are proud of the Tide when it can make a sports writer, even though he already teaches Sunday School, resort to the scripture in an effort to rob Peter and pay Paul.
But what’s this? Birmingham joins the throng and, believe it or not, the Tide has even inspired some of the Magic City sports writers to intellectual (?) gymnastics. One of the foremost recorders of sporting things in that metropolis resorts to this line of reasoning: (1) Pittsburgh is the finest football team in the nation because, on two straight Saturdays, it came from out of nowhere to win a ball game, and (2) Alabama has lost a lot of prestige because, on two straight Saturdays, it came out of nowhere to win a ball game.
We acclaim the Crimson Tide for those sterling triumphs on the sod of Pasadena, and we hail all the heroes of the past – but no Tide, at any time, has done what this 1937 Tide has done in making so many ‘sports writers’ stand on their heads in so many different ways.
This video posted on Youtube by the bryantmuseum shows some of the Crimson Tide players as they headed to Rose Bowl.
Despite their strength in 1937, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide played California in the 1938 Rose Bowl and lost 13-0