CRAWFORD BLOG | Remembering U of L's biggest loss -- 105-0 to Mu - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD BLOG | Remembering U of L's biggest loss -- 105-0 to Murray State

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I don't know if it was against a blue-gray October sky, but I do know that when the University of Louisville football team finished its game against Murray State Teachers College on Oct. 8, 1932, it felt not only like it had been run over by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but the field of the Kentucky Derby alongside it.

Murray State is coming to Louisville on Saturday, and there's little chance anyone remembers what happened that day in 1932. My colleague Rick Bozich assures me "I didn't have that game."

But The Courier-Journal had it. Across the top of its Oct. 9 sports section, the story unfolds in headline, then subheads. "Murray Gallops With Little Restraint Over U. of L. By 105-0 -- Race Horses Tab 71 Points in Last Half -- Louisville Foes Have Tallied 203 Points in 3 Tilts to 6 for Cards -- Cardinals Outgained 725 Yards to Minus 14."

What's left to write? Well, maybe a little.

Mike Lacett, a newcomer to our WDRB Sports Staff, encountered the score on Wikipedia and wondered if it wasn't a misprint. I decided it wasn't such a bad question.

Turns out, then-U of L president Raymond Kent wasn't a fan of college sports; in fact, he was outright opposed to them. He made it his mission to get the school's various programs accredited by reputable academic agencies, and when confronted by alumni who didn't like what was happening to their teams, he treated them with public scorn, according to a history of the school by Dwayne Cox and William Morison, "and bluntly declared that they should have learned better while students."

One booster, the authors reported, declared that Kent's policies made the school "the laughing stock of the South."

That criticism seems rather shortsighted, given that academics should always outweigh athletics in terms of a university's development. But consider this -- while U of L was de-emphasizing all of its athletic programs, the University of Kentucky in 1933 joined the fledgling Southeastern Conference. Who's to say which profited more in the grander scheme?

Regardless, the slide of U of L football truly began several years earlier with a fateful trip to national power Detroit. Knute Rockne had talked Louisville coach Tom King into taking his team's place in a game against Detroit, and the cost to U of L in injured players was high. Detroit won that game 46-0, and among the Cardinal casualties was end Lawrence Wetherby, the future Kentucky governor, who suffered a sprained ankle. Louisville would win just once more that season, and King had to round up players from the school's Playhouse theater to finish the campaign. You can imagine how that went. It took the program until after World War II -- with the hiring of Frank Camp -- to truly recover.

The Cardinals were in the midst of a 24-game losing streak at the time of the Murray debacle.

Murray itself hadn't scored in two games before beating the Cardinals that day. U of L would score only 18 points all season, reaching the end zone in only two games.

That day, three Murray ball-carriers topped the 100-yard mark. The Racers amassed 14 first downs and 15 touchdowns.

Meanwhile, in matter-of-fact form, The C-J reported: "In the third quarter the Cardinals threatened a first down when they completed a 9-yard pass. On the next and fourth down they failed to gain the necessary inch through the line and the ball went to Murray."

An aside -- the role of newspapers in those days was vastly different from their role today. Back then, there was no regular electronic media for most college sports contests. WHAS Radio in Louisville was only 10 years old, and for many people, their experience of games was solely what they read of them in the paper. In this account, as in others of the era, writers were careful to give lots of play-by-play description, and game coverage of the bigger games -- such as UK football -- was given entire stories devoted to nothing but a straight recounting of the game.

I doubt there's any reason for current U of L coach Bobby Petrino to tack this to the bulletin board in the Cardinals' locker room, unless he's looking for a little comic relief. But from my experience with Petrino, he doesn't find much about losses, even if they happened 82 years ago.

Still, it is a reminder of just what kind of underdog U of L and its football program were in their infancy, and perhaps another reason for Cardinal fans to feel supremely grateful for where things are now.

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