1943 Alabama Crimson Tide football team

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1943 Alabama Crimson Tide football
Conference Southeastern Conference
1943 record 0–0 (0–0 SEC)
Head coach Frank Thomas
Seasons
« 1942 1944 »
1943 SEC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#13 Georgia Tech 3 0 0     8 3 0
LSU 2 2 0     6 3 0
Tulane 1 1 0     3 3 0
Georgia 0 3 0     6 4 0
Vanderbilt 0 0 0     5 0 0
† – Conference champion
  • Seven other SEC schools did not field a team due to World War II.[1]
    Rankings from AP Poll

The 1943 Alabama Crimson Tide football team was to represent the University of Alabama in the 1943 college football season; however, the season was canceled due to the effects of World War II. In February 1943, the Army instituted a policy that prohibited their cadets from participation in intercollegiate athletics. Unsure if a season would occur, head coach Frank Thomas proceeded through spring practice as if it would be played. By summer, only two Alabama players were available to compete on the squad as a result of the Army prohibition on its trainees competing in intercollegiate athletics, and on August 23, 1943, the University announced its decision to cancel the 1943 season. The cancellation marked only the third time since the inaugural 1892 season that Alabama did not field a football team.

Although not officially sanctioned by the University, an independent team called the Alabama Informals was organized in October 1943. Coached by former Crimson Tide player Mitchell Olenski, the Informals were composed of 17-year old and draft deferred students ineligible for military service. The Informals were allowed to play their games at Denny Stadium and utilize the equipment of the Crimson Tide football team. The squad lost to Howard, defeated the Marion Military Institute twice and finished the season with an overall record of two wins and one loss (2–1).

At the conclusion of the season, SEC officials met in an effort to bring a full football schedule back for the 1944 season. By May 1944, all SEC schools, with the exception of Vanderbilt, indicated they would field teams for the 1944 season. Football officially returned on September 30, 1944, when the Crimson Tide played LSU to a tie in their season opener.

1943 Crimson Tide[edit]

In February 1943, the United States Department of War announced they would take over both classroom space and athletic facilities at 271 colleges and universities to be utilized for the training of United States Army soldiers.[2][3] As part of the Department's order, only students under 18 years of age or those with 4-F draft classifications were permitted to compete in intercollegiate athletics.[2][3] At the time of the of its announcement, coach Thomas was quoted as saying:

"Army–Navy programs not figured at all in our plans for athletics next fall."[3]

As such, preparations continued towards fielding a team for the 1943 season. On March 8, spring practice commenced at Denny Stadium and 55 student-athletes reported the first day.[4] At that time coach Thomas acknowledged he did not know how many of his players would be eligible to play in the fall due to rules the prohibited active-duty servicemen playing intercollegiate football.[4] As they entered practice, only 15 lettermen returned to the squad from the 1942 team. These players included: Jack Aland, Johnny August, Bill Baughman, Andy Bires, Charley Compton, Ted Cook, Leon Fichman, Ted McKosky, Jim McWhorter, Norman Mosley, Mitchell Olenski, Kenny Reese, Lou Scales, John Staples and Don Whitmire.[4] Two weeks into the practices, coach Thomas held the first scrimmage of the spring on March 22.[5]

On March 26, Herbert Chapman, Billy DeWitt, James Grantham, Henry "Red" Jones, Jim McWhorter and Lou Scales became the first Alabama players to be called into active duty from the enlisted reserve corps.[6] As they were now enlisted as active servicemen, they were all ineligible to play in the fall for the Crimson Tide.[6] In June, the SEC developed a plan to allow its member schools to discontinue athletic teams due to the war efforts, but retain the overall structure of the conference.[7]

By August, the prospect of Alabama fielding a football team for the 1943 season was in doubt. On August 17, coach Thomas spoke to a civic group in Birmingham and stated he did not think the school would field a team in 1943 due to the unwillingness of the Army to change their policy that prohibited their cadets from participating in intercollegiate athletics.[8] On August 23, 1943, the University Physical Education and Athletics Committee officially canceled the 1943 season.[9][10] The decision was made at that time because only two Alabama players were available to compete on the squad.[10] As the season was canceled, coach Thomas spent his time leading war bond drives and serving as president of the Tuscaloosa Exchange Club during the time the season was originally scheduled.[11] The cancellation marked only the third time since 1892 that Alabama did not field a football team. The only other seasons the Crimson Tide did not field teams were in 1898 due to University policy that prohibited athletic teams from traveling off campus to compete and again in 1918 due to the effects of World War I.[9]

Schedule[edit]

At the time of the cancellation of the season, Alabama had four games scheduled: a pair against LSU, and one each against Tulane and Georgia.[10]

Date Opponent Site Result
September 25 at LSU Tiger StadiumBaton Rouge, LA (Rivalry)  N/A  
October 16 at Tulane Tulane StadiumNew Orleans, LA  N/A  
October 23 Georgia Legion FieldBirmingham, AL  N/A  
November 13 LSU Legion Field • Birmingham, AL (Rivalry)  N/A  
*Non-conference game.

NFL Draft[edit]

Several players that were varsity lettermen from the 1942 squad, scheduled to play as part of the 1943 team, were drafted into the National Football League (NFL) in the 1944 draft.[12][13] These players included the following:

Year Round Overall Player name Position NFL team
1944 9 78 Olenski, MitchellMitchell Olenski Tackle Brooklyn Tigers
9 82 Whitmire, DonDon Whitmire Tackle Green Bay Packers
22 221 Cook, TedTed Cook End Brooklyn Tigers
27 279 Bires, AndyAndy Bires End New York Giants
27 281 McKewan, JackJack McKewan Tackle Chicago Bears

Alabama Informals[edit]

1943 Alabama Informals football
Conference Independent
1943 record 2–1
Head coach Mitchell Olenski
Home stadium Denny Stadium
Seasons

Although Alabama officially did not participate as part of the 1943 college football season, a team composed of 17-year old and draft deferred students was organized as the Alabama Informals in October 1943.[14][15] Not officially sanctioned by the University, the Informals were allowed to utilize both equipment and the facilities of the Crimson Tide.[16] The team was led by head coach Mitchell Olenski, and John Gresham and Al Alois served as assistant coaches.[16] At the time of its creation, the Alabama Informals squad was the second created by a SEC school forced to abandon their football team for the year after Vanderbilt.[17]

Schedule[edit]

In addition to the three games played, the Informals were also scheduled to compete against Draper Prison at the Cramton Bowl on November 27.[18] The game was canceled by University officials that stated the students on the team needed to focus on final examinations instead.[18]

Date Opponent Site Result Attendance
November 6 Howard Denny StadiumTuscaloosa, AL L 6–42   7,000
November 12 at Marion Military Institute Perry County H.S. Stadium • Marion, AL W 31–12    
November 20 Marion Military Institute Denny Stadium • Tuscaloosa, AL W 19–13    

Game notes[edit]

Howard[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Howard 14 7 7 14 42
Alabama 0 0 0 6 6
  • Date: November 6
  • Location: Denny Stadium
    Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Game attendance: 7,000

The Informals first opponent was a team composed of players that were part of the V-12 Navy College Training Program at Howard College (now Samford University).[20] In the game, the Seadogs won 42–6 with the majority of gate receipts collected for the Tuscaloosa Service Center War Chest.[15][19] The Howard squad featured two former Crimson Tide players: Bill Harris at tackle and Billy Dabbs at fullback.[21]

Howard scored six touchdowns in the game. Cecil Duffee and Billy Dabbs scored on runs of 19 and 16-yards in the first quarter; Duffee scored on a 34-yard reception from Tris Mock in the second quarter; Stephenson scored on an eight-yard run in the third quarter; and Charley Spier scored on a 40-yard interception return in the fourth quarter.[19] The only Alabama points of the contest came in the fourth quarter, down 35–0 when John Wade threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Barton Greer.[19] Although not included as part of Alabama's all-time record, this is the only loss Alabama ever had against Howard.[19]

at Marion[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Alabama 6 6 12 7 31
Marion 0 6 0 6 12
  • Date: November 12
  • Location: Perry County H.S. Stadium
    Marion, AL

After their loss against Howard, the Informals traveled to play the Marion Military Institute Cadets at Perry County High School Stadium.[24] Against the Cadets, Alabama scored at least one touchdown in all four quarters for the 31–12 victory.[22][24] The Informals scored first on an 80-yard Barton Greer touchdown run, only to see the Cadets tie the game at 6–6 on the next possession on a 40-yard touchdown pass.[22] Alabama responded with a 20-yard touchdown run on a reverse by Whitey Blanchiak to take a 12–6 halftime lead.[22] In the third quarter, the Informals extended their lead to 24–6 after Lowell Edmondson scored on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Greer and on a four-yard Frank MacAlpine touchdown run in the third quarter.[22] In the fourth, Greer scored on a run for Alabama and Marion scored the final points of the game on a punt returned for a touchdown in their 31–12 loss.[22]

Marion[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Marion 13 0 0 0 13
Alabama 0 12 7 0 19
  • Date: November 20
  • Location: Denny Stadium
    Tuscaloosa, AL

After their victory over Marion, the Informals defeated the Cadets for the second consecutive week at Denny Stadium 19–13.[24][25] After they took a 7–0 lead on an 85-yard drive, the Cadets extended it to 13–0 by the end of the first quarter when Jimmy Scruggs scored on a touchdown reception.[25] The Informals responded with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns to make the halftime score 13–12. Touchdowns were scored on a Frank MacAlpine run and on a 21-yard Whitey Blanchiak reception from Barton Greer.[25] Alabama then scored the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter on a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown.[25]

Roster[edit]

Alabama Informals 1943 roster[26]
Quarterbacks
  • Farris Deep
  • Tom Edwards
  • Dwight Evens
  • Sam Oliveri

Running backs

  • Whitey Blanciak
  • Jim Callahan
  • Don Dahlene
  • Lowell Edmondson
  • Barton Greer
  • Joe Marion
  • Frank McAlpine
  • Billy Mills
  • John Wade
  • Bob Woolridge
Ends
  • Pete Crow
  • Herman Dow
  • Al Judd
  • Bill Monheimer
  • William Stanton

Tackles

  • George Kachickas
  • Carl Licht
  • Read Northern
  • Nick Terlizzi
  • Joe Triolo

Guards

  • Oscar Jones
  • Shorty Lackie
  • Lorrin Loeb
  • Bob Okin
  • Gus Ross
  • Art Sizemore
Center
  • Bert Bertini
  • Hudon Conway

Coaching staff

  • Mitchell Olenski – Head coach
  • Al Alois – Assistant coach
  • John Gresham – Assistant coach

Aftermath[edit]

On December 10, 1943, SEC officials met in Nashville in an effort to bring a full football schedule back for the 1944 season.[27] In order to have enough students eligible to participate on a team, the SEC changed its eligibility restrictions to allow for any civilian to play as long as they had not played four years of college football or professionally.[27] At that time, Alabama along with Tennessee and Vanderbilt indicated they might reform their respective teams and resume conference play for the 1944 season.[27][28] On January 12, 1944, all SEC members, with the exceptions of Mississippi and Mississippi State, indicated their intent to field football teams the following fall.[29] On May 19, 1944, every SEC school with the exception of Vanderbilt (who fielded an informal team) agreed to play a full conference schedule the following fall.[30] Football officially returned to Alabama for the first time since the 1942 season on September 30, 1944, when the Crimson Tide played LSU to a tie in their season opener.[31][32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Scott, Richard (2008). SEC Football: 75 Years of Pride and Passion. MVP Books. p. 58. ISBN 1616731338. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Considine, Bob (February 13, 1943). "Army forecasts abandonment of college football". St. Petersburg Times (Google News). International News Service. p. 13. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Claassen, Harold (February 13, 1943). "College leaders are grimly determined to carry on". The Miami News (Google News). Associated Press. p. B1. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "Tiders start spring drills". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News). March 7, 1943. p. 11. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Tiders hold scrimmage drill". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News). March 23, 1943. p. 7. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Six Tide gridders called to Army". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News). March 26, 1943. p. 7. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Southeastern heads talking of duration conference freeze". The Evening Independent (Google News). Associated Press. June 26, 1943. p. 9. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Alabama on verge of abandoning grid for duration". The News and Courier (Google News). United Press. August 8, 1943. p. 6. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Alabama withdraws". The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec: Google News). Associated Press. August 27, 1943. p. 18. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c "Intercollegiate football abandoned at University". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News). August 23, 1943. p. 1. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  11. ^ Scott, Richard (2013). Legends of Alabama Football. Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 9781613216989. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Alabama Drafted Players/Alumni". Sports Reference, LLC. Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Draft History by School–Alabama". National Football League. Retrieved March 16, 2013. 
  14. ^ "New colleges set grid hopes". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News). Associated Press. January 12, 1944. p. 7. Retrieved June 23, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b "Tide Informals prepare for chest charity game". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News). Associated Press. October 31, 1943. p. 11. Retrieved June 23, 2012. 
  16. ^ a b "Howard to play Alabama Informals in chest game". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News). October 29, 1943. p. 1. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Alabama resumes Informals football". The News and Courier (Google News). Associated Press. October 30, 1943. p. 6. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b "Informal–Draper Prison game is cancelled". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News). Associated Press. November 23, 1943. p. 7. Retrieved June 23, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b c d e "Seadogs slap Informals 42–6 as 7,000 see game". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News Archives). November 7, 1943. p. 11. Retrieved June 23, 2012. 
  20. ^ 2011 Samford Football Media Guide (PDF). Homewood, Alabama: Samford University. 2011. p. 152. Retrieved June 23, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Former Tiders now Seadogs". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News Archives). November 2, 1943. p. 7. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f "Informals top Marion Cadets". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News Archives). November 15, 1943. p. 12. Retrieved June 23, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Alabama's Informals score first victory". The Evening Independent (Google News Archives). Associated Press. November 13, 1943. p. 11. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  24. ^ a b c "When MI played the University of Alabama in football!". Marion Military Institute Archives. MMI Foundation. April 27, 2009. Retrieved June 23, 2012. 
  25. ^ a b c d e "Informals rally to trip Cadets". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News Archives). November 21, 1943. p. 10. Retrieved June 23, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Alabama Informals' roster". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News Archives). November 2, 1943. p. 7. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  27. ^ a b c "SEC scraps peace-time eligibility restrictions: Football revival hinted". The Spartanburg Herald (Google News Archives). Associated Press. December 11, 1943. p. 6. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Grid resumption seen for SEC". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News). Associated Press. December 7, 1943. p. 7. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  29. ^ "Signs point to revival of Dixie gridiron loop". The Youngstown Daily Vindicator (Google News Archives). Associated Press. January 12, 1943. p. 11. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 
  30. ^ "South to field 11 grid teams". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News). Associated Press. May 19, 1944. p. 7. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  31. ^ "Crimson given outside chance". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News Archives). Associated Press. September 27, 1944. p. 7. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Alabama–LSU grid battle ends in 27–27 deadlock". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News Archives). Associated Press. October 1, 1944. p. 6. Retrieved November 27, 2012.