1921 Washington & Jefferson Presidents football
Co-national champion (Boand)
Rose Bowl, T 0–0 vs. California
1921 record10–0–1
Head coachGreasy Neale (1st season)
Offensive schemeShort-punt
Home stadiumCameron Stadium
← 1920
1922 →

The 1921 Washington & Jefferson Presidents football team represented the Washington & Jefferson College during the 1921 college football season. Coached by Greasy Neale, went 10-0 in the regular season, defeating powerhouses Pitt, University of Detroit, and Syracuse.[1] The 7-0 victory over rival Pitt was celebrated with a day of canceled classes and a bonfire with inspirational speeches in front of the Washington County Courthouse.[1] As the best team from the east, W&J was invited to the 1922 Rose Bowl to play the best team from the west: the undefeated and heavily favored California Golden Bears.[1] Some had even begun to call Cal the best team in college football history.[2] The Red and Black sent 20 men on the cross-country trip and Robert M. Murphy mortgaged his home to pay his six family members’ way.[1] W&J would be the last Rose Bowl team to play the same 11 men the entire game. During the train ride to Pasadena, in which Greasy Neale continued to prepare his men, Lee Spillers caught pneumonia and could not finish the journey.[1] Luckily, Ross "Bucky" Buchannan, a reserve player who had stowed away on the train and was fed smuggled sandwiches during the trip, was available to fill Spillers' roster spot.[1][2]

The power of this Eastern eleven lay in its ability to rip through and smear opposing plays. Its uncanny faculty in this department was pronounced especially so in a season where the attack was featured and the offensive often given no great attention. Any attack in the country, including that bewildering onslaught launched by Notre Dame, would have found great trouble in hammering out any extensive distance against Neale's machine.

Grantland Rice, describing the 1921 football team[3]

Cal had outscored their opponents that season by a margin of 312–33; nevertheless, the W&J defense held the Golden Bears' potent offense, led by Brick Muller, to no points, 2 first downs, no completed passes, and only 49 yards rushing.[1] In one of the most disputed plays in Rose Bowl history, a rushing touchdown for W&J was overturned for an offside penalty called on Wayne Brenkert.[1][4] On another play, W&J's Hal Erickson slipped and fell on his way to scoring a sure touchdown.[4] The contest ended in a scoreless draw. The game was notable as the last time a "small school" would be represented in the Rose Bowl. W&J's team featured two Rose Bowl firsts: Herb Kopf was the first freshman to play and Charlie "Pruner" West was the first African American to play quarterback.[5] W&J's team captain, Russ Stein, was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1991.[6] The Red and Black finished the season with a share of the 1921 national championship, as later determined by the Boand System.[7]


September 24at Bethany*W 14–0
October 1Bucknell*W 26–0
October 8West Virginia Wesleyan*W 54–0
October 15Carnegie Mellon*W 14–0
October 22at LehighW 14–7
October 29at SyracuseSyracuse, NYW 17–10
November 5at Westminster*W 49–14
November 12at PittsburghW 7–0
November 24at West VirginiaMorgantown, WVW 13–0
December 3at DetroitW 14–2[8]
January 1vs. California*T 0–0
  • *Non-conference game



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 North 1991 pp. 97–107
  2. 2.0 2.1 Scarborough 1979 p. 79
  3. Scarborough 1979 pp. 81–82
  4. 4.0 4.1 Scarborough 1979 p. 7
  5. "Charles "Pruner" West (1922)". U. Grant Miller Library Digital Archives. Washington & Jefferson College. Archived from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  6. "Rose Bowl Hall of Fame". Tournament of Roses. 2009. Archived from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
  7. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) (2015). "National Poll Rankings" (PDF). NCAA Division I Football Records. NCAA. p. 108. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  8. "W. & J. Wins Intersectional Game From University of Detroit By 14-2 Score". Detroit Free Press: pp. 23, 25. December 4, 1921.

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