1939 Alabama Crimson Tide football
ConferenceSoutheastern Conference
1939 record5–3–1 (2–3–1 SEC)
Head coachFrank Thomas (9th season)
CaptainCarey Cox
Home stadiumDenny Stadium
Legion Field
Seasons
← 1938
1940 →
1939 SEC football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#2 Tennessee § 6 0 0     10 1 0
#16 Georgia Tech § 6 0 0     8 2 0
#5 Tulane § 5 0 0     8 1 1
Mississippi State 3 2 0     8 2 0
Ole Miss 2 2 0     7 2 0
Kentucky 2 2 1     6 2 1
Auburn 3 3 1     5 5 1
Alabama 2 3 1     5 3 1
Georgia 1 3 0     5 6 0
LSU 1 5 0     4 5 0
Vanderbilt 1 6 0     2 7 1
Florida 0 3 1     5 5 1
Sewanee 0 3 0     3 5 0
§ – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1939 Alabama Crimson Tide football team (variously "Alabama", "UA" or "Bama") represented the University of Alabama in the 1939 college football season. It was the Crimson Tide's 46th overall and 7th season as a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The team was led by head coach Frank Thomas, in his ninth year, and played their home games at Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa and Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. They finished the season with a record of five wins, three losses and one tie (5–3–1 overall, 2–3–1 in the SEC).

The Crimson Tide opened the season with a victory over Howard before they upset Fordham 7–6 in an intersectional contest at the Polo Grounds in week two. After their victory over Mercer, Alabama was shut out 21–0 by Tennessee, their second consecutive shutout loss against the Volunteers. The Crimson Tide then rebounded with a homecoming victory over Mississippi State. However, Alabama would then go winless over their next three conference games with a tie against Kentucky followed by shutout losses to both Tulane and Georgia Tech. The Crimson Tide rebounded in their final game of the season to defeat Vanderbilt.

Schedule[edit | edit source]

DateOpponentRankSiteResultAttendance
September 30Howard (AL)*W 21–06,000
October 7at Fordham*W 7–641,454
October 14Mercer*W 20–05,000
October 21at No. 5 TennesseeNo. 8L 0–2140,000
October 28Mississippi StatedaggerNo. 20W 7–015,000
November 4No. 15 KentuckyNo. 19T 7–711,000
November 11at No. 7 TulaneNo. 20L 0–1352,000
November 18Georgia TechL 0–623,000
November 30at VanderbiltW 39–0
  • *Non-conference game
  • daggerHomecoming
  • Rankings from AP Poll released prior to the game
  • Source: Rolltide.com: 1939 Alabama football schedule[1]

Game summaries[edit | edit source]

Howard[edit | edit source]

by Quarter 1 2 3 4 Total
Howard 0 0 0 0 0
Alabama 0 0 7 14 21
  • Date: September 30
  • Location: Denny Stadium
    Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Game attendance: 6,000

To open the 1939 season, Alabama defeated Howard (now Samford University) 21–0 at Denny Stadium.[2][3] After a scoreless first half, the Crimson Tide scored their first touchdown on a one-yard Paul Spencer run in the third quarter.[2] Alabama then closed the game with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns for the 21–0 win. The first came on a five-yard Herschel Mosley pass to Holt Rast and the second on a second, one-yard run by Spencer.[2] The victory improved Alabama's all-time record against Howard to 17–0–1.[4]

Fordham[edit | edit source]

by Quarter 1 2 3 4 Total
Alabama 7 0 0 0 7
Fordham 0 0 0 6 6
  • Date: October 7
  • Location: Polo Grounds
    New York, NY
  • Game attendance: 41,454

On the road against a favored Fordham squad, the Crimson Tide defeated the Rams 7–6 at the Polo Grounds in an intersectional matchup.[3][5][6] The Crimson Tide scored their only points of the game in the first quarter. Jimmy Nelson scored Alabama's only touchdown on an 18-yard run to cap a 40-yard drive, and then Hayward Sanford connected on the extra point to give the Crimson Tide a 7–0 lead.[5] Sanford later missed a 33-yard field goal in the first, and the Rams turned the ball over on downs at the Alabama 19-yard line to keep the score 7–0 at the end of the quarter.[5][6] Fordham then scored their only points of the game late in the fourth after Dom Principe scored on a short touchdown run; however, Alex Yudikaitis missed the extra point which proved to be the margin in their loss.[6] The victory improved Alabama's all-time record against Fordham to 1–1.[7]

This game is also noted as being the second televised college football game after the 1939 Waynesburg vs. Fordham football game played one week earlier.[8] The game was televised exclusively in New York City as it was broadcast over W2XBS and only a few hundred televisions were thought to be in existence at the time.[8]

Mercer[edit | edit source]

by Quarter 1 2 3 4 Total
Mercer 0 0 0 0 0
Alabama 7 0 13 0 20
  • Date: October 14
  • Location: Denny Stadium
    Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Game attendance: 5,000

A week after the road win at Fordham, Alabama defeated the Mercer Bears 20–0 at Denny Stadium in the first all-time meeting between the schools.[3][9][10] The Crimson Tide took a 7–0 first quarter lead after Paul Spencer scored on a one-yard touchdown run to cap a 42-yard drive.[9] After a scoreless second quarter, Alabama scored a pair of third-quarter touchdowns for the 20–0 victory. Gene Blackwell scored first on an eight-yard run and Herschel Mosley scored on a four-yard run.[9]

Tennessee[edit | edit source]

Third Saturday in October
by Quarter 1 2 3 4 Total
#8 Alabama 0 0 0 0 0
• #5 Tennessee 0 7 0 14 21
  • Date: October 21
  • Location: Shields-Watkins Field
    Knoxville, TN
  • Game attendance: 40,000

On the Monday prior to their annual game against the Volunteers, Alabama was selected to the No. 8 and Tennessee was selected to the No. 5 position in the first AP Poll of the 1939 season.[12] In the game, Alabama was shut out by rival Tennessee 21–0 before an overflow crowd of 40,000 at Shields-Watkins Field.[3][11] After a scoreless first quarter, Tennessee took a 7–0 lead in the second after Johnny Butler scored on a 56-yard run.[11] Up by a touchdown at the end of the third, a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown runs gave the Volunteers the 21–0 win. The first was made by Bob Foxx on an 11-yard run and the second by Buss Warren om a 12-yard run.[11]

Although Alabama was shut out and lost by three touchdowns, Tennessee head coach Robert Neyland said of the Crimson Tide's performance that "I don't think the score indicates the difference between the teams. It should have been about 7 to 0."[13] The loss brought Alabama's all-time record against Tennessee to 13–7–2.[14]

Mississippi State[edit | edit source]

by Quarter 1 2 3 4 Total
Mississippi State 0 0 0 0 0
• #20 Alabama 7 0 0 0 7
  • Date: October 28
  • Location: Denny Stadium
    Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Game attendance: 15,000

After their loss to Tennessee, Alabama dropped from No. 8 to No. 20 in the AP Poll as they entered their annual homecoming game.[16] Against Mississippi State the Crimson Tide defeated the Maroons 7–0 before 15,000 fans at Denny Stadium.[3][15] The only points of the game came in the first quarter when Charley Boswell threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Holt Rast.[15] Alabama outgained the Maroons in rushing yardage 173 to 65 in the victory.[15] The victory improved Alabama's all-time record against Mississippi State to 19–5–2.[17]

Kentucky[edit | edit source]

by Quarter 1 2 3 4 Total
#15 Kentucky 0 0 0 7 7
#19 Alabama 0 7 0 0 7
  • Date: November 4
  • Location: Legion Field
    Birmingham, AL
  • Game attendance: 11,000

As Alabama entered their contest against Kentucky, they gained one position the rankings to No. 19 and the Wildcats entered the rankings at No. 15 in the weekly AP Poll.[19] In the game, the Crimson Tide battled the Wildcats to a 7–7 tie in the first game played at Legion Field of the season.[3][18] After a scoreless first, Holt Rast blocked a Kentucky punt that was recovered by Alabama at the Wildcats' two-yard line.[18] Two plays later, Paul Spencer scored on a short run and Bud Waites converted the extra point to give the Crimson Tide a 7–0 lead.[18] Still down by a touchdown at the end of the third, Kentucky tied the game in the fourth on a short Noah Mullins run and Jim Hardin extra point.[18] The tie brought Alabama's all-time record against Kentucky 17–1–1.[20]

Tulane[edit | edit source]

by Quarter 1 2 3 4 Total
#20 Alabama 0 0 0 0 0
• #7 Tulane 0 6 7 0 13
  • Date: November 11
  • Location: Tulane Stadium
    New Orleans, LA
  • Game attendance: 52,000

After their tie with Kentucky, the Crimson Tide dropped out of the weekly AP Poll, and Tulane took the No. 7 position after their victory over Ole Miss.[22] In New Orleans, the Crimson Tide was shutout by the Green Wave 13–0 before a crowd of 52,000 at Tulane Stadium.[3][21] After a scoreless first, Tulane took a 6–0 halftime lead when Harry Hays scored a touchdown on a 69-yard reverse.[21] Robert Kellogg then scored the Green Wave's other touchdown in the third with his three-yard run.[21] The loss brought Alabama's all-time record against Tulane to 12–4–1.[23]

Georgia Tech[edit | edit source]

by Quarter 1 2 3 4 Total
Georgia Tech 6 0 0 0 6
Alabama 0 0 0 0 0
  • Date: November 18
  • Location: Legion Field
    Birmingham, AL
  • Game attendance: 23,000

In their final home game of the season game against Georgia Tech Alabama lost their second consecutive game by a shutout, 6–0 against the Yellow Jackets at Legion Field.[3][24] The only score of the game was set up after R. W. Murphy recovered a John Hanson fumble at the Alabama 38-yard line. Three plays later the Yellow Jackets scored on a 24-yard E. M. Wheby touchdown reception from Johnny Bosch, and after Holt Rast blocked the extra point attempt, Georgia Tech led 6–0.[24] The loss brought Alabama's all-time record against Georgia Tech to 11–11–3.[25]

Vanderbilt[edit | edit source]

by Quarter 1 2 3 4 Total
Alabama 13 6 7 13 39
Vanderbilt 0 0 0 0 0

In their season finale against the Vanderbilt Commodores, Alabama won 39–0 at Dudley Field on Thanksgiving Day to end a two-game losing streak.[3][26] In the first half touchdowns were scored on a Jimmy Nelson touchdown reception in the first and by a 77-yard Herschel Mosley run and a 67-yard Paul Spencer run in the second.[26] Up by three touchdowns at halftime, the Crimson Tide scored three second half touchdowns in the 39–0 victory. Second half touchdowns were scored on a 20-yard Jimmy Nelson reception and by Spencer on an eight-yard run and by Hal Newman on an 18-yard reception from Billy Harrell as time expired.[26] The victory improved Alabama's all-time record against Vanderbilt to 12–9.[27]

After the season[edit | edit source]

NFL Draft[edit | edit source]

Several players that were varsity lettermen from the 1939 squad were drafted into the National Football League (NFL) between the 1940 and 1942 drafts.[28][29] These players included the following:

Year Round Overall Player name Position NFL team
1940 4 30 Wood, BobbyBobby Wood Tackle Cleveland Rams
5 34 Merrill, WaltWalt Merrill Tackle Brooklyn Dodgers
11 93 Cox, CaryCary Cox Center Pittsburgh Steelers
11 138 Sanford, HaywardHayward Sanford End Washington Redskins
1941 3 25 Davis, FredFred Davis Tackle Washington Redskins
7 58 Newman, HalHal Newman End Brooklyn Dodgers
10 90 Hickerson, EdEd Hickerson Guard Washington Redskins
1942 14 123 Wyhonic, JohnJohn Wyhonic Guard Philadelphia Eagles
18 170 Rast, HoltHolt Rast End Chicago Bears
19 174 Nelson, JimmyJimmy Nelson Back Chicago Cardinals

Personnel[edit | edit source]

Varsity letter winners[edit | edit source]

Player Hometown Position
Warren Averitte Greenville, Mississippi Center
Gene Blackwell Blytheville, Arkansas End
Tom Borders Birmingham, Alabama Tackle
Charley Boswell Birmingham, Alabama Halfback
Carey Cox Bainbridge, Georgia Center
Fred Davis Louisville, Kentucky Tackle
John Hanson Roanoke, Alabama Fullback
Walter Merrill Andalusia, Alabama Tackle
Herschel Mosley Blytheville, Arkansas Halfback
Jimmy Nelson Live Oak, Florida Halfback
Hal Newman Birmingham, Alabama End
Holt Rast Birmingham, Alabama End
Perron Shoemaker Birmingham, Alabama End
Paul Spencer Hampton, Virginia Fullback
Joseph Sugg Russellville, Alabama Guard
W. L. Waites Tuscaloosa, Alabama Halfback
Erin Warren Montgomery, Alabama End
Dallas Wicke Pensacola, Florida Quarterback
John Wyhonic Connorville, Ohio Guard
Reference:[30]

Coaching staff[edit | edit source]

Name Position Seasons at
Alabama
Alma Mater
Frank Thomas Head coach 9 Notre Dame (1923)
Bear Bryant Assistant coach 4 Alabama (1935)
Paul Burnum Assistant coach 10 Alabama (1922)
Tilden Campbell Assistant coach 4 Alabama (1935)
Hank Crisp Assistant coach 19 VPI (1920)
Harold Drew Assistant coach 9 Bates (1916)
Joe Kilgrow Assistant coach 2 Alabama (1937)
Reference:[31]

References[edit | edit source]

General

Specific

  1. "1939 Alabama football schedule". RollTide.com. University of Alabama Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Archived from the original on December 2, 2011. https://www.webcitation.org/63dbQSj7C?url=http://www.rolltide.com/sports/m-footbl/archive/m-footbl-results-archive.html. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Slow starting Tide turns back game Howard crew, 21 to 0". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News Archives): p. 6. October 1, 1939. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=_ExBAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lLcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6359%2C3887141. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 1939 Season Recap
  4. DeLassus, David. "Alabama vs Samford". College Football Data Warehouse. http://www.cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/div_ia/sec/alabama/opponents_records.php?teamid=2867. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Boni, Bill (October 8, 1939). "Inspired Tide overpowers Rams to edge out 7 to 6 victory". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press (Google News Archives): p. 10. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Ak1BAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lLcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6374%2C4201095. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Danzig, Allison (October 8, 1939). "Ram is outplayed". The New York Times (ProQuest Historical Newspapers): p. 85.
  7. DeLassus, David. "Alabama vs Fordham". College Football Data Warehouse. http://www.cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/div_ia/sec/alabama/opponents_records.php?teamid=1124. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Televised Games" (PDF). 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Record Book. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Athletics Media Relations Office. 2011. p. 131. Archived from the original on May 23, 2011. https://web.archive.org/web/20110523102902/http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/alab/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/history-awards.pdf. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 "Uninspired Tide rolls over Mercer, 20 to 0". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News Archives): p. 10. October 15, 1939. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=CE1BAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lLcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6366%2C4544689. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  10. DeLassus, David. "Alabama vs Mercer". College Football Data Warehouse. http://www.cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/div_ia/sec/alabama/opponents_records.php?teamid=1944. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Gregory, Kenneth (October 22, 1939). "40,000 see Vols triumph over Crimson Tide, 21 to 0". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press (Google News Archives): p. 10. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Dk1BAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lLcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6382%2C4828738. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  12. Boni, Bill (October 17, 1939). "Pitt wins top in grid poll". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press (Google News Archives): p. 8. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=C01BAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lLcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6320%2C4644115. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  13. "Should have been 7–0 says Major Neyland". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press (Google News Archives): p. 10. October 22, 1939. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Dk1BAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lLcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=5660%2C4828876. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  14. DeLassus, David. "Alabama vs Tennessee". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. https://web.archive.org/web/20131014173115/http://www.cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/div_ia/sec/alabama/opponents_records.php?teamid=3180. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 "Alabama pass turns back strong Maroon invaders, 7 to 0". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News Archives): p. 10. October 29, 1939. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=FE1BAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lLcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6353%2C5113269. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  16. White, Bill (October 24, 1939). "Vols acclaimed best in nation". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press (Google News Archives): p. 8. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=EU1BAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lLcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6346%2C4928542. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  17. DeLassus, David. "Alabama vs Mississippi State". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on October 23, 2011. https://web.archive.org/web/20111023093940/http://cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/div_ia/sec/alabama/opponents_records.php?teamid=2049. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 "Alabama, Kentucky battle to spectacular tie, 7–7". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News Archives): p. 11. November 5, 1939. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Gk1BAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lLcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6307%2C5431371. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  19. Boni, Bill (October 31, 1939). "Vols continue in No. 1 spot". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press (Google News Archives): p. 8. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Fk1BAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lLcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6366%2C5212980. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  20. DeLassus, David. "Alabama vs Kentucky". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. https://web.archive.org/web/20131014172413/http://www.cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/div_ia/sec/alabama/opponents_records.php?teamid=1628. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Green, Ben A. (November 12, 1939). "52,000 see Green Wave roll over Crimson Tide, 13 to 0". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News Archives): p. 10. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=IE1BAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lLcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6211%2C5711499. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  22. Fullerton, Jr., Hugh S. (November 7, 1939). "Vols increase lead in voting". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press (Google News Archives): p. 8. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=HU1BAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lLcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6377%2C5524750. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  23. DeLassus, David. "Alabama vs Tulane". College Football Data Warehouse. http://www.cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/div_ia/sec/alabama/opponents_records.php?teamid=3267. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 "Tornado breaks Alabama jinx with thrilling 6 to 0 victory". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News Archives): p. 11. November 19, 1939. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Jk1BAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lLcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6267%2C6000137. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  25. DeLassus, David. "Alabama vs Georgia Tech". College Football Data Warehouse. http://www.cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/div_ia/sec/alabama/opponents_records.php?teamid=1273. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 "Tide overwhelms Vandy 39–0 to close season". The Tuscaloosa News (Google News Archives): p. 9. November 30, 1939. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=MU1BAAAAIBAJ&sjid=lLcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6436%2C6550606. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  27. DeLassus, David. "Alabama vs Vanderbilt". College Football Data Warehouse. http://www.cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/div_ia/sec/alabama/opponents_records.php?teamid=3363. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  28. "Alabama Drafted Players/Alumni". Sports Reference, LLC. Pro-Football-Reference.com. https://www.pro-football-reference.com/colleges/alabama/drafted.htm. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
  29. "Draft History by School–Alabama". National Football League. http://www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft?abbr=A&collegeName=Alabama&abbrFlag=0&type=school. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  30. "All-Time Tide Football Lettermen". 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Record Book. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Athletics Media Relations Office. 2011. pp. 127–141.
  31. "All-Time Assistant Coaches". 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Record Book. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Athletics Media Relations Office. 2011. pp. 142–143.
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