By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL/Designated Writers
Centenary College is bringing back football and in the (in)famous words of Son Of Sam, “What took you so long?”
In November of 1941, financial backers of the Gents program put together a “1200 club” which had a goal of finding 1,200 rich people who would pledge $1 per month for three years to help get the program back in good financial shape. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m hoping that those in charge of re-organizing the sport at Centenary these days don’t try to pick up that plan where it left off.
It was a rough year in ’41 for the Gents and on November 27, they traveled to Ruston to take on Louisiana Tech in what would turn out to be the final game of the program. It didn’t end well. The Bulldogs put a 39-7 pasting on the Gents which seemed to surprise the reporter from the Shreveport Journal who wrote “no such point orgy had been anticipated.”
Guess he hadn’t checked into the fact that the Gents were winless (with two ties) in 10 games. If that was a point orgy, then how would you describe the 54-spot that Rice put on Centenary earlier in the season? Caligula-esque?
Anyway, the Gents returned hats-in-hand from Ruston and then “football suits and other pigskin accoutrement were packed away after the most disastrous season in two decades was definitely over,” as the Shreveport Journal wrote.
Nine days later, there was something a hell of a lot more disastrous to worry about. Suddenly, pledging $1/month didn’t seem quite as important after Pearl Harbor.
So Centenary football died without many people noticing. Every once in a while, someone would bring up the 77-punt game against Texas Tech in 1939 at Centenary Stadium (where the current baseball facility is located) or that the Gents beat LSU in 1932 and hacked off the Tigers so much that they up and joined the SEC the next year. I guess it just meant more.
Centenary organized club football in the 1960s, but it quickly went unnoticed. (Maybe they should have tried that 1200 club plan.)
And now the Gents are going to give it a shot again, beginning in 2024. There’s a potential Division III conference (American Southwest) with schools in Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi, but who knows what might happen by that time with all this conference realignment.
Everybody said all the right things at Wednesday’s announcement. To wit: “Today represents one of the final steps in a careful process rooted in our current strategic plan that, along other initiatives, calls for exploring new athletic opportunities,” said Centenary President Christopher L. Holoman. “I am so grateful for the enthusiastic support that we have received from the Shreveport-Bossier City community and we look forward to hosting exciting college football Saturdays right here in the heart of the city.”
Hey, they’ve got a plan in place for facilities and fund raising, so it’s worth a shot.
Plus, it’s good to know they didn’t let that “point orgy” against Tech 80 years ago keep them from trying again.