The Centre Colonels football team, historically also known as the Praying Colonels, represents Centre College in NCAA Division III competition. The Colonels currently play in the Southern Athletic Association (SAA), which was established in 2011. Before the establishment of the SAA, Centre played 50 seasons in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. Despite the school's small size (2008 enrollment of 1,215), the football team has historically had success and possesses a strong tradition. At the end of the 2008 season, the school ranked as the 12th winningest school in Division III with an all-time record of 509–374–37.
|Athletic director||Brad Fields|
|Head coach||Andrew M. Frye|
10th season, 58–42 (.580)
|Stadium||Cheek Field and Farris Stadium|
|Field surface||Field Turf|
|Conference||Southern Athletic Association|
|Past conferences||Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (1911–1941)|
Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (1962–2011)
|All-time record||509–374–37 (.573)|
|Bowl record||2–1 (.667)|
|Claimed nat'l titles||1 (1919)|
|Conference titles||11 SCAC, 3 SIAA, 1 SAA|
|Colors||Gold and White|
On April 9, 1880, a Centre College team traveled to Lexington to play against Transylvania University in the first football game south of the Ohio River. The Colonels lost that game, and a rematch at home later in the month, but it was the start of a long-running rivalry with their in-state opponent. The first officially recognized game of Centre and the University of Kentucky took place in 1891. In that series, the Colonels compiled a 20–13–2 record before the Kentucky athletic council decided to permanently drop Centre from their schedule after the 1929 season. From 1917 to 1924, Centre compiled a 57–8 record while playing against some of the best teams in the nation. The team was retroactively selected by Jeff Sagarin as co-national champion for the 1919 season. After the 1920 season, Centre faced Texas Christian (TCU) in the Fort Worth Classic. The Colonels convincingly routed them, 63–7.
The 1921 Centre–Harvard game resulted in one of the most shocking upsets in college football, with the Colonels winning, 6–0. The star of that game, back Alvin "Bo" McMillin, was twice named a consensus All-American, in 1919 and 1921. Center Red Weaver was named a consensus All-American alongside him in 1919. The Colonels finished the 1921 season undefeated, outscoring their opponents, 314-6. In the Dixie Classic, precursor to the modern Cotton Bowl Classic, Centre faced Texas A&M. Miscues contributed to the Colonels' defeat, 22–14. This is also the game in which Texas A&M's 12th man tradition originated. In 1924 Centre defeated Georgia and Alabama and claims a southern title. As early as 1927 it was noticed this prior success was over.
Centre again found success during the 1950s. In 1951, the Colonels finished the season with a 5–1 record and were invited to play Northern Illinois State in the Corn Bowl. The invitation, however, was rejected by the school administration who wished to de-emphasize football. From 1954 to 1956, Centre compiled a sixteen-game winning streak. In 1955, the undefeated Colonels were again invited to a postseason game, the Tangerine Bowl, but once more declined.
In recent years, Centre has secured eight SCAC championships between 1980 and 2003. Jack "Teel" Bruner, a safety from 1982 to 1985, became the second Centre Colonel inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. In 1984, he recorded five interceptions against Rose-Hulman, tying the all-time record.
In 2011, the Colonels' final SCAC season, they finished second in the conference, but received an at-large invitation to the NCAA tournament. The Colonels defeated Hampden–Sydney in the first round to earn their first Division III tournament win, and lost in the next round to traditional D-III powerhouse Mount Union.
The Colonels' 2014 season was arguably their most successful in decades. They won their first SAA championship and finished the regular season 10–0, marking the team's first unbeaten regular season since 1955 and only the third in school history. The season ended in the first round of the Division III playoffs against John Carroll.
|Year||Conference||Coach||Overall record||Conference record|
|1919||Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Charles Moran||9–0||3–0|
|1921||Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Charles Moran||10–1||5–0|
|1924||Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association||Robert L. Myers||5–1–1||1–0|
|1968||Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference||Steele Harmon||–||3–1|
|1969||Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference||Steele Harmon||–||4–0|
|1971||Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference||Steele Harmon||–||3–1|
|1980||Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference||Joe McDaniel||–||4–0–1|
|1983||Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference||Joe McDaniel||–||4–1|
|1984||Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference||Joe McDaniel||–||4–0|
|1985||Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference||Joe McDaniel||–||3–1|
|1989||Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference||Joe McDaniel||–||4–0|
|1990||Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference||Joe McDaniel||–||3–1|
|1995||Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference||Joe McDaniel||–||3–1|
|2003||Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference||Andrew Frye||8–2||5–1|
|2014||Southern Athletic Association||Andrew Frye||10–1||6–0|
The 1880 Centre Praying Colonels football team represented Centre College in the 1880 college football season. This was Centre's first ever season. The first game is claimed as the first game ever played in the south at Stoll Field, though Washington & Lee and VMI played earlier games; it's the first game in the state of Kentucky. The game was said to have resembled a combination of soccer and rugby. Centre lost both its games this season to Transylvania University (then known as Kentucky University).1896 Centre Colonels football team
The 1896 Centre Praying Colonels football team represented Centre College in the 1896 college football season.1900 Centre Colonels football team
The 1900 Centre Praying Colonels football team represented Centre College in the 1900 college football season.1910 Centre Colonels football team
The 1910 Centre Colonels football team represented Centre College during the 1910 college football season. The team went undefeated, beating Tennessee, Tulane, and Sewanee.1917 Centre Colonels football team
The 1917 Centre Praying Colonels football team represented Centre College in the 1917 college football season and began a string of unparalleled success for the school. The first two games were coached by Robert L. "Chief" Myers, and the rest by Charley Moran. According to Centre publications, "Myers realized he was dealing with a group of exceptional athletes, who were far beyond his ability to coach. He needed someone who could the team justice, and found that person in Charles Moran."In 1916, Myers became coach at his alma mater Centre after coaching at North Side High School in Fort Worth, Texas. His team there included future Centre stars Bo McMillin and Red Weaver, who were recruited by boosters to Somerset High School in Kentucky where they joined up with Red Roberts. Also at North Side were Sully Montgomery, Matty Bell, Bill James, and Bob Mathias. McMillin kicked and made his only ever field goal attempt to defeat Kentucky 3 to 0.
Edgar Diddle was a halfback on the team.1918 Centre Colonels football team
The 1918 Centre Colonels football team represented Centre College in the 1918 college football season. The season started late due to flu epidemic. The game on November 16 with University of Kentucky was cancelled for the same reason.1919 Centre Praying Colonels football team
The 1919 Centre Praying Colonels football team represented Centre College in the 1919 college football season. The Praying Colonels scored 485 points, leading the nation, while allowing 23 points and finishing their season with a perfect record of 9–0. The team was retroactively selected by Jeff Sagarin as national champion for the 1919 season.Quarterback Bo McMillin and center James "Red" Weaver were named to Walter Camp's first-team 1919 College Football All-America Team. Just the year before Bum Day was the first Southern player ever selected to Camp's first team – and Centre became the first school with two. Fullback and end James "Red" Roberts was named to Camp's third team.
The highlight of the season was the win over West Virginia. McMillin had the team pray before it, forever giving the Centre College Colonels its alternate moniker of "Praying Colonels."1921 Centre vs. Harvard football game
The 1921 Centre vs. Harvard football game, played October 29, 1921, was a college football game between Centre College and Harvard University. Centre beat Harvard 6–0, in what is widely considered one of the greatest upsets in college football history.1924 Centre Praying Colonels football team
The 1924 Centre Praying Colonels football team represented Centre College in the 1924 college football season. The Praying Colonels scored 119 points while allowing 20 points and finished 5-1-1, including giving Alabama its only loss of the season; Alabama would not lose another game until 1927.Quarterback Herb Covington was named to the 1924 College Football All-America Team.Bill James (American football)
William James was an American football player and coach.Carl Anderson (American football)
Carl Rudolph Frederick "Swede" Anderson IV (September 9, 1898 – April 30, 1978) was an American college football coach at Western Kentucky University and Howard Payne University. Anderson graduated from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky in 1924, where he played in the backfield with legendary alumnus Bo McMillin. Anderson then followed McMillin to Centenary College of Louisiana and Geneva College. Anderson then served one year as the head football coach at Western Kentucky, before moving to Kansas State as its freshman team coach in 1930. Anderson returned to Western Kentucky as its head coach from 1934 to 1937. He was the backfield coach under McMillin at Indiana from 1938 to 1945. He then returned to his alma mater, Centre College, where he coached the Praying Colonels until 1950. The following season, Anderson became the seventh head football coach at the Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas and held that position from 1951 to 1952. His coaching record at Howard Payne was 7–10.Ed Kubale
Edwin C. Kubale (November 22, 1899 – February 4, 1971) was an American football player and coach.Ed Tutwiler
Edward Magruder Tutwiler Jr. (September 13, 1880 – September 3, 1932) was a college football player and coach. He played quarterback for the Alabama Crimson White of the University of Alabama and the Virginia Cavaliers of the University of Virginia.Eugene Messler
Eugene Lawrence Messler (born April 6, 1873) was an American college football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky in 1894.Harry Anderson (coach)
Harry McCLellan Anderson (January 29, 1872 – June 14, 1957) was an American football coach. He served as the sixth head football coach at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia and he held that position for the 1898 season. His coaching record at West Virginia was 6–1.
Anderson also served as the head coach at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky during the 1896 and 1897 seasons.Red Weaver
James Redwick "Red" Weaver (July 19, 1897 – November 23, 1968) was an American football player and coach.Rick Fox (American football)
Rick Fox is the former head coach of Drake Bulldogs football team. He was named the head coach in December 2013, and coached his first game during in 2014. He resigned from Drake on December 10, 2018.Robert L. Myers (coach)
Robert Lee "Chief" Myers was an American football coach and athletic director foundational in the success of the Centre Praying Colonels football programs of Centre College in the period from 1917 to 1924. This era included the 1921 Centre vs. Harvard football game, one of the sport's greatest upsets.Tom Moran (blocking back)
Tom McGee Moran (December 10, 1899 – July 4, 1933) was an American football blocking back who played one season with the New York Giants of the National Football League. He played college football at Centre College and attended Horse Cave High School in Horse Cave, Kentucky. His father, Charley Moran, was a Major League Baseball player and college football coach.Prior to his playing career in the NFL, he was a coach at Carson–Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and he also served as short time as the interim coach of the Frankford Yellow Jackets while his father, Charley Moran, officiated the 1927 World Series.
Centre Colonels football
|Bowls & rivalries|
|Culture & lore|
National championship seasons in bold