Paying his way: How MSU's team paid their prized recruit's travel fare to campus in 1909

Chadwick's 1911 team, pictured relaxing before their Bacardi Bowl game in Cuba on New Year's Day - photo used with permission from Mike Nemeth, Mississippi State University

This kind of camaraderie is most likely deemed illegal by the NCAA these days.

We've all heard countless stories about why an athlete chooses a school -- they loved campus, the coach, the program's history, the girls, and about 1,000 other reasons. We've also heard allegations as to why some top prospects choose certain schools -- money, cars, jobs for parents -- you name it, and it's been thrown out there at some point.

But have you ever heard of train fare being the deciding factor for a player to attend a school?

Such was the case in 1909, when new head football coach William Dean Chadwick was installed as the head football coach and athletics director for MSU. Chadwick had ties in the midwest, and one of the first players he recruited from that area was QB/HB Morley Jennings, an Albion, Michigan native. As the Mississippi State Football Vault book states it, Jennings "came from meager means," and because of those meager means, was most likely not going to be able to make it to Starkville to play football for the maroon and white.

So what did Chadwick do? Well, he did what any coach in 1909 would probably do, he "passed the hat" among team members to raise the funds needed to get Jennings to school. The team was able to raise enough for Jennings' train fare, and it proved well worth the investment, as Morley was a four year letter winner for the Maroons.

Jennings would go on to lead Chadwick's teams to identical seven-win seasons in 1910 and 1911, including the school's largest victory ever, a video game-like 82-0 victory over Howard University in 1910.

You can also read more about the team's New Year's Day victory in the Bacardi Bowl in 1912 here.

For more great reading on MSU's football history, make sure to check out the Mississippi State Football Vault book, available in stores.

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