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Mississippi State Football History: 1895-1916

Yeah, I know...somewhere along the way, I dropped the ball on posting this series. However, it is never too late catch up. Today, I will take you through the 1916 season, and tomorrow we will cover 1917-1938 and take a look at 1939.

The Aggies (as the Bulldogs were known then) opened play with a series of captains running the squad. W.M. Matthews was the first, and he is the man credited with choosing Maroon and White as the team colors prior to the 1985 season, a season that saw Mississippi State drop games against Union and Memphis Athletic Club. J.B Hildebrand took over in 1896, but the results did not improve. The Bulldogs dropped all four decisions, including losses to Alabama and LSU. In fact, through their first six games, Mississippi A&M failed to score a single point. The Aggies matchup with Southwest Baptist University (now Union University), played at the Starkville Fairgrounds, marked the first home game in Maroon and White history.

After a four-year absence, the Aggies returned to the gridiron under L.B. Harvey in 1901. After a 0-0 tie against Christian Brothers (the first non-loss for the Aggies), Mississippi A&M knocked off Ole Miss 17-0, picking up the first win and the first points in school history. The Aggies finished the season 2-2-1. L. Gwinn made a less than memorable stop in Starkville, going 1-4 in his only season.

Dan Martin came to Mississippi A&M from Ole Miss, and he became the first coach to serve more than one season at the helm of the Aggies squad. In 1903, he led the school to its first undefeated seasons, going 3-0-2, and the team was undefeated in Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association Play. Of note in his other seasons, the Bulldogs picked up a 59-0 victory over Tennessee Medical College in 1904. In 1905, he scored his only victory over Ole Miss with an 11-0 victory. In 1906, his team was the first to play with the ability to throw a forward pass. During his tenure, Hardy Field, was completed in 1905.

The forward pass was an interesting play in 1906. An incompletion resulted in a 15-yard penalty. A pass could also not be thrown more than 20-yard nor over the goal line. If the defense committed a penalty, the 15-yard penalty against the offense was waived.

Fred Furman, who played for Pop Warner at Cornell, took over the squad in 1907 and 1908 managed a 9-7 all time record, going 6-3 in 1907. He picked up wins over Ole Miss in both of his seasons. Furman also served as the first full-time head coach and athletic director.

The Bulldogs began a run of five consecutive winning seasons under W.D. Chadwick in 1909. While he picked up no notable wins in 1909, the 1910 season saw the Aggies knock off LSU (in Columbus) 3-0, Tennessee 48-0, and Howard (now Samford) 82-0. If you are wondering, touchdowns were worth five points at this time and field goals were worth four. In 1912, the Aggies went 7-2-1, and played in their first bowl game and only game outside the United States, the Bacardi Bowl. In the game Mississippi A&M knocked off Havana Athletic Club 12-0.

The 1912 season saw football take the form today's fans would recognize. The Field was shorted to 100 yards, and touchdowns counted for six points instead of five. In 1912 and 1913, the Aggies picked up 7-0 wins over Alabama.

E.C. Hayes took over the Aggies in 1914, and the school built a new football field, creatively named "New Athletic Field." Hayes never posted a losing season. In 1914, he scored victories over Georgia, Tulane and Alabama. In 1915, he led the Aggies to a 65-0 victory over Ole Miss, and a Thanksgiving Day victory over Texas A&M in Dallas. 1916 was his worst season, going 4-4-1, but he did post a 36-0 victory over Ole Miss, and knocked off Arkansas in Memphis 20-7 to close the season.

Hayes found better success on the hardwood, serving as the basketball coach from 1911-1912 season to the 1923-1924 season, compiling a record of 124-54.