College football has changed a lot in the past 100 years, but the constant is the need to recruit talent in any way possible.
This letter sent to Dr. Richard Henry “Chicken” Harrison from Texas A&M coach Dana Bible, found recently by Harrison’s great-grandson Harrison J. Allen, is an awesome glimpse into the state of college football in 1919. It also may be one of the oldest of its kind, as the National Letter of Intent didn’t become a thing until 1964.
100-Year-Old Recruiting Letter
Bible sent the letter trying to persuade Harrison to return to the Aggies’ football team for the 1919 season after Harrison had spent 1918 fighting in World War I. Here is the full transcript, courtesy of ESPN.
Guess you are beginning to show symptoms of the “Pigskin Fever,” if not get around some of the “Old Farmers,” catch a bad case and come back this Fall and get fifteen hundred others infected with it. Every one is expected to put politics, business, and even their best girl aside and report September 15th, for duty at College Station. Blot out everything that will interfere with this arrangement.
All Men who left school to enter the service are eligible to participate in Athletics this Fall, also Freshmen will be permitted to play their first year.
“Many changes have been made at A. and M. which will, I am sure, make your stay with us more pleasant and profitable. Our outlook for a successful season is indeed encouraging. The old stars among the Alumni have promised to come back from time to time and give us systematic help. A re-birth of college spirit has come into the hearts of ever A. and M. man, and I am convinced that the team that beats us will be champion of the Southwest.Advertisement
If any information is desired I shall be glad to furnish it. Let me have a letter at once stating you will report September 15th, ready to fight for victory, fair and square, hard but clean.
Remember September 15th, and also remember, we want you, we need you, must have you.
This is the motto for 1919: “They Shall Not Pass.”
Cordially your friend,
The letter worked, and Harrison played on Texas A&M’s undefeated 1919 squad that went 10-0 and outscored opponents 275-0 that season, which means they accomplished what they set out with the motto “They Shall Not Pass.”
This post was originally published on March 13, 2015.