Friday, December 13, 2002
1935 - Tulane 20, Temple 14
By Dan O'Sullivan
Tulane vs. Temple: Not exactly what Joe Football Fan considers a dream bowl matchup. And yet these two teams baptized the Sugar Bowl series on Jan. 1, 1935.
The idea for New Year's Day football in the Big Easy sprung from the minds of Col. James M. Thomson, publisher of the New Orleans Item, and Fred Rigby, the newspaper's sports editor. Over the years, Rigby periodically lobbied for a "Sugar Bowl" in his columns.
Slowly, the movement gained momentum. In October 1934, a group of citizens called the New Orleans Mid-Winter Sports Association announced it had raised the $30,000 necessary to promote the inaugural Sugar Bowl Football Classic. Next, Tulane University donated use of its 24,000-seat stadium.
Now all the Sugar Bowl needed were two opponents. Deciding on a North-South theme, organizers pitted Temple (7-0-2) against Tulane (9-1). Glenn "Pop" Warner, who had 319 wins during his 44-year coaching career, guided Temple into battle. On the field, the Owls' star attraction was All-American Dave Smukler, who ran, played defense and kicked extra points.
Hometown Tulane, who shared the Southeastern Conference title with Alabama, represented the South. The Green Wave counteracted the all-purpose Smukler with All-American Claude "Little Monk" Simons Jr., who led his team in rushing, passing and scoring, while also defending, punting and returning kicks.
The first score in Sugar Bowl history came in the first quarter, when Smukler hit running back Daniel Testa with a touchdown pass. True to his versatile nature, Smukler kicked the extra point to give Temple a 7-0 lead. In the second quarter, he ran in for a touchdown and nailed the PAT to up the margin to 14-0.
Covering the game for the Item, sportswriter Charles Dufour raved about Smukler's performance. "'Dynamite Dave,'" wrote Dufour, "was a wild bull, a mad elephant, a rip-roaring locomotive, a human battering ram, he was 212 pounds of speed and power who asked nothing more of his own line but that it get out of his way and let him run."
Simons, however, was not about to be upstaged on his home field. On the next kickoff, teammate Johnny McDaniel received the ball and lateraled to Simons, who raced 85 yards for a touchdown. Once again, Dufour offered a colorful account.
"The shift of the ball fooled the Owls, and 'Monk' turned up the field with Greenies well drilled in the 'razzle dazzle,' cutting down men like a McCormick reaper in a field of wheat," wrote Dufour.
The shaken Owls carried a 14-7 edge into the locker room at halftime.
Tulane continued to build momentum in the third quarter, when a Bucky Bryan-to-Dick Hardy touchdown pass and Barney Mintz PAT tied the score at 14. Neither offense could put more points on the board until late in the fourth. With less than three minutes left, Hardy snagged a deflected pass from Mintz to give the Green Wave a 20-14 lead. Temple blocked the extra-point attempt, but was unable to score on its final drive.
In the end, the Sugar Bowl Classic was a success, as 22,026 fans snapped up tickets priced at $1.50 and $3.50. Tulane Stadium served as home for the Sugar Bowl until 1975, when it moved to its present site, the Louisiana Superdome.
Since 1958, the top player of the game has received the Miller-Digby Award. The name honors Warren V. Miller, the first Sugar Bowl president, and Digby, the sports editor who helped make his Sugar Bowl dream a reality.