MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Georgia Tech's 222-0 annihilation of Cumberland's football team on Oct. 7, 1916 was so complete Cumberland began punting on first down to save yardage and two of the team's players tried to hide on the Georgia Tech bench.
A New Orleans film producer wants to recreate that record lopsided game in a movie comedy, with Pepper Rodgers of Memphis starring as Georgia Tech Coach John Heisman, for whom the Heisman trophy is named. Rodgers coached Georgia Tech from 1974-79.
Bob Keys, an independent producer and former Tulane University football player, says the movie is written; it just needs financial backing.
"It's a funny, funny, script," he says. "They (Cumberland) punted on the first down just to get rid of the ball. The longest gain they made was a five-yard loss."
But he says the film, tentatively titled "You Dropped It, You Pick It Up" would not be a football picture per se, as much as a family comedy focusing on Heisman. It would also tell the story of a spunky Cumberland athletic director.
"Heisman decided to schedule this little law school out of Tennessee and he felt he could beat them by, maybe, 50 or 60 points."
Meanwhile, Cumberland had dropped its football program, though Athletic Director George Allen, a law student, was opposed to the idea.
"He felt he could give a good show against Heisman," Keys says. "He was just a little dynamo and got his law buddies together and made up a team."
The team had to practice at night on top of campus buildings because Cumberland's president didn't want a football team, the story goes.
Keys explained the title of the script, which was written by Hollywood screenwriter Bill Whitehead.
"In the game, one of the Cumberland guys fumbled, and here comes all the great big bruisers. One of the players says to the other, 'You dropped it, you pick it up."
At one point, two Cumberland players hid on the Georgia Tech bench under a blanket until Heisman spotted them and ordered them back into the game.
Rodgers, who coached Georgia Tech as well as the Memphis Showboats of the United States Football League, is ideal for the part, Keys says.
"He looks like Heisman looks. Heisman was a frustrated Shakespearean actor. And Pepper is a frustrated actor."
Rodgers says he would be interested in the role if the film gets financial backing and he is not busy making a movie from his own book about football.
"It would be a good role and it would be fun, and I would certainly enjoy doing it. I haven't given him (Keys) a definite answer, but if he gets the money I'll certainly consider it," Rodgers says.