Division I Diatribes Vol. 6-Name it and Claim It

Imagine this.

At a future home football game you are walking toward the concourse at Ernest Hawkins Field at Memorial Stadium and you get in line. You have seen the mural on the outside of the stadium before, but this time something catches your eye.

National Champions

1952 1972 2017

Wait, did we go back in time? You could have sworn there were only two national championships that we had. There has to be a mistake.

Maybe not. Let’s discuss this.

During the 1952 college football season, there was only the NCAA. The NAIA had not started to sponsor football yet, and there were a handful of Independent schools. Other than that, there were two divisions in college football. Major and Minor Conferences. The National Champions in 1952 were the 9-0 Michigan State Spartans, although they were selected by the media and not by a championship game. Georgia Tech also claimed the title for the 1952 season since they were 12-0 and ranked first in the Hearst Chain poll at the end of the season. So in essence, they were given a split. The Independent schools that were not affiliated with any conference were basically left out on there own and there was a mix of major and minor schools that were not affiliated.

However, when you look at the Minor conferences in the 1952 football season, there were only two schools that were undefeated at the end of the year. The Peru State Bobcats, and the East Texas State College Lions. Out of nearly 20 conferences and over 100 teams, only two teams stood out as undefeated with only wins and no losses and no ties.

Now, I have done an article on how I believe that 1952 team was the best in school history and I still believe I am right on that account. If you care to take a look at what they did that year, I will post a link to the previous article. However, the question was raised. 1952 Lions were undefeated, had more wins (11) than ANY minor division school, were invited to the post season, where they demolished Ohio Valley Co-Champion Tennessee Tech, 33-0 in the Tangerine Bowl. They also shut out 5 of the 11 teams they played in addition to scoring over 500 points in 11 games.

So, why does this matter? It matters because schools in the past have claimed National Championships they were not recognized for, and this one is one that we SHOULD COMPLETELY claim. The East Texas State Lions should be the 1952 NCAA Minor Division National Champion. Texas A&M claimed a national championship for 1927 and there were not even undefeated (they tied with TCU 0-0). A tie is considered a half loss by sports statisticians.

However, before we go and make an appeal to the NCAA, create a trophy, and claim a national title and put it on the concourse at the Hawk, how can we be sure that we were superior to the only other minor college that was undefeated. Well, let’s take a look at the tale of the tape.

1952 Peru State Bobcats-

10-0 Overall Record

Nebraska College Conference Champions

Points Scored-307

Points Allowed-89


Points Per Game-30.7

Points Allowed Per Game-8.9

Average Margin of Victory-17 points per game

Opposing Teams Collective Record-34-52 (39.5% Opponent Winning Percentage)

Other Conference Champions Defeated-0


1952 East Texas State College Lions

11-0 Overall Record

Lone Star Conference Champions

Points Scored-529

Points Allowed-111


Points Per Game-48

Points Allowed Per Game-10

Average Margin of Victory-38 points

Opposing Teams Record-52-48 (52% Opponent Winning Percentage)

Other Conference Champions Defeated-2 (Abilene Christian and Tennessee Tech)


I think it is fair to say if you look at the two schools that were undefeated at the end of the 1952 Minor College Football season, our beloved Lions have the firm upper hand. Their closest game was a 20 point win, while Peru State had 4 games decided by 7 points of less. They also played a much weaker schedule than ETSC did. The Lion opponents combined had winning records and they also played 5 teams with winning records and two conference champions and beat them soundly, while Peru State only played 1 team with a winning record and almost lost to a winless Augustana team to end the season in 1952. If there was a press deciding the Minor Colleges Champion, they would unanimously print in papers all across the country-


We have named it.

Time to claim it.

Link to 1952 Feature-https://thelionwire.com/2020/04/12/greatest-ever-1952-east-texas-state-college-lions/

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