Campus News

The Unresolved Football Dispute with Michigan

November 24, 2019

Communications Staff

Oberlin College Varsity Football team 1892 posing together.
The Oberlin College football team in 1892. John Heisman is in the second row, first on the left.
Photo credit: Photo Courtesy of Oberlin College Archives

"In Oberlin History" is a series dedicated to notable events in Oberlin College history. It is created in partnership with the Office of Communications and Oberlin College Archives.

In November 1892, the Oberlin College football team, coached by John Heisman, achieved an undefeated season when they beat the University of Michigan, 24-22 on November 19.

However, this win is a controversial one, and the game’s outcome is disputed to this day. 

On a very cold day, the Oberlin College football team arrived by train in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Before the game began, both teams agreed to stop playing at 4:50 p.m. so that the Oberlin team could catch the last train of the day. This type of agreement was not without precedent, as the two teams made this same arrangement the year before in 1891.

The game was replete with delays due to penalties, turnovers, and poor weather. By 4:49 p.m., the game was tied, 22-22. Oberlin managed to kick a quick goal, which brought the score to 24-22, in favor of Oberlin. When the teams lined up for the next play, time was called. Oberlin determined that they were the winners and left the field, even though there were four minutes left in the game.

As Oberlin was departing, the Michigan team lined up on the field and walked the ball over the goal line for a touchdown—despite the fact that time had been called. This put the score at 26-24, Michigan. Michigan then claimed victory, saying that Oberlin forfeited.

The disagreement was never resolved, and Oberlin counts the 24-22 score as their victory, while Michigan counts the 26-24 score as their win.

Interested in more Oberlin College football history from the 1890s? You can read about it in When Oberlin was King of the Gridiron: The Heisman Years by Nat Brandt.

You may also like…

Who is Creg Jantz?

January 21, 2022

Thanks to a teammate’s practical joke, Creg Jantz was called Simon Jantz throughout most of his college years. But as his mom would often say, “If that’s the worst thing that happens to you in your life, consider yourself lucky.” Learn more about Jantz, including why the press box during an athletic competition is one of his favorite places in Oberlin, in this installment of Who Am I?
A man poses with a person wearing a large squirrel costume,

This Week in Photos: Dancing, Swimming, Singing, Celebrating

December 14, 2021

A student takes a few steps on a ladder and stretches one arm to the top of a large glowing menorah in the center of Tappan Square. The gold branched candelabra and flames glisten against the night sky, and those surrounding it look up at its brilliance. This Oberlin community gathering, in celebration of the last night of Hanukkah, leads off this week’s photo series.
A girl lights a large menorah.

Who is Jess West?

December 13, 2021

Head Field Hockey Coach Jess West is in her happy place when she’s on the field. This might explain why she recalls playing during white-out conditions as a defensive player in college with such fondness. Learn more about West in this installment of Who Am I?
Photo portrait of a woman.