Baptists, Halabaloo and Bear Bryant, a commentary on school spirit on the anniversary of an historic football game


With Football season well underway, and the Bulldogs preparing for their first conference game of the season, the Bull Pup would like to take a look at school spirit.  These days, we have Moses and the Red Sea boosting spirit at the games, but what was Howard spirit like in the early 1900s?  Some suggested the best way to show school spirit at the time were through emotional game chants which often sounded like a Pentecostal revival meeting:

Halabaloo Ka – Halabaloo Ke neckaneck – Wa he-wa hi Howard, Howard, Rah rah, Who rah, who-rah!  Ching, Ching, Chow, Chow, Boom, Boom, Bow-wow, Howard!

Skyrocket ZZZZZZZZZZZ-Boom-ah (Whistle) – Howard!

Cheers such as these led the Bulldogs to the non-win triumph over the defending Rose Bowl champion Alabama Crimson Tide 78 years ago on September 28, 1935 at Denny Field in Tuscaloosa.

The Howard team arrived in Tuscaloosa at 9 a.m. that Saturday, September 28 more as lambs to the slaughter than ferocious bulldogs.  The 4,000 Alabama alumni and students in attendance expected to see, as a Birmingham journalist wrote, “Howard tumble” in a “warm-up affair” for the mighty Crimson Tide.

A low-scoring defensive struggle, Alabama’s Jimmy Angelich made the only score in the first half.    The Bulldog offense had no sustained drives until late in the fourth quarter, when a “slugging penalty” by Alabama gave Howard the ball at the Crimson Tide’s 37-yard-line.  On fourth-and-five, Howard’s “plucky halfback” Ewing Harbin threw a perfect pass to Dave Snell who scored the touchdown to cut the score to 7-6.

A backup halfback, Penny Penrod, jogged on to the field for the extra point.  One writer described him as “cool and calm” as he sighted the cross bars.  “Then the ball was passed and he booted a perfect kick from placement to raise Howard to the (ultimate) heights in football—a tie with Alabama.”

For Howard Coach Billy Bancroft and his boys, the tie with Alabama was just as satisfying as a win.  For the Alabama players a tie brought no satisfaction.  A starting end on the squad, Paul “Bear” Bryant later quipped that a tie, “was like kissing your sister.”

The Bull Pup doubts that any 2013 fraternity brothers will be yelling “Ke neckaneck” this Saturday, but the same Samford spirit will be on display. Where did our school spirit originate? Samford Spirit, formerly Howard Spirit is more than just school pride.  According to Baptist leader W.P. Wilks:

Who creates the Howard Spirit?  Do pupils or teachers?  You have some part in shaping it, but you are rather its interpreters.

. . .

Before we were born there was a Howard Spirit – the Howard Spirit.  Study the early days of Baptists in Alabama, learn what manner of men and women were these who blazed the trails for our feet and laid the foundations upon which were later built Howard College and every other helpful institution of Alabama Baptists before you would speak with authority of the Howard Spirit.

So on this seventy-eighth anniversary of the Bulldog’s greatest non-win in school history,  get out there and show our Bulldogs some Samford spirit.  And maybe throw in a “halabaloo” or two.  Bow-Wow Bulldogs!

Adapted from The Bull Pup, 1923-1924, The Alabama Baptist, October 27, 1921, Birmingham Age Herald, September 29, 1935, Tuscaloosa News, September 29, 1935



1 Comment

  1. One of the mementos from my father after he passed away was his Entre Nous editions. One of those was the 1936 edition detailing that phenomenal 1935 season. The Alabama 7-7 tie was just on highlight of an incredible team. Their only loss was was 19-0 (also reported as 19-6 and 19-7 elsewhere) to Mississippi State in the season opener. They had 7 shutouts and outscored their opponents 207-33, winning the Dixie Conference Championship with an 8-1-2 record. Hats off to the the 1935 Bulldogs for an incredible season, not just for tying a team who had someone name Bear playing for them.

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