What a silly question, right? I mean, come on, who doesn’t like Classics and Football?! Well, good on you, because I have some information you’ll be glad to read!
So for those who aren’t aware, Rutgers is responsible for collegiate football. Seriously, look it up. And something else you might not know: Rutgers’ first football team was made up predominantly of Classics majors!
Rutgers’ new student paper, the Daily Targum, had the good sense to show up to report on the game, which they did in astonishing detail that has often been reprinted. See here for an excellent summary (with lots of great images) from the RU Athletics website.
Unlike Princeton, Rutgers also kept a good record of its student-athletes who showed up to play that November day—27 for RU in all.
Now, a glance at the academic rolls shows that all but five of those 27 players were taking the rigorous Rutgers Classics Curriculum. The best student among them was probably the team captain, William James Leggett, Class of 1872. Before graduating, he won prizes in Latin as well as mathematics and declamation. Amazingly, he was also Targum editor, director of the baseball team, and captain and stroke of the RU crew.
But three of the members of the team were flunking freshman algebra, and one of them—Classics student William McKee ’73—had a string of absences in the week leading up the game, which the faculty marked as “excused” after the Rutgers victory.
With thanks to Professor Brennan on bringing this to my attention. Rutgers, Football, and Classics: a winning combination in my book and, as it so happens to turn out, Rutgers beat Princeton that game.