They outscored opponents 204-10.
Moreover, that Washington State team is the only undefeated (and Rose Bowl-winning) club in the history of the Pac-12 not to win at least a share of the national crown.
In those days, however, no one was given the title of national champion by any recognized third party.
Michael Baumgartner, a WSU graduate who later earned a master's degree at Harvard, also has done considerable research on this topic and wrote a fine piece in 2005 (linked below) for Cougfan.com.
He noted that AP did not have a poll until 1934, the Helms Athletic Foundation didn't start awarding titles until 1941, and the old UPI poll didn't surface until 1950.
Which begs the question: Then how come there are records for "official" national champions dating all the way back to 1883, with the 1915 crown being awarded to Cornell?
Crowds up and down the West Coast went wild for Washington State and Coach Dietz after the Rose Bowl victory over Brown.
In 1933, you see, a former Princeton football player named Parke Davis published an obscure and biased list of what he deemed were the national champions for every season going back to 1883. Now get this: he penned in his alma mater for nearly two-dozen titles in that time frame.
For 1915, he picked Cornell.
Despite the fact Davis was picking a 1915 champion 28 years after the fact, and despite the fact his list of all-time champions was biased toward the Ivy League, the New York-based Helms Athletic Foundation still opted to consult Davis' list when they decided in 1941 to start awarding a national championship trophy. The Helms folks wanted to put some history behind their new award so retroactively ranked champions from 1883 on. They, too, chose Cornell in 1915.
They should have done some research first.
Not that Cornell wasn't a powerhouse. They too finished the year undefeated, but didn't play in the post-season because they couldn't reach agreement on the details with their intended foe, Pitt.
Not so with Washington State. Deemed the finest team in the West, they were eager to take on the East's finest in what would become the first of the continuous Rose Bowl games.
Lone Star Dietz and his Washington State team take a time out from preparations for the 1916 Rose Bowl.
That real-time case for Washington State includes the following:
Washington State, on the strength of a rushing performance that would stay in the record book for decades, beat Brown 14-0 on a muddy field and earned headlines across the land. Brown had been selected for the game based on its victories that season over Yale and Dietz' alma mater, Carlisle.
The Washington State victory in Pasadena is viewed in historic terms because, as CF.C noted the other day, it elevated the stature of West Coast football to an equal footing with the East and lit the torch that would make the Rose Bowl THE game of the year.
But what about winning the mythical national title?
This was perhaps the most definitive statement at the time:
Walter Eckersall, a one-time star at Chicago, was the game's referee and the country's best known official of that era, and proclaimed afterward that "Washington State's team was the equal of Cornell's eleven."
Two decades later, when Ivy Leaguer Parke Davis compiled his dubious list, the crimson half of that equation was somehow forgotten.
Now, 97 years later, it's time to right the wrong. Washington State has a valid claim to the 1915 national championship -- at the very, very least, a co-championship -- and the Cougar athletic department needs to proclaim it for the world to see in the form of a large banner inside Martin Stadium.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tom Benjey lives in Carlisle, Pa., and is the author of several books, including the biography of Lone Star Dietz, titled Keep A-Goin'. To order a copy, click to www.LoneStarDietz.com.