Football, fugitives, and fake Bacardi

1912.Florida Gators
Florida Football team,  1912
The host team said it won because its opponents walked off the field.
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The visitors said they won because the other team cheated.
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One thing they both agreed was that the visiting coach better high-tail it out of town  after he pulled his team from the field in the first quarter.
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That game took place on December 28th, 1912 and is known as the Bacardi Bowl, a name that is as undeserved as each team claiming it won—something we’ll get to in a minute.
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The team known as the University of the State of Florida—or, University of Florida today—had played well in 1912 posting a 4-2-1 regular-season record along with surprising wins over South Carolina and perennially-strong Stetson.  Had there been rankings for the nation’s 76 teams, Florida would have been in the lower end of the top-25.
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Then came an invitation to travel to Havana, Cuba to play for international goodwill and a certain amount of prestige.
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What was intended to be a great international experience soon went sour.  Almost as soon as the game began, 27-year old Florida coach George Pyle was upset.  He complained that the rules being applied were the “old rules” and the head referee who was administrating injustice was actually the former coach of the team Pyle was playing.
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In just the first quarter, Havana officials disqualified two Florida touchdowns and later, when Pyle protested a foul by the other team and demanded they be assessed fifteen yards, the Havana officials smiled and shook their heads.  When Pyle became irate, Havana officials shrugged and graciously offered him five yards.  When Pyle refused, the officials withdrew their offer.  When the officials withdrew their offer, Pyle withdrew his team.
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Most accounts agree that Pyle skulked away on a steam boat.  While that is true, there is more to the story.  Before that, he was  arrested and charged with bilking Cuban fans out of their money.  Whether it was existing law or just something fabricated for the moment is unclear but his accusers asserted that any person who stopped a game before the first quarter ended was guilty of stealing money from fans—or something.
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Someone posted Pyle’s bail money and he and his team made their clandestine escapes to the docks and onto the steamship.
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Yes, it is called the Bacardi Bowl but there are several reasons why that name is undeserved.
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1.   In 1912, there were no bowl games.  The word “bowl” wasn’t used as a reference to post season football until four years later.
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2.  It wasn’t the first such game that pitted American football teams against those of Cuba and, at the time, none of those games was billed as anything other than a matter of goodwill between two nations..

3.  It wasn’t the only game Florida played that weekend.  Three days early—yes, on Christmas Day of 1912—Florida defeated a different Cuban opponent by a score of either 27-0 or 28-0 depending which country you preferred.  It doesn’t really matter much because it was against the Vedado Athletic Club, aka the Vedado Tennis Club.  So, it was not a bowl game.  It was two games against two different teams..

4.  In 1916, the term “bowl” created a great deal of excitement and sports journalists believed that since the games in Cuba were post-season, they could refer back to the earlier games as bowl games and the perfect name for those in Havana was the Bacardi Bowl but at the time, it was simply an international goodwill event..

George Pyle was never tried  which means his case was never adjudicated which means he was on the international list of fugitives from justice when he became the athletic director at West Virginia two years later.  From there, he became the head football coach at Transylvania University in Kentucky (known as Transy) before finishing his career as an insurance agent and passing away in Tennessee at the age of 63.