Seattle, December 14th (Associated Press) — “It’s so close there probably will be a recount, but KENNY WASHINGTON, the great left halfback from the UNIVERSITY of CALIFORNIA at LOS ANGELES ranks today as the nation’s leading gridiron ground gainer of 1939.
Washington’s sterling performance against Southern California last week sent (the consensus Second Team All-America selection) from third to first place just a scant nine yards ahead of (consensus First Team All-America choice) TOM HARMON of MICHIGAN, who, in turn, is just fourteen yards ahead of KAY EAKIN of ARKANSAS (the fourth overall player picked at the 1940 National Football League Draft).
The blank finish means a thorough recount, the American Football Statistical Bureau, which compliled the figures, announced; the recheck will be made before the bureau announces its final official figures.”
Kenny Washington’s statistics were, indeed, audited and both the rushing and passing totals of the UCLA superstar were adjusted accordingly. As originally reported by the Associated Press, Washington was said to have carried the ball from scrimmage 170 times and passed the ball forward 90 times for a total of 260 plays. The Bruins left halfback was initially given credit for 828 yards rushing and 537 yards passing for a total of 1,365 yards.
In its final report (which is what is recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, itself), the American Football Statistical Bureau fixed Washington’s rushing totals at 168 attempts for 811 net yards gained while the Westwood warrior’s passing numbers were set at 91 attempts (37 completions) for 559 yards and, thus, a total of 1,370 yards from 259 plays was reached.
Confirmation of Kenny Washington’s official career statistics can be found in “NCAA Football’s Finest : The NCAA’s Career Statistics To Nearly 3,000 Of The Finest Players And Coaches To Be Associated With Collegiate Football” :
Another good source of reference would be the NCAA’s very own Football Bowl Division Records :
Meanwhile, the UCLA Bruins school record book over the years has always seen things in a little better light. Washington’s rushing totals are set at 169 attempts for 812 net yards gained with his passing numbers being recognized as 92 attempts (38 completions) for 582 yards. Therefore, a total of 1,394 yards from 262 plays is derived :
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that Washington’s official NCAA total of 1,370 yards established a new Pacific Coast Conference mark that would not be surpassed for more than a decade. The longevity of the UCLA left halfback’s P.C.C. total offense record becomes all the more impressive when one considers that the liberalized substitution rules (which enabled players to conserve valuable energy by appearing on offense only) that were adopted in 1941 and remained in effect until 1952 as well as the rapid development of offensive football that occurred during this very same time period. As it was, not until 1950 did University of Washington Huskies passing quarterback DON HEINRICHS set a new P.C.C. standard with 1,806 yards of total offense.
1939 NCAA TOTAL OFFENSE leaders
KENNY WASHINGTON, UCLA ….. 1370 yards ….. (811 rush, 559 pass)
Tommy Harmon, Michigan …………. 1356 yards ….. (868 rush, 488 pass)
Kay Eakin, Arkansas …………………… 1334 yards ….. (372 rush, 962 pass)
Grenville Lansdell, USC * …………….. 1221 yards ….. (742 rush, 479 pass)
Paul Christman, Missouri * ………….. 1188 yards ….. (436 rush, 752 pass)
Junius Plunkett, Vanderbilt …………. 1129 yards ……… (unknown split)
Johnny Knolla, Creighton ……………. 1104 yards ….. (720 rush, 386 pass)
Banks McFadden, Clemson * ……….. 1052 yards ….. (480 rush, 572 pass)
Nile Kinnick, Iowa ………………………. 1012 yards ….. (374 rush, 638 pass)
Jim Lalanne, North Carolina ………… 1001 yards ……… (unknown split)
Harold van Every, Minnesota ………… 984 yards ….. (733 rush, 251 pass)
* Note — includes statistics from the Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl games played on January 1st, 1940
From 1937, when the NCAA first started keeping official football records, until 1969, the nation’s leader for “total offense” (rushing & passing) was determined on the basis of net total yards gained for the entire season but, ever since then, the annual total offense champion has been selected on the strength of net total yards per game.
As far as the Westwood school’s record books are concerned, the total offensive yardage generated by UCLA left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON (# 13) during the 1939 NCAA campaign would not be surpassed by another Bruins player until the 1951 season when sophomore sensation Paul Cameron accumulated what would ultimately prove to be a career high — 1,482 yards of total offense (597 yards rushing and 885 yards passing) from 293 plays.
It will be noted out that University of Michigan Wolverines left halfback TOM HARMON actually averaged considerably more yards of total offense per game than UCLA Bruins left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON did in 1939. However, it will also be acknowledged that the Wolverines did not compete in the Pacific Coast Conference, which was rated to be the strongest collegiate league in all the land that year by no less of an authority than University of Illinois economics professor Frank G. Dickinson, the prominent contemporary football analyst with the mathematical formulas whose opinion was widely respected all across the nation. The ten teams comprising the National Football League seemed to believe that the Pacific Coast Conference was a better league than the Western Conference (forerunner to the Big 10) that season, too, at least judging by the number of players from each circuit that were chosen at not only the 1940 NFL Draft but the 1941 NFL Draft, as well.
1939 NCAA Total Offense – Average Yards Per Game
169.50 ….. 8 games … Tom Harmon, Michigan
137.00 … 10 games … KENNY WASHINGTON, UCLA
133.40 … 10 games … Kay Eakin, Arkansas
126.50 ….. 8 games … Nile Kinnick, Iowa
123.00 ….. 8 games … Harold van Every, Minnesota
122.67 ….. 9 games … Johnny Knolla, Creighton
122.10 … 10 games … Grenville Lansdell, USC
118.18 … 10 games …. Paul Christman, Missouri
112.90 … 10 games … Junius Plunkett, Vanderbilt
105.20 … 10 games … Banks McFadden, Clemson
100.10 … 10 games … Jim Lalanne, North Carolina