The Multitude Of All-America Teams & NCAA’s 1939 Official Consensus XI

kimbrough-texas-a-m-tulane
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Texas A&M Aggies fullback JOHN KIMBROUGH (# 39), the two-time consensus All-America whom the Chicago Cardinals made the second overall player to be chosen in the first round of the 1941 National Football League Draft, attempts to outrace Tulane Green Wave right halfback FRED CASSIBRY (# 61), a three-sport letterman who later became a Federal judge in Louisiana, during the 1940 Sugar Bowl Game on New Year’s Day in New Orleans. A second touchdown of the day from Kimbrough, who racked up 152 net yards rushing on 26 carries (5.8 avg), and a successful extra point conversion in the fourth quarter enabled unbeaten and untied Texas A&M (11-0) to edge the previously unbeaten Green Wave (8-1-1) in front of 73,000 spectators at Tulane Stadium. The powerful Aggies, who had already been named national champions for the 1939 NCAA season by the Associated Press after claiming top spot in the AP’s final regular season poll released in mid-December, were already scheduled to meet the UCLA Bruins (who finished ranked # 7 in that same final AP poll) for a non-conference game to be played at the massive Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in early October of 1940.
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College football was very popular with the national sporting public in 1939, certainly far more so than the professional game by a wide margin, and this cultural fact was reflected by the multitude of different “All-America” teams that were announced by a wide variety of nationally-recognized organizations.

The first of the 15 major All-America squads named in 1939 and tracked by this blog appeared in the November 20th edition of Life Magazine — the UCLA Bruins still had three more football games left to play on its regular season schedule when Life’s team became known to the general public. Interesting enough, standout UCLA left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON, who would end up as the nation’s leader with 1,370 yards of total offense (rushing & passing), was, indeed, a First Team selection of Life in 1939. Other magazines throughout the country, such as Collier’s Weekly, intentionally ‘leaked’ their All-America teams to the contemporary newspapers well before their own publications actually hit the newsstands.

The chart to follow reflects the earliest release dates as seen by this blog in various contemporary newspapers. For example, the All-America team as chosen by the United Press appeared in the November 29th edition of The Pittsburgh Press. Also noted are the release dates in correlation to the senior left halfback Washington’s very last games for the UCLA Bruins :

Nov 20th ….. Life Magazine (as chosen by NBC announcer Bill Stern)
Nov 24th ….. International News Service *
Nov 25th ….. UCLA BRUINS 13 – OREGON STATE BEAVERS 13
Nov 29th ….. United Press *
Nov 30th ….. UCLA BRUINS 24 – WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS 7
Dec 2nd ……. New York Sun
Dec 3rd …….. Newspaper Enterprise Association *
Dec 3rd …….. Hearst Newspapers
Dec 7th …….. Newsweek Magazine *
Dec 8th …….. Collier’s Weekly (as chosen by Grantland Rice) *
Dec 9th …….. Associated Press *
Dec 9th …….. UCLA BRUINS 0 – USC TROJANS 0
Dec 10th …… Central Press Association
Dec 13th …… Collegiate Writers
Dec 27th …… Liberty Magazine *

unknown …… Walter Camp Football Foundation
unknown …… The Sporting News *
unknown …… All-America Board *

* asterisk indicates an official “selector” for the 1939 season as formally recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association

1939 OFFICIAL NCAA “CONSENSUS” ALL-AMERICA TEAM
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End ……… Esco Sarkkinen, Ohio State …………. 6’0″ 192 lbs ….. senior
End ……… Ken Kavanaugh, Louisiana State ….. 6’3″ 203 lbs …. senior
Tackle …. Nick Drahos, Cornell …………………… 6’3″ 200 lbs …. junior
Tackle …. Harley McCollum, Tulane ……………. 6’4″ 235 lbs …. sophomore
Guard ….. Harry Smith, USC ……………………….. 5’11” 218 lbs …. senior
Guard ….. Ed Molinski, Tennessee ……………….. 5’10” 190 lbs … junior
Center …. John Schiechl, Santa Clara ……………. 6’2″ 220 lbs …. senior
Back ……. Nile Kinnick, Iowa ……………………….. 5’8″ 167 lbs ….. senior
Back ……. Tom Harmon, Michigan ……………….. 6’0″ 195 lbs ….. junior
Back ……. John Kimbrough, Texas A&M ………. 6’2″ 210 lbs ….. junior
Back ……. George Cafego, Tennessee ……………. 6’0″ 174 lbs ….. senior

http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/stats/football_records/DI/2009/2009Awards.pdf

“Consensus All-America” status as defined by the NCAA in 1939 was determined by the player(s) who received the most First Team nods at his position from the nine major organizations formally recognized as official “selectors” that year.

Senior guard HARRY SMITH of the USC Trojans and junior tackle NICK DRAHOS of the Cornell Big Red were the only two players to be named First Team All-America in 1939 by all nine of the nine official selectors although halfbacks NILE KINNICK of the Iowa Hawkeyes, the undersized senior who won the Heisman Trophy that season, and TOM HARMON of the Michigan Wolverines, the junior who would win the 1940 Heisman Trophy and become the very first player to be chosen at the 1941 National Football League Draft, were both honored as First Team All-America by eight of the NCAA’s nine official selectors that year.

Senior halfback GEORGE CAFEGO of the Tennessee Volunteers and junior quarterback PAUL CHRISTMAN of the Missouri Tigers both received four First Team All-America nominations from the nine official selections. However, it was Cafego, whom the Chicago Cardinals made the first overall player to be chosen at the 1940 NFL Draft, who edged out Christman, who was ultimately a second round pick (# 13 overall) of the Chicago Cardinals at the 1941 NFL Draft, for the fourth and final backfield spot on the NCAA’s Consensus All-America XI in 1939. This blog strongly suspects that seniority had everything to do with that decision because five of the NCAA’ nine official selectors featured Second Team All-America squads, as well — Christman was named Second Team All-America by four of the official selectors in 1939 but Cafego only had two Second Team nominations from the official selectors.

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