Iron Men of '99
The year is 1899, the Yellow Fever epidemic has ravaged the southeast and especially the University of the South, familiarly known as Sewanee. Attendance is pitifully down and the University is facing bankruptcy due to it’s dwindling student body.
Unscrupulous board member Edward Williams, sensing vulnerability seizes his moment. He has his own nefarious plans for Sewanee’s heavily forested 13 thousand acres. Williams threatens if the school fails to secure more tuition revenue within the next year, he will join with the creditors and demand the school close its doors forever, sell the land and pay its crushing debts.
Brash, yet visionary Luke Lea, son of a board member, inconceivably declares that Sewanee’s student population will vastly increase when its motley football team becomes a winning powerhouse. Their unprecedented victories will be plastered via newspaper headlines nationwide.
Luke Lea at 20 years old led the Iron Men of ‘99 to victory. The iconic tale told in the halls of University of the South at Sewanee is embodied by the poster commissioned by the school for the very same artist of Pears Soap.
“In 6 days Sewanee beat Texas, Texas A & M, Tulane, LSU and Ole Miss. On the 7th day they rested”
Pioneers in their field with five of those wins, all shutouts, occurred within a six-day period while on a grueling 2,500-mile trip by steam train. Instigating brutal games during the day, studying, recovering and sleeping by night.
Ten of their twelve opposing teams, including all five of their road trip victims, remain major college football powers to this day.
In 2012, the College Football Hall of Fame held a vote of the greatest historic teams of all time, where the 1899 Iron Men beat the 1961 Alabama Crimson Tide as the greatest team of all time.