Minnesota claims 1904 national title

Minnesota's athletic department has added a new national title to its list of accomplishments.

And it only took 108 years.

As reported by Fox Sports North, the 1904 season will now be counted as one of seven football championships won by the Gophers.

Turns out the NCAA inserted the centenarian championship into its records book back in 1996, citing historical research by Richard Billingsley, a computer rankings guru. Billingsley has created a retroactive computer ranking for every season going back to 1869.

A Minnesota athletics department staffer finally noticed the change this past winter and updated the school's records accordingly.

"I've heard some people say, 'Well, retroactive championships don't mean anything because no one was physically there at the time.' I don't believe that at all," Billingsley said. "... It doesn't matter to a computer program whether you were physically present in the stands watching the game or if you were living in 1904. The reason is because the computer doesn't have anything to do with emotion anyway. ...

"A retroactive computer ranking is just as accurate in 1904 as it is in 2012."

The title given to the 1904 Gophers would probably have a hard time escaping controversey in 2012, thanks to a schedule that could charitably be described as 'soft'. Minnesota opened with a 107-0 win over Twin Cities Central High and later beat Grinnell College, 146-0. The one close call in the undefeated 13-game slate was a 16-12 win over Nebraska. 

Controversey or not, the Gophers will take it. Once upon a time, Minnesota was a college football powerhouse, with six national titles between 1934 and 1960. The Gophers won the 1962 Rose Bowl, but haven't been back since. At least the addition of the new title serves to remind Minnesota fans of their school's history and tradition.

Besides, it might be the only time that a Gophers fan of this era ever gets to see the words 'national title' and 'Minnesota' in the same sentence.

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