I wrote True Sons for the same reason anyone writes a book – to be able to settle disputes among strangers on internet message boards. This week, I received an e-mail asking if I could resolve a disagreement on Tigerboard.com about the stature of Missouri’s basketball teams of 1921 and 1922.
Specifically, I was asked to verify that those Tiger teams were ranked number one nationally in the Premo Power Poll. For the uninitiated, the Premo Polls are the province of Patrick Premo, a college professor and basketball historian who spent countless hours researching and ranking the best college basketball teams from the game’s early years.
The Tigerboard dispute seems to arise from the fact that there is no complete and accurate set of the Premo Polls available online; unfortunately, it appears that an incomplete and inaccurate posting is on the web, one that incorrectly notes that Penn topped the Premo Poll for 1921 and that Kansas held the top spot for 1922 (in 1936, Penn and Kansas were retroactively awarded mythical national championships for those years by the Helms Foundation; the list provided seems to reflect Helms titles, not Premo Polls). My understanding is that one of the parties to the dispute goes so far as to suggest that I may have fabricated my claim in True Sons that Missouri was ranked number one in the Premo Polls for those seasons. I can tell you unequivocally that I did not (though when I wrote that Mizzou beat Indiana to win the 1976 national championship? That was totally made up).
I first became aware of Professor Premo’s work while reading Blair Kerkhoff’s book Phog Allen, the Father of Basketball Coaching. On page 60, while detailing the early years of the rivalry between Missouri and Kansas, Kerkhoff notes that Premo ranked the Tigers number one for the 1921 and 1922 seasons.
(click to enlarge)
My curiosity piqued, I interviewed Premo while doing research for True Sons, and I bought Mike Douchant’s Inside Sports College Basketball, a terrific history of the game, which includes a full set of the Premo Polls. Those polls do in fact show Missouri to be the number one team for 1921 and 1922. I have scanned the relevant pages, and included them below (click images to enlarge).
I believe my work here is done.