Cliff Montgomery

Ticket for 1934 Rose Bowl game between Columbia and Stanford.

In preparing the “Roar, Lion, Roar” Columbia football exhibition (on view at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s Chang Octagon through December 20), we found a great detail about the 1934 Rose Bowl game in the New York Times obituary for Cliff Montgomery, the quarterback and MVP of Columbia’s victory over Stanford. According to the Times, “Montgomery’s fake to Brominski was so good that Barabas, who was hiding the ball for what would be a naked reverse, added to the deception by standing for a few seconds and watching Brominski.” (23 April 2005) We had to use that in an exhibition label! However, what we found even more interesting is that back in December 1933, Columbia was considered such an underdog that the Times didn’t even send a reporter to cover the game. That’s how unlikely the upset seemed at the time.

But Montgomery called the trick play and Barabas ran down 17 yards, crossed the goal line

CU Football Team visits Warner Brothers Studio, 1934

standing and scored the only touchdown of the game. After the game, the team went to Hollywood and Montgomery took a screen test and was offered a contract by Warner Brothers.

Coach Lou Little was able to convince him to return to Columbia for the spring semester and graduate. In another version of that story, Montgomery was prevented from having his screen test because of a black eye (or a black eye and a bruised nose) he received during the game. No matter, Montgomery was clearly a star.

-Columbia University Archives Staff