SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Cal Poly is celebrating 100 seasons of football during the 2018 campaign.
To commemorate the occasion, videos focusing on each of the 10 decades of Mustang football will be published each week on GoPoly.com and the various Cal Poly Athletics social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube).
The decade of the 1910s was first, as Cal Poly officially fielded a football team for the first time in 1915 with the hiring of D.W. Schlosser as head coach. The 1920s was featured next, followed by the 1930s, highlighted by the undefeated, untied, unscored-upon 1933 squad which finished 7-0.
The 1940s included the first Mustang game as a four-year school and the cancellation of the 1943 and 1944 seasons due to World War II. Head coach Roy Hughes arrived in 1950 and vowed, "In three years, we'll be tough." He lived up to his promise with an undefeated, untied 1953 season as the Mustangs were 9-0 and outscored the opposition 395-65. Some consider the 1958 team to be the best Mustang squad as Bobby Beathard and John Madden, among others, led Cal Poly to a 9-1 mark.
The football program in the 1960s dealt with the plane crash that killed 16 players, the team manager and a booster and, after struggling to regain its footing, hired Joe Harper in 1968 to lead the way back to prominence. Head coach for 14 seasons (1968-81), Harper compiled a 96-43-4 record and among his teams were the 1972 Camellia Bowl and 1978 playoff squads.
The decade of the 1980s opened with the NCAA Division II National Championship under Harper and ended with Lyle Setencich's team which reached the Division II semifinals and finished 10-2. The 1990s included a student referendum which was narrowly approved in 1992 sending Mustang athletics to Division I and Cal Poly's first victory over a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent.
This week, the focus is on the decade of the 2000s. The first decade of the 21st Century for Cal Poly football featured a memorable victory over UTEP, a pair of NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff berths, an unprecedented three straight Buck Buchanan Award winners and two triumphs over San Diego State at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Mustangs opened their 2003 season inside the Sun Bowl at El Paso, Texas, and came home with a 34-13 victory over UTEP, their second win ever against an FBS school. Cal Poly earned FCS playoff berths in 2005 and 2008 and claimed Great West Football Conference titles in 2004, 2005 and 2008. The Mustangs defeated Montana 35-21 in Missoula for their first FCS playoff win as well as their first victory ever against the Griz.
Rich Ellerson coached the Mustangs from 2001-08 and compiled a 56-34 record over those eight seasons. In the 2008 regular season finale, Cal Poly took Wisconsin into overtime before falling 36-35 in front of 80,709 fans at Camp Randall Stadium, the largest crowd ever to see a Mustang football game.
In addition to the 1943 and 1944 seasons, Cal Poly did not field a team in 1918 due to a flu epidemic and in 1930 because of a polio epidemic. Thus, even though the first game was played 103 years ago in 1915, the 2018 Mustangs are playing Cal Poly's 100th season of football.
Each subsequent video, produced by Cal Poly Athletics Video Coordinator Andrew Baird, will be published on Tuesdays throughout the 2018 season.
• Facebook: CalPolyMustangs
• Twitter: CPMustangs
• Instagram: CPMustangs
• YouTube: CalPolyAthletics
Cal Poly concludes the 2018 campaign with a pair of home games, hosting Idaho State for Homecoming on Saturday and Southern Utah on Nov. 17. Both Big Sky contests in Alex G. Spanos Stadium kick off at 4:05 p.m.