Loyola has long boasted about having an undefeated football program. This, however, is largely due to the fact that it doesn’t currently have a varsity football team – it was cut in 1929.
However, football was one of Loyola’s popular varsity sports in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The school played its first intercollegiate football game in 1892.
At the time, Loyola was still named St. Ignatius College, and the school’s athletic teams were referred to as the Maroon and Gold.
Today, Loyola’s nickname is one of a kind in NCAA Division I athletics. Loyola is the only school to be referred to as the “Ramblers.” This nickname stems from Loyola’s old football team.
The football coach and student newspaper held a contest in 1925 to name the mascot for the football team, according to Loyola’s athletic website. The winning entry, the “Grandees,” was a title for Spanish nobility and had ties to the Spanish origins of St. Ignatius of Loyola. However, this name failed to gain popularity with the students and surrounding community.
A year later, Loyola became known for “rambling from state to state” in the media because the football team had to travel great lengths across the United States to play opponents. Because of this, Loyola was dubbed the “Ramblers.”
The nickname has stuck with Loyola athletics ever since.
The Ramblers seemed to have a knack for nicknames. Several members of the 1925 team had interesting monikers, according to an article from the April 29, 1925 edition of The Phoenix. Two such names were “Mary” Adams and “Witey” Cronin.
However, Witey, Mary and the rest of the varsity football team didn’t get to play long.
After the stock market crash of 1929, Loyola President the Rev. Robert M. Kelley, S.J., dropped football as an intercollegiate sport.
Kelley said football was becoming too much of an entertainment industry, with its players being viewed as celebrities. Because it had lost its roots in amateur sport, the president disbanded the team.
Though Loyola never again fielded a varsity squad, intramural and club football continued on campus. In fact, in 1971, the club football team won the national championship. That year also happened to be the last time Loyola would have a club football team until the fall of 2012.
The current program, now in its third year, won its first game since the ‘71 season against none other than crosstown rival DePaul University.