Walter C. "Bummy" Booth ushered in a new century at Nebraska with a 6-1-1 record in 1900 - the first season the team was officially called the Cornhuskers. His teams produced a 24-game winning streak starting in 1901 that ended with a 6-0 loss at Colorado on Oct. 8, 1904.
His 1902 team was 9-0 and not scored upon, outscoring the opposition, 159-0. In 1903, Booth coached the first Husker team to ever win 10 games, as Nebraska went a perfect 10-0 with eight shutouts, outscoring its opponents, 268-11.
In an exhibition of one of the most dominant stretches in college football history, Nebraska's 24-game winning streak from 1901 to 1904 produced an overall winning margin of 643-26, for an average winning score of 27-1.
The 24-game winning streak produced by Booth's teams stood as a school record for more than 90 years, until Nebraska's back-to-back national championship teams in 1994 and 1995 helped produce a 26-game winning streak that ended early in the 1996 season.
Although Nebraska's first nine football teams had never had a losing season, Booth took the reins of an NU program that had suffered through a 1-7-1 record in its 10th season in 1899, under Coach A. Edwin Branch.
In what is certainly one of the fastest turnarounds in history, Booth's 1900 team outscored its first seven opponents, 100-0, to post a 6-0-1 record before a 20-12 loss to Minnesota in the season finale. Branch's 1899 team was outscored 154-43.
Booth's orchestration of the amazing Husker turnaround helped NU evolve into one of the most powerful teams in college football at the turn of the century.
Nebraska played as an independent, so Booth never led the Huskers to a conference title, but his .845 winning percentage ranks as the second-highest of any football coach in NU history, ahead of College Football Hall of Famers Tom Osborne and Bob Devaney and trailing only Ewald O. "Jumbo" Stiehm among Husker leaders.
During the Booth era at Nebraska, several important rule changes evolved to change the face of college football. In 1900, a successful field goal was worth five points, which changed to four points in 1903. It wasn't until 1909 that the value of a field goal dropped to its current worth of three points. Also, Booth's time preceded the advent of the forward pass, which was standardized in 1906.
Booth left the Nebraska coaching position following the 1905 season to practice law. At the time of his departure, he was being paid just under $2,000, more than any professor on campus at the time.
Booth came to Nebraska from New Jersey, after graduating from Princeton in 1900. Booth was a center on Princeton's 1898 team that won a mythical national championship. The successes of the 1898 and 1899 Princeton squads were amazingly similar to the 1902 and 1903 NU teams.
In 1898, Princeton rolled to an 11-0-1 record with its only blemish coming in a 5-5 tie with Army. The points scored by Army on a field goal were the only ones allowed by the Tigers on the season, as they outscored the opposition, 266-5. The following season, Princeton went 12-1 and outscored its opponents, 185-11.
Booth did not earn an athletic letter at Princeton, because letters were not awarded until 1930. He also did not play for a head coach, as team captains led the team on the field until the turn of the century.
Booth left coaching following the 1905 season at Nebraska. He spent two years in St. Anthony, Newfoundland, serving as the business manager for the Grenefell Mission to Labrador. He later returned to New York City, where he spent much of the rest of his life working in the insurance business.
Walter Cowles Booth was born Dec. 7, 1874, and passed away on April 5, 1944.