Wednesday, December 31, 2014

UConn Huskies (1984-88)

This is the later version of UConn's basic 1977-88 uniform style: White helmet with royal script "UConn" on the sides, royal-and-white jersey with three sleeve stripes and white pants. Early versions had no names on the jerseys and red-and-blue trim on the pants, but in '84, names were added and the red trim was removed.

UConn rumbles past Maine in this image from the 1985 Nutmeg.
We'll be discussing those Maine unis soon.

By 1987, the players were mostly wearing low-cut socks, which were making a comeback after a period when college teams followed the NFL's lead and wore proper, "formal" socks, often with stripes.

The 1987 Huskies, with low-cut socks.

I still find it odd that UConn fiddled around for decades with what shade of blue to use: light blue, royal blue and navy have all been worn, and red trim comes and goes like the tide. In 1989, navy was used as the primary color for the first time since 1967, and that's what has been used since. The 1989-93 uniform more or less mirrored the one you see here, only with the color change.

UConn takes on Delaware in this image from the 1988 Nutmeg yearbook.

No. 14 is quarterback Matt DeGennaro, who was the Yankee Conference offensive player of the year in 1988 and is second behind future NFLer Dan Orlovsky on most of the Huskies' career passing lists. Not too shabby, considering he played 25 years ago. This Hartford Courant article from 2004 noted he's likely the Huskies' best player from the pre-FBS era.

UConn's Matt DeGennaro in action in another Nutmeg pic.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Holy Cross Crusaders (1951-55)

When I did the "Rivalry Week(s)" posts in November, I promised I'd look at some of the featured uniforms in greater detail down the road. So let's start with Holy Cross, a school I've mostly neglected since this project began.

The Holy Cross uniforms from the 1930s through 1955 underwent little change: Silver helmets, white shirts and silver/gray pants served as the basic template. Purple jerseys were worn less frequently, and in 1951 weren't used at all, to the best of my knowledge. I believe purple socks were worn on and off. 

A good close-up shot of Holy Cross' Tom McCann, from the 1952 Purple Patcher.
You can read a little more about him here.

Above is the early-50s model, with a plain sans-serif number font after using a more serifed block font in the 40s.

Holy Cross' Mel Massucco is depicted in an early 1950s cartoon from
The Crusader newspaper (then called The Tomahawk). He was later
a Holy Cross announcer and was a longtime coach at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 

In 1956, the Crusaders made an overhaul, switching to purple helmets and pants and dumping silver until the mid-1960s. Shoulder stripes also appeared on the jerseys.

The 1951 Crusaders take on Dartmouth in this pic from the '52 Purple Patcher.
Nothing says "old school sports photo" like a dashed line depicting the path of the football
and little arrows with the players' names on them.

The '52 Crusaders, in white, take on Boston College in this pic from the '53 Purple Patcher.
The game was played at Braves Field, which the baseball Braves abandoned for Milwaukee
just before the '53 season.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Boston College Eagles (2007)

Let's look at one more Boston College bowl team before the Pinstripe Bowl ...

The 2007 BC Eagles were the best of times and the ... well, not the worst of times, but at the least, they left a gnawing feeling of what might have been. With senior quarterback Matt Ryan at the helm, the Eagles were ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation, their highest ranking since 1942, right before they were knocked off by Holy Cross in a mega-upset. Ryan set single-season records for passing yards (4,258) and touchdown passes (28) and emerged as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. (There was even a "Ryan for Heisman" blog; you can still visit it here. I still can't believe Matty Ice was only seventh in the balloting.) 

Matt Ryan didn't get the Heisman,
but he did get his own action figure.

The Eagles also beat Miami for the first time since the "Hail Mary" game in 1984. BC won 11 games, the most since the undefeated 1940 team, and finished No. 10 in the AP poll, No. 11 in the coaches poll, the program's highest ranking since '84.

But ... BC dropped three of four games late in the season, including a loss to Virginia Tech in the ACC title game. Instead of the Orange Bowl (the destination for the ACC champ at the time), BC found itself in the Champs Sports Bowl (the bowl that used to be the Tangerine Bowl, discussed earlier in the week). And first-year coach Jeff Jagodzinski was fired after the 2008 season when he defied BC's orders and interviewed for the vacant New York Jets coaching position.

That said, it was still a memorable season and the '07 Eagles deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the 1940 and '84 teams in discussions of the best in school history. And an 11-3 record is never anything to sneeze at.

Running back Andre Callender, top, and quarterback Matt Ryan
in action during the Champs Sports Bowl, a 24-21 win over Michigan State.
This was the eighth and final win of BC's incredible 2000-07 bowl victory streak.

As for the uniforms ... BC streamlined its look under new coach Jagodzinski. The funky slanted numbers remained, but without the busy multiple outlines used from 2001-06. Gold numbers replaced white on the home jerseys. And in a first, white pants were used, primarily on the roads. The Eagles continue to wear all-white on the road to this day. An eagle head replaced the soaring eagle on the sleeves. As you can see, BC wasn't afraid to mix 'n match.

You can read about the uniform change here.

For '07 only, a small black patch was worn on the left sleeve; unfortunately, I have no idea what it stood for or for whom it was chosen to commemorate. 

BC was hoping for the Orange Bowl, but had to settle
for the Champs Sports Bowl.

Again, thanks to Reid Oslin's unbelievable Boston College Football Vault, the source of much the info here. There are very few books out there on BC football, and this one almost singlehandedly makes up for the lack.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Boston College Eagles (1982)

Boston College played in three bowl games from the 1939-42 seasons under coaches Frank Leahy and Denny Myers. But after a 37-21 loss to Alabama in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1943, the Eagles waited 40 long years for their next bowl game. (Remember, bowl games were like gold in those days, and nationally-ranked powers were often shut out of pot season play.) Then came a man named Flutie to play quarterback for coach Jack Bicnkell ... you know the rest of the story. 

The Man Himself, on a 1982 pocket schedule.
Even as a sophomore, his star shone brightly.

Flutie (not to mention a talented supporting cast including running back Troy Stadford and linebacker Steve DeOssie) led the Eagles to a 8-2-1 regular-season record. Highlights included a 38-16 opening-day win over Texas A&M (after Aggies coach Jackie Sherrill had already planned a lavish postgame party) and a come-from-behind 14-13 win over Rutgers on Flutie's 2-point conversion pass to Scott Nizolek with no time left.

Best of all for BC, its decades-long bowl drought ended with a trip to the Tangerine Bowl (now the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl ... says that five times fast), where the Eagles lost 33-26 to Auburn. The game was a matchup of not just two future Heisman Trophy winners, but two Heisman winners who transcended football: Flutie and Auburn's Bo Jackson.

Doug Flutie in action against the Auburn Tigers in the 1982 Tangerine Bowl.
Note the bowl logo on the shoulders and the lack of sleeve stripes.
The picture is from the 1983 Sub Turri yearbook.

The Eagles' uniforms were similar to what they wore in the late 1970s-early 80s, but a wide maroon stripe with white outlines on the pants replaced the thin red-and-white stripes. Two versions of the white jersey were used during this time period: One with sleeve stripes and one without. I suspect the stripe-less version was used for warm-weather games, since from pictures I've seen, they appear to be those "fishnet" mesh jerseys popular in the 1970s-80s. A Tangerine Bowl logo patch was worn on the shoulders of both teams for the bowl game.

Want tickets-need tickets-got tickets?
Want tickets-need tickets-got tickets ...

According to the incredible Boston College Football Vault (the source of much of the information here about the '82 Eagles), about 10,000 fans followed the Eagles down to Florida to the game ... not bad for a team that has a reputation of not "traveling" well. 

BC went on to more success under Flutie ... but hey, I have to save some material for down the road. 

Later this week, we'll look at one more BC bowl team as the Pinstripe Bowl approaches.

Friday, December 19, 2014

UNH Wildcats (1975)

On Saturday, the University of New Hampshire will play Illinois State in the NCAA FCS semifinals, the third time the Wildcats have reached an NCAA semi. Here's a look at the first UNH team to achieve the feat.


When you hear the phrase "Rice Bowl," you probably think of a side dish that makes you hungry again in 20 minutes. But that was the name of a pseudo-bowl game that featured UNH in 1975 -- the Grantland Rice Bowl, to be precise.

The Rice Bowl, named for the legendary sportswriter (although as Bill James once remarked, can you read his stuff today without getting purple ink on your hands?), was really a fancy way of saying "NCAA Division II Semifinal." 

In the years before the formation of Division I-AA/FCS, New Hampshire and the rest of its Yankee Conference brethren were designated by the NCAA as Division II teams, at least for football. (Basketball, baseball and other sports were still D-I.) The Rice Bowl, which had been around since 1964, morphed into an NCAA playoff semifinal in 1973, when D-II began using playoffs instead of polls and bowls to determine a national champion. (The other semifinal, for trivia's sake, was the Pioneer Bowl in Texas, and the Camellia Bowl in Sacramento, Calif., was the name of the D-II title game.)

Led by the ground game of Bill Burnham (1,170 yards rushing), UNH won the Yankee Conference title with a 5-0 mark and an 8-2 overall record heading into the playoffs. After UNH defeated UMass 14-11 in a season-ending, winner-take-all showdown for the YC title, the Cowell Stadium fans tore down the goal posts as UMass coach Dick MacPherson personally presented the YC Beanpot trophy to UNH coach Bill Bowes. (UMass shared the '74 title with Maine; the nugget about the UMass game comes from the 1976 UMass Index.)

Bill Burnham cranks up the REAL MAN factor
in UNH's opening-round playoff win over Lehigh.
Strept throat??

More UNH-Lehigh action. Both these pix are from the
Lehigh Brown and White newspaper.

After riding Burnham's 162 yards and two TDs to a 35-21 win over Lehigh in the first round of the D-II tourney, the Wildcats earned their first-ever trip to an NCAA semifinal -- and last until 2013. Alas, the Rice Bowl came up empty for UNH in a 14-3 loss to Western Kentucky.

These Associated Press photos show UNH (in dark jerseys)
against Western Kentucky before a rousing throng of fans
at the Grantland Rice Bowl in Baton Rouge, La.
Is it me, or do UNH's pants look off-white here,
unlike in the Lehigh pictures? Hmmm...

Ah, yes, the uniforms. This was the end of an era for UNH -- the helmets with big, blue block numbers, used since 1967, were retired after the season and the "classic" UNH uniform, with the iconic "NH" helmet logo and red-and-white jersey trim, was introduced in '76. With only minimal changes, it stuck around through 1999. The plain blue jerseys with white stripes shown here were worn for only two years (1974-75). The '74 uniforms were very similar to the '75s, only the pants had stripes and the socks used a different striping pattern. Both black and white shoes were used during this period. The white jerseys were worn from 1972-75.

Burnham, tight end Mike Moroney, linemen John Merrill and Kevin Martell, linebacker Dave Rozumek and safety Mark Etro were named all-YC. Rozumek was taken by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 15th round of the '76 NFL Draft and played for the Chiefs from 1976-79. Jeff Allen -- who still occupies spots on the UNH top-10 all-time passing lists -- was the quarterback, and was named all-YC in '76 and '77.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Boston College Eagles (1939)

With Boston College's appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl coming up, I thought we'd look at a few of the Eagles' previous bowl teams over the next week or so, beginning with the first one.

Nineteen thirty-nine was a watershed season for BC football for three reasons:

1) Frank Leahy became head coach and promptly elevated the Eagles from a well-respeced program into a national juggernaut;
2) Boston College played the first bowl game in its history;
3) The Eagles introduced the basic uniform template they've used ever since. (OK, maybe not as momentous as the first two points, but for the purpose of this blog, it's a HY-OOGE deal.)

The 1939 Boston College Eagles. This and other pictures here are from
the 1940 Sub Turri yearbook.

In 1938, BC wore funky maroon-and-gold helmets vaguely like Michigan's, with maroon shirts and pants. (A gold shirt as also used at times.) Under Leahy, the Eagles introduced the plain gold helmet still worn today (the only change being the addition of the maroon stripe down the middle in the '90s). Gold pants, also part of the BC uni playbook to this day, were first worn. As you can see in the first photo below, white jerseys were often worn at home. Maroon socks were worn on occasion; I've chosen to use them in the graphic at the top of this post.

The '39 Eagles in action at Fenway Park ...

... and against St. Anselm at the original Alumni Field.
Note No. 50 for BC wearing the old maroon pants from '38.
The '39 Eagles racked up an 9-1 regular season record and a New Year's Day trip to the Cotton Bowl, where they lost to future ACC rival Clemson, 6-3. The final Associated Press poll, conducted on Dec. 11, had BC ranked No. 11 in the nation and Clemson No. 12. 

The ranking and bowl bid were firsts for BC; keep in mind there were only five bowl games at that point, long before 6-6 season were rewarded with a bowl bid.

A reproduction of a 1940 Cotton Bowl program and ticket,
taken from an eBay listing.

BC in action against Clemson in the 1940 Cotton Bowl,
only the second road game the Eagles played that season.

Leahy and BC were just warming up; in 1940, the Eagles went 11-0, defeated Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl and finished No. 5 in the rankings (which hasn't stopped the school from claiming a share of the national title, but that's for another time). In '41, Leahy was off to Notre Dame, where he added to his legend over the next dozen years or so.

We'll look a couple more historic BC bowl teams next week as bowl day gets closer!

Craving some more BC unis? Look right here: 2016201520142013200720001995-961994, 1989-90198419821978-801968-771958-60, 19571955-561950-52, Rivalry Week (w/Holy Cross).

Monday, December 15, 2014

Penn Quakers (1956-64)

Nineteen fifty-six marked the debut of something new (formal Ivy League play) and a return to something old. After experimenting with white helmets and conventional jersey striping for a couple years, the Penn Quakers returned to the famed navy-and-maroon alternate sleeve stripes in '56, a style that has its roots in the 19th century. The white helmets were replaced by navy helmets with white and maroon stripes.

The 1957 Penn Quakers. This picture is from the Penn digital image collection,
a perfect place to go if you have an hour or so to kill.
In '58, numbers were added to the helmets -- in a stencil font I've never seen anywhere else, at least not on a helmet. (Army's current jerseys use a stencil font.)

These incredible photos are from the 1960 Penn Record yearbook.
Only a few of them are online, but it's better than nothing, right?
Note the stencil font on the Quakers' helmets. 

In '62, the helmet numbers vanished again.

Vestiges of the home uniform can be found in the current blue jersey. In '65, Bob Odell became coach, and he introduced some un-Penn-like red helmets and jerseys, which we touched upon here.

The 1964 Penn Quakers, also from the school's digital archive.
The "P" on the coach's jacket is similar to what the team wore
on the helmets from 1965-70.

Friday, December 12, 2014

UNH Wildcats (1950)

  Three years after reaching the Glass Bowl, New Hampshire churned out another Yankee Conference championship team, going 8-0 overall and 4-0 in league play. The coach was Clarence A. "Chief" Boston, who compiled a 60-57-10 record and four YC titles in Durham from 1949-64. You can read a little more about him here.

The undefated 1950 UNH Wildcats, in their road whites.
All pictures here are from the 1951 Granite yearbook.

  This uniform was worn from 1949-54, with blue helmets used occasionally in '49 and plastic shells taking over by '51, which makes the 1950 uniform a sorta-kinda one-year style. The home shirts here don't look too different from what the Cats were wearing in 1965.
  You can read more about the 1950 team here.

Dick Dewing ran for 893 yards in 1950, a phenomenal total for that time period.
He was rewarded with an appearance in the 1951 Topps Magic set, a set of
college football stars and one of the gum giant's first sports card offerings.
Dewing had a long career in the military, was part of the UNH chain gang
and helped found the team that fires the cannon after every Wildcat touchdown.
This uniform bears not even a passing semblance to what the '50 Cats actually wore.

Geez, that water tower was around even then?
I dunno ... for some reason, I found this drawing from the '51 Granite
funny as hell, so I thought I'd share it here.

BTW, I have made some fixes to the 2010-13 and 2014 UNH uniforms; I enlarged the CAA logo on the home shirts and used a darker shade of blue for the 2010-13 unis. Check them out here and here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

UNH Wildcats (1947-48)

  With New Hampshire making yet another playoff run, I thought it would be fitting to look  back at the first Wildcat team to reach the postseason.

The 1947 Wildcats were the first -- but far from the last --
UNH team to play a postseason game.

  The 1947 team, coached by William J. "Biff" Glassford," went 8-0 in the regular season, won the very first Yankee Conference title with a 4-0 league mark and outscored its opponents 255-59. The closest win all season was a 14-6 triumph over UConn on Nov. 15 that sealed the YC crown for UNH. 
  The Wildcats qualified for a postseason game called the Glass Bowl (it was in Toledo, Ohio, which is called the Glass City, ya see), where they suffered their only defeat, 20-14 to the host Rockets. 

UNH coach "Biff" Glassford in the Glass Bowl -- literally.
The photos here are from the 1948 Granite yearbook.

  The Glass Bowl game lasted only four years (1946-49, and Toledo played in all four, whatta shock), but the stadium still stands today; oddly enough, the Wildcats' only loss this year has happened there, to the same Rockets. Perhaps, like 1947, UNH's only loss will be in Toledo, should it win the NCAA title.

Geez, even then my Black Bears couldn't beat them. UNH won 28-7 in front of 12,000 fans.
Grrrr ... Check out the neat scoreboard and referee's garb.

  Triviata: Three members of the '47 Wildcats were selected in the 1948 pro football drafts: backs Carmen Ragonese and Bruce Mather were picked by the NFL's Boston Yanks and tackle Clayton Lane was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ragonese was also drafted by the AAFC's Baltimore Colts (no relation to the more famous NFL Baltimore Colts of the '50s and '60s).  Ragonese and Mather never played in the pros; Lane played one game for the AAFC's New York Yankees in '48.

Running back Carmen Ragonese was good enough to be drafted
by two pro leagues. He was a charter inductee into the UNH Hall of Fame in 1982,
and the entire team was inducted in 2001.

  UNH wore the above uniform in 1948, too, then switched to silver helmets and jerseys with larger numbers. The Wildcats had to wait 28 years for their next postseason appearance (the 1975 NCAA Division II playoffs).
  Later this week, we'll fast forward a few years to the undefeated 1950 Cats.