Friday, August 29, 2014

Columbia Lions (2013, 1970)

What is there to say about a team so bad, the players used to enter the field while the band played the “Mickey Mouse Club” theme? Among the litany of infamy: No winning record since 1996, one Ivy League title (1961, and it was a shared title to boot), an infamous 44-game losing streak in the 1980s and an 0-10 season in 2013 in which the Lions mustered 7.3 points per game. In 2013! When football scores resemble basketball scores! Seven-point-three points!
Well, they’ll always have that 1934 Rose Bowl win over Stanford (yes, it actually happened): 

Rules of thumb and notes regarding Columbia’s unis:
  • This is another team that couldn’t hold onto one style for the life of it. Midseason changes were not uncommon in the 1970s. The light blue jersey has been a constant for decades, however.
  • Light blue pants were introduced in the mid-80s, and have been used on and off since.
  • This is the only FCS team in this project, to my knowledge, to wear a throwback uniform (the 2003 team wore throwback jerseys to honor the aforementioned Rose Bowl team, and throwback helmets to honor the ’61 bunch).
  • You’ll notice that teams with losing traditions (Columbia, Rhody, Brown until the last decade) tend to make the most overhauls. A new coach comes in, introduces a new look, coach quits/gets fired, new coach comes in, introduces a new look … the cycle repeats itself.
  • In the 1960s and 70s, Columbia often wore light blue jerseys, even when the other team wore a “dark” jersey. Foes often wore dark shirts at Columbia. Perhaps the teams thought the jerseys contrasted better than if they wore white shirts. In the early-mid-60s, Columbia wore only light blue jerseys, home and road.
I am indebted to the Columbia Spectator for its comprehensive game coverage in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, without which I'd still be lost in the wilderness trying to figure out all the uniform variations. I'm truly impressed these Ivy League papers sent writers and photographers on the road. When I was in college, that was a luxury.
Say this about Columbia: The team stunk, but it dressed well while averaging one touchdown per game. This was a new design for 2013. One quirk: Check out the two road uniforms. The all-white version has a light blue stripe down the middle of the helmet, while the blue-pants version omits the helmet stripe. Did some equipment manager go through the trouble of removing the stripe every time the Lions hit the road?

Our “classic” uniform goes back to 1970: SIX variations in nine games, mostly involving the helmets. The road style on the left is what the Lions wore when they were humiliated 55-0 by Dartmouth, which rubbed it in with an end-around play for a TD with the score already 41-0. (Dartmouth then had the gall to put a diagram of the play on a poster commemorating its undefeated season - see below). Columbia got its revenge the next year with a 31-29 win on a last-minute field goal. 
Pardon the lousy picture quality. ... I really need a scanner.

(Much of this info was taken from “Dartmouth College Football: Green Fields of Autumn,” By Jack DeGange and David Shribman, an awesome, awesome book. The poster was taken from Shribman’s “One Hundred Years of Dartmouth Football,” published in 1980, also awesome.)

Next week: We travel upstate and check out the Cornell Big Red. Hey, it's opening weekend ... enjoy the games!

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