Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Boston University Terriers (1997, 1968-70)

I’ll never forget the last time I saw Boston University football in person. On Oct. 18, 1997, Maine crushed BU 62-29 in the last-ever football game at old, unlamented Alumni Field. Immediately after the game, a ground-breaking ceremony was held for the new Harold Alfond Sports Stadium that would replace Alumni in ’98. I still have two coffee cans full of dirt from the ceremony after a bulldozer dug a big ol’ hole into the grass field:

Nothing in here but good ol' gridiron sod.
One week later, I attended a UMaine hockey game at Alfond Arena, where the message board announced that Boston University would drop football after the season. A big hush went through the crowd when the message was posted; only college hockey or UMaine sports news was ever posed on the scoreboard. Yup, it was pretty shocking, although there had been warning signs: Longtime coach Dan Allen bailed for Holy Cross, a non-scholarship program, after the 1995 season even though the Terriers made the NCAA I-AA (now FCS) tournament in 1993 and ’94.
While football was never the top sport there (hockey has always ruled the roost), BU had a proud football history that featured stars such as Bruce Taylor, Bill Brooks and, of course, the Golden Greek, Harry Agganis, a football and baseball star who reached the big leagues for the Red Sox, only to die of an embolism in 1955 at 26.
BU no longer has a team, but it’s still making positive contributions to the gridiron. The school’s CTE Center researches the long-term effects of brain trauma in football players and other athletes.
Researching BU's uniform history has been a piecemeal effort: the school has never placed old yearbooks or newspapers are online, but thankfully, many of its gridiron rivals have. (BTW, it's just so strange to see photos of old BU-Northeastern or BU-Vermont games, knowing the fate of those programs.)
Notes ’n stuff on BU’s uniforms: 
  • The basic look changed very little: White helmets were used for many years until 1965, and red helmets thereafter until the program’s demise.
  • Red pants were first used in the mid-80s and were used on and off until the end. Gray pants were worn in the late 1960s-early ’70s, and black trim was used in the ’90s.
  • Helmet logos changed frequently: the school crest was used a couple times, a few different “BU” logos, an ugly “Boston” wordmark in the late ’70s-early ’80s and a few years with blank helmets. The last couple years, the right side of the helmet was blank, and the left had a uniform number. 
After the school announced the cancellation of the program (at Homecoming, no less — ouch!), the players wore generic uniforms with black numbers for the UConn game a week later in protest. For the home finale, against UMass, the regular uniforms were restored. You can check out a picture of the protest game on the Hartford Courant archives.

BU always had bursts of excellence: The Agganis years in the early ’50s; the late ’60s; and the early-mid ’90s, right before the ship went down. This is what the Terriers wore in 1969, when they went 9-2 and lost to San Diego State in the Pasdena Bowl (yes, it was held in the Rose Bowl; the game was also known as the Junior Rose Bowl) in front of 41,000 fans. This pic is from the San Diego State library, and you can see more pics from the game here

This was Boston U's first -- and only -- bowl game, but the Terriers also made
 several appearances in the NCAA I-AA (now FCS) Tournament.
For some reason, I’ve always liked the interlocking “BU” logo (similar to Baylor) and the “BOSTON UNIVERSITY” across the jersey front, used from about 1966 to 1977.

Up next: The team that’s been undefeated for 40 years!

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