Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fairfield Stags (1996, 2001)

When I started this project, Fairfield University was about the last school I had on my mind — just another wannabe D-I school from a part of a state that barely qualifies as New England. After a little digging, two things surprised me about the football team at this Jesuit school on the Connecticut shoreline:
  1. It lasted only seven years;
  2. It was quite good for most of its short existence. Fairfield fielded a team from 1996-2002 and went 44-28 with only two losing seasons — its first (1-8) and last (5-6) years. Coach Kevin Kiesel seemed to have done a remarkable job putting together a competitive team in a short amount of time, capped by a MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) co-championship in 1999. 
So why did it die? In short, the school grossly underestimated the cost of fielding a team, even a non-scholarship one, if this article gives any indication. But it seemed to be fun while it lasted.

A promotional poster for the first Fairfield varsity team, taken from an eBay listing.
Who knew the end would come so soon after the beginning?
Notes and other tidbits on Fairfield’s football uniforms:
  • It appears only one jersey style — a basic red jersey with white numbers — was worn during the program’s existence.
  • The “Stags” wordmark was used on the helmet until the last year, when a black “F” was used. The white helmets used a red stripe on one side and a black stripe on the other.
  • No manufacturer’s logo was ever used.
The Fairfield yearbook is called the Manor, and has some nice color pictures from the program’s first couple years. The photos you see here are borrowed from the Manor.

The Fairfield mascot is supposed to be a stag,
though it resembles the moose from "National Lampoon's Vacation."
At the top of this post is the uniform from the inaugural season: Pretty simple, outside the unusual helmet striping.

Game action from 1996, taken from the 1997 Manor yearbook.

I don’t have a road uniform from the last year, 2002, so I’ll offer the 2001 uniform instead. I believe this was the only year the team wore a MAAC patch on the jerseys; the few pictures I have from the 2000 and ’02 seasons show no patch. The Stags helmet wordmark appears to be slightly enlarged by this point. 

The 2001 home uniform. Black pants were also worn that year.

2002: The caption on the left says it all. No, not the one about going for the kick.


Up next: The Boston University Terriers.

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