Monday, October 27, 2014

Northeastern Huskies (2008-09, 1976-77)

It’s always sad when a school eliminates a sport, whether it’s football or bocci. Often, when a team dies, that team’s history dies with it. What does anybody know about Pacific University football (the last Division I-A/FBS school to cancel the sport) other than Amos Alonzo Stagg coached there and Pete Carroll played there?
With this being Halloween week, we’re going to take a journey to the college football graveyard and check out the uniforms from five gone — and at this blog, not forgotten — programs: Northeastern, Fairfield, Boston University, Vermont and Providence. Yes, the Friars had football, back in the leatherhead days.
We’ll go in reverse order, from the most recent canceled team to the oldest. First up, the Northeastern Huskies.
I’ve always cracked that Northeastern canceled football in 2009 when the school found out it still had a team. The Huskies toiled in relative obscurity at tiny Parsons Field, which barely passes for a Division III stadium. But Northeastern definitely had its moments: Legendary coach Joe Zabilski went 101-76-6 during a 24-year run on the sidelines, and the Huskies won the Atlantic 10 title (shared with Maine) in 2002. A pair of NFL Pro Bowlers, Bengals tight end Dan Ross and Packers lineman Sean Jones, starred for the Huskies.  But coach Don Brown’s departure for UMass in 2004 was the beginning of the end, and the Huskies never had a winning record again. 
A mere 1,017 fans showed up for Northeastern’s last-ever home game, a rain-soaked 14-13 win over Hofstra in 2009. Sadly, Hofstra also cancelled football after the season.
Northeastern’s website actually has a page devoted to the history of the football team, a nice touch. Some schools eliminate a program and pretend it never existed, to the chagrin of fans, athletes and alumni. 
The Cauldron yearbook has been an excellent source of info, and also contains tons of great photos of Boston itself.
Notes and stuff about the Pooches:
  • Despite putting its yearbooks online, Northeastern is a tough team to research. Like Penn, the team constantly flip-flopped dark jersey colors, which occasionally makes for challenging research when black-and-white photos are the primary evidence.
  • One constant, however: Black helmets were worn from the early 1960s until the bitter end in ’09, albeit with many logo changes. “NORTHEASTERN” was featured prominently on the jerseys from 1991-2009, even as the jersey colors changed from black to red to black to red.
  • Gray/silver was used a trim color on and on through the 1980s.
Above is the last uniform style from Northeastern, used in 2008-09. I don’t recall any other college teams wearing Reebok jerseys at this time, but I’m probably wrong.

The end of Northeastern football, as depicted on a 2009 trading card.
Kinda cool a Husky was included.

And this is what the Huskies wore in 1976-77, when they first put names on the jerseys. No. 84 was Dan Ross, who went on to a Pro Bowl career at tight end for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1979-85. He is (and always will be) the Huskies' all-time leader in receptions (153), receiving touchdowns (13) and receiving yards (2,343). He died in 2006. In 1978, a big, thick "N" replaced the neat "NU" logo that had been on the helmets since 1968.

A Northeastern program from 1976, complete with porn 'staches.
The gray pants were gone by the time the season started.

Up next: A stag party with Fairfield University!

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