Thursday, October 30, 2014

Vermont Catamounts (1970-74)

When I was in college, I had heard that Maine had played Vermont in football a long time ago. I also heard about a slogan the folks in Burlington had for their long-gone football team, and after I moved to Vermont in 2003, I got to see it up close:

Well, I’d say BU, Northeastern and the other teams profiled this week have been giving UVM a run for its money the last few years.
Vermont had a mostly sub-medicore football team for decades, but seemed to be turning the corner in 1974. They went only 1-5 in the Yankee Conference (4-6 overall), but the 1 was against perpetual powerhouse UMass, which shared the title with Maine that year. Their quarterback, Bob Bateman, was first-team all-YC and received the most votes of anyone named to the team. (After spending his senior year at Brown, he was drafted by the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals in 1976.) 
Things seemed to be looking up for a team that had never won the YC title … then the ax fell, as football was sacrificed for budgetary reasons. 
At least they haven’t lost since then, right? 
Rules, notes and whatnot about UVM football:
  • From the late 1950s onward, the Catamounts were consistently inconsistent. There were many overhauls and some wild experimentation — not uncommon for a losing program. Helmet colors over the last 20 years changed from gold to green to white to gold to green. Helmet insignias also changed frequently.
  • Gold, white and green pants rotated frequently, too.
  • Gold helmets were a constant in the leatherhead days, however.
Vermont football is long gone, but there are plenty of places to find stuff on the Catamounts: The Ariel yearbook (now defunct, just like the football team) has some nifty pictures, and a fascinating interview with the final coach, conducted after the program’s cancellation, can be found here (The page doesn't automatically come up, but under "jump to," type in 36). Helmet Hut shows off a few UVM helmets, plus some swell details about the program’s final years. A Cliff's Notes history of the program can be found in this UVM Alumni Magazine, and this blog has a slew of UVM pictures and program covers.
The 1970 Catamounts (uniform shown at the top) went winless, which seemed to plant the seeds for the program’s demise, according to the 1971 Ariel (page 115). The team began the season wearing the gold pants from 1969, but switched to white by midseason and was used through 1972. A solid, conventional uniform for the period.

The 1972 UVM football team in action against Northeastern, a fellow member
of the college football graveyard. These pix are from the 1973 Ariel yearbook.
The stadium is still around today, and is used by the Catamount soccer teams.

Well, THIS uniform is anything but conventional. Who designed these unis? Charlie Finley? Phil Knight? This is one of the wackiest styles I’ve ever seen (well, pre-Oregon) and definitely the gaudiest of the 1970s, at least for the purposes of this project. Curved numbers? Check. Horizontal stripes? Check. Monrochrome shirts and pants? Check, check, check. It makes one think that had they kept football, the Catamounts would have been Oregon before there was an Oregon.

The gaudiness of the 1974 UVM football uniform is offset by the gorgeous foliage.
The pix are from the 1975 Ariel yearbook.
The 1974 Catamounts face the UNH Wildcats for the final time.
 I wish I had a roster to identify these guys.
Vermont tangles with Boston University in 1974. Both teams have gone undefeated since ...
Ah, we've run that joke into the ground.

Note that not all white jerseys had the stripes in '74, and the socks had different striping patterns (check the photo directly above this paragraph).

This cartoon also appeared in the 1975 Ariel. Baseball was canceled in 1971,
reinstated in '78 and axed again in 2009.

In the old days of newspapers, reporters used the notation -30-
to mark the end of a story when they handed in their typewritten copy.
Here, it marks the end of an era in college football.

Up next: We finish our tour through the graveyard with the PC Friars.

Want more uniforms from the ol' 802? Of course you do! 1946-48, 1962-631964-671968-69.

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