Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Boston College Eagles (1939)


With Boston College's appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl coming up, I thought we'd look at a few of the Eagles' previous bowl teams over the next week or so, beginning with the first one.

Nineteen thirty-nine was a watershed season for BC football for three reasons:

1) Frank Leahy became head coach and promptly elevated the Eagles from a well-respeced program into a national juggernaut;
2) Boston College played the first bowl game in its history;
3) The Eagles introduced the basic uniform template they've used ever since. (OK, maybe not as momentous as the first two points, but for the purpose of this blog, it's a HY-OOGE deal.)


The 1939 Boston College Eagles. This and other pictures here are from
the 1940 Sub Turri yearbook.

In 1938, BC wore funky maroon-and-gold helmets vaguely like Michigan's, with maroon shirts and pants. (A gold shirt as also used at times.) Under Leahy, the Eagles introduced the plain gold helmet still worn today (the only change being the addition of the maroon stripe down the middle in the '90s). Gold pants, also part of the BC uni playbook to this day, were first worn. As you can see in the first photo below, white jerseys were often worn at home. Maroon socks were worn on occasion; I've chosen to use them in the graphic at the top of this post.

The '39 Eagles in action at Fenway Park ...

... and against St. Anselm at the original Alumni Field.
Note No. 50 for BC wearing the old maroon pants from '38.
The '39 Eagles racked up an 9-1 regular season record and a New Year's Day trip to the Cotton Bowl, where they lost to future ACC rival Clemson, 6-3. The final Associated Press poll, conducted on Dec. 11, had BC ranked No. 11 in the nation and Clemson No. 12. 

The ranking and bowl bid were firsts for BC; keep in mind there were only five bowl games at that point, long before 6-6 season were rewarded with a bowl bid.


A reproduction of a 1940 Cotton Bowl program and ticket,
taken from an eBay listing.


BC in action against Clemson in the 1940 Cotton Bowl,
only the second road game the Eagles played that season.

Leahy and BC were just warming up; in 1940, the Eagles went 11-0, defeated Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl and finished No. 5 in the rankings (which hasn't stopped the school from claiming a share of the national title, but that's for another time). In '41, Leahy was off to Notre Dame, where he added to his legend over the next dozen years or so.

We'll look a couple more historic BC bowl teams next week as bowl day gets closer!

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