Friday, January 16, 2015

Columbia Lions (1971-73)


In our journey through these college football uniforms, there may not be a tougher team to document than Columbia. It makes sense; a historically sub-par program typically burns through plenty of coaches, and each one wants to give the team a "fresh" look. 

The early 1970s does a real number on the researcher; the jerseys and even the helmets from this time period often don't match. Throw in an alternate jersey -- uncommon for this era -- and it can cause one to reach for the Aleve (or the store-brand equivalent).

In 1971 and '72, the Lions wore jerseys with two distinct number fonts. And yes, they were worn side-by-side in game action.

No, the number fonts for No. 10 and No. 66 don't match.
From the Oct. 4 1971 Columbia Daily Spectator.
The game was a 22-20 win over Princeton, the Lions' first over
the Tigers since 1945.



But '72 is where it gets really weird. Columbia used a plainer alternate jersey; research shows it was worn only in the early part of the '72 and '73 seasons, which makes me think it may have been a lighter "warm-weather" jersey. All the helmet pictures I've seen show the Detroit Lions logo on the sides and two dark blue stripes down the middle ... except for this one from the Cornell game on Nov. 4.


Doesn't that look like a light blue stripe going down the middle? This is the only image I've seen from '72 with this helmet; with some reluctance, I've added it to the '72 Columbia graphic. (The current Columbia uniform also does funny things with helmet stripes.)


In '73, only one number font was used for the "regular" jerseys, and in '74, the uniform was overhauled (again) and reached some stability for a few years.

A 1973 program. I love that jacket the coach is wearing.

This 1974 program shows the 1973 alternate jersey in action against Princeton.

One other note: The '71 uniform was worn by one of the better Columbia teams in history. The Lions were 6-3 overall, 5-2 in the Ivies and defeated Dartmouth 31-29 on a last-minute field goal a year after the Big Green ran up the score on the Lions (recounted here). It was Columbia's last winning team until 1994.

Yup, figuring out Columbia's uniforms can cause headaches.
From a 29-0 loss to Yale in 1973.
Next week, we're going to return to the college football graveyard and unearth some gems from Boston University, Northeastern and Vermont.


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