Thursday, April 2, 2015

Delaware Blue Hens (1972)


The late 1960s and early '70s was a good time to be a Delaware football fan -- actually, when has it not been a good time to root for the Blue Hens? Delaware ran its fabled wing-T offense to back-to-back College Division (a precursor to Division I-AA/FCS) national titles in 1971-72 and four straight Boardwalk Bowls (a bowl game for smaller programs) from 1968-71. 

Nineteen seventy-two was of particularly strong vintage. Delaware was the subject of a glowing profile in Sports Illustrated in which the team took pride for having never sent anyone to the NFL (huh?). The Hens stormed to a 10-0 record and outscored opponents 355-81. They wielded a three-headed rushing attack led by quarterback Scotty Rheim and running backs Roger Mason and Vern Roberts, who combined for nearly 2,000 rushing yards and more than 20 touchdowns.

Up next was a date with UMass in the Boardwalk Bowl. Except ... let's let this excerpt from the '73 Blue Hen yearbook explain it:


So let's see: The Blue Hens were too good for the NFL and a bowl game? Think there was more than a dash of hubris going around in Newark?

Arrogance or not, the Hens' bowl snub was a blessing in disguise. In '73, postseason playoffs were instituted for the College Division (rechristened as Division II), with the old bowl games, including the Boardwalk Bowl, continuing on as playoff sites until the creation of Division I-AA/FCS in 1978. (You can read about a mid-70s UNH playoff trip here.)

The 1972 Delaware Blue Hens in action, in an image from the '73
Blue Hen yearbook. I gotta get to a game down there some time.

As for the uniforms ... they mirror the late '60s-early '70s outfits, only the stenciled "D," a staple going back to the '50s, was removed from the socks. Other minute changes were made throughout the decade.


More of the '72 Hens. I believe No. 17 is quarterback 
Scotty Rheim, who was a threat with his arm and his legs,
as he ran for nearly 400 yards that year.  
Want some more Delaware unis? 2011-14, 2004-061989-92, 1980-88, 1967-71.

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