Monday, March 14, 2016

Plymouth State Panthers (1985)

Some programs are defined by one player, no matter how many titles or award winners jam the trophy case (Boston College and Doug Flutie come to mind). Plymouth State, a Division III school tucked away in north-central New Hampshire (about a 45-minute drive from my place) is defined by running back Joe Dudek, who in 1985 broke Walter Payton's all-time NCAA touchdown record and became a bit of a nine-days-wonder after he famously received a Heisman Trophy endorsement from Sports Illustrated. C'mon, you remember the cover if you grew up in the 1980s. 

Yup, that cover.

You can read more about Dudek, his unlikely brush with national fame, and the aftermath here.

Like the Bates uniform we profiled earlier, Plymouth State's uniform used to have gold  (closer to yellow) accents before giving way to black some time down the road. Actually, this uniform resembled what Vermont might have used had the Catamounts kept football. Hmmm ... Note the blank helmets, which were unusual by the 1980s.

The one and only, from PSU's The Conning Tower yearbook.

Recent times have not been kind to the Panthers following their off-and-on New England D-III dominance in the 1980s and '90s, but hopefully the glory days of Dudek can make a comeback.

It's time for vacation, but in a couple weeks, we'll wrap up our profiles of New England D-III teams before we make a return to the D-I ranks.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Bates Bobcats (1972)

We complete our NESCAC tour of Maine with Bates, a school with only one winning football team since 1981. In '72, the Bobcats upset American International to snap a 25-GAME losing streak, thus the inclusion of the '72 Cats in our profile of Division III uniforms.

The Bates Student front page from Bates' 17-14 win over AIC that
snapped a 25-game losing streak. If I used "WE" in a headline, I'd be tossed on the street.

The '72 Bobcats home uniform. Also from the Bates Student,
a paper whose layout often resembled a '60s-70s rock fanzie.

The uniforms bear a stringing resemblance to 1960s-70s Harvard, right down to the white belts. The big difference is the white helmets; most (but not all) had a teeny-tiny bobcat mascot on the sides. It's interesting how gold was an integral part of Bates' color scheme for many years, until black took over some time in the 1970s-80s.

The '72 Cats at Colby. Note the SILVER Colts-style helmets on the Mules.
The Bates player doesn't have a helmet stripe, but that appears to be an exception.

We'll scrounge around and profile another D-III school next week.

You get the impression from this picture that football was a
laid-back affair at Bates in the early 1970s. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Colby Mules (1962)

No, those are not mis-labeled Baltimore Colts uniforms you see, but Colby's early 1960s uniforms definitely hold more than a passing resemblance to the team that had recently won back-to-back NFL championships. 

Taking inspiration from the NFL continues at Colby to this day: The current uniform (which I like) is a fusion of the Chicago Bears (wishbone "C") and Detroit Lions (lightish blue and silver), who are normally hated rivals. There's probably a high school team out there called the Patriots that has the "Flying Elvis" logo on a green and white uniform.

The 1962 Colby road uniform, with the awesome horseshoes on the shoulders,
in action at Maine. From Maine's Prism yearbook. 

There's one thing that separates this vintage Mules uniform from the Colts' version, however -- the big ol' horseshoes on the shoulders, a very unique trait for that era. 

The '62 home uniform, actually taken from the Bowdoin Orient.
Wasn't Binky that clown on the old Garfield and Friends cartoon?

I think the Colts-style helmet continued into the 1970s, but I'm not 100 percent. Time for more research!

We'll dig up another Division III uniform later this week.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Bowdoin Polar Bears (1939)

Coupla confessions before we continue our tour of historic Division III uniforms:

1) Despite growing up just two towns over from Bowdoin's Brunswick, Maine campus, I have never gone between the pines to watch the Polar Bears at Whitter Field. I did watch them play a Middlebury a few years ago. 
2) OK, this isn't really my first Bowdoin post -- a while back, I showed off a 2004 Bowdoin uniform to highlight some of college football duller uniforms. (Thankfully, those generic things have long since been ditched.)

But there's nothing dull about these dandy Bowdoin pre-war unis: Striped helmets, striped shirts and striped socks. I don't think I've ever seen a jersey pattern like this one: 1940s-syle Philadelphia Eagles mixed with shoulder stripes that didn't see widespread use until the 1950s.

The 1939 Bowdoin Polar Bears. Bowdoin's website has an amazing
team photo archive going back to 1890, which will only
encourage me to post more Bowdoin uniforms.

Two '39 Bears. This is from the school's comprehensive Special Collections and Archives
site, which will only encourage me to post more Bowdoin uniforms.

I could be wrong, but I believe this was a one-year style. I guess the rest of the world wasn't ready for these uniforms. 

The '38 Polar Bears, BTW, went 5-1-1 and shared the Maine State Series title (don't laugh, but the State Series was a HY-OOGE deal in those days). Bowdoin scored only 72 points all season, but allowed a paltry 39. Yes, college football was a different beast then.

Bowdoin plays Bates in 1939. The credit reads Portland Press Herald,
but the clipping is from the Bowdoin Orient, whose archives are all online
and will only encourage me to ... ah, you know the rest.

Up next: We'll pay a visit to one of those aforementioned State Series rivals. ... but which one?

This is the only logo I've ever wanted to hug.