Friday, March 29, 2024

Boston State Warriors (1974-75)

No, this is not a mashup of two famous NBA teams, but a football team from a school that no longer exists. 

Boston State College operated under several names before settling on its final moniker in 1960. The school had a football team from about 1970 until the school closed in 1982 and merged into UMass Boston, which, alas, does not have football. After a few rough years on the gridiron, the Warriors were generally pretty decent, with their best season coming in 1975, when they shared the New England Football Conference championship with Nichols.

In '81, with the school's fate all but sealed, the lame-duck Warriors lost their first eight games before defeating Bridgewater State 12-2 in the program's final game. According to accounts from The Boston Globe and the school yearbook, only 22 players dressed for the finale — BSC started the season with 47 — and eight played both ways.

A couple shots of the 1974 Boston State Warriors,
taken from the BSC yearbook. The green and silver
with a hint of gold go well together.

Judging by photos from the yearbooks, the jerseys were pretty consistent throughout the team's existence: Plain green or white jerseys with a small Native American logo on one sleeve and no sleeve or shoulder numbers. The helmets and pants, on the other hand, seemed to change frequently.  The 1974 uniform shown above has a unique (well, unique for such a plain uniform), silver-green-and-yellow combo. Under first-year coach Mac Singleton in '75, the Warriors switched to green helmets and yellow pants, with a helmet logo that bears more than a passing resemblance to these guys. The socks came in all sorts of stripe combos; the one shown above seems to be the most frequently used.

BSC in action against (I think) Maine Maritime in 1975.
Someone's missing a logo on his helmet, tsk-tsk.

A close-up of the '75 BSC logo, not to mention
a helmet that's taken an absolute shellacking.

As for notable players, defensive back Earl Garrett was the next-to-last selection in the 1974 NFL Draft (Minnesota Vikings) and also was picked by the Detroit Wheels (no, Mitch Ryder was not the coach) in the World Football League draft that same year. For a Division III player, that's still a whale of an accomplishment. Quarterback John Rogan set New England career records in 1980 with 372 completions, 782 attempts and 5,133 yards and was named New England D-III player of the year by the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference and United Press International.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Dream Japan Bowl (2023-24)

This, kids, is how the the Ivy League postseasons. For the last two seasons, representatives of the Ivy League and Japanese college football have faced off in a postseason all-star game called the "Dream Japan Bowl." Each side has won a game, while promoting international goodwill and and all that fun stuff. Hopefully, the series continues for a while.

The uniforms, as you can see, are decidedly un-Ivy. The Ivy jerseys, with the horizontal navy and royal blue bands, kinda resemble a muted version of those Steelers alternates from about a decade ago. The Japanese jerseys use a very distinctive font that took forever for me to reproduce. (These were easily the toughest uniforms I've ever had to create; all apologies if they're not picture-perfect.)

For helmets, I simply used a lid from an Ivy League champ from the previous season. (The 2023 game was played after the 2022 season, etc.) For Japan, I used the helmet of the Fujitsu Frontiers, who have won multiple Japanese national championships (called the Rice Bowl), including the 2023 season.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Boston College, UConn, UMass (2023)

Enough procrastinating. (There's no nation like Procrastination, where the next game is always tomorrow.) Let's wrap up the uniforms of 2023 with New England's three FBS representatives.

Remember when Boston College was going to dump Jeff Hafley as coach and bring in Bob Chesney from Holy Cross? Instead, the Eagles had a winning record capped by a bowl win. BC made no changes from previous seasons, except for the all-maroon ensemble worn for the Fenway Bowl.

There might not be a more complicated team to keep track of than UConn. Even though the Huskies have only two jerseys and two pants, they trotted out seven different helmet designs, many of them with very minute differences; some weeks the helmets had stripes, some weeks they didn't. UConn also had two specialty helmets — a "Husky Heroes" lid with a red-white-and-blue logo and a cancer awareness helmet with the "C" logo in a variety of colors. 

I've said a million times before and I'll say it again: UMass may be bad, but at least the Minutemen look good while they're losing. The uniforms remained the same as in previous seasons, although UMass fiddled around with the facemark color a couple times. I wonder what it's like to be the equipment people, having to swap out 100-plus facefasks on short notice?

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Colgate, Holy Cross (2023)

 Time to review the two Patriot League teams profiled on this little ol' blog. ...

Colgate simplified things a bit, dumping the white helmet and sticking with the classic dark red 'gate lid. The road jersey underwent some minute modifications.

Holy Cross, which won a share of its fifth straight Patriot League title (and lost coach Bob Chesney to James Madison in the process — remember when he was supposed to be BC's next leader?), kept the same uniform as 2022, just changing a few combos here and there. The black alternate jersey from the previous few seasons was not used.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Bryant, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island (2023)

Our next look at the year in uniforms takes us to the Colonial Athletic Association Coastal Athletic Association Coastal Athletic Association Football Conference. How about "The Conference With Too Many Damn Teams"? or "Why won't the America East Conference add football already?"

Anyway, here's a look at the four CAA teams covered on this site, plus Bryant, which is leaving the Big South for the CAA next year, which will raise the conference's membership to 743.

Bryant — anyone else remember when the Patriots trained there in days of yore? — added a white shirt to more closely match the black jerseys introduced last year when the Bulldogs switched to New Balance uniforms. The gold alternate jersey worn last year was left on the bench in '23.

Delaware, which will be leaving the CAA for FBS and Conference USA in 2025, changed its blue jersey to match the white road version, and the blue pants now match the white and yellow versions with the big ol' hen on the right pant leg.

Maine made a few changes this year, which doesn't hide the fact that my Black Bears won two games for the second straight year. The helmet stripe colors were reversed and the script "Maine," last worn in 2015, returned, replacing the Maine logo with the black bear head. Only problem is that the size of the revived logo is tiny — did Maine borrow the decals from the hockey team or something?? And speaking of hockey, Maine added new road jerseys with numbers that mirror those worn by the pucksters. 

Finally, Maine changed its white pants, with a striping pattern that matches the ones on the helmet and navy blue jerseys.

New Hampshire didn't change much from last year, although the white helmets underwent a couple changes throughout the season: The Wildcats had a white wildcat logo for one game, switched to the throwback "NH" logo for homecoming and used a blue wildcat logo the rest of the way.

Rhode Island kept its multitude of jerseys and pants from 2022, and for good measure, added an alternate white uniform, giving the Rams four different shirts and FIVE different pants. But only one helmet? Yeah, I know, helmets are expensive. 😎

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Central Connecticut State, Merrimack, Sacred Heart, Stonehill (2023)

The 2023 parade o' uniforms (slowly) continues with New England four Northeast Conference teams.

Central Connecticut State changed its helmet logo, ditching the blue devil next to the "CC" for a pitchfork. The logo also appears on both sides of the helmet, ditching the logo-on-one-side-uniform-number-on-the-other-side look that I can't stand. The jersey and pants remain unchanged from the last few years; I like the Blue Devils' commitment to consistency.

Merrimack made no real changes from last year, unless you count the return of yellow pants after a year's absence. Honestly, there's not much to complain about the Warriors' uniforms.

Sacred Heart's only real change was an update to the all-gray alternate, which now more closely matches the red and white uniforms. The "PIONEERS" down the side of the gray pants goes in the opposite direction of the red and white versions, which I'm sure will ruin a lot people's breakfast. 😎

Stonehill changed its jerseys and pants, adding a more contemporary number font while switching to more traditional sleeves. The helmets remained unchanged.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Ivy League (2023)

OK, enough procrastination, it's time to kick off the uniforms of 2023. We start with the Ivy League, and we'll look at each team in alphabetical order.

In a nice touch, all eight teams wore a green-and-white "BT" decal on the back of their helmets in honor of former Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens, who passed away in September.

Brown made no real changes from 2022 other than mixing up a combo or two. I made this comment last year, and I'll repeat it here: I still say there either needs to be some red trim on the shirts or ditch red from the helmets and pants entirely; the uniform just looks mismatched otherwise. 

Cornell added a new home jersey to match the ones the Big Red wear on the road, and also introduced black alternate pants, which, like the NBA In-Season Tournament and the Boston Bruins' new lemon-meringue sweaters, is an answer to a question that nobody asked.

Columbia, alas, wore "only" eight combinations after having 10 each of the last two seasons. But the Lions made up for it by restoring light blue as the primary home jersey color after years of black and navy shirts. (Navy was still used for a couple games.) I prefer the white helmets to the navy version, but nothing about this uniform is actively bad.

Dartmouth, like Brown, made no changes other than a combo change or two. Why change the best helmets in the Ivy League?

Harvard made no changes, other than the addition of a patch celebrating the 150th anniversary of the football program. (I personally thought the Crimson should have worn a helmet with the slogan "The REAL Football Sesquicentennial," in the style of their 100th anniversary helmets in 1974.) One other note: With the decreased use of knee pads, many players wear their pants super-short these days. Take a look at this photo gallery; is it me or has Harvard taken the biker-shorts look to eleven? 

Penn introduced new home and road jerseys, with the most notable difference being a switch to white numbers at home and blue on the road after previously using red on both versions. The white helmets and red alternate shirts (a personal favorite of mine) returned for another run.

Princeton made some interesting alterations this season. The Tigers introduced a new alternate uniform with black tiger stripes on white shirts and pants, a la the Cincinnati Bengals. They also hauled the orange pants, last worn in 2017, out of retirement, giving Princeton more than passing resemblance to Oregon State.

Yale kept things pretty simple except for the homecoming game, where the Bulldogs broke out blue helmets and pants. You may recall they wore a blue 150th anniversary helmet in 2022; this one is kinda similar, except the stripes and the "Y" on the sides are white.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Colgate Red Raiders (1932)

If you've watched any college football this season (and if you haven't, shame on you), then you've probably heard about the plight of James Madison University, a second-year FBS program that is undefeated as of this writing, but won't be allowed to participate in a bowl game because it's in the second year of a two-year transitional status from FCS football, where it was a perennial powerhouse. Pleas to the NCAA have gone unheeded, which gives fans yet another reason to shake their heads (and fists) at the institution. 

Colgate fans can sympathize with JMU's supporters. In 1932, the Red Raiders not just went undefeated, but allowed ZERO points in nine games, making other historical defensive juggernauts like the 1963 UMass team look like a sieve.

The scores, taken from the 1933 Salmagundi yearbook.
"Mississippi" is actually the Mississippi College Choctaws,
a D-II school these days, not Ole Miss.

This was no out-of-the-blue campaign from an obscure school in the Northeast. The 'Gate had been a regional and occasionally national force for the last 15 years or so, and went 47-5-1 from 1929-34 under coach Andy Kerr, according to this great TipTop 25 piece. (TipTop is the source for much of the information here, including this wowza: "Colgate ran a gimmicky rugby-like offense that featured laterals all over the field, like a modern day team trying to score on the last play of the game.") 

Colgate faces Brown in the 1932 season finale.
Both teams have pretty distinctive uniforms here.

The list of opponents don't look overwhelming, and in fact Brown was probably the best team Colgate faced. The teams were undefeated when they faced off in the season finale Thanksgiving Day at Brown Stadium. The Raiders led only 6-0 at halftime but pulled away to win 21-0. The Bears came closest to anyone to scoring against the Raiders all season; Brown drove to the Colgate 1-yard line with time running out in the first half, but quarterback Robert Ramsay Chase's keeper came two inches shy of the end zone.

Colgate battles NYU at Yankee Stadium.
The game attracted 35,000 fans. Ah, the days when
NYC was a college football hotbed ...

With a 9-0 record and a 264-0 scoring margin, Colgate awaited an invitation to be the East's representative in the Rose Bowl, the only major bowl game at that point and which usually pitted an Eastern power against the champions of the West Coast. Legend has it the Raiders literally had their bags packed for Pasadena. Alas, the invite went to 8-1-2 Pittsburgh, which frankly played a tougher schedule against the likes of Ohio State, Penn, Notre Dame, Army, Stanford and Carnegie Tech (a legit power in the '30s). The novelty of an undefeated AND unscored-upon team going to the Rose Bowl probably would have attracted some mainstream attention, though. If only there had been more bowl games, as was the case later in the decade ... 

(BTW, Pitt was wiped out by USC in the Rose Bowl, 35-0.)

The 1932 Raiders.

But while Colgate, like James Madison, had to stay home for the holidays, it became famous as the team of the "four uns," as Kerr wrote on a chalkboard for his players after the season: "Remember the great team of 1932, undefeated, united, unscored upon and uninvited."

Then there are the uniforms. In addition to the maroon jerseys worn the previous year, Colgate debuted new white shirts and maroon pants, which apparently gave birth to the "Red Raiders" nickname used until 2001. White helmets completed the ensemble. The unis definitely stood out in an era when many teams still wore dark helmets and shirts and muddy brown or tan pants.

In 2018, as part of the school's 200th anniversary, Colgate wore these awesome throwback uniforms inspired by the 1932 team.

Monday, October 23, 2023

The (Somewhat) Complete Holy Cross Uniform History, Part II

OK, time to get off the couch and resume the history of Holy Cross uniforms. This time we'll go form the late 1940s through 1969.

Part I can be found here.

1946: For at least one game, the Crusaders wore the Orange Bowl-era uniform, with the silver helmet and plain jersey. But for the rest of the season, the helmets were white, the jerseys sprouted shoulder panels and the pants added stripes on the back.

1948: The 'Saders returned to a more conventional look, with all frills removed except for an alternate shirt with sleeve stripes. The silver lids also returned. And not much changed for a while.

1956: Plenty of changes here. Silver disappeared as a color, replaced with purple helmets and pants. Shoulder stripes were added the shirts; notice the Crusaders had a two-stripe pattern on the helmets, shirts, pants and socks, giving them a nice, consistent look that I'm sure the Fitton Field faithful noticed right off the bat. (OK, maybe not.)

This 1956 clipping from The Crusader newspaper 
note Holy Cross's new uniforms. "Dr. Eddie" is a reference
to Dr. Eddie Anderson, the Crusaders' longtime coach.

1957: Numbers were added to the helmets.

1963: By this time, Holy Cross has two white jerseys — a short-sleeved shirt for early-season games and a long-sleeved version for later in the fall. Against archival Boston College, Holy Cross wears silver helmets and pants. The new fashion statement works, as the 1-6-1 Crusaders upset the 6-2 Eagles, 9-0.

1964: The silver helmets and pants stick around, although the purple lids are dusted off for at least one game. The Crusaders wear numbers on the silver helmets for the BC game only.

1965: Holy Cross adds a purple short-sleeved jersey. Numbers are on the helmets except for the BC game (of course!), when the Crusaders replaced the digits with a small "HC" logo.

Holy Cross runs the ball against Northeastern in 1965. 

1966: The helmets are free of logos or numbers, and in some cases, stripes.

1967: The uniforms undergo a complete overhaul. Silver is dumped, and the purple helmets return, this time with an "HC" logo (similar to what the 'Saders have now). New jerseys feature three stripes on each sleeve and TV numbers on the shoulders. The socks also have three stripes.

1969: The season that wasn't. Holy Cross played two games, both losses, before a hepatitis epidemic on the team caused the rest of the season to be cancelled. The lower two uniforms were used only for pre-season publicity photos. Silver pants returned, as did a warm-weather short-sleeved jersey.

Holy Cross gets crunched by Harvard in its 1969 season opener.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Buddy Teevens (1956-2023), Part II

Part II of our look at the career of Buddy Teevens takes us to his return to Dartmouth in 2005. You can read Part I here.

2005: The return of Buddy to Dartmouth came when the program was in a deeply troubled state. The Big Green fired coach John Lyons after a 1-9 campaign in 2004. Long story short: After Dartmouth won the Ivy League title in 1996 with a 10-0 record, the college — perhaps freaked out over the football team doing so well — changed its academic index, which affected recruiting greatly — Dartmouth went 15-53 over Lyons' last seven seasons (1997-2004). 

A couple weeks after Lyons was fired, the Valley News (where your humble servant worked at the time) reported that Karl Furstenberg, Dartmouth's dean of admissions, had written a letter in 2000 — on Dartmouth stationery — to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, essentially congratulating the school for dropping football. (This was forever known as the "Furstenberg Letter.") Needless to say, Dartmouth had to go into damage control, and as this column points out, it might have been the best thing for the program. 

First, Dartmouth brought back Teevens, who had just been fired as Stanford's head coach. Later, the school announced plans for badly needed renovations to Memorial Field and the construction of the Floren Varsity House, a facility behind the visitors' grandstand that includes a weight room, locker rooms for football and other athletic goodies.

But, as an old baseball player once said, "Rome wasn't born in a day," and Teevens 2.0 was no different. The Big Green went 9-51 over Teevens' first five years, including an 0-10 disaster in 2008. (To this day, I still regret putting all 10 scores on the front of the Valley News sports page — I was the page design guy — after the Green lost to Princeton in the season finale.)

The uniforms were about as inspired as the team on the field. All-green? Machine font? Jersey side panels? Let's put it this way: Several years later, I had a chance to get as many of these as I wanted for $10 a pop at a Dartmouth equipment sale, and I still passed. 

2009: After the 2008 disaster, Dartmouth hired a consultant for advice on how to save the floundering program. The short answers: More money for recruiting and for assistant coaches, better facilities (see above) and an easier nonconference schedule. In 2010, Teevens abolished live tackling in practice in an effort to prevent concussions and keep his players fresh for gameday. By 2010, Dartmouth was 6-4, its first winning record in 13 years. From 2010-13, the Big Green plodded along with five or six wins a year; they weren't up to the early-mid '90s level of success, but at least they were respectable. 

The uniforms also were respectable. While the looping lines and panels didn't age well, the design was still fairly clean. Also, the numbers and lettering were stitched, rather than screened, onto the shirts, a big upgrade.

2015: In 2014, Dartmouth shot up to 8-2, second behind only Harvard (the Big Green's longtime bugaboo) in the Ivy standings. One year later, Dartmouth ended a 19-year wait by capturing a share of the Ivy League title with a come-from-behind win over Princeton in the season finale at Memorial Field. Down 10-7 with five minutes left, the Big Green tied the game at 10-all on an Alex Gakenheimer field goal with 4:54 remaining and won the game on Dalyn Williams' 12-yard TD pass to Kyle Bramble with 24 seconds left.

This Valley News front page from 2015 (designed by moi)
celebrates Dartmouth's (shared) Ivy League title. 

They even had an Ivy League champs sign ready to go
to match the ones in the background!

The uniforms took a dramatic turn during this period. As I noted in Part I of our little series, Teevens eliminated the black trim from the uniforms when he first took over in 1987. Well, by 2015, not just was black back, but as an alternate jersey, pants AND helmet. And Dartmouth also trotted out gray alternate pants and helmets, giving the Big Green 27 possible combinations. I always thought Dartmouth should have gone with the traditional look for the Ivy title clincher, but what do I know? At least they didn't bring back the green pants.

Also note the tree on the sleeves; introduced as an alternate logo, it later became part of the school seal to honor Dartmouth's connection to the great outdoors.

The mighty but humble Dartmouth tree.

One other note: Teevens finally won the Ivy title in his 11th year of his second stint at Dartmouth. I say this as a huge Teevens fan, but I wonder if any other coaches have been given that long a leash? Jack Cosgrove won his first league title in his ninth year at Maine. ...  Rich Brooks won the Pac-10 in his 18th year at Oregon, so that might be the winner, although I've also read that as long as Brooks finished around .500 and beat Oregon State (he was 14-3-1 vs. the Beavs), everyone was happy.

2019: After a 4-6 season in 2016, Dartmouth finished second in 2017 and '18 before reclaiming the Ivy crown in '19, sharing the title with Yale. The Big Green's only loss came to Cornell (huh?) in the season's ninth game. The wins included a 27-10 win over Princeton at Yankee Stadium in a game celebrating Princeton's 150th anniversary of college football and Dartmouth's 250th anniversary as a college.

After burning through as many as nine combinations in recent years, Dartmouth pared the uniforms down a bit by '19, going with white helmets and pants the whole season. The green and white jerseys were slightly modified, with the back numbers getting super-sized. 

2021: After COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 season, Dartmouth returned in '21 with a vengeance, going 9-1 and splitting the Ivy title with Princeton (which Dartmouth destroyed 31-7 during the season). From 2017-21, the Big Green went 35-5, which has to be among the best records of any FCS team during that period. 

The gray and black alternate pants were brought out of mothballs, and Dartmouth also introduced an alternate helmet with a big ol' tree on the side. But the Green was shut out by Columbia 19-0 the night the helmets debuted, and they haven't been seen since.

Dartmouth's decision to bring back Buddy Teevens, and its patience while he slowly rebuilt the program, paid huge dividends on and off the field. He loved and cared about his game and his school, but he wasn't afraid to bring innovations to the table: robotic tackling dummies, women coaches, etc. His impact on football, hopefully, will be felt for years to come.