Monday, May 3, 2021

Colgate, Holy Cross (Spring 2021)

And we sloooowly make our way through the uniforms of Spring 2021 with a couple Patriot League schools. Like the last two efforts at spring football (AAF, XFL 2.0), not everyone completed their seasons.

New-to-us Colgate played two games before calling it a day because of COVID-19 concerns. The Raiders' Under Armour unis have some really small numbers on the front and shoulders. The jersey fronts also have an Under Armour logo, a "COLGATE" wordmark, a Patriot League logo and a small shield that looks more at home on a soccer kit. Actually, the shield represents "Colgate’s 13 founders with 13 dollars, 13 articles and 13 prayers," according to the release from last fall announcing the Raiders' new athletics identity. The familiar "'gate" logo remains on the helmet.

Holy Cross had itself a nice little season, capturing its second straight Patriot League title before falling in the first round of the NCAA FCS tournament. Like Maine, the Crusaders donned four different style in four games. While the purple home shirts remained the same from fall, 2019, the roads feature a new wordmark and number font. (I'll be up front, my attempt at this font sucks and I'll try to improve it down the road.) Holy Cross wore both purple and white helmets (those white helmets should be worn full-time, honestly), and thankfully the black and gray and god-knows-what-else alternates from the recent past were cast aside.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island (Spring 2021)

College football, spring-style, is winding down, and for some teams, it wound down almost as soon as it started up. Here's the first look at the region's uniforms for the truncated season:

Maine won two games, lost two games and had ZERO COVID-19 cases, but its season ended early anyway when COVID forced New Hampshire and Rhode Island, Maine's last two opponents, to shut down. But the Black Bears managed to squeeze in four uniform styles in four games. Maine wore new jerseys with a smaller wordmark and a vintage Tennessee Titans-style number font (yay!) and also wore new helmets with a logo on one side and a number on the other (boo!). The pants remained the same from last year (by "last year," of course, I mean 2019).

New Hampshire played one game, a win over Albany, then called it a day after several weeks of postponements and cancelations. The Widcats did show off a new home jersey with a traditional number font, which matches the road version they started wearing in 2018.

The good news for Rhode Island? The Rams got off to a 2-1 start and cracked the FCS Top 25 polls. The bad news? That was the whole season, thanks to COVID issues. But Rhody did enjoy its second winning season out of three, a pretty fair accomplishment for a long- woebegone program, and defeated a pretty good Villanova team to open the season. After unveiling new white and light blue jerseys in 2019, the Rams added a matching navy jersey to the rotation this spring. Note the complete absence of light blue trim on the shirt.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Colgate Raiders (1977)

Colgate, you ask? Yes, it’s my first post on the (Red) Raiders, after I saw a request in the comments section a while back and I figured, well, why not. While I should probably start with the awesome 2003 team that reached the I-AA (FCS) title game, I’ll go back a little further with the 1977 bunch, which was no pushover, either.

The Team: The Raiders went 10-1 playing mostly against Yankee Conference, Ivy League and future Patriot League foes. This was during the time period after college football split from “University” (big-time) and “College’ (not-so-big-time) into divisions I, II and III, but before the creation of I-AA/FCS in 1978. Colgate, for whatever reason, was considered D-I, even though its schedule was closer to the lower levels than the Alabamas of the world (Colgate joined I-AA in 1982.). Nonetheless, the Raiders roared out to a 10-0 start and squeaked into the really-real D-I national rankings at No. 20 before a season-ending 21-3 loss at D-II Delaware. The Raiders outscored their foes 380-217, an average of 34.5 points per game (pretty impressive in the grind-it-out ’70s).

A couple shots from Colgate's season-opening 23-0 win over Rutgers,
which the school yearbook treats on a level usually reserved for a New Year's Day
bowl win. Check out this student quote: "I just didn't go to any classes. I've spent
all my time trying to send negative waves down to Rutgers."

The Players: Nice of Wikipedia to include stats for this team. These guys (Colgate, not Wikipedia) did it through the air and on the ground. Quarterback Rob Relph threw for 2,178 yards and 20 TDs, running back Henry White ran for 1,032 yards and 5 TDs (and was an AP All-American honorable mention) and receiver Dick Slenker caught 44 passes for 782 yards and 7 TDs. Doug Curtis made 116 tackles and Gary Hartwig registered six sacks.

The Coach: Frederick Dunlap wet 77-49-3 at the Gate from 1976-87 after an 11-year stint at Lehigh (49-62-2). Overall his career record was 126-111-5.

A nice close-up of the Colgate home uniform.

The Uniform: According to the Helmet Project, 1977 marked the debut of the iconic “’gate” logo the Raiders use to this day, with a few breaks here and there. The ’77 helmets and jerseys were maroon; the shirts are very similar to what Maine and Dartmouth wore in other eras. The pants were gray with a thick maroon stripe down the side, again, like 1980s Maine or the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The classic 'gate logo, in all its glory.

The Aftermath: Colgate remained a strong team for the most part under Dunlap, reaching the I-AA tournament in 1982 and ’83 and finishing in the NCAA I-AA top 10 rankings both years. After a run of down years in the ‘90s, Colgate turned to Dick Biddle, who coached the Raiders to the I-AA title game in 2003, which I might have to write about one of these days.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Fairfield Stags (1998)

A glance at this blog's stats reveals that a years-old post on Fairfield's short-lived program recently generated a bunch of hits (well, a bunch of hits by this blog's rather modest standards), so let's take a look at the Stags' high point: The 1998 bunch that shared the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title.

The Team: In just its third year as a varsity program, Fairfield (just outside of Bridgeport, Conn.) went 9-2 overall, 6-1 in the MAAC (not to be confused with the Mid-American Conference or the Middle Atlantic Conference) to share the title with Georgetown, which Fairfield beat 24-17 in the regular season. The MAAC, which had eight or nine teams depending on your source (what is this, 1898?), almost resembles a football ghost town; only three of its teams in '98 (Georgetown, Marist, Duquesne) still have football in 2021. The MAAC ended its sponsorship of football after the 2007 season.

The Stags outscored their opponents 346-131, and the defense served up three shoutouts while allowing just 27 points over Fairfield's last six games. On Oct. 3 at Duquesne, Fairfield scored 14 points in the last 8:26 of regulation to defeat the Dukes in overtime, 23-20, on a QB sneak by Jim Lopusznick. A 48-0 thrashing of winless Saint Peter's on Nov. 14 gave the Stags a share of the MAAC crown. Alas, the non-scholarship MAAC did not have an automatic bid for the NCAA I-AA (now FCS) tournament, so Fairfield was shut out of the postseason.

The Players: Lopusznick threw for 27 touchdowns, ran for six more and was named MAAC player of the year. The junior also was the baseball team's center fielder. Teammates Marvin Royal (RB), Eric Wise (WR), Ben Harvey (OL), Steve Krines (DL) and Chris Silvestri (DB) were named all-MAAC, and Kevin Keisel was named co-coach of the year.

Fairfield quarterback Jim Lopusznick accounted for 33 TDs
and was the MAAC player of the year. This picture comes form the archives
of the Fairfield Manor student paper.

The Coach: Keisel coached Fairfield from 1996-2000, going 34-17, then left for Division II Millersville (Pa.; perhaps Keisel knew something was up at Fairfield?), going 15-27. He also coached at D-III Albright and Guilford; his career record is 88-93-1.

A 1998 photo of, er, #6 (or it that Mr. 6?) in action  
from the 1999 Fairfield yearbook.
I guess nobody had a roster handy.

The Uniform: Until the program's last couple years, Fairfield had the same standard uniform: White helmet with "STAGS" on the sides and red, white and black stripes down the middle; plain red jerseys with black trim; and white pants. The '98 jerseys had a teeny-tiny "COLLEGE FOOTBALL USA" patch just below the V-neck; the logo also was used on one of my favorite football video games of all time.

The Aftermath: The Stags went 9-2 again in '99 and 8-2 in 2000, when Keisel left after the season. Fairfield went 5-5 in 2001 and 5-6 in '02, and that was it for the Stags, who dropped football and men's ice hockey at the end of the school year. This article from 2009 sheds some light on the demise of the football program.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Delaware Blue Hens (1968)


Let's pull another random team from a random season of the helmet, shall we?

1968 Delaware. A good team from a program that hardly lacked in good teams.

The Team: Following a 2-7 disaster in 1967, Delaware bounced back in '68 with an 8-3 mark, 5-0 in the Middle Atlantic Conference's (aka the "other" MAC) University Division. The Blue Hens capped their season with a thrilling 31-24 win over Indiana -- the other Indiana, the one in Pennsylvania -- on Dec. 14 in the inaugural Boardwalk Bowl in Atlantic City, N.J., Down 24-23 in the final minute, the Hens marched downfield thanks to four straight passes in the game's final 45 seconds by QB Tom DiMuzio, known more for his running than his passing. With 15 seconds left, DiMuzio hit split end Ron Withelder with an 11-yard strike for the winning score. (And hey, you can watch the game here and here ... except for the winning score. Perhaps not coincidentally, the video was posted by Indiana. 😎) Delaware outscored its foes 319-180, and finished 15th in the final College Division rankings.

Delaware QB Tom DiMuzio pitches ...

... and Ron Withelder catches the winning TD in the Boardwalk Bowl.
Both pictures are from The Review newspaper.

For the record, the University Division consisted of Delaware, a few future Patriot League teams (Lehigh, Lafayette, Bucknell), a couple of lower-level teams (West Chester, Gettysburg), Hofstra and Temple. 

Delaware and UMass face off in 1968, a 28-23 win
for the Blue Hens.

The Players: Middle linebacker John Favero was an AP Little All-American honorable mention, and was named to the all-ECAC and all-MAC teams. Running back Chuck Hall (1,019 yards rushing) earned dual all-star honors, and teammates Pete Cornelius, Conway Hayman, Dick Kelley, Yancy Phillips, Jim Scelba and Hank Vollendorf also were named all-MAC. Kicker Jeff Lippincott's 23 PATs set a school record. 

The Coach: Harold R. "Tubby" Raymond (1926-2017) is one of the true titans of non-FCS football, going 300-119-3 from from 1966-2001, winning three national titles (2 NCAA College Division, 1 NCAA D-II) along the way. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.

Tubby Raymond delivers. the marching orders
to lineman Conway Hayman, an all-conference selection in '68.

He continued to use the Delaware Wing-T offense established by his predecessor, David Nelson, into the 2000s, long after most other schools had moved on to a pro-style attack. Hey, if it ain't broke ...

The Uniform: ... Don't fix it, right? The Hens' unis are virtually identical to what they wore in 1958, 1978, 1998 ... So much in college football changed, but the Wing-T and the unis didn't go anywhere for decades. The winged helmet, also established by Nelson, is still around today, although the jerseys and pants are far more flashy

I've probably mentioned this before, but check out the little "D" stencil on the socks, a staple of Delaware unis into the 1970s.

The Aftermath: It was more of the same for Delaware in 1969, when it went 9-2, (6-0 MAC) and won another Boardwalk Bowl. The Hens also won Boardwalk Bowls in 1970 and '71, then chickened out of the 1972 game against UMass.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

New Hampshire Wildcats (1977)

Well, college football, Part II (FCS) is just around the corner, so let's pull an FCS team out at random and see what we get.

UNH 77? For once, we find a good team. 

The Team: Following back-to-back Yankee Conference titles and NCAA Division II playoff appearances, the 1977 New Hampshire Wildcats fell to "only" 8-2 and settled for third in the Yankee Conference with a 3-2 mark. UNH still finished 12th in the final D-II rankings. (In 1978, the YC teams and a few dozen others broke away from D-II to form Division I-AA.)

The Wildcats started the season 7-0 before suffering a 21-20 loss to upstart Rhode Island, which went 6-5 in '78 after going 5-13 over the previous two seasons. After crushing Springfield the next week, the season came down to a winner-take-all showdown with UMass on Nov. 12 at Cowell Stadium. A win would give the Cats a share of the YC title and a likely NCAA playoff berth. A loss would give UMass the outright title and a playoff spot.

A crowd announced at 20,000 (I know UNH tends to exaggerate attendance figures, but by all accounts this one was legit; the Boston Globe and Massachusetts Daily Collegian photos from the game show fans practically sitting in the end zone) packed Cowell Stadium to see UMass pull out a 19-6 victory as UNH senior quarterback Jeff Allen threw three interceptions -- all to UMass' Dave Croasdale -- in Allen's final game. After the game, UNH coach Bill Bowes walked in to the Minutemen locker room and personally handed them the YC's Bean Pot trophy.

This Massachusetts Daily Collegian photo shows
UMass celebrating its 19-6 season-ending win over UNH.

The Players: Check out the All-Yankee Conference first (and only) team here. A mere 20 of the 22 players listed came from either UNH or UMass. (Rhode Island, despite placing second in the league, placed only one player; the other spot went to UConn). Were UNH coach Bowes and UMass mentor Dick MacPherson the only people to vote or something? 

Anyway, the Cats placed four players on offense: Allen (QB), Bill Burnham (RB), Lee Pope (WR) and Grady Vigneau (T). Burnham and Vigneau also were named D-II All-Americans. All four players are in the school's hall of fame, and Burnham's No. 36 has been retired by the school. Bill Dedrick (DE), Dick Duffy (CB) and Mark Etro (S) were all-YC defensive selections. 

Bill Burnham hurdles a UMass defender in 1977 (Granite yearbook).
Note how No. 71's name is presented, with the last name before the first;
I've never seen that anywhere else.

The Coach: Bill Bowes is, of course, one of New England's all-time coaching legends. He went 175-106-5 over 27 seasons, and made four NCAA tournament appearances. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016, which I believe makes him the only person inducted based upon his time at UNH.

True fact: The UNH women's hockey team has a longtime assistant coach named Bill Bowes, who I don't believe is any relation. 

The Uniform: I previously wrote about the Wildcats' uniforms here. One year earlier, UNH introduced the uniform that went virtually unchanged until 2000, except for a sleeve trim alteration in '78 and other minor things, such as the size on the "NH" logo or the name/number fonts. As I've mentioned before, there's a bit of a Buffalo Bills vibe to it. I'm guessing younger fans would be surprised to see the red trim, especially since they've gone so long with silver, which also was a major part of the 1950s-60s uniform

The Aftermath: The Wildcats continued to churn out one winning season after another (really, except for a dry spell in the late 90s-early 2000s, they've been a consistent winner since the mid-70s, an amazing run of excellence), but didn't reach the NCAA playoffs again until the 1991 I-AA tourney. UNH finished nationally ranked eight more times during Bowes' tenure.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Harvard Cimson (1988)

OK, time for another spin o' the random number generator and another pull from the hat to see what random team from a random season we randomly come up with ...

1988 Harvard? Eh, work with what you got, I guess ...

The Team: The '88 Crimson went 2-8 overall, 2-5 and tied for sixth in the Ivy League just one year after going 8-2 and winning the Ivy crown (the fifth and final title for famed coach Joe Restic). Columbia and Brown were the lucky victims.

The Players: Quarterback Tom Yohe threw for 1,677 yards, about 500 fewer than his '87 total. He was the Crimson's all-time leader in passing yardage at the time of his graduation, and is still fourth today; he's also sixth all-time in TD passes. Yohe later was a Fox Sports producer before he passed away in 2014 after battling pneumonia. Defensive linemen Jim Bell and Don Peterson were first-team all-Ivy, while WR Neil Philips and OL Sean Sensky were second-team selections.

A 1988 Harvard schedule.

The Coach: Joe Restic is the second of only THREE coaches to patrol the Harvard sideline since 1957 (after John Yovicsin and before Tim Murphy), lasting from 1971-93 while going 117-97-6. He designed the "multiplex" offense, a game plan based on multiple formations and shifts designed to conjure opponents. From Wikipedia: "In 1979, a professor and former Harvard quarterback, Larry Brown, created a class titled Fundamentals of Multiflex Offense to explain the maneuvers of the strategy. Some of the students included the Crimson's defensive players." Before arriving at Cambridge, Restic coached the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 1968-70, going 22-17-3.

The 1988 Harvard-Yale program,
with ticket stub to boot. Yale prevailed, 27-17,
at Harvard Stadium.

The Uniform: The jerseys and pants, of course, look a lot like what the Crimson wear now, pre-Nike Pro Combat and the ilk. I never cared for the helmet, though, with the bland "H" inside a hockey rink, first used in 1975 and modified in '80. Murphy changed the logo to a black block "H" in 1994, which, with a few modifications, Harvard has worn to this day.

The Aftermath: Harvard never had another winning record under Restic, who retired after the '93 season. Under Murphy, the Crimson has won or shared nine Ivy titles.