Saturday, January 15, 2022

Arnold Terriers (1951)

Time for another trip through the football graveyard, this time with a defunct school

Finding info on Arnold College is like looking for a lucky call from a referee. According to this page, Arnold was a physical education school that started in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to New Haven, Conn. before settling down in nearby Milford in 1929. Thanks to financial struggles, the school — and, thus its sports teams — were swallowed up by the University of Bridgeport in 1953. (I profiled a couple Bridgeport teams here. The Knights dropped football after the 1974 season.)

The 1951 Arnold Terriers, not long before the school
— and the team — bid farewell. 

Arnold, despite an enrollment of about 500 students, fielded a football team from 1927-41 and again from 1947-52. It's most famous football alumnus, by far, is Pro Football Hall of Famer Andy Robustelli, a six-time All-Pro defensive end who won an NFL title with the New York Giants in 1956. Not bad for a 19th-round draft pick. But the Terriers achieved only three winning seasons, which makes one think football was always an uphill battle for such a small school.

Andy Robustelli in his Arnold days. Not just a wearer of the gold jacket,
but also a member of the Varsity Club Dance Committee!

Thankfully, the University of Bridgeport has Arnold yearbooks online through 1952. (With the school closing in '53, I wonder if the school bothered with a "farewell" edition that year?) This uniforms above are from the program's next-to-last team in 1951, which beat Bridgeport and King's of Pennsylvania. (Minor grammar rant: I always prefer using "next-to-last" to "penultimate," which sounds like it should mean something BEYOND ultimate.) 

Other foes that year included Wagner (still kicking around in the NEC), Moravian (D-III school in Pennsylvania) and fellow football dropees Adelphi, Rider, Brandeis and Saint Michael's (Vt.). Most of Arnold's opponents historically would be considered Division II or III today, but the Terriers occasionally played current D-I schools such as Rhode Island, Maine and Northeastern. 

Arnold's 1951 defense (top) and offense (above). I guess the 
Terriers' defense was so ferocious they needed to use only seven guys.

The uniforms are typical for that period; plain jerseys and helmets with some "Northwestern" stripes on the sleeves. The basic pattern is actually similar to Bridgeport's from that era, only with red instead of purple. 

More info on Arnold's sports teams can be found here.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Boston College Eagles (2021)

And so, we wrap up our glance at the uniforms of 2021 with Boston College, which had to cancel out of the Military Bowl because of COVID-19 issues. (True fact: The Eagles have been bowl eligible each of the last four seasons, but have completed just one bowl game during that time. The First Responders bowl after the 2018 season was canceled due to lightning and BC turned down bowl invites for 2020 because of COVID concerns.)

Last season, under first-year coach Jeff Hafley, BC wore its throwback alternates almost exclusively. This fall, BC changed its uniforms and kept the retro look (bringing to mind the late-80s design), even resuscitating the vintage BC logo of yore. This change isn't restricted to football; a glance over at shows nearly ALL the Eagles' teams have gone retro, although the site still uses the "modern" BC logo. Maybe Definitely I'm showing my age, but it's nice to see someone go traditional in a world of ultra-modern uniforms ... although if everyone went traditional, it would make for a pretty boring blog over here.

The Eagles mixed and matched between white and gold pants, although I prefer the time when they almost exclusively wore gold pants at home and white on the road. Otherwise, there's nothing to complain about (drat!). BC twice wore the "red bandanna" uniforms, a tribute to 9-11 hero and BC alum Welles Crowther.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Bates Bobcats (1946)

Confession time: I like the proliferation of bowl games on TV, although I didn't always feel that way. But what would you rather watch during the holidays: A bowl game, or something else, like an ESPN/FS1 hot-take show or a Hallmark film? (What? You said Hallmark?!?) While many of today's games seem rather flimsy in nature, the fact is that oddball bowls have always been around ... there just weren't as many in the past. (And if you don't believe me about past oddball bowls, just Google "Raisin Bowl," "Salad Bowl," "Gotham Bowl," "Cherry Bowl," "Knute Rockne Bowl" and a million others. 😎)

A while back, I profiled New Hampshire's journey to the 1947 Glass Bowl, which is right up there  with the Refrigerator Bowl among bowl games that need to be brought back. But one year earlier, tiny Bates College of Lewiston, Maine made its own trip to the Glass Bowl and was the first team from the Pine Tree State to play in a bowl game. (UMaine is the only other team from Maine to make a bowl game, in 1965.)

The 1946 Bates Bobcats, the first team from Maine to play in a bowl game.
I always notice how tiny the players were in the old days.

The Glass Bowl was played from 1946-49 at the stadium of the same name in Toledo, Ohio. The Toledo Rockets played in all four games, losing only the 1949 finale against Cincinnati. According to Wikipedia, the game was canceled due a combination of Toledo's declining play, poor weather and a lack of interest by opposing teams, which makes you wonder how many schools hung up on the Rockets before Bates and UNH said yes.

Bates, which didn't play in 1945 because of World War II and won just one game apiece in '43 and '44, made up for lost time, winning all seven regular-season games — five by shutout in those low-scoring days — while allowing only 11 points. One of the wins was a baseball-esque 7-4 decision over Maine.

A page from the Bates yearbook shows some highlights of the Bobcats' season.
It looks like they celebrated their state title in a muddy basement.

In the Glass Bowl, Bates allowed nearly twice as many points as it had allowed all season in a 21-12 loss to Toledo in front of an announced crowd of 12,000 fans, a crowd that probably dwarfs  many of today's bowl audiences. Despite the defeat, Bates halfback Art Blanchard was named the game's MVP.

Another notable name for Bates was head coach Ducky Pond, who guided Yale from 1934-40 (among his charges were Heisman Trophy winners Larry Kelley and Clint Frank) and Bates in 1941 and '46-51. His career record was 52-55-3; I wrote a little about his Yale teams here. Pond was ninth in the national coach of the year voting in 1946 — can you imagine a small-school coach doing that now?

As you can see, Bates was mighty proud of its Bobcats in 1946.

Amazingly, Bates hasn't reached the seven-win plateau since the Glass Bowl season; the Bobcats have reached six wins five times — and zero wins eight times. 

The uniforms were pretty basic; the one curveball comes with the helmets: some had stripes and some were plain. The jerseys have a similar template as Maine's and Dartmouth's from this era. 

You can read more about this team in this excellent article, which has tons of great details and photos. I wrote about Bates' 1972 unis here.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

James Madison Dukes (1972)

A James Madison profile? In a New England blog? Yup.

James Madison University is normally out of the milieux of this site, being based way down in Harrisonburg, Va. (Although from the places I've lived the last 15 years or so, hamlets like Durham, N.H., and Amherst, Mass., are considered "way down.") But JMU, a longtime member of the Yankee Conference/Atlantic 10/CAA, has been on the brain since it announced it was moving on up to the FBS and Sun Belt Conference, effective 2023. It's sad to see the Dukes leave, but since they play in a football-rich region and have a rabid fanbase, my guess is they'll handle FBS better than, well, these guys have

The school was known simply as Madison College when it fielded its first football team in 1972. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true),  the school's president wanted to attract more men and change its reputation as an all-women's teachers college. 

James Madison University's first football team in 1972,
when it was still known as Madison College. 
You've got to start somewhere. 

A newspaper article from 1972
heralds the arrival of JMU football.

Judging by the results and pictures, the Dukes appear to have been little more than a ragtag club team in '72; they were shut out in all five games, with the "highlight" a scoreless tie with the mighty Hampden–Sydney jayvees. The uniforms, as you might expect, were pretty basic; they look barely above the level of practice duds. JMU wore yellow helmets (gold didn't arrive until the mid-80s) with an extremely basic "MC" on each side.

A couple shots of the first-year Dukes from the 1973 Bluestone yearbook.
Note that one Duke has a white helmet, a reminder of the first-year team's ragtag nature.
(No, I'm not putting it in the uniform graphic. That's just getting silly.) 

The '72 Dukes under the lights.

After a rough start, MC/JMU took off pretty quickly, going undefeated in 1975 and winning the Virginia Collegiate Athletic Association title. (Two members of the spotless '75 team also were on the winless '73 bunch.) The Dukes joined I-AA/FCS in 1980 and the Yankee Conference in 1993, and won NCAA FCS titles in 2004 and '16.

For perspective, a shot of the undefeated 1975 team in action.
Note the turf field and fans in the larger stands.

So just think: Somewhere out there, some small school no one has ever heard of is borrowing pads and socks and scrambling to put a club football team together. And that obscure team today may be playing for a national title in front of 20,000 fans in 20-30 years.

I also took a brief look at JMU in this profile of the 1996 Yankee Conference teams.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Colgate, Holy Cross (2021)

The latest installment of 2021 uniforms comes from two Patriot League schools, Colgate and Holy Cross. 

Colgate had a new coach and new home jerseys, which vaguely recall the Raiders' mid-70s look. The road shirts carried over the design from the 2021 spring season. (Nothing says "FCS football" quite like home and road jerseys with completely different designs because you can afford to change only one set of shirts at a time.) Three different helmet designs were employed, two with the classic "'gate" logo and one with the school's official logo: A plain ol' "C." I wonder how long it took the marketing geniuses in Hamilton to come up with that one?

For a program as historically accomplished as Holy Cross, it's kind of a shock to learn the Crusaders never won a postseason game until this season's FCS playoffs. The Cross won its third straight Patriot title to continue the program's most successful run since the '80s glory years, when the then-Colonial League abstained from postseason play. After changing their road shirts last season, Holy Cross unveiled matching home versions this fall. The black pants, not worn since 2019, made a return. As I said after last season, those gorgeous white helmets should be worn full-time.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Bryant, Central Connecticut St., Merrimack, Sacred Heart (2021)

Time for the latest round of the uniforms of 2021, this time with a trip through the New England schools in the Northeast Conference. You can see the Ivy League here, the CAA teams here and the FBS indies here. The review will continue with Colgate and Holy Cross and wrap up with Boston College after its bowl game. 

Bryant made its most significant change since the program's founding in 1999, dumping the plain gold helmet it had worn since day one for a black version, with a number on one side and the bulldog logo on the other. The home and road jerseys also underwent a change and have a consistent look for the first time in a few years. The bulldog logo on the helmets and sleeves marks the first it has been featured on the uniform someplace other than the pants, a definite upgrade. (For a few years Bryant had a goofy-looking "B" in a shield on the sleeves.)

Central Connecticut State, which also has a logo on one side of the helmet and a number on the other, replaced the "CC" logo from seasons part with the blue devil head. CCSU, which sat out last season because of COVID-19, continued to wear all-blue at home and all-white on the road. The Blue Devils also wore a pink stripe down the middle of helmet for several games in October for breast cancer awareness. If you look closely, you can see the word "FIGHT" imprinted all over the stripe. 

Merrimack added some flair when it unveiled an all-yellow uniform at Homecoming, giving the Warriors three jerseys and two sets of pants. (Some teams, like Bryant, UNH and Maine, have two jerseys and three pants, which I don't understand. Third jerseys > third pants; you can make more fun combos.) The shirts retained the same basic pattern as the home and road versions, although the road whites continue to lack shoulder numbers. 

Finally, Sacred Heart, which won its second straight NEC title, trotted out eight different combos, including the star-spangled and gray alternate uniforms, which returned after a year's absence. The Pioneers also wore a helmet with a 9-11 tribute logo on the right side for their  first two games.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

UConn, UMass (2021)

I ranted about the apes of UMass and UConn in this post and this post, and I really have nothing to add other than I think their coaching decisions (Don Brown for UMass, Jim Mora at UConn) were probably the best they could do under the circumstances. If either team gets into a bowl game in the next few years, I'll be more than happy to do an "I WAS WRONG" post and blog endlessly about their uniforms for a whole month.

Now, onto their uniforms for this season ...

UConn may be blah on the the field, but at least the Huskies look good while losing. They continued their look from 2019 (UConn didn't play in '20 because of COVID-19); there's a lot of mixing and matching going on, but every uniform is clean and simple. I wonder if Mora will keep the trend, or go for something new? 

UMass, like UConn, looks good even if the team plays no-so-good. After using only two styles during the COVID-abbreviated 2020 season, the Minutemen expanded to seven combos in '21, all pretty straightforward. I like the occasional use of the 1990s logo, although I wouldn't want to see it every game.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island (2021)

In our next installment of the uniforms of fall 2021, we move on to the four Colonial Athletic Association teams covered on this little ol' blog. Frankly, there's not much new to report from these guys.

Delaware, thought to be national title contender, instead fell below .500, another reason why preseason polls aren't worth the virtual ink they're printed on. The Blue Hens kept the same unis from the spring 2021 season, and they brought back the "classic" blue shirt-yellow pants combo not worn last season.

Maine made one change, adding light blue alternate pants to give the Black Bears even more of a resemblance to the vintage Tennessee Titans. (An aside: As someone old enough to remember when they were the old Houston Oilers, it's very strange to type "vintage Tennessee Titans.") I corrected one small mistake I made last season: The sleeve trim is separated by navy blue stripes, while the spring graphic shows the white and light blue stripes joined together. For whatever reason, Maine wore those "error" jerseys on photo day for the spring season, but not in actual game play. Huh. 

The mysterious photo day jersey, which will mystify 
historians for centuries to come.

With a new coach TBA coming next season, a uniform change for 2022 is always a possibility. 

New Hampshire played a full schedule after a one-and-done slate last spring, and had their worst record in 19 years. The Wildcats again mixed and matched their jerseys and pants, but the navy blue helmet worn from 2017-19 appears to have been retired. 

Rhode Island racked up its best record since 2001, and had as many uniform combos as it had victories (seven). The light blue jerseys were worn only once; considering light blue is supposed to be Rhody's primary color, it should probably see more playing time. The gray camo pants, last worn in 2019, made a return.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Ivy League (2021)

It's the most wonderful time of the year ... time to begin checking out the uniforms of 2021. Today, we begin with the Ivy League, since its season is all done; besides, it sat out all of 2020, so why make 'em wait any longer?

Oddity that may interest only me: Seven of the Ancient Eight teams wear Nike unis, and of those seven, five have a basic two-stripe pattern on the "sleeves." (They're not real sleeves, but work with me here.) 

We'll go in order of the standings, which means we start with the school with the most Ivy titles in history ...

Dartmouth won a share of its 20th Ivy League title, and I'm still scratching my head over that shutout loss to Columbia at home. Uniform-wise, the Big Green expanded its use of the secondary tree logo, even plastering it on the helmet for a game (the aforementioned loss to Columbia). The new white pants also features the tree on the sides, while the black and gray alternate pants (not to mention the black alternate shirt) are holdovers from previous seasons. 

A couple of corrections from the 2018-19 graphics: The back numbers on the home and road jerseys are HUGE (almost vintage Seattle Seahawks huge), and the black pants, which I always thought had "DARTMOUTH" on the back, actually features ... a tree.

Princeton grabbed a share of its 13th Ivy crown, with its one loss coming to Dartmouth. (Does this give Dartmouth the tie-breaker for the NCAA FCS tourney berth, har-har?) The Tigers made a couple changes this year: The white jersey worn for the 2019 Yankee Stadium game against Dartmouth became the full-time road jersey (complete with the college football 150th anniversary  patch from that year!), and a gray alternate jersey to match the gray pants, also a holdover from '19. The gray jersey has the "classic" Ivy League logo, as the league still can't decide on a full-tine logo. (I ranted about that here.)  

Harvard put up its best record in five years and beat Yale, so it was a successful season all around, presumably. The Crimson made some changes this year, going with a plain white "H" on the helmets after years of black outlined in white. The jerseys, which had been largely unchanged since 1980, ditched the traditional block numbers for a cross between the Chicago Cubs and Star Trek, also rendered in plain white on crimson. The black alternate shirts that had been worn since 2015 were dumped (yay!), and the traditional tan pants returned for the season's final three games.

Columbia, in addition to having another strong season under miracle man Al Bagnoli, set a record that may never be equaled on this blog: The Lions wore 10 different uniforms in 10 games. I believe the only teams to come close to 100% were UMass in 2013 (11 in 12 games; the Minutemen still hold the single-season record for most combos of any of the teams covered on this site) and Dartmouth in 2016 (nine in 10 games).

In the interest of completeness, I have listed the uniforms game-by-game. Columbia wore three different helmet designs: Current logo (weeks 1-4), throwback with numbers (week 5) and a hybrid with a logo on one side and a number on the other (week 6-10). Throw in four different jersey styles (including a kick-arse 1961 throwback) and three different pant styles and, well. ... Columbia really just scratched the surface with these 10 combos. 

Yale, on the other hand, is the symbol of simplicity, and knows how to add a few slight modern touches to freshen up an otherwise plain look. The lone Nike holdout, Yale retained its look from 2019, with the exception of a "DS" patch worn in the season opener against Holy Cross.

Next is a three-way logjam for the Ivy basement. Penn eliminated the awesome red throwback helmet from 2019 and revived the white lids from '18, albeit with a weird pattern that belongs in the '90s. In this post, I noted that Penn went 0-18 wearing white helmets in the mid-50s as it was transitioning from a big-time schedule to a more traditional Ivy slate. Two of the Quakers' three wins in '21 came in the white helmets, so perhaps they're being better luck this time around. Everything else about the uniform, including the red alternates (worn exclusively with the white helmets this year, making for a very appealing combo), stayed the same from 2019.

Brown did some interesting things to its unis. White the Bears introduced new home and road jerseys with silver trim, the helmets and pants retained the silver-with-red-trim look, making for an odd Frankenstein uniform akin to 1970s Maryland. Maybe if we made the helmets and pants more in line with the jerseys, like so ...

... then Brown would have a winning combo. 😎

The Bears also added black alternate pants and retained the (still plain) brown alternate helmet from '19. Like Dartmouth, Brown has pretty big numbers on the jersey backs.

Lastly, Cornell kept its look from 2019, right down to the 2000s-esque league patch on the road shirts. The white alternate jerseys with the names on the backs, however, appear to have vanished. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Ivy League (1982)

In our last post, we took a look at the wild 'n wacky Yankee Conference season of 1982, when four of the league's six teams shared the YC title. The Ivy League season that year wasn't as crazy, but three teams wound up sharing the trophy for the first time since 1969, highlighted by Penn's worst-to-first Cinderella season.

The big story in '82, however, came off the field: The Ivies, who had long sequestered themselves from big-time football, were formally booted from Division I-A (FBS) to I-AA (FCS) by the NCAA, which was tired of the Ancient Eight globbing off their precious TV money. The NCAA cited the Ivies' failure to meet minimum stadium and attendance standards. What's funny, of course, is that those standards haven't been enforced since, allowing FBS wannabes like UMass and about half the MAC schools to stay put. 

The Ivies weren't alone: Other small Eastern schools such as Colgate, Holy Cross, Richmond and William & Mary also got the heave-ho. (Looking back, it's fascinating how the Eastern schools of yore, all roughly equal in playing level, could have gone one way or the other. Boston College, Syracuse, Temple and Rutgers went one way; the others went, well, the other way.)

And now, onto the teams and uniforms ...

Harvard took home a share of its first Ivy title in six years, a lifetime for these guys. Offensive lineman Mike Corbat was named a I-AA All-American. (One advantage to the I-AA demotion: Ivy players could earn All-America honors since they didn't have to complete with the Billy Simses and Dan Marinos of the world.) Oddly enough, the Crimson's two league losses came to their co-champions, Dartmouth and Penn.

Harvard had recently changed its jerseys to what I consider the "classic" look, with the school seal on the shoulders and the black outlining the numbers. Amazingly, these jerseys remained virtually the same until ... 2021. 

I wrote quite a bit about Penn's '82 season in this post. Condensed version: Penn had been a joke for years, was widely predicted to be a joke in '82, won Ivy title, stayed a force for decades. A season-ending loss to Cornell enabled Dartmouth and Harvard, which won their season finales, to pull into a three-way tie for the championship.

The Quakers changed their uniforms just a year earlier, and kept this look into the '90s.

Despite a 5-5 overall record, Dartmouth was good enough in league play to earn its third and final Ivy title under coach Joe Yukica. (The Big Green had to wait eight years for its next championship.) Quarterback Mike Caraviello was named the league's rookie of the year.

Dartmouth's uniforms were basic, but do the job; actually, the jerseys bear a passing resemblance to the '90s New York Jets with the black outline. Of course, the classic "D" helmet makes any uniform better. I wrote a bit about them here.

Next, we come to a four-way logjam of 3-4 teams, which means only one Ivy team finished waaaay under .500 in league play. Gee, wonder who that was ...

Brown had another solid season under solid coach John Anderson (after he left in 1984, the Bears were decidedly less-than-solid until Mark Whipple arrived in 1994). This was during the era when Brown had the secondary "Bruins" nickname on the helmets, which I guess would be like Yale having "Elis" on its lids or Auburn and "War Eagle."

No. 85 in the above graphic is for tight end Steve Jordan, who went on to a long, productive career with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. (Youngsters reading this might know him better as Cameron Jordan's dad.)

Cornell limped to another mediocre season in the finale for legendary coach Bob Blackman, who built a powerhouse at Dartmouth (and designed those awesome helmets!), but failed to replicate his magic at Illinois or Cornell. An aside: The story I always heard was that at Dartmouth, Blackman was the only Ivy coach who actively recruited players, while his contemporaries viewed such a practice as unseemly. I wonder if the other schools had changed their tune by the time Blackman reached Ithaca?

I've written about Cornell's unusual uniforms before, and I'm a proud owner of a vintage Big Red jersey, complete with curved, oversized sleeve numbers. In '83, the weird Dartmouth-eqsue helmet was replaced by the classic "C" version, which Cornell has worn ever since (albeit with quite a bit of tinkering).

Yale, which shared the '81 title with Dartmouth, took a tumble in '82 and suffered its first losing season in 11 years. The Bulldogs were one of two Ivy schools — along with Harvard — to meet the NCAA's stadium and attendance requirements for staying in I-A had they wanted to (can you imagine the outrage if that had happened?). Yale's smallest crowd that year, home or road, was 13,300 for its season opener at Brown; compare that with 2019, when its largest crowd outside of the Harvard game was 7,500 at Richmond.

Yale uniforms were a bit dull, but it's Yale, and that classic block "Y" is going nowhere.

Princeton was in the midst of a 20-year stretch (1969-89) without an Ivy League title as gun-slinging QB Brent Woods set season school and league records for total plays, passing attempts, completions, yards (passing and total) and yes, interceptions. (Amazingly, he is still at or near the top of these lists today.)

The Tigers' basic uniforms didn't change much in this era, but they kept changing their helmet logo every few years. That's supposed to be a Tiger on the '82 headgear, but it looks more like a runaway chipmunk. In '84 Princeton said to hell with it and went with blank helmets.

Last in the standings but perhaps most interesting otherwise, we have Columbia, which won one game and still boasted the league's player of the year in QB John Witkowski, which is kinda like Andre Dawson winning the '87 NL MVP for the last-place Cubbies. But unlike the Hawk, Witkowski didn't earn his award based on vague intangibles or questionable stats like RBIs: He was a great I-AA/FCS quarterback stuck with a lousy defense that served up nearly 40 points per game.  

Witkowski's most extreme experience in '82 came on Nov. 6 against Dartmouth. From this vintage Sports Illustrated article:

While the Lions stumbled to a 1-9 record in 1982, Witkowski completed 250 of 453 passes (55%) for 3,050 yards and 29 TDs. In one game, a 56-41 loss to Dartmouth, he connected on 39 of 64 throws for 466 yards and five TDs. His stats for the fourth quarter alone were 16 of 28 for 209 yards and three scores. And lest there be any thought that Columbia had a ground game capable of keeping the Big Green off-balance, note that the Lions' top rusher that day went 38 yards. That runner was Witkowski.

Witkowski still holds most of Columbia's career passing records. Had he been behind center at one of the Ivy's co-champions, they might have been tempted to say "SCREW I-AA!" and take a shot at the Penn States or Georgias of the world. Maybe. 

Witkowski's favorite targets were Don Lewis (84 catches, still a record 1,000 yards on the nose, still second all time) and Bill Reggio (70-987).

Also of note: This was Columbia's last year at historic-but-run-down Baker Field before its replacement, Wien Stadium (officially Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium, ahem) was built in 1984.

As for the uniforms, the bizarre two-logo helmet above that resembles something out of a high-school all-star game was replaced by a script "Columbia," which lasted three years. The Lions were changing their unis on a near-yearly basis, long before that was cool or trendy in college football. The road jerseys, for this one year only, looked like practice shirts with a plain number on the front and back and nothing else.

The Brown Daily Herald takes a few parting shots at Baker Field
after the Bears topped Columbia 35-21 in the final game played there.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Yankee Conference (1982)

If you like some excitement and drama in your college football (and if you don't, you're probably watching the wrong sport), then 1982 was quite the vintage season in New England. 

A sophomore named Flutie was leading Boston College to its first bowl game in 40 years. And on a smaller level, the Yankee Conference had its wildest season ever, as four of the league's six teams shared the conference crown. With two weeks left in the season, all six teams still had a crack at the title, with Boston University holding the inside track thanks to tiebreakers. When the dust settled, BU, Maine, UMass and UConn all had a share of the YC's Bean Pot trophy with 3-2 records, but the Terriers came away with the league's automatic NCAA I-AA (FCS) tournament berth despite a 5-6 overall record. 

The Ivy League also had its share of drama, as it was playing its first year as a I-AA league after being dumped from I-A/FBS for money reasons (shock!), and three teams (Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn) split the league title. 

Today we're going to take a look at the teams and uniforms of the '82 YC season, and hopefully get to the Ivies down the road.

In control of its own destiny, Boston University lost to UConn 13-10 in its league finale to set up the four-way tie. Thanks to a complicated series of tiebreakers that probably required a call to nearby MIT, BU secured the automatic bid to the 12-team tournament, where it lost 21-7 to Colgate. (Oddly enough, BU's season finale a week earlier was against Colgate, a 22-21 loss in front of a rousing throng of 1,887 at Nickerson Field.) Future Colts/Bills wide receiver Bill Brooks was named YC rookie of the year, and teammates Paul Lewis (RB), Mike Mastrogiacomo (G), Paul Farren (C) and Mike Pierro (DT) were named all-conference. 

The uniforms are pretty standard, with two stripes apiece on the sleeves and socks. The  helmet logo — "Boston" with the tail underneath — is a little awkward; Maine and Dartmouth adopted the tail-under-the-school name helmet later in the decade. (The constant in all this? Buddy Teevens, the BU offensive coordinator and later head man at Maine and Dartmouth.)

I wrote about Maine's trials and tribulations in this post from 2020. Long story short: If not for the YC's overtime rule, the Black Bears finish 7-2-2 and likely get into the NCAA tourney. As it was, Maine was the only YC co-champ with a winning record, and the Bears' four losses were by a combined 21 points. The title was Maine's first in eight years and last for another five.

The uniforms, as you can see, are essentially Penn State's with blue helmets. Among Maine's unis all-time, these rank near the bottom for me. Among the notables were QB Rich LaBonte (YC offensive player of the year), RB Lorenzo Bouier (still second on the program's all-time rushing list), coach Ron Rogerson (YC coach of the year) and longtime radio analyst Bob Lucy, who has been calling Black Bears games with Rich Kimball since I was student there, and I haven't been a student there in quite a while.

UConn helped create this delightful mess by defeating Boston University and Rhode Island in its last two league games to force the four-way tie. The Huskies' big star was linebacker John Dorsey, who was named YC defensive player of the year. After a six-season NFL career in Green Bay, Dorsey went on to a longtime career as an NFL executive and GM; these days he's a senior personnel executive for the Detroit Lions.

This was during the period when UConn abandoned navy blue for a lighter shade, almost like the NHL's Quebec Nordiques. But after years of almost annual changes, the Huskies stuck with this basic look from 1977-88 before returning to navy blue, still using the same template. I wrote a little about this uniform here.

Another year, another Yankee Conference title for UMass, its 14th since 1960. Like UConn and BU, the Minutemen finished at 5-6 overall. Late-season wins over UConn and New Hampshire secured UMass a share of the crown. RB Garry Pearson was a Division I-AA All-American; he is fourth on the school's all-time rushing list.

This was near the end of the period when the Minutemen used gold as a trim color, which, as I've probably said a billion times before, gave them more than a passing resemblance to their rivals on Chestnut Hill. Speaking of which, '82 was the last year of the annual UMass-BC game, which had been played since 1965; Flutie and the Eagles downed Pearson and the Minutemen 34-21. I wrote a blurb on UMass' unis here

Although Rhode Island ended up out of the title picture, the Rams still finished 7-4, highlighted by the six-OT win over Maine (see the Maine link above), which probably garnered more ink and camera time than any league title ever could. As noted in that other post, this was during a rare hot period for the usually dismal program, which reached three I-AA tournaments between 1981-85. Tackle Rich Pelzer was a I-AA All-American, and wideout Tom (You Mangy) Mut was a first-team all-YC selection, as were defensive linemen Dennis Talbot and Tony DeLuca and cornerback Jim Roberson.

Like UMass, Rhody was into the gold during this time period; it was used as a secondary color during the entire coaching reign of Bob Griffin (1976-92), but never before or sense. I'd love to see this style return as a throwback uni. 

You know it's a crazy season when perpetual title contender New Hampshire finishes dead last; amazingly, this is the last time to date UNH has finished last. (I don't count the aborted spring 2021 season, when the Wildcats played only one game.) TE Paul Gorham, T Ken Kaplan and S Arnold Garron were all-YC selections. Arnold Garron and his brother, RB Andre Garron, are UNH Hall of Famers; their dad, Larry Garron, was a fullback for the AFL Boston Patriots from 1960-68.

The uniforms are the classic UNH style worn from 1976-99; I've written about the unis and teams here, here and here and probably a few other places. 😎