Friday, October 24, 2014

Tigers, From Then And Now

TigerBlog has spent some time of late putting together some highlights of the 1964 Princeton football team, to be played on the videoboard at Princeton Stadium tomorrow at halftime of the Harvard game.

The occasion is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 team's perfect season. The Tigers were pretty good that year, outscoring its opponents 216-53 overall and 197-46 in league games and posting four consecutive shutouts in midseason. Princeton finished 13th in the final UPI national poll and second in the Lambert Poll for the best team in the East, behind only Penn State.

Cosmo Iacavazzi, the captain of that team and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, gave TigerBlog a DVD with three year's worth of highlights on it, covering 1963-65.

Princeton went 24-3 in those three years, winning the Ivy title outright in ’64 and tying in ’63. The Tigers won 17 straight at one point, from opening day 1964 through the final day of the 1965 season. Princeton lost to Dartmouth to end 1963 and 1965; the only other loss was to Harvard in ’63.

TigerBlog didn't see much of those teams play live, as he was busy with more pressing tasks at the time, such as being potty trained and the like. The DVD, though, put him right into Palmer Stadium and the other Ivy venues that he would come to know so well.

The highlights show Princeton in the single wing that it played under head coach Dick Colman. It was a powerful offense, led by the bruising Iacavazzi and with a strong supporting cast.

One thing that really struck TB from these highlights was the extent to which players then would celebrate in the end zone after touchdowns. They wouldn't dance and thump their own chests, but they would spike the ball, toss it up in the air or in the case of Iacavazzi not once but twice against Yale, fire it into the stands.

They'd also jump up and down wildly in celebration, seemingly spontaneously, to the point where TB thought a few of them might have blown out an ankle or knee or something.

There was another pretty cool thing about the highlights. The narrators.

The first two years were narrated by Marty Glickman, who is as good as an announcer as who has ever lived. The last was narrated by Chris Schenkel, another Hall of Fame broadcaster.

TigerBlog can't believe the number of people he works with who have never heard of either.

Anyway, if you played football during that era, then you're probably in the range of 70 years old right now.

And so it will be a group of 70-ish men who will be on the field at halftime tomorrow, while their highlights play on the videoboard.

Here is a sample, if you have 17 seconds to invest.

The halftime show will be part of what figures to be 1) a close game and 2) not as high scoring as last year, or even the year before.

It'll be hard to match the dramatics of the last two years as well, though TB would have thought it impossible for last year to match the year before, and in some ways it exceeded it.

Two years ago, Princeton defeated Harvard 39-34 after trailing 34-10 with 12 minutes left. Last year it was 51-48 Tigers in three overtimes behind six Quinn Epperly touchdown passes.

If you're a Harvard fan, you know your team is 26-1 against all other teams and 0-2 against Princeton its last 29 games. Harvard has been waiting 52 weeks for this chance.

And the team that comes here is a good one, 5-0, 2-0 in the league, 21st in the rankings.

Princeton is 2-0 as well in the league, though 3-2 overall. Not that any of that makes a difference.

If Princeton is going to win a second straight league title, it's going to have to earn it, just as whoever wins will have to do so. By tomorrow night, there will be four teams in the race - Princeton, Harvard and Dartmouth who are all 2-0 and whoever wins the Yale-Penn game tomorrow, who will then be 2-1.

Princeton still has to play all four of those teams, as does Harvard.

As for the game tomorrow, here are some important numbers to keep in mind.

First, there is Harvard's 191.4 rushing yards per game against Princeton's best-in-the-FCS 61.0 rushing yards per game allowed.

Then there's Princeton's 36.0 points per game on offense against Harvard's 11.2 points per game allowed on defense, which is best in the Ivy League and third nationally.

Harvard has the top overall defense in the Ivy League. Princeton has the second-best offense in the league.

What will come of all this?

Well, it can't possibly be the game it was the last two years, right? Every year can't be a classic, right?

And it won't be as high scoring, right?

Who knows.

TigerBlog does know the weather will be perfect, and the matchup is two old rivals who have taken their rivalry to a pretty high level in recent years.

He's looking forward to it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The montage was great--but as I was too young to remember Cosmo and crew, the thing that struck me was hearing Marty Glickman's incredible voice one more time.