Dartmouth Football Part of a Memorable Childhood

by Bill Murphy

Thinking of Thanksgiving one week early, as I am sitting here, reminiscing with myself, about some wonderful things which happened to me during my youth. The one particular thing I was centered on, when I was called to type, was being thankful that my dad and uncle, fed me a heavy diet of the sportsworld. They gave me enough information, pointed me to the right resources, all of which, are still part of my every waking day. They would have showed me the internet too, BUT,such a luxury had not been thought of at the time. While I am being thankful for those days, I will take a few more seconds to give plaudits to the female side of the family, mom and my two aunts, who also supported my interests heavily.
The reason this column started this way, was a football game slated for Hanover, New Hampshire on Saturday. Dartmouth will be hosting Princeton at 12 noon, in a newly renovated stadium, in a game which will determine whether Dartmouth, will be Ivy League champion. A victory will assure Dartmouth, of at least a slice of the Ivy League pie. How appropriate of an analogy is that, a few days before the November holiday?

I was thinking of Saturday’s big game, when I drifted back in time. You see, one of things may dad and uncle did during my formative years, was take me to Dartmouth football games. This was in a time when Dartmouth had Bob Blackman as a coach and they owned the Ivy League. In fact, from a true historical perspective, Dartmouth has been a part of more Ivy League Football titles than any other league school. In referring to leagues, the Ivy League is the most pure league in the country. Since the circuit was instituted with play in the fall of 1956, there have been NO changes. Not a one. The same eight schools are in the league today, which were there, when things began. I cannot think of one other league in the country with such a spotless resume. There has been no realignment.

In addition, the Ivy League is one of the few leagues in the country, which bases its champions completely on records. Head to head or any other tiebreaker does not matter. Only the record counts. Going into this weekend, Dartmouth, Harvard and Pennsylvania all sport 5-1 league records. Saturday is the last day to play. Darmouth hosts Princeton (2-4) at noon, Penn hosts Cornell (1-5) at 1 p.m. and Harvard travels to Yale (3-3) for what many call “The Game” at 2:30. Each or all of the 5-1 teams could win the league title. Since Dartmouth’s game will be over first, a win would guarantee the Big Green, a part of the craved for pie, then the tension mounts waiting for the result of the two other games, first, the Penn outcome, then Harvard. Will there be a champion, co-champions or will that pie be split three ways? Everyone will know by Saturday at supper time.

Dartmouth is looking to claim, at least a share, of their 18th grid title, the most of any team. If Dartmouth loses and Harvard wins, the Crimson would tie them with 17 titles. Penn is chasing their involvement in their 17th title as well. What a balanced league, not just this year, but for the last sixty years. The three schools have proven to be the Big Three in the grid sport. These three trophy cases are getting full and so is Yale’s, with 14 and Princeton with 10. No one else is in double digits. In case, one is interested, Brown has been a part of 4 titles, Cornell 3 and Columbia just 1. HOWEVER, Columbia won the Rose Bowl in 1934, beating Stanford, long before the Ivy League was ever thought of. Cornell and Columbia have never won an Ivy title outright in the fifty-nine year history of the league. Dartmouth has not won a football title since 1996 and is certainly due and needs to win in order to guarantee themselves of staying on top.

THE BAD NEWS IS, I cannot go back in time Saturday and take the trip to Dartmouth and reflect back on the drive to Hanover from my hometown of Bellows Falls, up Route 12 in New Hampshire, on the meandering road which took about 90 minutes to see the action, BECAUSE, I have another assignment handed out a long time ago. HOWEVER THE GOOD NEWS IS, you can go this time. IF I was still living in Bellows Falls, I could travel on a new (since the old days of my youth) and improved road, Interstate 91, in about half the time and see the action. The forecast is for sunny skies and a temperature of 46 degrees. Dartmouth has the best hot dogs of any athletic venue I know, (better than Fenway Park), a variety of other popular lunch choices and a moon bounce for kids. It could be a great family day out. One in which, one of your kids, could end up writing about being thankful for, in years to come.

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