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PostVictories for Dartmouth and Northwestern: Hail to Green, Hail to Purple, Hail to White (David Duggan, USA, 11/19/23 4:01 am)
Yesterday the Red Sea waters parted, the moon went ‘round the sun, and both Northwestern and Dartmouth won football games. Dartmouth tied for the Ivy League championship with a 5-2 record (Yale and Harvard were co-champions), and Northwestern became bowl eligible for the first time since 2021. The improbable significance of each requires comment.
Both Northwestern and Dartmouth had rookie coaches, one by accident, the other by negligence (legally defined as the failure to adhere to a standard of conduct imposed by society, the hypothetical "reasonable man under the circumstances"). Dartmouth's long-time coach Eugene ("Buddy") Teevens died two months ago and his assistant Sammy McCorkle took over to lead the Green to an overall 6-4 record with a 38-13 romp over Brown Saturday in Providence. With Yale's 23-18 victory over the Crimson in the Yale Bowl in what has been called "The Game" since the 1920s, all three schools finished with a 5-2 record, the first time that has happened in 41 years. (In 2015, Dartmouth, Penn and Harvard all had 6-1 records to tie for the championship). From 2007-15, Harvard won nine straight "Games": two entire classes of Elis had not seen their alma mater beat the dreaded Johns. Since 2016, the Game's outcome has been more evenly distributed; Yale has won 5 of the last 7.
Northwestern's trip to the post-season was even more improbable. Longtime coach Pat Fitzgerald was summarily canned this summer after the Daily Northwestern (the campus newspaper) published accounts of "hazing" in the program. Hello, it's guys and it's sports. Hazing has been going on among men in combat since the Spartans ruled the Pelopennese. Football is just another way of men sublimating their aggressions: instead of the battlefield, it's the playing field. A recruiting juggernaut (touting the best D-1 academics in the country, a sustainable position with no "easy A" programs to park jockstrap-wearers in), Fitzgerald had led the Wildcats to their first bowl-game victory (2013 Gator Bowl win over Mississippi State, breaking a nine-game bowl losing streak) since the 1949 Rose Bowl (over Cal).
But perhaps his act had worn thin (he went 1-11 last year with no wins on the western side of the Atlantic), and resting on his laurels, he had overlooked his players' alleged misdeeds in off-season, off-campus romps. The verdict is not in, however, and he has hired arguably Chicago's best lawyer, Dan Webb, to pursue a wrongful termination claim against the administration. His long-time defensive coordinator David Braun has been rewarded with the full-time head job.
The Ivy League does not allow bowl games or post-season playoffs, so this is the swansong for this year's Green machine. Led by quarterback Dylan Cadwallader (probably no relation to Pres. Grant's Assistant Secretary of State: 2 "L's" and not 1), and with a lock-down defense, the Green powered over Penn, Cornell, Columbia, Princeton and now Brown for their five victories, losing to both Harvard and Yale (and U New Hampshire along the way). Some may say that claiming the crown having lost to the two other pretenders is bush-league, but I didn't set the rules, nor did I tell Yale to lose to Cornell and Harvard to lose to Princeton. Old animosities die hard, and with Dartmouth at the top of the standings when it counts means that its program is poised to get another banner recruiting year. As the Big Green's coach from 50 years ago Jake Crouthamel ‘59 told me in an interview, "good football players make a good football team."
Hail Northwestern. Hail Dartmouth. Hail Green, Hail Purple. Hail White (their common color). And hail to the players who wear the laurel.
JE comments: Hail to all those colors, and hail as well to Blue (Michigan is my other Alma Mater besides Dartmouth). U-M remains undefeated going in to the (real) "The Game" next week: Michigan vs Ohio State, which is also undefeated.
David, your sports chronicles are things of elegance. Don't think I've ever heard football described with references to the Grant administration. There may be something to this, however. Grant was president during the first intercollegiate football game, on November 6th, 1869. The adversaries: Rutgers and New Jersey (now Princeton). I've always heard that college football came into being as a way for young men to express their inner warrior in the absence of a real war.