At a time when table talk around the Cambridge scene has been juggling the controversy of inconsistencies in the Ivy League athletic policies, special attention has been focused on Cornell University.
Last week before the Big Red's annual Thanksgiving Day game with Penn, word leaked out that head football coach George K. (Lefty) James had gotten the axe. After the 18-7 loss, James confirmed it in an official statement to the press: "...it appears to the University's best interests that I resign."
So that was all for James, who had coached at Cornell for 25 years, and had compiled a respectable 66-58-2 record in his 14-year reign as head coach. Known as "the dean of Ivy coaches," James did as well as could be expected from any coach this fall, struggling through the majority of the season's games without the services of backfield stars George Telesh, Dave McKelvey, and Marcy Tino, who were injured. He could have been excused for the 2-7 final record.
Cornell's main reason for exterminating James, presented by athletic director Robert J. Kane in a prepared statement, was a hit hasy: "Lefty was a competent teacher given too little time to teach," Kane declared. yesterday Kane told the CRIMSON that the press had made the correct inference of his statement in calling it a "backhanded slap at the Ivy League's no-spring practice rule." Asked for an explicit statement on his personal feelings on spring football practice in the Ivy League, Kane answered: "I'd love it. . . crews practice all fall, don't they?"
Many observers have considered the Lefty James incident's overtones in the long-run perspective, and have raised the question, "Is Cornell trying to go big-time in football?"
The evidence adds up. A coach doesn't produce, and he is fired. The University's athletic director favors spring football practice. Also, Cornell has scheduled Navy for next fall, the same eleven that Penn agreed to drop from the schedule.
As for Cornell's recruiting, observers cite as a possible example the Big Red's quick rise in hockey talent last year, indicated by the reported 16-1 freshmen swamp over the varsity."
Questioned about these rumors and slants on the Cornell athletic situation, Kane said: "Cornell's athletic policies have not changed in the 20 years I have been here, and I can coresee no changes in the future," adding that he considered Cornell's policies completely in accordance with Ivy policies.
He called all rumors of Cornell trying to go big-time in football "absurd." The Navy game was scheduled four years ago," he declared, pointing out that the Big Red had played Navy many times "off and on through the years."
Meanwhile, the 55-year-old jobless James lives on the memories of his creditable career. He coached three Ivy championship teams and another that tied for the title before the league was formalized in 1956. The poor guy refused to be interviewed after the Penn game last week. He, like everyone else, was probably wondering "what next?"