What Harvard Coach has a tougher job and a better record than Bud Wilkinson, Bear Bryant, and Ara Parseghian rolled into one? Jack Barnaby, that's who.
Just think what kind of record Parseghian might have if most of his Notre Dame football candidates this year had never played football before and no one had played more than a year or two.
Every time a squash player graduates from Harvard, Barnaby faces just that situation. He has to develop a replacement from among players who never saw a squash racquet before coming to Harvard, or prep school graduates whose experience is at best limited.
30 in a Row
Yet year in, year out, he has done it. The squash team begins its season today, riding a winning streak of 30 games. That's three unbeaten seasons in a row.
As you go farther back into Barnaby's coaching record the statistics get more amazing. Over the last nine years, his teams have won 92 matches, lost four. They've won five of the last six Ivy titles and have never finished lower than second in league play. No team of his has lost more than three games in a season and only one has lost that many.
This year's team, it's generally conceded, may be a cut or two below the last few years. Any team probably would be if it lost a national champion, and four other men who had won letters for three years. That's five out of the nine top players who disappeared.
Fine Man Gone
Gone is Vic Niederhoffer, who came to Harvard without ever having played squash and left the college as national collegiate champion, the country's thirdranked amateur, and a semifinalist in the National Open.
Gone too, are Lou Williams, number two player last year; John Thorndike, a three-year veteran; and John Francis, whose fantastic last-game comeback against Princeton saved Harvard's unbeaten season last year.
Barnaby is not complaining. "I never like to hear these guys talk about their graduation losses," he says. "You get a guy, you know you'll have him just four years. OK, so he graduates: what did you expect?"
Anyone who's been around Harvard squash awhile expects that Harvard is going to have a representative squash team this year.
Starting with the McGill match today, Harvard is going to have a much rougher road. Matches that were won last year by 9-0 are going to be won only by 6-3 and 7-2. The matches with Princeton, Penn, and Army are going to be as close as can be; in fact if there's a favorite now for the Ivy title, it's Princeton, not Harvard.
But Barnaby is starting with a sound team, one that figures to improve greatly as the season goes on. It has a strong top five of experienced players, and a lower half of players Barnaby expects to develop quickly.
At number one this season is Romer Holleran, a top player as long ago as 1961, who spent several years away from school and returned to Harvard last spring. He became eligible in March and played a match or two in the number two position after Williams broke a wrist.
Holleran led a Crimson team in to the quarterfinals of the national championships. He also got to the semifinals of the collegiate singles championships before losing to Tom Poor of Amherst by one point in the fifth game. This year he already boasts a win over Dick Hoehn, a former Dartmouth number one player and one of the best in the Boston area.
Fighting for the second spot behind Holleran are Ed Robinson and Bill Morris, both two-year lettermen, both veterans of the five-man Crimson team that won the national title two years ago. Over Princeton captain Toby Symington in the 5-4 win over the Tigers. Morris fluctuated between two and four, and also had a big win against Princeton. Dinny Adams, the junior who now holds down the number four spot, had the most amazing season of all last year. Until his final match he was not only undefeated at number eight, but had won every match by 3-0 scores before he lost a game to his Yale opponent.
Adams has moved ahead of A1 Terrell, a senior who played above him last year, since Terrell hasn't played at all this fall and Adams got an early start.
Terrel Won Some
But Terrell can be expected to have a good season; he turned in several spectacular wins last year, particularly in the early season.
Pressing the veterans is junior Dave Benjamin, the Crimson's number one tennis player and another non-squash player before he came to Harvard. Benjamin won a round-robin tournament for the number six spot over Peter Brooks, who saw enough action in spots last year to win a letter.
At number eight will be Tod Wilkinson, a tall junior and another converted tennis player. The last spot on the team could go to Craig Stapleton, last year's top freshman, or to Matt Hall, another sophomore, or to senior Denny Lewis.
Grad Student Plays
There isn't much experience in that bottom foursome, and McGill should give them a tough test this year. Last year the Crimson trampled them 9-0, but two years ago it was a much closer 6-3 match. To dampen any faint hopes of a runaway, Morris will be playing in a tournament in New York this weekend instead of going to Montreal.
Under Canadian rules, graduate students as well as undergraduates are eligible; everyone on the McGill team has experience. If the bottom four crumple and the match is close, it will be an indication that Harvard is in for a rare rough year. If they break even, they can be expected to improve and the season can be expected to be good. If the match turns out to be a runaway after all, Princeton can look out.