Harvard football has finally broken onto the national sports scene. While watching ABC's Monday Night Football, I distinctly heard the master of magniloquence, that prince of prolixity, Howard Cosell say that he might indeed "bop up" to Cambridge today to witness the spectacle of Ivy football.
He is apparently planning to forsake the bloody glories of big time college action in order to come and feast his little peepers on the exciting brand of ball being played here in the Ivy League. Certainly this is a sacrifice of great dimensions.
"Brown has been representative in its Ivy games," he said, bubbling with enthusiasm. "And Harvard is in contention for the Ivy title!" With that kind of buildup, I don't see how anyone would want to miss the game.
The fact is that when you talk to the American nation about Ivy football, your remarks fall on deaf ears unless they are of the exaggerated variety. A statement like, "This should be the greatest game ever!" might entice a few people to watch. Ivy football is not taken very seriously, at least not by those accustomed to the crippling "four horsemen" approach to the game.
Furthermore, it seems that when an Ivy game is broadcast on television, the two teams go nuts. Fumbles and interceptions dominate the contest, and sloppy football becomes the order of the day.
Last year, the Brown-Harvard conflict was televised, and it amounted to a wide-open affair with its share of amazing mistakes. Brown was leading 13-0 just before half time. A blocked punt and a fumble later, the Bruins were looking at the wrong end of a 14-13 count. Something like two minutes had elapsed.
Too many people think that Ivy football is just an exciting joke, an opinion fostered by the weird games that seem to pop up on the tube every now and then. And television broadcasters are usually at a loss for words when they try to drum up interest in the encounters.
Howard's remarks were so blase that I began to consider the possible hidden meanings. Maybe this was just his way of letting us know that he might be here. We could make some modest preparations. A simple motorcade would be fine. A speech at the Varsity Club might be in order.
If Howard happens to show for the game, it is safe to say that he will be treated to a captivating exhibition of athletic endeavor. The joy of victory, as he would have it. The agony of defeat.
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For it is only in Ivy football that one finds the true manifestations of scholarly competition. The grand old game at its finest. And what's more, Brown wants to kill Harvard.
In case you missed it, I feel it is my duty to tell you that I had the score of the Dartmouth-Columbia game (21-0) right on the button last week. There was also a typographical error that said that Cornell would be Brown. I don't know how it happened. In any case, my Ouija board reports the following:
PENNSYLVANIA-COLUMBIA--If it's an ego boost the Quakers need, then the Lions are the team to play this weekend. Coming off two consecutive massacres, the Red and Blue can take out its hostilities on this very understanding group from Columbia. Penn 35, Columbia 8.
DARTMOUTH-CORNELL--This is a real tough one. The strongest factor on the field should be the league-leading Big Green defense, so I would say that Dartmouth is a definite possibility to maybe beat the Big Red. I think. Dartmouth 21, Cornell 15.
PRINCETON-YALE--The Tigers may make a game out of this, but it looks very doubtful. The powerful Eli running attack will grind yet another opponent into submission, then get ready for a real football game next Saturday. Yale 31, Princeton 10.
BROWN-HARVARD--Two winning streaks are on the line on this one, though Harvard's is a good deal more important. The Bruins are a worthy upset candidate, sporting an erratic, occasionally potent offense and a generally sound defense. But they are not fighting for an Ivy title. Harvard 28, Brown 16.
Last week--3 for 4. On the year--25 right, 8 wrong,. 758.