The story goes something like this:
Harvard and Princeton had pretty mediocre football teams in 1926, but that really didn't matter: both were members of the Big Three, the most intense football rivalries in the country.
Harvard was a member of the Big Three, that is, but loud voices in Cambridge claimed that Princeton, despite Woodrow Wilson, didn't deserve to be treated with the same respect accorded to its friends in New Haven and Cambridge.
People in Cambridge, a first-year Harvard law student who graduated from Princton told The Crimson, thought that Princton "places its chief emphasis upon uniformity of type and manner of dress, that she places a low rank upon things of the mind, that her outlook is immature and provincial, that membership in the Big Three is Princeton's chief claim to glory."
And that's just about what an editorial in the Harvard Lampoon said--an editorial published just before the game so all of Princeton's players could read it.
That editorial caused what The Crimson, in a restrained tone the Monday after the game, called "rough and aggressive play"--which is to say that three Harvard starters, including the Harvard captain, were injured (needlessly, of course) in a 12-0 Princeton victory.
And as if the loss wasn't enough, immediately after the game the Lampoon printed a Crimson parody--an extra, no less--reporting that the Princeton coach had died.
That caused a furious exchange of letters and apologies between Princeton and Harvard presidents, professors, administrators, athletic officials, student government bodies and Lampoon editors. It also brought editorials in The New York Times and The New York World, on the immature attitude towards football displayed by the nation's leading universities.
And five days after the game, on Veteran's Day, 1926, Princeton announced it was breaking off athletic relations with Harvard. Which is why Harvard and Princeton didn't play football again until 1934.
This year's Harvard-Princeton game, though, doesn't seem to threaten the existence of the Big Three of the Ivy League. The rivalry isn't that intense anymore--Princeton having been accepted as a clubby equal--and the key injury occurred before the game even started.
The Key Injury
That injury, of course, is the separated left shoulder of Harvard quarterback Jim Kubacki. In Kubacki's place will be Mike Lynch and possibly Steve O'Brien, Tim Davenport, or Paul Halas depending on how the game goes according to Harvard coach Joe Restic.
By that, Restic means two things: the weather, and Princton's defense. "We're going to have to capitalize on our strengths," Restic said yesterday. "Mike's a fine passer, but if it's a wet day, I won't hesitate to go with one of our better running quarterbacks. We'll be playing the second best defensive team in the league, and we're going to have to move the ball on the ground to establish the balance we've had all year.
Other than Kubacki, Restic has few problems: everybody else is healthy, but, he acknowledges, "We may be a little less confident without Jim."
Princeton, with a three-game losing streak, has a little more to be confident about with Kubacki slated to watch the game. Princeton's quarterback Ron Beible is healthy and good, leading the Ivy League in passing.