Herewith some random thoughts on the Harvard sports scene, a milieu I chose to experience this fall strictly as a spectator and not as a journalist, something all you avid Crimson readers may have greatly appreciate ...
The Transitive Property
If Joe Restic were coaching in Philadelphia this year, Harvard football would not have used the multiflex offense. Harvard should not have used the multiflex offense. Therefore, Joe Restic should be coaching in Philadelphia.
My brother, the philosopher, may not understand that sort of Groucho Marxist logic, but followers of Harvard football this fall certainly will. I do not mean, however, that Restic should be fired. His team was only one win away from sharing the Ivy title, a fact seemingly forgotten just four days later. The man is a good football coach.
Now the Bad News ...
Unfortunately, he is also an obsessed football coach. So intent upon proving to the Woody Hayeses, Johnny Majorses and Bear Bryants of the football world that his multiflex is a great offense, Restic appears blind to the fact that perhaps Harvard should not have used that particular alignment this year. And if Restic honestly believed, after the loss of Tim Davenport in the Columbia game, that he should have continued with the multi-flex, I would contend that he does not fully understand his own creation.
Lebon or Cinzano?
"You can't win the horse race without the horses," a great sports mind once stated. The problem with the football team was not that it didn't have the horses, but you don't enter trotters in the Kentucky Derby. The talent was there, it simply was not used in the most effective way. For example, I believe Larry Brown deserved to be the starting quarterback, but to watch him run the football--a must for the quarterback in the multiflex arrangement--made me cringe almost as much as I did while watching Rod Foster, subbing for Eric "Endzone' Crone, try to throw the ball in 1971.
I think that Restic ought to be commended for the job he did this year, a so-called "rebuilding year." But as is the privilege of the revisionist, I can't help but wonder that if he had only used the pro set....
The men's soccer season, disappointing although not in any fashion a disappointment, proved a number of things. Primarily, it proved that Coach George Ford may, at last, feel completely comfortable at the helm. The problems that have beset that man in the past seasons are too numerous to delineate. But the period of adjustment has apparently ended, and it should not be very long before Harvard enjoys the national rankings it held in the early '70s. They almost got there this year.
Two big additions to the program were two boyhood pals turned professional soccer players, Mike Stricklin and Kevin Welsch. These assistant coaches provided Ford with examples of American players who made good, a definite asset to a program where out of 20 varsity players, almost half were freshmen and sophomores. It is also rumored that Stricklin and Welsch know a little about the game itself, although you could never tell by just meeting them.
Quite a Quartet
The big story for soccer was the play of the Four Freshmen, a group not to be confused with the singing ensemble of the same name from California in the early '60s. Mike Smith, Andy Kroenfeld, Alberto Villar and Walter Diaz performed well this year and are expected to do nothing but improve in their remaining three years together.
But the sad soccer story of 1977 is the non-existence of the freshman team, a phenomenon also noticeable in the hockey program. As a member of the 1975 freshman soccer team, I can only feel sorry for those freshmen not talented enough to make the junior varsity, but who still want to play intercollegiate soccer. Freshman teams in all sports are slowly becoming a thing of the past, and that's too bad. Intramurals are the only thing left.
The success of the women's soccer team is another thing that should not go unnoticed. Bob Scalise performed an outstanding job as he piloted his corps to a 9-2-1 record, quite a reversal from last year's record. Greatly aided by firm commitments from the women as well as some new talent. Scalise's team had made a resounding move towards full varsity status, something they presently do not enjoy.
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