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For the first season in well over a decade, a Harvard football team has not been picked by the experts to be a factor in the Ivy League football race, let alone win the championship. There are simply too many questions in this year's Harvard attack, and too many returning answers from the arsenals of the other seven Ivy clubs. Keep in mind, though, that as bad as any Harvard team can be, it will always be better than at least four other teams in the league. So, lest we be called for Delay of Column, here is The Crimson's 1978 Ivy League Football forecast:
1)BROWN: Brown football turns 100 years old this season, and its no secret that at least 95 of these seasons have been losing ones. The last four have been the exceptions, and this one could quite possibly be the beginning of Coach John Anderson's rule. Anderson has been less than a yard shy of the championship each of the last three campaigns; this season he should have no excuses.
Double threat quarterback Mark Whipple, who was runner-up to Harvard's Larry Brown in both passing and total offense last season, returns to lead the offense, and he'll have a strong supporting cast. Split end Mark Farnham, league leader in receptions, is a sure all-Ivy candidate, and backs JoJo Jamiel and Marty Moran are both swift and solid. Scott Kidger is big (6-ft., 6-in., 235) and gifted at tight end. Three out of five offensive linemen return, among them first team all-Ivy center Mike Knight.
Five starters are gone from the Bruin defense, but the top defensive backfield in the Ivies returns, featuring bona fide pro prospect Ron Brown. This unit is a couple of linebackers (co-captain Neil Jacob is kaput for the season with a broken arm) and a defensive lineman away from being devastating. As it stands now they'll just have to hold their ground while Whipple and Farnham do the rest.
2) YALE: The Elis will be very conspicuous by super back John Pagliaro's absence, but nonetheless very visible in their accustomed position near the top of the heap. And while Harvard coach Joe Restic has been known to call Yale mentor Carmen Cozza "a little boy," Cozza's big boys have lost an average of 2.5 league games per season over the last five falls.
Graduation hit the Bulldogs hard, as they lost five studs from last season's All-League squad. Mike Sullivan and Rick Angelone will do their best to fill Pagliaro's cleats, and once Yale finds a quarterback, Bob Krystiniak and All-Ivy end John Spagnola will be welcomed targets. Offensive line is a monstrous question mark, but the freshman team was undefeated last season, so there goes that weakness.
Captain, All-ECAC linebacker, and hired assasin Bill Crowley is back to spearhead another strong Yale defense. The front line and secondary look strong with five returning starters between them. And as is the Yale football legacy, there should be about five or so talented underclassmen to hit the scene.
Yale has a tradition of winning football, just ask anyone who goes there.
3) (tie) HARVARD and PENN: As complicated as Coach Restic's multiflex offense might be at times, there's no secret to the key for Harvard football this season, that being how well Restic fills the seven vacated spots in his defense. For the first time since Restic rode in, in 1971, the Crimson is without a first or second team All-League player on the squad. As always, the divinely created schedule will help Harvard.
The Quakers should put in a legitimate bid for the first few weeks, and, spearheaded by All-Ivy back Dennis Grosvenor and quarterback Tom Roland, their Wishbone offense is no fluke. All Penn does is run, and an experienced interior line should be more than adequate. Penn gained a school record 2504 yards on the ground last autumn and looks to improve on that this year.
They'd better, because aside from three returnees in the line, the Quakers are some kinda hurtin' after the first two yards. Harvard Q.B. Brown had the game of his life passing against Penn last year, and he's already got November 11 circled on this season's calendar. It could very well be the battle for third place in the Ivies.
5) PRINCETON: Former Princeton coach Bob Casciola was as nice a guy as you'd ever want to meet, and as Leo Durocher would have it, his Princeton club usually finished with the rest of the nice guys. First-year mentor Frank Navarro has luckily inherited nine starters on both offense and defense in what has to be Princeton's most top-heavy squad since 1969. Harvard-wrecker Bobby Isom, who romped for 209 yards against the Crimson last November, is mercifully gone, as is defensive end Bill Mitchell. But that, my friends, is it.
The Tigers boast possibly the best offensive line in the Ivies, which should be more than enough for backs Gary Larson, Steve Reynolds, and highly-touted soph Cris Crissy to work with. Quarterback remains a cavity. The defense is huge and adequate, but needs another linebacker and several deep backs.
6) DARTMOUTH: Coach Joe Yukica's maiden voyage in the Ivy League is one of the big stories this year, and should take up more print than the antics of his team.
The Woodsmen have only five returning starters, two on offense. Captain and quarterback Buddy Teevens is a miracle worker on offense, and he'll have to give it a go with a line of rookies. Experienced backs and ends wouldn't hurt either.
Dartmouth's defense was ranked tenth nationally last year, and should still be strong if a replacement for New York Jet rookie Gregg Robinson can be found. The linebackers, led by All-League aspirant Jell Hickey are strong in the Dartmouth tradition, the secondary experienced. And, as is always the case, if Dartmouth can beat Harvard for the first time in half a decade, its entire season will be justified.
7) CORNELL: Everyone was waiting for Coach Bob Blackman to work that Ol' Blackman magic last year in his first season with the Big Red, but Cornell's problems need more than a little hocus-pocus to solve themselves.
The Big Red has 16 of 22 starters back, including Jim Hofher and Mike Tanner, who have shored quarterbacking duties the past two seasons. But linebacking supreme Terry Lee is gone, along with lacrosse star Craig Jaeger, last season's two best all-around players.
It's basically the same sad club of a year ago, and rumors are that Blacman will hock his magic wand for a couple of blue-chip recruits. Sophomore Dick Clasby, namesake of Harvard's halfback star of the fifties, could be one.
8) COLUMBIA: Ivy League football is tradition above all else, so why buck history and pick Columbia higher than last?
Coach Bill Campbell, who would probably reside permanently in a padded locker room if he didn't have the Big Apple to play in after Lion losses, does have All-Ivy receiver Artie Pulsinelli and Fred Sullivan returning, but nobody to throw to them. He also has top-flight linebacker Mike McGraw back, but nobody to help him out. What he does have is a rather large number of rather large but inexperienced bodies to fill in both lines and assorted other positions. Speculation that grotesque Baker Bowl won't be painted for another 20 years doesn't help things much either.
Well, at least they won't laugh during hockey season, as the Lions don't field an ice squad.
Every year the experts say that the season will be decided on the first Saturday when Yale meets Brown, this season in Providence. This year will be no exception--the experts will be el wrongo and the season will some down to the final week with at least two teams in contention. Throw all the names in a hat, pick two and you'll be as close as anyone.
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