When the Ivy League publicists assembled last spring for their annual guess-together they picked Dartmouth and HARVARD to win the championship. That prompted one churlish fellow—not a Yale man, either—to note, enviously, that each year the Crimson gets "the best material in the league."
Harvard Coach John Yovicsin, healthy again after undergoing successful open-heart surgery in April, scoffs at this. Further, he insists that his squad has been mortally wounded by the loss of an entire line and, quite unexpectedly, half his offense. Fullback Pat Conway and End Pete Hall, two starters, are out for some very un-Ivy-like conduct. Despite its woes, the Crimson still has enough experienced players (16) around for Yovicsin to form his usual demanding defense. He will rebuild his lines around hard, uncompromising types like End Ken Boyda, Tackle Steve Diamond and Linebacker Bob Barrett. Harvard's flanker T will be as landlocked as ever but, even so, extremely effective on the run. John McCluskey, a sprint-out, option quarterback, and fast Halfbacks Wally Grant and Bobby Leo are all stylish runners. They could be good enough for Harvard to win the title.
Cornell, despite the loss of six All-Ivy players, five of them linemen, has the defense and the backs to make a first-rate run at the championship. The defense is large and solid, with 230-pound All-Ivy Tackle Phil Ratner moving to linebacker to help holdover Tom Guise, 220-pound Dave Hanlon at tackle, and Craig Gannon, a 300-pound sophomore guard.
The backfield is pleasingly competent. Quarterback Marty Sponaugle can handle Coach Tom Harp's wing T, and he is an adequate runner and passer. Fullback Bill Wilson ran for 659 yards last year, while Tailback Pete Larson scored five times. Trouble is they are all slow, and the Big Red offensive line is green. How well Cornell fares will depend on its newcomers.
Massachusetts, a "small college" with big ideas, lost Jerry Whelchel, its do-everything quarterback, and two other starting backs, but Coach Vic Fusia, a master craftsman and recruiter, is not worried one bit. All he did was dig into the deep reservoir of talent he has assembled, and, presto, up came sparkling sophomores like Greg Landry, a splendid 6-foot-3 roll-out quarterback, and Don Durkin, a free-running halfback. Fusia's T is designed for ball control, and he wants his quarterbacks to run like halfbacks and throw well, but sparingly, and his halfbacks to cut corners like racing drivers. Landry and Durkin fit these specifications nicely.
The Redmen also have some outstanding linemen to dress up their new, 24,000-seat stadium this fall. The best are Bernie Dallas, a rough-and-tumble linebacker, and Ends Milt Morin and Bob Meers. Morin, a 6-foot-4 245-pounder who plays both ways, already has the pros talking. Meers is a superb pass catcher. Massachusetts, which has lost only one regular-season game in two years, should breeze to its third straight Yankee Conference Beanpot.
It is a strange year when YALE is not among the best, but the Elis, after a brief respite, are back on hard times. Although Coach John Pont, who departed for Indiana after a sobering two years without spring practice, left behind 20 lettermen for his successor, Carmen Cozza, formerly his assistant, they were mostly second-line reserves. The nub of Yale's tough defense is gone. Cozza, who plays his football like Pont—grim and pounding—starts his reconstruction up front with End Bob Kenney, Guard Greg Weiss and Center Dave Laidley. But scoring will be a problem for the Elis. Quarterback Tone Grant does not pass very well and, except for Halfbacks Jim Groninger and Jim Howard, who run hard, the backfield is hardly the kind to frighten opposing coaches.
There may be some excitement at, of all places, PENN. Weary of being soundly pummeled year in and year out, the Quakers last winter took some firm steps toward a return to winning football. Coach John Stiegman was fired, and Bob Odell, a former Penn All-America halfback, was lured away from Bucknell to replace him. Then Penn announced it would pursue a "more aggressive alumni-supported recruitment policy." Meanwhile, Odell starts with 24 lettermen, including a couple of halfbacks who can make his new I formation work: Bruce Molloy is an authentic triple threat—he passes well, runs better and is the league's best punter; Barry Ellman is an excellent runner. Help is also on the way from Penn's first unbeaten freshman team in 14 years. Bill Creeden, a long-throwing quarterback, may move in ahead of Tom Kennedy as a starter. If Odell can revitalize his line, the Quakers could make it up to fifth place.
At BROWN there is little to make the heart sing. Coach John McLaughry's returnees are meager in size, ability and experience, especially at tackle and on defense. Fortunately, there are some good backs to save the Bruins from total disaster. Quarterback Bob Hall can run and pass and Halfbacks John Hutchinson and Bill Carr will bring some verve to McLaughry's wing T.