Princeton people do not toast their football team's weekly victories—they examine them as specimens. They check them for flaws, as a schoolgirl does her complexion, and then they brood over them. Last week Princeton gathered in its 16th straight specimen, a not-quite-comfortable 14-6 decision over Harvard, and the fans immediately did not begin to shout, "We're No. 1!" and they did not dance and they did not sing and laugh it up into the night, and they did not break out all in gooseflesh anticipating the glory of Old Nassau.
What Princeton people do when they win is wonder. Pretty good, all right, pretty darn good, but this is the Ivy League, correct? An insulated league. That wasn't UCLA we knocked the barium out of, that was another Ivy League test tube. How good is that? And in the Osborne Field House at Princeton on Mondays the team and the coaches sit down to their strip sirloins and speculate on how the national polls will purposely slight them this week and how the Lambert Trophy people will root around for some team like Syracuse that has lost only two or three games and rate it No. 1 in the East over Princeton and unbeaten Dartmouth.
Well, brothers of the Cannon Club and the Tiger Club and you old grads who get the seats on the 50-yard line in Palmer Stadium, brood no more. Do not believe those polls. Do not listen to the dirge. The Ivy League may not be what it used to be, but it is doing all right, brothers, and the Princeton Tiger is definitely not in the tank. It is the genuine article, hard and quick and slickly turned out in its single-wing trappings, and if somebody tells you there is a team in the East that is as good it must be on the tip of his imagination, brothers, his imagination.
Bob Odell of Penn (beaten 51-0 by Princeton) says Princeton should be playing Penn State and Syracuse and the rest of those. Buff Donelli of Columbia (33-0) says Princeton should be playing in the Big Ten. That is stretching the point, of course, because Ivy League presidents still consider spring practice an abomination, and without spring practice not even Princeton could cope with a steady diet of Big Ten opponents. Coach Dick Colman concedes that he would settle for one representative big-name opponent a year "just to see how we would do. That's what the boys really want." But in years like this one, when Pittsburgh is getting run down by run-up scores of 51-13 and 69-13 and Penn State and Syracuse stumble around and Army gets beaten by teams like Colgate there is not an Eastern team to compare with Princeton—unless it is Dartmouth.
A contributing factor in Princeton's emergence as a legitimate power is that the Ivy League is not the restricted sanctuary it was a few years ago. There are more and more good athletes, academically qualified, coming out of public high schools since the increased emphasis on classroom excellence brought about by the space age. The trickle into the Ivy League is near to becoming a cataract. Princeton probably has as much material now as it did when Dick Kazmaier was devastating the East in 1950-51. The Princeton sophomore class has 68 students who were captains of their high school football teams. One Big Ten coach says his toughest recruiting competition comes from the Ivy League. " Princeton is like a national institution, for crying out loud. They've got alumni everywhere—Los Angeles, Cleveland, Dallas—scouting like mad, and half of them never played football in their lives. How you going to outmaneuver an institution?"
So what manner of men has Princeton drawn together to make this fine team? To begin with, it has Ron Landeck, redheaded son of a Cleveland minister, who was offered so many scholarships he lost count after 80. Ohio State Coach Woody Hayes was a regular visitor to the Landeck place. Hayes knew what he was going to be missing. Landeck, after two preparatory years on the Princeton defense, has succeeded as a single-wing tailback "beyond anyone's wildest dreams"—which is Colman's way of saying Colman's wildest dreams did not include Landeck throwing 11 touchdown passes (an Ivy League record); altogether he has passed for 856 yards and has run for 675. He has surely appeared in the wilder dreams of other Ivy League coaches.
There are probably no better guards east of East Lansing than Paul Savidge, who came to Princeton from Lambertville, N.J., to be its 94th team captain, and Stanislaw Jonik (Stas) Maliszewski, who came to America with his family from a World War II displaced-persons camp in Poland. Both are 220-pounders and primarily defensive players—Maliszewski, the quicker man, as a linebacker—but when more blocking power is needed, as it was on Saturday whenever Princeton got near the Harvard goal, they were summoned in, usually by frantic hand signals from the field.
Maliszewski in the Ivy League campus uniform of the day—corduroy pants, devastated loafers and hanging shirttail—looks like a bear dressed up to play Buster Brown. He is, instead, a sensitive, deeply religious young man who, Princeton coaches say, gets nasty only when he removes his two front teeth before a game, and then he is about the nastiest thing ever to draw a pro scout to a Princeton football game. He got homesick—his family now lives in Davenport, Iowa—his freshman year and was ready to transfer to Notre Dame when a Princeton assistant persuaded him to stay.
Then there is End Lauson (Banker) Cashdollar of Beaver, Pa., who caught 11 passes (another Ivy record) for 135 yards against Harvard, and John Bowers of Traverse City, Mich., who, Colman says, is the most consistent blocking wingback he has ever seen, and Fullback Bert Kerstetter, who played on the same team with Joe Namath at Beaver Falls, Pa.
But the real object of Princeton affection is a 150-pound Hungarian refugee—it takes all kinds of refugees to make an institution—who place-kicks soccer-style and is considered the single most demoralizing force on the Princeton team. Charles Gogolak is demoralizing because whenever the Tigers get inside an opponent's 40-yard line—"GoGo Land," Colman calls it—he can practically guarantee them three points. He has already kicked 26 field goals (15 this year) in his college career, an intercollegiate record, and 44 extra points in a row.