With a little luck—good here, bad there—this could be the closest Ivy League race in years. As always, Dartmouth seems to have lost the most by graduation and, as always, seems to have the most coming back anyway. Coach Bob Blackman, the Hanover magician, has a way of just shuffling a few players around and winning championships. This time the shuffle is a crucial one, as Halfback Gene Ryzewicz goes to quarterback and Defensive Back Steve Luxford moves to left half. Ryzewicz has limited ability as a passer, so Blackman will retool his multiple offense to make use of Gene's excellent running. With Linebacker Norm Davis and Tackle Giff Foley to steady the defense and not a sophomore in the lineup, Dartmouth must be favored to win its fifth title in six years. But not easily. Yale has 35 lettermen, including 240-pound Tackle Glenn Green-berg, who hits as hard as his father Hank, the old baseball player, used to. However, Quarterback Brian Dowling, who had a knee operation last year, and Halfback Calvin Hill, who was out for part of the season, must stay healthy for the Elis to have a good chance for the championship.
Harvard and Princeton will be in the thick of the race, too. Harvard lacks quantity but it has quality, especially in the backfield with Ric Zimmerman, the first Crimson quarterback in years who can pass, and a characteristically uncompromising line. Princeton's losses have been severe, but Coach Dick Colman has his usual wealth of good single-wing tailbacks plus Ellis Moore, a quick sophomore fullback.
The rest of the Ivies have problems. Cornell may have trouble holding off improved Columbia for fifth place. At Penn the Quaker linemen are too peaceful. Brown has a new coach, Len Jardine, but the same old team.
For the past five years the Southern Conference has been divided into two camps: West Virginia and the others. In that period the Mountaineers have lost only one conference game—in 1963—and they do not seem about to lose another. Garrett Ford, who gained more than half of West Virginia's 1966 rushing total with a weak line in front of him, is back again. There are two quarterbacks to take some of the load off Ford, and the defense, which did such things as give up 38 points to Penn State, has been shored up by Linebacker Carl Crennel, a sophomore who is the best at WVA since Sam Huff first created his violent world at Morgantown. Coach Jim Carlen has a softer schedule than last year and could finish 8-2.
William and Mary is the lone SC team with even a dream of beating out the Mountaineers. The league's Coach of the Year two of the last three seasons, Marv Levy, would like more speed and depth to go along with W&M's experience. Coach Clarence Stasavich of East Carolina is fifth among active coaches in winning percentage—which says something for the single-wing system he doggedly retains. ECC won all four of its league games last year but failed to win any others. VMI Coach Vito Ragazzo thinks his Keydets are "still a year or two away." At The Citadel 28 lettermen return, including Quarterback Jay Goolsby, who appears to have conquered his sophomore jitters. Richmond has only 18 returning lettermen, and half the squad will be sophomores.
"The Dirty Thirty" at Davidson, so-called because the school had only 30 able-bodied players last season, is a thing of the past. Coach Homer Smith figures on 47 this time around. At Furman, where no one had a full athletic scholarship, the "Football-for-Fun Bunch" lost gracefully. They will again.
The ACC, caught in the throes of a long and rather surprising football drought, has not had a really big team since Jim Tatum's national champions at Maryland in 1953. In 13 years only nine teams have gone to bowls, and in the last three years none have been invited. This season Clemson may restore some ACC prestige by pulling off a major upset or two. The Tigers face a southern Murderers' Row—Georgia, Georgia Tech, Auburn and Alabama—outside the conference, but with 46 lettermen back, Coach Frank Howard may rattle the South and go undefeated in the ACC as well. Quarterback Jimmy Addison set school records in 1966 and will break them this season. Leading the offensive line will be All-America Tackle Wayne Mass.