In 1970 Syracuse played two seasons. In the first, the team was troubled by racial conflicts (not to mention its opponents) and it lost three straight games by the cumulative score of 100-29. Coach Ben Schwartzwalder, that tough old paratrooper of a coach, seemed on his way to his first losing year in 21 on Piety Hill. Coaches, players and protestors were busy attending meetings instead of practices. A victory over Maryland encouraged only optimists, since Maryland hadn't beaten anybody either. But in the days that followed, the black boycott and the picketing subsided, Schwartzwalder rallied his players and the Orangemen upset Penn State. After that the team lost only one more game, finishing the second part of the season with a 6-1 record to be 6-4 overall. Now, with racial tensions apparently under control, Syracuse seems headed for big things.
"I feel more optimistic than I have in the last two years," says Assistant Coach Joe Szombathy. "The team made a big recovery last year and many of those spirited boys are back. We now also have the speed to fully utilize the option with pitchouts and I'd say our team is the biggest and strongest, with the best potential, we've had in a long time."
Some 34 lettermen return, including nine of 11 offensive starters and eight of 11 defensive starters. The offensive line misses Split End Tony Gabriel, the best pass catcher in school history, but Gary Sweat, the top freshman receiver last year, should be an adequate replacement. Four seniors, led by 6'5", 265-pound Tackle Dan Yochum, head the line. Marty (Jan The Man) Januszkiewicz and Roger (what else but The Dodger?) Praetorius, who as a twosome rushed for more than 1,200 yards last year, lead an excellent group of running backs lacking only breakaway speed. Greg Allen, who has that speed, is lost for the season because of hepatitis but if either Bob Barlette or Ron Page develop at tailback, Praetorius is likely to be shifted to wingback. As a soph two years ago against Penn State, Allen returned three punts for 170 yards. Quarterback is the offensive uncertainty. Bob Woodruff, who threw only 26 passes last year, is the lone experienced candidate. Senior Frank Ruggiero and sophomore Dave King will contest Woodruff for the position.
Schwartzwalder ought to register his defense as a lethal weapon. Lineman Joe Ehrmann, an All-America tackle, and Middle Guard Ted Lachowicz could take on Godzilla. There appears to be no chink in the linebacking wall of Len Masci, Dave King ( Syracuse has two of them), Chuck Boniti and Howie Goodman. Safety Tom Myers can practically cover the secondary himself.
Syracuse opponents have .500 potential at best. If Syracuse gets by its openers with Wisconsin and Northwestern, the Penn State game (at home) could be the only barrier to its first undefeated season since that superyear, 1959. School officials admit one of the team's biggest problems is overconfidence. What a pleasant problem that is after last year.
A graph of Colorado's 1970 season looks like the profile of the Front Range or a chart of Boulder's weather, which one minute is sunshiny and the next—oh, hail. One week a lot of nice powder snow and the next—ah, sleet. One week after jangling Penn State 41-13 to end the Easterners' 31-game undefeated streak, with 97-yard kickoff returns and a glossy goal-line stand for good measure, the Buffaloes lost to Kansas State 21 20. The Herd took revenge by thundering over Iowa State 61-10. Slotback Cliff Branch, a 9.2 sprinter on the track team, ran back kicks 72 and 62 yards. Colorado went up 21-0 before Iowa State got a first down. A football virus Buff fans call "gold fever" began to rage. Then Colorado coolly lost consecutive Big Eight games to Oklahoma, Missouri and Nebraska. Gold fever plummeted. But what casual spectators did not realize was that two big young tailbacks, John Keyworth and John Tarver, were gaining experience as Coach Eddie Crowder switched from a passing-dependent offense to a triple option. The Herd then made mashed potatoes out of its last three opponents, gaining 429 and 390 yards on the ground against Kansas and Oklahoma State and a crashing 675 total yards against Sugar Bowl-bound Air Force, the highest single game total offense figure in the nation for 1970.
Tarver, who has been switched to fullback, Branch and Keyworth will suit up again this season; the latter seems likely to become one of the country's best. Returning Slot-back Larry Brunson (a member of CU's track team) and Tight End Bob Masten are good receivers. Bill Kralicek makes right guard a wide hole to go through. On defense, Herb Orvis is as good as they come at left tackle. Linebacker Billie Drake, End John Stavely and Defensive Backs Cullen Bryant and Brian Foster are reliable. And at safety—ah, yes, at safety we again have John (Bad Dude) Stearns. Last year Bad Dude admitted right out loud that he wanted to be "the most insane hitter in Big Eight history." Bad Dude fan clubs sprang up coast to coast. This spring the Wilmington, Del. chapter requested 51 autographed photos for its members, all girls. How many victims get through to Dude depends on End Rick Kay, Guards Carl Taibi and Mark Cooney and Linebacker Charles Battle. Defensive Coach Jerry Claiborne, a new import, ranks Cooney an excellent sophomore.
Offense is more peaks and valleys. First, one of three sophomore quarterbacks—sharp-but-short-passing Ken Johnson, 5'7" Joe Duenas and USC transfer Greg Briner—must look better. Split-side Tackle Jake Zumbach and Guard Bill Bain do inspire considerable confidence, and at tailback, where the Buffs need little help, soph Charlie Davis looks like the All-Texas high school MVP he was.