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Stassen returned to Philadelphia somehow convinced that he had scheduled a Penn-Harvard fixture. Penn's athletic director, H. Jamison Swarts, an unflamboyant type but highly esteemed in intercollegiate athletics all over the country, wanted to see it in writing. Besides, he told Stassen, on that specified date Penn was already scheduled to play Columbia. Stassen ordered the Columbia game canceled. Greatly embarrassed, Swarts called on the Columbia athletic director, Ralph Furey, and explained the situation, suggesting a meeting at the summit between Stassen and the president of Columbia, a former football player named D. D. Eisenhower. "We don't need any generals to protect us," Furey said, among other things. "Consider the game canceled." But when Harvard was applied to, it was sorry but it already had a game scheduled for that Saturday. Meanwhile the news of the Columbia cancellation had leaked to the Penn alumni in New York, and it made them furious, because they were all very fond of Lou Little, a Penn alumnus whose Columbia teams always did their best to tear Penn to pieces. Poor Swarts had to go back to Columbia and plead for a rescheduling. Columbia consented to it, but when the other Ivies heard the story, there was a good deal of angry muttering in the hallowed halls.
A speech made by Stassen at Philadelphia's Warwick Hotel in August 1950 astounded the other Ivies and angered them more. The occasion was the installation of Stassen's new athletic director, Francis T. Murray, who had been given a five-year contract at about $20,000 a year. (Swarts' annual salary had been about $8,500.) Franny Murray had starred in the backfield of Penn's "Destiny Team" of 1936 (7-1-0) and had been an All-America basketball player. After graduation he played with the Eagles, then became a sports broadcaster and promoted the athletic contests which the Philadelphia Inquirer staged for charity. He was good looking, personable, aged 35, and the seat of his pants was full of firecrackers. Franny Murray was just what Dr. Stassen ordered.
In describing to his audience the rosy athletic future envisioned for Penn, Stassen emphasized several times how it could be legitimately arrived at under the code of the National Collegiate Athletic Association: "Moving with ingenuity and resourcefulness under the NCAA code, we can have great teams at Penn in football and other sports.... We are going to take full advantage of the [ NCAA] code in order to bring top athletes to Penn.... " At one point he seemed to imply that Penn would observe the letter of the rules but not be so particular about their spirit: "We can live up to the code without bending over backwards to follow it.... We shall do all we can, while living up to the provisions of the NCAA and Ivy group codes, to produce winning teams against first-class opposition."
These were some of the platform planks in the policy which Stassen had sonorously christened Victory with Honor, a phrase that was to haunt Penn football in the years to come. Perhaps, politicianlike, Stassen was trying to make everybody happy, but if he wasn't, he seems to have been amazingly unaware of what his Ivy fellow presidents had been thinking and doing about football the past half-dozen years. They disapproved of the NCAA code, which permitted the granting of athletic scholarships, scheduling games five years in advance, spring practice and other things which were conducive, in their eyes, to football abuses, and they were organizing against it. Their inclinations and, later, their actions were aimed at football deemphasis. In their minds the NCAA and Ivy group codes had diametrically opposed objectives: it would be impossible for a college to live up to the Ivy League code and still to use all the freedom allowed by the NCAA to produce winning teams against first-class opposition. When the Ivy presidents learned not long after Stassen's speech that Penn would play Notre Dame in 1952, they thought they had a pretty good notion of which code Penn would live up to.
Four Ivies fulfilled their football commitments with Penn that fall (and in 1951 and 1952), but less than two months after the 1950 season ended, Joe Williams, the sports editor of the New York World Telegram & Sun, scored a notable news beat when he published in his column that on Penn's 1953 schedule (the first that Franny Murray had a free hand in making) there would be no Ivies except Cornell, which would meet Penn as usual on Thanksgiving. "For reasons of their own they preferred not to play us," Murray stated later. "We had the open dates and would gladly have scheduled them, but none of them with whom we had been carrying on continuous rivalries except Cornell was interested."
This statement of Murray's, however, came more than two years after the Joe Williams news beat. He made it to alibi the kind of schedule he finally came up with. Penn's complete 1953 schedule was made in the spring of 1951, but kept top secret for 18 months. It took another news beat, about a year and a half after Joe Williams', before anybody could find out who Penn was playing in 1953 besides Cornell and Notre Dame. This second beat was scored by Ed Pollock, sports editor of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, when in June 1952 he obtained a list of Penn's opponents and published it in his column. (At the Notre Dame game in September he got the schedule; it was to be leaked to the public by printing it on hot-dog napkins, and Ed had got an advance napkin.) An extra fillip was added to Ed's beat; on telephoning George Munger for a statement, he discovered that seven of the schedule's nine games were news to the Penn head coach. Not only had Munger not been consulted during the making of the schedule, he had been kept in the dark about it for 18 months until Ed Pollock turned on the light.
It was quite a schedule that Munger had been saddled with. Besides Notre Dame and Cornell, Penn would play Vanderbilt, a power in the South, Penn State, California, Ohio State, Navy, Michigan and Army. As if this opposition weren't backbreaking enough, the Ivy presidents, Stassen included, had voted in February 1952 to ban spring practice. Under the NCAA code spring practice was permitted, and that was the code that all of George Munger's 1953 opponents, Cornell excepted, observed.
Without benefit of spring practice, Munger had nonetheless passed a miracle in the fall of 1952, and Penn played a 7-7 tie with Notre Dame, which that year achieved the rating of third best in the whole country. Munger's boys even succeeded in winning the mythical Ivy League championship that season and cut Princeton's 24-victory skein.
Penn didn't see a great deal of its president that election year; he had a lot of politicking to do, for he had again sought the Republican nomination. Stassen once more failed to obtain it, but by throwing the votes of his Minnesota delegation to Ike, he broke the Taft-Eisenhower deadlock at the convention. After the election, President Eisenhower appointed him director of the Mutual Security Administration. Since going to Washington, Stassen has not attracted much national attention, save for his attempt last year to run the deep reverse, which was shatteringly smeared by Linebacker Nixon.
Nineteen-fifty-three was the Year of the Witches for Penn football. Shortly after the nation's coaches had voted overwhelmingly to retain the two-platoon system, the Rules Committee abolished it. Penn had that suicidal, formerly top secret, schedule to face in the fall, and all of its opponents except Cornell would have the advantage of spring practice to convert to single-platooning. On behalf of the Penn squad, the captain-elect and the student manager in March wrote a letter to 58 of the university's trustees and prominent alumni. The letter charged that the schedule had not been "well chosen," was against "teams to which we are vastly inferior in conditioning and technical organization," and pleaded for permission to hold spring practice to prepare for it. The story of the letter was broken by the undergraduate Daily Pennsylvanian and seized upon by the Philadelphia press. Franny Murray and William H. DuBarry, who had been the university's acting president since Stassen's departure, took notice of it by giving what they called "a harmony dinner" for the squad and coaching staff.