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In all, Syracuse accumulated, by various methods, 589 yards during the afternoon and held West Virginia to 109. Baker gained 49 yards in seven tries and Weber 72 in nine. Davis, however, outgained the entire West Virginia team all by himself, rushing nine times for 141 yards. He may be another Jim Brown after all.
Syracuse is an unusual school, and its emergence as a football power is the result of unusual circumstances. One of the largest privately endowed universities in the country (it is the enrollment, 9,500, which is large, not the endowment), Syracuse is located less than a mile from the downtown business district of the city of Syracuse, about where the Onondaga Indians, a branch of the old Iroquois nation, used to hang out. Educational opportunities are adequate and varied, with some 19 colleges and schools available for those who prefer to study; and campus life is friendly and informal, full of sweaters and skirts and corduroys, sneakers and white buck shoes.
It is best to approach the university during daylight hours, for then the green grass and towering maple trees and lazy beauty of the central campus quadrangle tend to obscure the architectural hodgepodge of the buildings themselves, some of which, if stumbled onto unsuspectingly on a dark night, might well put an innocent observer to headlong flight. There is a dark and forbidding and ancient castle of a structure known as the Crouse College of Fine Arts and a tired old horror of stone, erected in 1873, called the Hall of Languages. But most of the buildings are only middle-aged, and the ivy which crawls over them softens the effect.
Archbold Stadium, where West Virginia suffered on Saturday, was built in 1907 with money donated by John D. Archbold, one of Rockefeller's old Standard Oil crew. It was the first oval stadium in America, and both Roman gladiators and the Dodgers would recognize the style. With steel stands rising above the original concrete structure on one side, wooden stands on the other, and bleachers built over the running track, Archbold Stadium now seats some 40,000 fans.
On certain Saturdays of the past, however, there was little need for about 30,000 of those seats. Although Syracuse had fine football teams in the 1920s and even into the '30s the opposition was frequently of a type to numb native hope. Even Syracuse students looked on football weekends as an excuse for a party rather than as an occasion to howl themselves hoarse in support of the Orange. The Ivy League changed all that.
The decision by the Ivy League in the early 1950s to begin working toward a round-robin schedule threatened to cost Syracuse its good games with Columbia and Dartmouth and traditional foe Cornell. Then Fordham dropped football, and suddenly Athletic Director Lew Andreas had to decide whether Syracuse was to go up or down, to retrench and play a low-pressure, low-income schedule or shoot for the big time; there was no longer a middle course. So Andreas, gambling that Syracuse could develop the teams, turned his back on Rutgers and Lafayette and John Carroll. Schwartzwalder and the New York State Thruway (which opened just in time to transport big-time crowds from all over the state into Archbold Stadium) and Jim Brown did the rest.
The first smell of success came to Schwartzwalder in 1952, but there wasn't anything sweet about it. The Orange Bowl Committee, unable to find anyone else, decided that the seven Syracuse victories over teams such as Temple and Colgate and Boston University qualified the team for a bid. Alabama showed Syracuse how unqualified it was; on New Year's Day of 1953 the Orange was humiliated 61-6.
Four years later, when Syracuse got another chance, it was ready. It had Jim Brown, and if anyone thinks that Brown is a remarkable professional fullback at Cleveland they should have seen him back with the college boys on Piety Hill. The Orange lost to TCU in the Cotton Bowl, but they lost honorably, 28-27, thanks to three Jim Brown touchdowns. When it was over, no one sneered at Syracuse football any more.
Since then, Schwartzwalder's recruiting has been much easier. He found enough good boys to produce last year's Orange Bowl team, and the 1959 squad is quite apparently the best yet. Syracuse has never had an undefeated season; there is still Pitt and Penn State and UCLA ahead this year; bowl is a forbidden word around Schwartzwalder until the season is over. Still, Syracuse thinks—and dreams.
Syracuse is far from a wealthy school despite its bowl revenue, and it has never been able to buy a great football player. Legally entitled to offer tuition, room, board, books and $15 a month laundry money under NCAA rules, Syracuse gives only tuition. "At some big state-supported schools," says Andreas, "tuition is worth only about $200. Here it is worth $1,200, and we think it is not too much to ask that a boy work at jobs we provide in order to pay for his room and board." Partly because of this (Schwartzwalder merely shakes his head and grins when the subject comes up), Syracuse is still unable to compete with Big Ten teams for the exceptionally talented boy ("I have never had a quarterback," says Schwartzwalder, "that as many as five schools were after"), nor with the Ivy League for the special type they seek, nor with the glamour of Army and Navy, nor with some of the southern schools whose entrance requirements are not so stiff. But by digging hard in football-poor New York State and in parts of football-rich Pennsylvania not dominated by Pitt and Penn State, and by making an occasional foray into Ohio when Woody Hayes is looking the other way, Syracuse seems to do all right. Roger Davis, the big guard, came from Ohio, and although Ohio State was uninterested at the time it is quite likely old Woody could find a spot for him now. Maryland was the only other college interested in Schwedes, who went to high school in New Jersey. If there is an exception on the squad it is Ernie Davis, who could have gone to colleges almost anywhere. But Ernie Davis idolized Jim Brown, and when Jim suggested Syracuse, Ernie went.