Spirits of '76
Now THAT'S a marching band!
For the Game(s) of the Day on this Fourth of July, I thought I'd highlight some of the memorable contests from 1876 and 1976 in Columbia football history.
Okay, I admit the 1876 part of that equation is a bit of a tall order. But Columbia did play four games in that "season" that was really more a pair of round-robin tournaments with Yale, Princeton and the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. Stevens doesn't play football anymore of course, but it is still located in Hoboken and it was a pioneer of intercollegiate football. Columbia first played Stevens in 1872, just three years after Princeton and Rutgers initiated college football in 1869.
Columbia actually played Stevens twice in 1876, losing 5-3 in the first game but taking the rematch 4-0. In the first game, Columbia captain Edward W. Price protested the outcome, claiming that two of Stevens' players, a Mr. Shippen and a Mr. Kingsland, were not actually students at Stevens.
Two players, a Mr. Radford from Columbia and a Mr, Stephens from Stevens, were seriously injured in the game that was extremely brutal in this era with no forward passing and when both sides basically could take running starts at the line before the snap.
Other accounts of the game speak of the large number of fans in attendance, and how the Columbia side began cheers of "C-o-l-u-m-b-i-a" early and often, (probably a precursor to "Who Owns New York").
For those of you not in to ancient history, I have this:
Game of the Day (Day 78)
September 26, 1976
Columbia 38 Lafayette 31
Of course, the most significant wins of 1976 for Columbia were at Penn, (14-10), and at home against Cornell, (35-17), but the victory at home in week 2 against Lafayette stands out too because of the great performance of one of Columbia's all-time greats: Ed Backus.
Backus had not one, but two interception returns for touchdowns in the game before crashing into a golf buggy parked just outside the endzone and injuring his hip.
Kevin Burns was the Lions QB that day, and while he only completed 4 of 11 passes he did have a 73-yard TD pass to Lou Guarneri.
The Lions also featured a one-two punch on the ground, with Bruce Stephens gettin 90 yards on 17 carries and Jay Hickey racking up 69 yards on 14 rushes.
Columbia finished 1976 at 3-6... in 1876 they were 1-3.