Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Marty the Man

Domres as a Jet

Since we're waiting on two-deeps from both Fordham and Columbia for this weekend's Liberty Bowl game, I'm going to hold off on a complete game preview, with matchups, etc. until I have a little more information.

That said, remember that the two-deeps are not set in stone. So while we love looking at them, we have to take the information found in them with a grain of salt. Not that anyone is deliberately misleading the fans, it's just that there are a lot of moving parts involved.

Day 3: Marty Domres '69

I've written a lot about the great Marty Domres in the past.

Here are some highlights of his career:

Marty Domres
Inducted in 1995

1962-1964: Christian Brothers Academy High School in Syracuse, played quarterback senior year.

1965 -1968: Columbia University varsity quarterback, set fifteen college records; one Ivy League, three Eastern and, one National passing record.

Columbia was ranked 3rd in nation in offense with 2,404 yards and 4th in nation with passes at 2,206 yards.

Finished his college career with 4495 passing yards, third all time in the Ivy League.

1969 -1971: San Diego Chargers. Drafted in first round of 1969 college draft, 9th overall pick. 179 total attempts, 82 completions, 1,219 yards and 5 touchdowns.

1972-1975: Baltimore Colts, Moreover, the man who replaced John Unitas as quarterback of the Colts – 586 attempts, 293 completions, 3,471 yards and 21 touchdowns.

1976: Played for the San Francisco 49ers

1977: Played for the New York Jets

1978: Retired from football playing in 90 NFL games throwing 27 touchdowns.

2004: The All American Football Foundation Presidents Award

2004: Inducted into the C.B.A LaSallian Athletic Hall of Fame. Domres, who played for the Colts from 1972 to 1975, is now managing director at Deutsche Banc Alex Brown, an investment company downtown Baltimore.

Below are some of the highlights of his overall career and some of his best games:

I can't imagine it was a lot of fun to be on campus in the fall of 1968, just months after the infamous campus riots almost shut the school down forever. But Domres and his teammates plowed through a tough 1968 season with at least a potent offense to make the games interesting. In a 34-25 win over Cornell, Domres shattered several Columbia passing records and his numbers then stood for 14 years. He followed that up two weeks later with a 46-20 thrashing of Brown after convincing first-year head coach Frank Navarro to just abandon the running game early in the first quarter.

Domres became a respected QB in the NFL, at one point replacing Johnny Unitas in Baltimore and later taking over from Joe Namath with the Jets. He never quite emerged as a starter, but he made a great impression on the fans and his fellow players alike.

Baltimore took such a shine to him that he settled there permanently after his playing days were over. Domres works in the brokerage field there.

October 29, 1967

Columbia 24 Rutgers 13

I saw this letter this morning from a concerned Rutgers alum who's angry that the school once known for its connections to Ivies like Columbia and Princeton is now spending a huge amount to compete in big-time football and women's basketball.

Indeed, Columbia and Rutgers once had a grand football rivalry until the late 70's when the Scarlet Knights decided to go "big time." For the record, it took more than 25 years for Rutgers to get there, but get there they did and I think it's been a very good thing for New York-area sports fans who have been deprived of a personal connection to top-ranked college football for so long.

Rutgers' slow climb to upper echelon football made most of the last games against Columbia one-sided affairs, (the last meeting was in 1978 at Giants Stadium where the Lions fell by a 69-0 score, convincing then-Head Coach Bill Campbell to quit coaching, though he did spend one more year at the helm in Morningside Heights). But most of the games in the 1960's were pretty exciting. One of Columbia's best wins came in 1967, with junior QB sensation Marty Domres leading the way at Baker Field.

In what was to be legendary Coach Buff Donelli's last season, the Lions opened 1967 with an encouraging 17-14 win over Colgate. But then three mostly lopsided losses to Princeton, Harvard, and Yale followed. Domres was stellar in those losses, and he came into the Rutgers game with the best completion percentage in the nation at .606. But the Scarlet Knights were still favored by two scores.

Domres went deep early, hitting receiver Don Brophy on the first play from scrimmage for a 66-yard bomb to the Rutgers 10. Jim O'Connor took it in from the two three plays later for the 7-0 lead. The Domres led the team on an 11-play 83-yard drive before taking it in himself from the five, (Domres was also a fine runner), to make it 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Domres struck again after Rutgers had narrowed it to 14-7. He found captain Don Hubert for an 11-yard TD pass to make it 21-7 at the half.

Domres only attempted two passes in the second half, as he showcased his running skills along with the regular Lion ball carriers. Columbia finished the game with 244 yards rushing.

Another hero of the game was sophomore defensive back Jeff Blake who had two interceptions, both in the fourth quarter and both inside the Columbia 10-yard line to snuff out Rutgers' drives.

Columbia would not win again that season, but there was little doubt about how good Domres was after that day. He would eventually play several seasons in the NFL, and is now in the brokerage business in the Baltimore area.

The Columbia-Rutgers rivalry, the second oldest in college football, (the two teams first played in 1870), has been moribund for 30 years now.

November 2, 1968

Columbia 34 Cornell 25

After the Lions opening loss to Lafayette, the '68 season took mostly a turn for the worse as Columbia lost five more games to pull into week 7 at 0-6.

But there was one glimmer of hope as quarterback Marty Domres continued to set records with his arm. Because of his good scrambling skills, Domres was also doing a number on the total yards record books at both Columbia and the Ivy League.

But the records really came crashing down in a wild contest with Cornell at Baker Field that drew well over 14,000 fans.

To understand why so many people showed up to watch a couple of teams that had yet to win an Ivy League game, you have to understand that Domres' legend was growing throughout the area. It was obvious he was going to be drafted by an NFL or AFL team, and how well he played in these final three contests of the year would determine just how early he would go.

The people who showed up really got what they paid for. It started with both teams trading 50+ yard drives and settling for field goals, (Cornell scored first), and it was 3-3.

Then both teams started to raise the stakes. The Big Red drove 73 yards for a touchdown, ending in an 11-yard TD pass from Chris Ritter to Bill Robinson. The Lions came right back with a 78-yard drive, that also ended in an 11-yard TD pass from Domres to Bob Werner. 10-10.

After Columbia failed to capitalize on a Cornell fumble at the Lion 4, Cornell got the ball back on the ensuing punt on its 18-yard line and started a time-consuming drive. It ended with 1:16 left in the half with a 2-yard TD pass to make it 17-10.

But 76 seconds was plenty of time for Domres that day. In fact, he needed just 30 seconds to direct a 73-yard drive ending with a 32-yard scoring strike to Bill Wazevich to make it 17-17 at the half.

The Lions came out of the locker room and seemed to grab the momemtun for good after a 16-play drive ended with a one-yard TD run by Domres and a 24-17 lead. But Cornell came back with an eight-play drive and a two-point conversion to take a 25-24 lead.

Defensive plays dominated the game for the next 10 minutes. The best Columbia could do was get in range for a 35-yard field goal attempt that failed. Cornell got as far as the Lion eleven, decided to go for it from there instead of kick a field goal... and didn't make another first down.

Cornell actually lost two yards on the 4th down try, so the Lions took over from their own six with just about five minutes to play. Domres was not flustered. He drove Columbia all the way down to the Big Red 10 and kicker Rick Rose hit the short field goal for the 27-25 lead with just 2:46 to play.

After a huge sack on the ensuing Cornell possession, Columbia got the ball back one more time and Domres gambled with a long pass to Wazevich that ended in a 38-yard TD for the final points.

Domres 396 yards passing set a Columbia and Ivy League record that stood for several years. Bill Wazevich's five catches for 121 yards helped him break the Columbia career receiving yards record that had stood for 17 years.

But the fans were more excited about the Lions first victory since those terrible riots six and a half months earlier. For the first time since then, a large crowd of Columbians was gathering to celebrate something positive.


Nine years later, Domres was starting for the New York Jets at Shea Stadium against the Miami Dolphins. At one point during the game when the Jets were struggling offensively, a few of the fans were overheard yelling: "Hey Marty, make believe it's Cornell!"

Some legends die hard.

November 24, 1968

Columbia 46 Brown 20

On the same day that the '68 Harvard-Yale game grabbed all the headlines, Marty Domres was making some news of his own with a stunning performance in his final game as a Lion.

When I interviewed him at halftime of the Homecoming Game last year, Domres told me that he convinced Head Coach Frank Navarro to let him loose and throw as much as possible.

The result was a cavalcade of broken Columbia and Ivy League records and some very tired defensive backs.

Brown got it started with a 70-yard drive for a TD, but a missed extra point held it at 6-0. Columbia had to punt on the ensuing drive, but the Bears fumbled the kick and the Lions recovered leading to a 23-yard Rick Rose field goal and it was 6-3.

Late in the first, Columbia took over after blocking a Brown punt and taking over at the opponents' 28-yard line. A pair of Domres passes later it was 10-6 and the touchdown parade was on.

The Lions got the ball back quickly and a pass interference call, (by the end of the game Brown would be called for a record 125-yards worth of pass interference penalties), put them on the Bear 13. Domres took it in himself from the one a few plays later and it was 20-6. Domres scored again on a scramble before the half to make it 26-6 at intermission.

The teams were scoreless in the third quarter, but it got wild again in the fourth. Domres engineered a 67-yard drive, that ended in back-to-back completions of 21 and 39 yards to Ken Alexander before Paul Burlingame ran it in from the three. Moments later Columbia recovered a Brown fumble at the Lion 48 and Domres made them pay by forcing another pass interference penalty that put the ball on the Bear 21. Domres found Kevin Brown for the 21-yard score on the next play and it was 39-6 Lions.

After Brown put together a long drive for a touchdown, Domres led Columbia back for one more drive. But once the Lions reached the Brown 21, Domres deferred to sophomore QB Robbie Wroe, who finished the drive off with a 29-yard TD pass to Jim O'Connor.

Domres finished the game by breaking the NCAA record for most plays in a 3-year career, (a total of 1,133). His career total yardage of 5,345 yards was 5th all-time in NCAA history.

He broke the Ivy and Columbia record for career passes thrown, career passes completed, career passing yardage and total offense.

He broke the single game Ivy and Columbia record for career passes thrown, career passes completed, career passing yardage and total offense.

So while the media and the Ivy League itself was obsessed with the heroics of Frank Champi and the "greatness" of Yale's Brian Dowling, the truth is Domres was the best quarterback of his era.

He just doesn't have a Doonesbury character named after him.


At Thu Sep 17, 02:51:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have said it many times. I have spoken to many Ivy/NCAA Football Fans, Coaches, Teammates and even some NFL scouts who have told me that Marty Domres was the best player they have ever seen in the Ivy league...period.

At Thu Sep 17, 02:56:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carm Cozza used to have nightmares before playing us; I heard that straight from oone of the starters on the Yale team during that period. Practices at Yale were always a killer that week.


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