Thursday, July 22, 2010

Market Correction

Nick Hartigan powered the Ivies highest-ever scoring offense

Last week I looked at the best season-long defensive performances in Ivy League history.

Flipping to the offensive side of the ball, it's not surprising to see the opposite of the trend that showed defenses were stingier back in the 50's and 60's before easing up in more recent decades.

It actually took until the 1990's before Ivy offenses started to show a clear move into higher scoring territory. Yale's record of 35.2 points scored per game in 1968 held the top spot for 24 years before the Jay Fiedler-led Dartmouth team eclipsed that with a 36.4 ppg. average.

Funny that the higher-powered scoring years for the league have pretty much mirrored the stock market's highs and lows of the last generation.

In more recent years, the Ivies have had what I would call a correction in the point scoring market. Only one team has cracked the 30 ppg. thresh hold since 2005, and that's Brown in 2007.

I think the coming years might bring a return to higher scoring games, as most recruiting classes are emphasizing speed over size as they did in the early 90's through the early 2000's.

Here's the list of the top 10 offensive scoring teams in Ivy history:

1. Brown 2005: 36.8 points per game

This was the Ivy championship team that featured Nick Hartigan running all over the place and a decent passing game to boot.

2. Dartmouth 1992: 36.4 points per game

Jay Fiedler's tenure in Hanover was, in a word, dominant. After three straight years of co-champions in the Ivies, he led the Big Green to a solo title as a soph in 1991 and a shared title a year later in 1992.

3. Penn 2002: 36.3 points per game

Of all the great Penn teams of the 90's and 00's, I really think this was the best. But despite being the #3 scoring offense in Ivy history, QB Mike Mitchell was the only Quaker skill position player to make 1st or 2nd Team All Ivy.

4. Brown 2001: 35.44 points per game

Because of the 9/11 attacks, Brown only played nine games in '01. But the Bears racked up an impressive five TD per game average thanks to all-world WR Chas Gessner and RB Michael Malan.

5. Yale 2003: 35.4 points per game

Yale's 2003 team didn't exactly blow too many people away, finishing just 4-3 in the league and 6-4 overall. But the Elis had a great running tandem in RB Robert Carr and QB Al Cowan. The team failed to be a contender because of a porous defense that allowed more than 28 points per game.

6. Yale 1968: 35.2 points per game

It's amazing that after 42 years, this Bulldog crew remains in the top 10. Of course, with names like Calvin Hill and Brian Dowling, you can understand why. This was the Yale team that had to settle for a championship tie after tying Harvard 29-29 in the greatest ever version of "The Game."

7. Penn 2000: 34.9

This championship Quaker squad featured Bushnell Cup winning QB Gavin Hoffman and star runner Kris Ryan.

8. Dartmouth 1970: 34.5 points per game

The same team that still holds the record for fewest points per game allowed in Ivy history, (4.6), also has a respectable perch at #8 for best scoring offenses in league history. Seriously, someone could write a very good book about how good that 1970 Dartmouth team really was.

9. Harvard 2004: 33.9 points per game

This 10-0 Crimson team is probably the best Harvard squad of my lifetime. All-time greats like QB Ryan Fitzpartrick, RB Clifton Dawson and some great receivers made this a scoring machine in Cambridge.

10. Dartmouth 1969: 32.44 points per game

This little-talked-about Indians team finished in a three way tie for the title with Princeton and Yale. Backs Jim Chasey and John Short made big marks for the Green that season.

All five of the top five teams posted their offensive records in what I'd call the "juiced Ivy offense era" of 1992-2005. Since 2005, the trend has been for lower scoring league wide.

That's what makes the achievements of the '69-'70 Dartmouth and '68 Yale teams that much more remarkable. I consider their numbers similar to posting a 20 home run season in the "dead ball era" for Major League Baseball.

Columbia's best offensive year was the championship season of 1961 when the Lions averaged 26.6 points per game. Next comes 2000 when Johnathan Reese's team record-breaking rushing season led the Lions to 25.6 ppg.

Many longtime fans might have guessed the highest scoring offenses came during the early 1980's when John Witkowski was the star QB. But the best season under #18 was a 23.6 ppg season in 1983.


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