Ten thousand men of Harvard want vict'ry today.
One would have to go back 30 years, to the depths of the Depression, to discover the last time this stirringexhortation really stirred anyone around Harvard Square. Until last week, that is, when the Dartmouth College football team arrived in Cambridge holding aloft a 15-game winning streak, the longest of any major-college team in the country.
Now, ordinarily the annual appearance of a Dartmouth team and its rooters is not the occasion for serious concern, one way or the other, at Harvard. Dartmouth people, in the minds of Harvard people, are fine football players, but their talk is too loud and they are a bit immature. Last week, however, the Harvards were more tolerant. For one thing, this was the 60th anniversary of Harvard Stadium, the first concrete football hippodrome in America, and the Harvard people respect tradition, of which they have a great deal more than anyone else. For another thing, Harvard rather suspected it might beat Dartmouth and go on to win the Ivy League championship. Harvard had not lost a game since it was beaten by Dartmouth a year ago, although a couple of early-season ties against Massachusetts and Columbia would sooner be forgotten. And, if an outsider might be forgiven a faintly dispassionate observation, it really is extraordinary what a successful football team can do to the atmosphere around an otherwise sophisticated university.
This, of course, was not as apparent at the beginning of the game last Saturday as it was at the end. Dartmouth appeared on the field in dazzling white uniforms with green striping. Harvard countered with the crimson it has been wearing almost since the Battle of Bunker Hill. On the first play Mike Bassett, the Harvard quarterback, threw a pass to Ted Bracken, the Dartmouth guard. Several minutes later, Dana Kelly, the Dartmouth quarterback, threw a 13-yard pass to John McLean, his halfback, and with the game three and a half minutes old, Dartmouth led by 7-0. All. of a sudden the overflow crowd of 38,000—the first non-Yale sellout at Harvard in 32 years—lost its voice.
Again Harvard received, and on the next play fumbled the ball to Dartmouth. Silence reigned deeper except for some uncouth Dartmouth voices on the sun side of the field. Harvard people from Milton and Dedham and the North Shone began to wish they were spending the balmy autumn afternoon gardening or sailing or playing golf.
But a tall, soft-spoken quarterback from Philadelphia who looks a lot like those fair-haired Hollywood boy friends named Tab and Rip and Rock changed the Harvard minds. His name is Bill Humenuk, and for most of his career at Harvard he has played quarterback in the shadow of his senior classmate Bassett. With time running out in the first half, Humenuk took over the team at mid-field and passed it directly to the Dartmouth one-yard line, where, unfortunately, three passes fell incomplete and the clock ran out before Harvard could score.
But the first time Harvard got the ball in the second half Humenuk was again in charge. Immediately he noticed something about the Dartmouth defense: the right tackle was pinched in too tight and the right end spread too wide. Humenuk called for a slant through this gap by his best friend, Scott Harshbarger, a fellow Pennsylvanian whose father is a professor of religious education at Penn State. Harshbarger found running room behind some ungentlemanly Harvard blocking, and after proceeding some 10 yards downfield decided to cut across field to the right. It was a decision that looked unwise for a moment, but when the confusion of stumbling, tumbling bodies cleared, Harshbarger'scrimson jersey was well along on its way to a touchdown. The play traveled 36 yards and John Hartranft's kick tied the score.
Ten thousand or more men of Harvard now began to sniff vict'ry. They had good reason. Following Dartmouth's early touchdown, Harvard had completely dominated the game, confining Dartmouth to a single first down and 38 yards while accumulating 172 yards and eight first downs of its own. The heretofore celebrated Dartmouth end sweeps were converted into traffic jams by the very good defensive play of Ends Tom Stephenson, Frank Ulcickas and Ken Boyda. The linebacking of Center Brad Stephens and Fullback Bill Grana was careless of everyone's health, including their own. And the wide parabolas of Harry Van Oudenallen's punts kept Dartmouth as uncertain and off balance as a man learning to ice skate.
"I think," said Harvard Coach John Yovicsin, "that defense is very definitely the most important part of the game, and kicking is next."
Before Yovicsin arrived from little Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, Harvard was not at all aware that he existed. He is now 44 years old and in his seventh year at Harvard. When coaching football, he is an unsmiling man with the lean and dedicated look of a deacon, and his teachings have scraped Harvard football off the bottom of the barrel. The team has won three of the last four Big Three championships and the Ivy title in 1961. Last year it was second to Dartmouth. If there is any rap at all against Yovicsin's teams, it is their lack of offensive polish. "I don't mind if we lose," said one lofty undergraduate last week, "so long as we lose interestingly. I kind of love it when we fumble on the goal line. It gives the team character. It's not getting near the goal line that bores you."
Handsome Bill Humenuk removed any signs of boredom from the Harvard stands on Saturday afternoon. He made the team move on the ground, using his fast backs, Grana, Wally Grant and John Dockery, for sweeps, and his friend, Harshbarger, for the power plays inside. He kept the Dartmouth defense loose with passes to Harshbarger, Boyda and Ulcickas, the latter scoring Harvard's second touchdown late in the third quarter on a pass from the Dartmouth 24. Midway through the fourth quarter Humenuk took the team down to the Dartmouth four. From there, Hartranft kicked the field goal that removed all suspense. Dartmouth did score a second touchdown at the very end of the game with the help of a questionable pass-interference call against a Harvard defender in the end zone, but the final score of 17-13 made the teams look more evenly matched than they were.
"The best thing that ever happened to Harvard football," says Baaron Pittenger, who conducts public relations for Harvard athletics, "was when the Russians put sputnik up in the air. Right away high schools all over the country began raising their academic standards, and a lot of good football players who could not have passed our entrance requirements in the past were now able to get into Harvard." Anyone who takes so much as a cursory glance at the group of scholars who now fight fiercely for Harvard will understand what Pittenger is talking about. Unlike so many Ivy League players of the past decade, they look like football players in the same way that Big Ten players do. The anthropoidal line from the bottom of their ears, where the neck should begin, to the corners of their sloping shoulders is unbroken. They have big buttocks and legs and a lot of their front teeth are missing, which indicates an admirable lack of regard for flying elbows. They look, in short, very much like football players.
Some of the players on Harvard's freshman team this year are so promising that other coaches around the country are beginning to whine. Steve Diamond, a tackle from Miami who is the freshman captain, has two brothers playing professionally for the Kansas City Chiefs, and he himself was originally signed to a letter of intent by Georgia Tech. He changed his plans when he found he could get into Harvard. Unfortunately for Tech and other letter-of-intent schools, the Ivy League does not subscribe to the notion of pre-college recruiting contracts. The Ivy schools, absolutely certain that they are not in the flesh business, feel that a young man ought to be able to choose any college he wants when he wants.
It is out of such material that Yovicsin has molded the sturdiest defenses that the League has known in its brief eight-year existence. But even an athlete with sloping shoulders and missing teeth has to do a lot of studying to keep the Harvard dean off his back, and that introduces one of Yovicsin's biggest problems: myopia. "All my safety men are blind," he was saying the other day. "I keep three men deep for punts and kickoffs, and if there were just some way I could get the ball safely into their arms they are all fast enough to be dangerous." In the Rutgers game this year, Grant, the speedy young sophomore from Beverly, Mass., lost his contact lenses on the field, and the game had to be stopped while everyone crawled around in the grass of Harvard Stadium trying to find them. Eventually, a student manager ran at full speed all the way back to Grant's room to get another set of lenses.
Harvard undergraduates, to say nothing of the long-suffering alumni, can scarcely believe that the college is now represented by a football team in the grand and glorious tradition of Eddie Mahan, Charlie Brickley and Barry Wood. A couple of days before the Dartmouth game, a headline in The Harvard Crimson asked plaintively: CRIMSON AT MID-SEASON: WILL LOVE BE REQUITED? In the unique prose of Harvard Yard, the campus sportswriter then went on to pose the dreadful problem that seemed to weigh on so many minds, from Faneuil Hall to the Fens in Boston and throughout the learned rooms alongside the Charles River. "The Crimson [team]," wrote the Crimson, "is like a guy in love with a girl who has beauty, brains, and a monstrous boyfriend. Every time our hero goes to make a move, he thinks of his rival, turns to jelly, and slinks away unrequited.... If the Harvard team ever manages to finish what it starts so bravely the varsity is quite capable of winning the day, its hulking adversaries notwithstanding."
As the traumatic moment of the Dartmouth invasion approached, Harvard College clung to its composure. Unobtrusive slacks and jackets and neckties (without the tie clip) are the mode at Harvard today, and a stranger can scarcely tell the difference between a student and a young professor. "You're not really a Harvard man," explains Joseph M. Russin, president of the Crimson, "until your tie blows over your shoulder as you're walking across the Yard—and you don't notice it." Even the Radcliffe girls have abandoned the disheveled look for the well-laundered dress and neat shoes with heels. "The 'Cliffies want to look normal these days," says Russin, a product of Laramie, Wyo. "They'll just wear one little thing that is different."
The current campus controversy, aside from such standard stuff as Governor Wallace of Alabama and Barry Gold-water, is the matter of parietal hours—how many hours girls should be permitted in men's rooms and vice versa. The answer recently seemed to be something around 50 hours a month, and one correspondent wrote to the Crimson asking if the hours could be taken consecutively.
On Friday evening, frivolous questions aside, the 44th annual Dartmouth concert played by the Harvard band was cheered to the rafters of quaint old Memorial Hall. Strangely for Harvard, a great many minds were preoccupied with the next day's game. Still, a number of people were startled by a very unseemly BEAT DARTMOUTH sign that appeared across sixth-floor windows of new Quincy House, part of the high-rise, poured concrete and glass of the new Harvard that threatens to overpower the traditional 18th century Colonial bricks.
By late Saturday afternoon, when Bill Humenuk and his teammates had demonstrated that the love of their followers was clearly requited, the enthusiasm for the Harvard varsity was unrestrained. President Nathan Pusey visited the dressing room to congratulate the players, and several thousand students gathered outside Dillon Field House with the band to serenade the winners. It might have been Ohio State or Oklahoma on a typical Saturday afternoon. When they reached the last line of their song, one could tell that the hoarse and happy Harvards really meant it.
Ten thousand men of Harvard gained vict'ry today.