Princeton people do not toast their football team's weekly victories—they examine them as specimens. They check them for flaws, as a schoolgirl does her complexion, and then they brood over them. Last week Princeton gathered in its 16th straight specimen, a not-quite-comfortable 14-6 decision over Harvard, and the fans immediately did not begin to shout, "We're No. 1!" and they did not dance and they did not sing and laugh it up into the night, and they did not break out all in gooseflesh anticipating the glory of Old Nassau.
What Princeton people do when they win is wonder. Pretty good, all right, pretty darn good, but this is the Ivy League, correct? An insulated league. That wasn't UCLA we knocked the barium out of, that was another Ivy League test tube. How good is that? And in the Osborne Field House at Princeton on Mondays the team and the coaches sit down to their strip sirloins and speculate on how the national polls will purposely slight them this week and how the Lambert Trophy people will root around for some team like Syracuse that has lost only two or three games and rate it No. 1 in the East over Princeton and unbeaten Dartmouth.
Well, brothers of the Cannon Club and the Tiger Club and you old grads who get the seats on the 50-yard line in Palmer Stadium, brood no more. Do not believe those polls. Do not listen to the dirge. The Ivy League may not be what it used to be, but it is doing all right, brothers, and the Princeton Tiger is definitely not in the tank. It is the genuine article, hard and quick and slickly turned out in its single-wing trappings, and if somebody tells you there is a team in the East that is as good it must be on the tip of his imagination, brothers, his imagination.
Bob Odell of Penn (beaten 51-0 by Princeton) says Princeton should be playing Penn State and Syracuse and the rest of those. Buff Donelli of Columbia (33-0) says Princeton should be playing in the Big Ten. That is stretching the point, of course, because Ivy League presidents still consider spring practice an abomination, and without spring practice not even Princeton could cope with a steady diet of Big Ten opponents. Coach Dick Colman concedes that he would settle for one representative big-name opponent a year "just to see how we would do. That's what the boys really want." But in years like this one, when Pittsburgh is getting run down by run-up scores of 51-13 and 69-13 and Penn State and Syracuse stumble around and Army gets beaten by teams like Colgate there is not an Eastern team to compare with Princeton—unless it is Dartmouth.
A contributing factor in Princeton's emergence as a legitimate power is that the Ivy League is not the restricted sanctuary it was a few years ago. There are more and more good athletes, academically qualified, coming out of public high schools since the increased emphasis on classroom excellence brought about by the space age. The trickle into the Ivy League is near to becoming a cataract. Princeton probably has as much material now as it did when Dick Kazmaier was devastating the East in 1950-51. The Princeton sophomore class has 68 students who were captains of their high school football teams. One Big Ten coach says his toughest recruiting competition comes from the Ivy League. "Princeton is like a national institution, for crying out loud. They've got alumni everywhere—Los Angeles, Cleveland, Dallas—scouting like mad, and half of them never played football in their lives. How you going to outmaneuver an institution?"
So what manner of men has Princeton drawn together to make this fine team? To begin with, it has Ron Landeck, redheaded son of a Cleveland minister, who was offered so many scholarships he lost count after 80. Ohio State Coach Woody Hayes was a regular visitor to the Landeck place. Hayes knew what he was going to be missing. Landeck, after two preparatory years on the Princeton defense, has succeeded as a single-wing tailback "beyond anyone's wildest dreams"—which is Colman's way of saying Colman's wildest dreams did not include Landeck throwing 11 touchdown passes (an Ivy League record); altogether he has passed for 856 yards and has run for 675. He has surely appeared in the wilder dreams of other Ivy League coaches.
There are probably no better guards east of East Lansing than Paul Savidge, who came to Princeton from Lambertville, N.J., to be its 94th team captain, and Stanislaw Jonik (Stas) Maliszewski, who came to America with his family from a World War II displaced-persons camp in Poland. Both are 220-pounders and primarily defensive players—Maliszewski, the quicker man, as a linebacker—but when more blocking power is needed, as it was on Saturday whenever Princeton got near the Harvard goal, they were summoned in, usually by frantic hand signals from the field.
Maliszewski in the Ivy League campus uniform of the day—corduroy pants, devastated loafers and hanging shirttail—looks like a bear dressed up to play Buster Brown. He is, instead, a sensitive, deeply religious young man who, Princeton coaches say, gets nasty only when he removes his two front teeth before a game, and then he is about the nastiest thing ever to draw a pro scout to a Princeton football game. He got homesick—his family now lives in Davenport, Iowa—his freshman year and was ready to transfer to Notre Dame when a Princeton assistant persuaded him to stay.
Then there is End Lauson (Banker) Cashdollar of Beaver, Pa., who caught 11 passes (another Ivy record) for 135 yards against Harvard, and John Bowers of Traverse City, Mich., who, Colman says, is the most consistent blocking wingback he has ever seen, and Fullback Bert Kerstetter, who played on the same team with Joe Namath at Beaver Falls, Pa.
But the real object of Princeton affection is a 150-pound Hungarian refugee—it takes all kinds of refugees to make an institution—who place-kicks soccer-style and is considered the single most demoralizing force on the Princeton team. Charles Gogolak is demoralizing because whenever the Tigers get inside an opponent's 40-yard line—"GoGo Land," Colman calls it—he can practically guarantee them three points. He has already kicked 26 field goals (15 this year) in his college career, an intercollegiate record, and 44 extra points in a row.
Gogolak approaches the ball from an angle, whiplashing his leg and kicking off the instep. Advantages over the conventional straight-on snap-kick are these: he generates more speed and therefore more power (most good American kickers are twice Gogolak's size), and kicking off the instep gives him a much smaller margin of error than off the toe.
Princeton fans cheer for Gogolak like crazy, and some confess to feeling cheated when a Tiger attack does not bog down and a touchdown wipes out a field-goal try. Gogolak came to Princeton by way of a letter of recommendation—his own. He wrote to three Ivy schools, telling how he was Pete Gogolak's brother (Pete kicked for Cornell and is now with the Buffalo Bills) and though he had not had much chance in high school in Wilton, N.Y., and "cannot kick as far as Pete, I am very accurate inside the 30." He weighed 128 pounds and tried to play end on the Princeton team his freshman year, but after risking his life for a few days he took Coach Colman aside and suggested, politely, that he would rather set records kicking field goals than breaking bones. He has been a specialist ever since.
Gogolak is irrepressible. He calls his holder, Quarterback Bob Bedell, "the man with the golden finger," and he says, "Thank you, Mr. Colman, for the opportunity," each time he is sent in to kick. He also kicks off, but he does not try to make tackles. He has, however, been known to pile on a few times.
When he is skylarking around the Princeton practice field—he never, never leaves early—he practices his passing, hoping for the day he is called on to pass off a fake field goal. "I got a new grip," he chirped last week, and threw a flutterball end over end upfield. He says he also has dreams of picking up a fumbled snap and running 40 yards for a touchdown. "What if you get creamed as soon as you pick it up?" he was asked. "That's not in the dream," he replied.
Cornell tried to stop him with a five-man pyramid defense—two men standing on the shoulders of the other three—but even that did not work. Gogolak gets the ball away with terrific speed and uncanny finesse, and he is proud of his ability. A few weeks ago he was invited up to a New York Giant game and came back shaking his head. "Gee, Mr. Colman, the Giants missed three field goals," he said, "and one from the 17-yard line."
There is a noticeable atmosphere of selflessness and sacrifice on the Princeton team, what Backfield Coach Jake McCandless calls "an unmatched morale brought about by the fact that these guys are out here because they want to be, not because they have to be." Blocking Back Bedell came to Princeton as a T quarterback but, just for the chance to play, asked to be moved to blocking back, never again to handle the ball except as a pass receiver. "I never in my life blocked anybody before I came to Princeton," he says. He is now a fine blocker. End Cashdollar, inspired by Bill Bradley-at-Princeton stories, was a bust as a receiver until he started running patterns at home and got his sister to throw him passes by the hour.
Colman, who inherited the job and the single wing when Charley Caldwell died in midseason of 1957, says Princeton started getting good a few years ago when he stopped worrying about outsmarting teams and started trying to outhit them. His starting line now averages 15 pounds a man more than it did five years ago, and it is true that the single wing is a power offense with plenty of double-team blocking and traps and sweeps that appear to send 10 men, six coaches and the entire freshman class ahead of the ball carrier.
But Colman is now the only major college coach still using the single wing (he likes to point out that Clarence Stasavich of East Carolina State was voted small-college coach of the year last year using the single wing), and he really juices it up. Timing is vital in the single wing, and the Tigers execute beautifully. For diversion they shift and split and run from a tailback-fullback version of the I, all in good clean fun and all designed to make it impossible for an opponent to adequately prepare for Princeton and the single wing during that one week before the game. It is impossible. Colman says he would like it just fine if nobody ever went back to the single wing. "And besides, it gives one a chance to be an expert at clinics."
Colman says he is a conservative guy and doesn't really go for all this passing Landeck has been doing, "because when you put that ball up in the air it's a gamble. But I just can't control my quarterbacks. I'm not as young and tough as I used to be."
Landeck threw beautifully at Harvard. He completed 15 of 23 for 177 yards and, with the advantage a tailback has of picking up his receivers from the moment the play begins, he quickly discovered a flaw in the Harvard defense. Harvard can be terribly grudging in the line, and Princeton figured to throw. But Harvard guessed the throwing would go mostly to the short man in the flood zone as Landeck rolled out. So Harvard linebackers played too tight and never really protected against the middle man, Cashdollar, and Cashdollar hooked and slanted and squared in and squared out, and every time he did he was an easy hopper for Landeck's passes.
Princeton had not won at Cambridge since 1957, and twice—in 1961 and 1963—had come in undefeated. But in this game there was never really much threat of an upset. Gogolak had a 48-yard field-goal try bounce awry off the goal post crossbar in the first period, but before that could be construed as a good omen for Harvard, Princeton had intercepted a pass at the 30 and scored in five plays. Landeck threw to Cashdollar for nine yards and again for 14 to the one-yard line, and Kerstetter piled in from there.
Landeck drove the Tigers 68 yards for the second touchdown in the second quarter, dealing left and then right and back again like some kind of supermetronome. He sprinted out left and passed to Cashdollar for 14; back to the right to Cashdollar for nine; left to Wingback Bowers for nine more, then to Shortside End Bill Potter for 11 and to Bedell for four. He got the score himself, sweeping the right side from the two behind an escort of Bedell, Bowers and Kerstetter. Gogolak's 44th extra point tied his brother's collegiate record.
Harvard eventually discovered—it must have been a surprise—that it could move Savidge by double-teaming him with Tackle John Peterson and Guard Joe O'Donnell and did so effectively on an 80-yard third-quarter drive that cut the difference to 14-6. Princeton was in a five-man front, often looping and overcompensating to the outside. On traps and slants, Harvard pushed Halfbacks Bobby Leo and Walter Grant through on power jolts of five to 10 yards. Leo got the touchdown from the five.
Adjusting, Princeton shut off the Harvard running game in the last quarter and made one more pass at the goal, but lost a touchdown when Kerstetter fumbled diving into the end zone.
The Tigers now have Yale and Dartmouth to play at Palmer Stadium and both games are sold out. This is a sign of true love, of course, but Princeton fans know how to keep a team in its place. They barely half filled the stadium for the Tigers' 15th straight victory (over Penn). It would not do at all to let on that they really think Princeton is great or something.