We must confess that we can't wait each year for the crunch of shoulder pads; for cleats churning up chunks of turf, and red-faced coaches screaming from the sidelines. But enough about lacrosse. College football season is upon us, and to celebrate, we're going to get back into tiny tidbit mode and present four things you didn't know about each major conference. If you have a little-known fact about your team or conference, strap it to a freshman, point him in our direction and whack him on the ass. Or, mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Today: The Ivy League. And a big thanks to Brett Hoover for his help with these. Congratulations, Mr. Hoover; you're at the top of the Delta House class.
• 1. Competitive Tanning Also Started Here. Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury comic strip features B.D., a character based on Brian Dowling, Yale's quarterback in the late 1960s. Dowling was a first-team All-Ivy League performer in 1967 and 1968, the latter year when Yale went 8-0-1 on its way to a tie for the Ivy championship. In the first eight games, Dowling threw for 1,438 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also finished ninth in the Heisman trophy voting for the season. B.D. has worn a helmet since his first appearance in the Doonesbury comics. He even went to Vietnam with his football helmet on. Eventually, though, the football helmet was replaced with other kinds of headgear, including motorcycle, war combat and riot helmets.
• 2. Or, You Can Play The Madden '03 Video Game. Princeton and Yale's 1903 battle wasn't just a match-up of undefeated teams. It also served as the site for the oldest collegiate football video footage on record, thanks to a Thomas Alva Edison-sponsored production company. The result is a remarkable recording of a game previously witnessed by only the 50,000 spectators on hand. The Library of Congress has obtained the footage and has it available for free online.
• 3. Well, They Are Smart. The students at MIT managed to invade the annual Harvard-Yale matchup
in 1982. After a second-quarter score by Harvard, a weather balloon with the letters "MIT" inflated from underneath the field and exploded into a cloud of dust on the 45-yard line. But what many don't remember is that the prank was so well-constructed it virtually erased the memory of two other MIT pranks in the same game. In that same game in
1982, the MIT band disguised themselves as the Harvard band and played the MIT school song on the field, while MIT students gave out cards that spelled 'MIT' when turned over.
• 4. Run, You Pixies, Run! Sprint football — limited to athletes who weigh 160 or fewer pounds — is an obscure sport played at a handful of Eastern Colleges. Cornell, Penn and Princeton still host it as an intercollegiate sport, as do Army and Navy. Until recently it was known as 'lightweight football' and the only conference was the Eastern Lightweight Football League (the ELF League). When Columbia hosted the sport in the 1960s, current New England Patriot owner Robert Kraft was a member of the team.