November 8, 2007

Eat your heart out ECU

When it comes to big time college football you don't think Williams College. College Bowl yes, Orange Bowl, not really. Yet this Saturday, ESPN College Football Gameday will be visiting the Purple Valley to broadcast the one of the oldest rivalries in college football, Williams College vs. Amherst College. I know the press box at Weston Field pretty well. I was the radio voice of the Williams College Ephs (the mascot is a purple cow). from '69 - '72. That includes the year that Jack Maitland (later a Super Bowl winner with the Baltimore Colts) set the New England single season and career rushing record.
Just so you understand what this match is about, this is Div. III football, no scholarships, the players are students first, athletes second. The most recent US News and World Report college rankings placed Williams first and Amherst second among the county's private liberal arts colleges. Williams college athletes have been awarded 18 NCAA post graduate scholarships and won 17 national championships. The list of Eph leterman (and women) includes 18 Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel Prize winner (economics) and many Fulbright and Marshall scholars.
But these student athletes aren't just smart they're good too. Williams has won 11 of the 12 Directors Cups awarded to the most successful Div. III program each year. No other school can claim that kind across the board dominance over more than a decade in any NCAA Division.
The game has traditions as well, in fact in 1992 Sports Illustrated called the Williams team's tradition " The Best Post-game Tradition in American college football
"The Walk" -- when the Ephs walk in uniform up Spring street singing "Yard by Yard (the college fight song that includes a verse that says -- yard by yard we'll fight our way through the Amherst line..... and stop at St. Pierre's Barber Shop for more celebrating and sometimes a few players elect to have their heads shaved --

Ok enough about Williams, for the record Amherst is a pretty good school too, almost as smart and successful as Williams. It will be a great day in Williamstown, lots of good college fun. We used to begin our broadcasts describing the scene, it was always the same:"The sky is blue, the grass in green. Its a beautiful day for football". Listen closely at the start of the next St. Patrick's day parade, you might just hear the echo.
Take some time to see what college sports is supposed to be about, not big dollars and bigger scandals. but young men and women building strong bodies and strong minds. The Williams - Amherst football game is the epitome of what college athletics should (and can) be.
Sat. the show starts at 10:00 a.m. ,kick off is at noon. Oh and root for the home team, they're the good guys.

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