January 6, 2013

FRANCIS PARKMAN SHOULD HAVE COVERED THE GAME:

Big Green vs. Gridiron Gods (Don Mahler, 1/06/12, Valley News)

In a way, Dartmouth was a victim of its own success.

With a team loaded with older, more mature military-student players -- known as "V-12" athletes -- the Big Green was coming off a 6-1 record in 1943 -- losing only to Penn by a 7-6 count.

Flushed with that success, Dartmouth went out and booked a home-and-away series for the next two years to upgrade its schedule with a high-profile, premier college program -- the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

It was quite a step up ... especially with Notre Dame coming off a national championship season and after the majority of V-12 players left Dartmouth to continue their military careers, leaving the Big Green a little short on both experience and talent.

In those days, colleges,and their partnering football teams had a different look. With World War II raging, the bulk of the college-age males were obviously called to the war effort. Thus, institutions of higher learning were struggling financially to keep their doors open due to a shortage of students, which consequently also meant a shortage of college-educated commissioned officers for the military.

To help solve both problems, the Navy devised the V-12 program, in which a college education was combined with military training. According to an article by Jennifer Seaton for Dartmouth Engineer magazine, the college became host to the largest of the Navy's V-12 programs, enrolling some 2,000 enlisted men.

Incoming freshman Ray Truncellito remembers his football indoctrination at one of his first Dartmouth practices in 1944. "I was lined up next to a guy who said, 'How old are you, kid?'

"I was almost 17, but admitted I was still only 16. He looked at me and said, 'I'm getting too old for this game.' He was 26.

"It was a different college experience then," Truncellito, 84, said in a phone interview last week. "These guys were coming back from the war and all they went through. Now they were being asked to make all these other sacrifices in time and effort. Many of them just didn't want to go through with it."

With head coach Tuss McLaughry serving in the military, the 1944 team was coached by E.M. Brown. Missing so many top players, the Big Green struggled that year to a 2-5-1 record, scoring just 57 points. And playing the Fighting Irish didn't help.

Notre Dame outdid the Big Green's season output in one afternoon, routing Dartmouth, 64-0 in front of a crowd of 40,000 at Fenway Park, which stood as the home field for Dartmouth that day.

Posted by at January 6, 2013 8:36 AM
  
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