Today’s blog is written by Mark F. Bernstein ’83, author of Football: the Ivy League Origins of an American Obsession (2001). A previous entry from him about Princeton football can be found here.
The title of this video notwithstanding, Princeton football fell on hard times after the decision to abandon the single wing offense in the late Sixties.
In 1973, hoping to revive their fortunes, they hired Bob Casciola ’58, a former All-Ivy tackle, as head coach. Casciola had been an assistant coach under Robert Colman and is credited with persuading future All-American Cosmo Iacavazzi ’66 to attend Princeton. The team finished last in the Ivy League in Casciola’s first season, but improved in 1974 as Walt Snickenberger ’75 won the Asa Bushnell Cup as Ivy League Player of the Year. That raised hopes that the Tigers could return to the top of the standings in 1975.
Those 1975 Tigers had several good players, including quarterback Ron Beible ’76, a civil engineering major who set several Princeton passing records. The film reflects the changing university. In addition to the long hair and flamboyant ’70s clothes (including Beible’s white shoes), there were African-Americans on the team and female cheerleaders on the sidelines (0:15). Several interviews were filmed outside Jadwin Gymnasium, which opened in 1969. Casciola refers to the lack of spring practice, a rule for Ivy football teams that dates to the early 1950s and predates the formal creation of a league.
The film also shows different helmet logos. Princeton experimented with several designs during this period, including the abstract striped tiger tail and the cartoon running tiger. Not until 1998 did they revert to the classic “Michigan” helmet design that coach Fritz Crisler had inaugurated at Princeton during the 1930s.
Unfortunately, the high hopes for the 1975 season were not realized. The team won its first three games but finished 4-5 and fifth in the Ivy League. Casciola continued as coach until 1977 and later served as chief operating officer of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets.
Nineteen seventy-five was, however, a more successful year for Princeton’s men’s basketball team, which won the National Invitational Tournament.