Sports: September 9, 1998

Home sweet home
Looking to rebound from last season, football faces challanges in new stadium

  • Media Preseason Ivy Poll

    Matt Evans '99

      The star of the 1998 Princeton football season cannot throw a pass or make a tackle. In fact, the star attraction won't be on the field at all this year because it is the field. Headliner Princeton Stadium should be filled to capacity for its inaugural game September 19, but not because fans are clamoring to see the Tigers' starting 22.

    Princeton's only returning first-team All-Ivy player is punter Matt Evans '99. And if he gets considerable playing time, it will be a long autumn in the Tigers' new home. "We have Matt Evans, which is wonderful," says coach Steve Tosches of his punter, who holds virtually every Princeton punting record. "But I don't really want to see Matt Evans on the field that much."

    Tosches also has an excellent field goal kicker in second-team All-Ivy Alex Sierk '99, but beyond the kicking game there are plenty of question marks. Heading into training camp, Tosches still needed to pick a starting quarterback and tailback, and perhaps only Kenneth Starr could uncover solid replacements for the six all-league defensive selections lost to graduation.

    Although the starting line-up is unsettled, there are some positive omens for Princeton. There is the new stadium, of course, and Tosches's habit of winning or sharing the Ivy title every three years (1989, 1992, 1995). Furthermore, in contrast with last season's 3,200-mile road odyssey, this year's longest road trip will be to New Haven, Connecticut.


    So who will lead the Tigers in this historic season? At quarterback, senior John Burnham has the edge over sophomore Jon Blevins despite Blevins's break-out performance in spring practice. While Burnham has a stronger arm, Blevins is more patient in the pocket. Both can run the ball. "I really feel that we could be successful with either one," Tosches says.

    Finding a target should not be a problem. Despite entering the 1997 season with just one varsity reception between them, the combination of Ray Canole '99 (34 catches for 363 yards), Phil Wendler '00 (20, 276), and Ryan Crowley '99 (19, 307), showed that they could make plays. With the return of Danny Brian '00, who missed last season with a shoulder injury, Tosches believes his receivers may be the best group he has had at Princeton. Senior Jason Glotzbach returns as the starting tight end.

    Last season's starting tailback, Gerry Giurato '00, has moved to cornerback to fill the shoes of All-America Damani Leech '98. Giurato was more of finesse back, and Tosches is looking for a power runner in the mold of Keith Elias '94 or Marc Washington '97. The coach will choose between Kyle Brandt '01, Nathan McGlothlin '99, Derek Theisen '99, and Damien Taylor '00. Bruce Erb '00 takes over as fullback.

    Although Elias and Washington got all the credit, they had terrific offensive lines, and the combination of a great runner with a punishing front five routinely took over games in the second half. After struggling for two years with a young, inexperienced line, the Tigers return nine of their top 10 linemen from last year. "A lot of it has to do with the amount of time that we have invested in that offensive line," says Tosches. "I want to be very optimistic, [but] they have to go out and show that they can not only be good, but at some point in the game they can become dominant and really wear the opponent down. We're starting to see flashes of that."

    On defense, graduation has left Princeton with more cracks than the old Palmer Stadium. Between them, Leech and safety Tom Ludwig '98 started almost 70 games and had nearly 40 interceptions. Also gone are multi-year starters Tim Greene '98 and Jamie Toddings '98 at linebacker and Griff King '98 and Mark Whaling '98 from the defensive line. All six players received All-Ivy honors last year.

    On the bright side, Tosches believes defensive tackle David Ferrara '00, who will move to defensive end, can be a dominating player. The other defensive end is captain Dan Swingos '99, whose ankle injury against Columbia last year shortened his season. Tumoana Webster '01, an agile 340-pounder from New Zealand, could fill one slot in the middle.

    Linebacker is more of a concern. Seniors Jim Salters and Mike Veronesi, who have split time the last two years, both need to step up and stay healthy. The third linebacker spot is open, although heavily recruited freshman Drew Babinecz may see some time.

    The converted tailback Giurato is joined in the defensive backfield by returning starters Ryan Demler '00 at safety and Gerry Wilson '00 at corner, but the fourth spot is open.


    With a lineup devoid of returning stars, Princeton will struggle to stay in the league race. The Tigers should christen their new stadium by beating Cornell, which is uncharacteristically weak this year. But Fordham and Yale shape up as the only other teams against whom Princeton will be the clear favorite. The non-Ivy games won't be much of a break for the Tigers, as both Lafayette and Lehigh are predicted to finish toward the top of the Patriot League.

    If Princeton Stadium holds any magic for the home team, the fact that the Tigers host five of their seven Ivy contests could be an edge in a league where parity reigns. The prediction here is that Princeton will finish in the middle of the pack with Columbia, Dartmouth, and Brown. The Tigers will outpace Cornell and Yale, but trail Penn and defending champ Harvard. Below is a game-by-game preview:

    Cornell (7 offensive starters returning, 7 defensive starters returning): Hopefully the Tigers will spend their first game in Princeton Stadium exploring the new endzones. But this could be a yawner because, like Princeton, the Big Red also has a good punter and a questionable offense. A Tiger loss would doom the team's Ivy title hopes.

    at Lehigh (8 offensive, 7 defensive): Lehigh plays St. Mary's in California the week before Princeton travels to Bethlehem. Maybe jet leg will slow one of the better offenses the Tigers will face all year.

    at Fordham (5 offensive, 9 defensive): This should be an easy game for Princeton, which has never lost to the Rams, although last year's 9-7 win was a struggle. The Tigers need a win as they head into a tough five-game stretch that will determine the season.

    Brown (10 offensive, 5 defensive): The best offense in league history is back intact, led by Ivy Player of the Year wideout Sean Morey. As a point of reference, the Bruins' 4,743 yards of total offense in 1997 is almost more than Princeton generated in the last two years combined. Brown's defense is weak, so this could be a wild affair.

    at Lafayette (9 offensive, 6 defensive): Princeton has shut out the Leopards in the teams' last two meetings. That trend won't continue, as most of Lafayette's offensive weapons return in 1998.

    Harvard (7 offensive, 7 defensive): The Crimson's biggest scare in their 1997 undefeated Ivy campaign was a muddy 14-12 victory over Princeton that featured safeties by both teams. The Tigers may need another rainy day to keep the preseason favorites in check.

    at Columbia (12 offensive, 9 defensive): The Lions return so many starters because they had many injuries last year, which forced many second-stringers into a starting role. But if Columbia stays healthy, they may surprise the rest of the Ivies.

    Penn (4 offensive, 5 defensive): Quality starters return at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver, along with a solid defense. The key for Penn is a huge but inexperienced offensive line. If Princeton is still in the race, a win here might seal it.

    at Yale (9 offensive, 6 defensive): If Princeton upsets Harvard, a Big Three title should be a sure thing. Yale is again the league doormat.

    Dartmouth (5 offensive, 4 defensive): Despite a 31-24-1 league record in the 1990's, Princeton has managed just one victory against the Big Green this decade. Maybe it's nothing a new stadium can't fix.

    --Phillip Thune '92

    Media Preseason Ivy Poll

    1.Harvard 122 (11)
    2. Brown 113 (5)
    3. Penn 98
    4. Princeton 64
    5. Dartmouth 57
    6. Cornell 43
    7. Yale 19

    First-place votes in parentheses.

    After 61 years, "Tiger" helmet returns to Princeton

    On September 19, when Princeton football players take to the field for the first time in their spanking-new, $45 million stadium, they'll be wearing a helmet that is instantly recognizable to football fans. Except for the orange and black colors, it's identical to the helmet worn by the University of Michigan for 60 years.

    Some alumni will recall the three years (1935-37) when the Tigers last sported a helmet like that. Those were the last three Princeton seasons of coach Fritz Crisler, who in 1938 departed for Michigan and took the design with him. "Some people think of it as the 'Michigan helmet,' but it's the 'Tiger helmet,' and it originated at Princeton," says Stanislaw "Stas" Maliszewski '66, who's responsible for bringing it back to Princeton.

    Maliszewski, the president of the Princeton Football Association (PFA), learned about the origins of Michigan's helmet while doing research on the history of Tiger football and convinced coach Steve Tosches to adopt the "new" look for the Tigers as they begin their first season in the new stadium. "It's one of the most recognized symbols in football," he says. "I talked to some players from the Crisler era and put it all together, then corroborated it with people at Michigan. They acknowledge that the design came from Princeton and take great pride in the fact, but at Princeton its origins had been forgotten."

    Although a few old-timers refer to it as the "winged" helmet, Maliszewski believes Crisler styled the headgear to represent a tiger with flared-back ears. He says that Crisler, who compiled a record of 35-9-5 in six seasons at Princeton, thought the orange-and-black pattern made an easier target for passers. (Ironically, at least one player recalls that Crisler's successor changed to a solid-orange helmet for the same reason -- see Tom Mountain '39's letter, page 7. For a look at the 1998 and 1937 versions of the Tiger helmet, see the cover and page 37, respectively.)


    The new helmet isn't Maliszewski's only contribution to the events of September 19, when Princeton will dedicate the new stadium in the Tigers' home-opener against Cornell. He's been working with Kirk Unruh '70, the university's director of campaign relations, and others on planns for the dedication, which will include a pregame march by former Princeton players carrying class banners (to be draped around the stadium perimeter during the game) and a postgame concert by the Princeton and Cornell bands. The PFA contributed funds to the Princeton band to spruce up its uniform for the occasion. "It's the first time in a very long time that they'll all be wearing pants that match," says Maliszewski.

    Also on the bill is a reading of a dedicatory poem by Paul Muldoon, the director of the creative writing program. Maliszewski, who's related by marriage to Muldoon (their wives are cousins), persuaded the Irish bard to craft some lines for the event after taking him on a tour of the stadium in June. (The poem, "All the Way," will be published in the October 7 PAW.)

    It was Maliszewski, too, who came up with the idea of a halftime charity place-kicking exhibition by Charlie Gogolak '66 and his brother, Pete, a 1964 Cornell graduate. The Gogolaks, Hungarian refugees who were the first soccer-style kickers in football, went on to pro careers (Charlie with the Redskins and Patriots, Pete with the Giants); they last kicked against each other as collegiate athletes in Palmer Stadium, at the 1963 Princeton-Cornell game. The exhibition will raise money for the pediatric wing of the Princeton Medical Center. Holding the ball for Charlie and Pete, respectively, will be presidents Harold Shapiro *64 of Princeton and Hunter Rawlings of Cornell.

    Maliszewski's connections with Tiger football go back to his playing days, when he starred on both offense and defense and in his senior year, as a guard, was voted a consensus all-America (an honor he shares with just two other living Princeton players, Dick Kazmaier '52 and Frank McPhee '53). A member of the alumni committee that advised the university on the new stadium, Maliszewski played a key role in raising $750,000 from the PFA's 1,500 members for the stadium's locker rooms, which for budgetary reasons weren't part of the original design. (More about the PFA and its activities can be found on the organization's new Website, created by Mike DeMilio '88, at


    How Maliszewski got to Princeton is a story in itself. Born in August 1944 in German-occupied Poland, he and his family (his parents, grandparents, and two brothers) soon became refugees, fleeing ahead of the advancing Soviet army. They wound up in a displaced persons camp in West Germany and in 1951 came to the United States. Their port of entry was New York, but the wide-eyed seven-year-old missed seeing the Statue of Liberty: "I was on the starboard side of the boat, looking at the Manhattan skyline."

    After processing through the immigration center on Ellis Island, they entrained for Davenport, Iowa, whose First Presbyterian Church had agreed to sponsor them. Maliszewski's father found work repairing electrical machinery, and the family settled into their new life in the Corn Belt. "We learned English right away -- I don't remember it being a problem," says Maliszewski, who still speaks Polish when talking with his mother (his father died in 1988).

    As a high school football player Maliszewski was heavily recruited by Notre Dame. It was the only university he considered until his senior year, when Jim Leach '64, a Davenport resident and Princeton sophomore home on Christmas break, called him to talk about Princeton. Maliszewski knew Leach (who is now Iowa's senior Republican congressman) because "his family belonged to the church that had sponsored us, and my mother worked at the Leaches'. He came over to our house with Jack Searles '39, Pete Priester '42, and Dudley Priester '45, who seemed very special people, and they convinced me to apply."

    At times during his freshman year Maliszewski wondered if he'd made the right decision. But he eventually adjusted to his new environment, and has never looked back. A philosophy major, he wrote a senior thesis entitled "The Existence of God in Hume and Kant." He played professional football for the Baltimore Colts for two years, then used his earnings to attend Harvard Business School. He's the founder and president of Gateway Asset Management, a pension marketing firm based in Chicago. He and his wife, Stacy, have four children, including Roman Maliszewski '00.

    "What I enjoyed most about playing for Princeton was the opportunity it gave me to represent the school," he says. "It was so different from the pros, where for most guys it's just a job -- the spirit isn't there."

    -- J.I. Merritt '66

    Sports Shorts


    September 19 vs. Cornell
    September 26 at Lehigh
    October 3 at Fordham
    October 10 vs. Brown
    October 17 at Lafayette
    October 24 vs. Harvard
    October 31 at Columbia
    November 7 vs. Penn
    November 14 at Yale
    November 21 vs. Dartmouth

    Games will air on WHWH (AM 1350) and WPRB (FM 103.3) in Princeton and on WHTG (AM 1410) in Eatontown. Selected games will be televised on Comcast and RCN -- check local listings. Fans can also pay to hear the game over the phone on TeamLine (800-846-4700, extension 5761) or can listen over the Internet (


    Princeton's wrestlers may not have swept the mats this past season, but the grapplers dominated the other programs in the classroom. The team had the highest cumulative GPA in the nation (3.423) for the second straight year, this time beating its nearest competitor by a full third of a grade. Coach Michael New said, "This is what college athletics is supposed to be all about -- students succeeding in both the athletic and academic arenas."


    Princeton finished the 1997-98 season tied with Auburn and Clemson for 25th in the Sears Cup, a competition that ranks 202 Division I schools based on participation in NCAA championship events. Not only did Princeton finish ahead of perennial powers such as Duke and Kentucky, the university also was the top-ranked school in the Northeast. Furthermore, had the competition included Princeton's national championships in non-NCAA sanctioned events (women's squash, men's heavyweight and lightweight crew), the university would have leapt to sixth.