Where have you gone, Number 42? Tiger fans turn their lonely eyes to you...
Princeton's once-great football program is in a steep, decades-long decline. During the Tigers' first 100 years of competition, 1869-1968, the teams achieved a sparkling record of 592-171-43, a winning percentage of 73.4 percent. Of our major opponents, only Yale had a positive series advantage, 44-37-10.
Since 1969, the Tiger football record is 165-175-7 (47.5 percent). During those 36 seasons, Yale's games-won advantage has ballooned to 21, Dartmouth's to a positive series record of 42-38-4. In 36 years, Princeton has won or shared the Ivy League title just four times; only one title was not shared.
The performance of the past decade is worse: 44-54-1 overall (44.4 percent) and 31-38-1 (44.3 percent) in the Ivy League. Harvard and Penn have beaten us nine straight games.
The administrations following that of Harold Dodds *14 have allowed the football program to decline to its present mediocre status. Particularly puzzling is the admission office's approximately 10-year-old no-transfer policy (for any reason), the only one of its kind in the Ivy League. During the 2004 season, our chief gridiron tormentors, Penn (four football transfers, from Duke, North Carolina, Navy and Grand Valley State) and Harvard (at least one football transfer, the formidable running back, Cliff Dawson, from Northwestern) once again prevailed.
In a letter to PAW (Letterbox, Feb. 11, 2004), Cameron Atkinson '03, Princeton's gifted running back, made a strong argument for balance in athletic priorities to improve the football program. Let's hope that the present administration and the trustees will take the necessary steps to restore Princeton football to its historic excellence. Then, perhaps, those thousands of empty Princeton Stadium seats will have paying occupants.