Yale football is on the verge of making history — but not the good kind. In arguably the most storied college football rivalry, a Yale class has not been swept by Harvard in over 80 years.
Now, coming off three consecutive defeats to the Cantabs, the Bulldogs enter next Saturday’s match-up as huge underdogs. At 9-0 (6-0 Ivy), Harvard is the only unbeaten team in Div. I-AA. On Saturday, Harvard throttled Penn 31-10, ending the Quakers’ 20-game Ivy winning streak. The Cantabs are a legitimate juggernaut.
Meanwhile, Yale (5-4, 3-3 Ivy) has failed to live up to lofty pre-season expectations. Minus the aid of a muffed punt by Princeton this Saturday, the Bulldogs have not scored in the second half since their Oct. 16 game against Lehigh. That’s a long time.
Basically, the Bulldogs are in trouble. A win on Saturday might not require a miracle, but it will require a tremendous effort from Yale’s coaches, players, and — yes, really — fans.
Coaches and players are going to run practices and watch film. Hopefully, when it comes down to it, we won’t call running plays on third, or fourth, and long. And, if we’re lucky enough to have a two-score lead at the tail end of the fourth quarter, we should run the ball instead of throwing dangerous passes deep in our own territory. (Note: These last two sentences make no sense if you were not at the Princeton game.)
I also think we should end our program’s ban on adjustments. Every other team makes them, so maybe we should too. The inability of Yale’s talented offense to score in the second half indicates the need for change. But, for most of us, these facets of The Game are out of our hands.
However, the people who will be in the stands on Saturday have a role, too. Like it or not, the crowd actually has an impact on The Game — and my sanity. Unfortunately, Yale’s fans tend to contribute very little. But, it’s still not too late to turn it around. Here are a few things that I’d like to see on Saturday:
1) Don’t cheer at the wrong time: Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that the Yale crowd is loud when the Bulldogs have the ball, but quiet when Harvard has possession. The most noise is generated when Yale has the ball on fourth and goal. This is the exact opposite of how to cheer for your team. By making noise, all you’re doing is disrupting our offense. Instead, quiet down when the Bulldogs are driving and be loud when Harvard has the ball.
To the band: You have a lot of responsibility here. Please, don’t encourage the crowd in the wrong situations. If anything, holding up “Be quiet” signs would be a nice idea and a great way to help the team.
2) Avoid non-football chants: “School on Monday” absolutely kills me. Maybe if we’re winning near the end of the game, taunting Harvard would be appropriate. But, I’ve never seen Yale beat Harvard, and I’ve still heard this cheer every year. Why? If Ryan Fitzpatrick and Clifton Dawson are running all over our team, does it really make anyone feel better to remind Harvard students that they don’t have all of next week off, like we do? It shouldn’t.
Hey, if we win on Saturday, I’ll gladly go to class on Monday. While we’re at it, I think we shouldn’t chant “Harvard cheats” after their team gets flagged for penalties. Really, it’s not funny. Also, let’s scrap “Safety school” because that’s not cool–or even true. Nobody does that at sporting events.
3) Kill the college cheers: At every football game, I dread that moment in the third quarter when the clock shows five minutes remaining. Then, the horror.
To everyone in Pierson: Could you just stop? You live in a beautiful, and recently renovated, college. You’ve got a lot of things going for you, but this cheer isn’t one of them. I know there must be a good story behind your lovely cheer, but it is really just awful. While it might be fun for everyone in your college, it also takes the rest of the Yale crowd completely out of the game. If you have any respect for Yale football, at least have second thoughts before you say, “The ‘P’ is for the ‘P’ in Pierson College –“
Meanwhile, other college-only cheers should go too. All they do is cause unnecessary division. Remember, we’re all supposedly rooting for the same team here. Despite the fact that I respect anyone’s ability to withstand near-freezing temperatures, the Saybrook Strip needs to go too. Honestly, nobody wants to see that, and you’re not really naked anyway.
Obviously, I find it unlikely that any of my proposals will be adopted. At times on Saturday, I expect to be pulling my hair out as I stare at an ugly count on the scoreboard.
Maybe my expectations are unreasonable because I’m still stuck in freshmen year when I watched Yale students in John J. Lee Amphitheater carry the men’s basketball team to victories. Perhaps that was a one-time phenomenon that I should just consider myself lucky to have been a part of.
I don’t believe it. If anything, those events demonstrate that a Yale crowd can have a great presence. It can definitely happen again.
To win on Saturday, the Bulldogs will need to play with their best effort. We owe it to the team to give them ours.