On a Special Day, Bears Forced to Count Their Losses

On a Special Day, Bears Forced to Count Their Losses

 This will be a bittersweet weekend for Brown football.

On the happy side, the Bears can clinch a fifth consecutive winning season by beating Dartmouth tomorrow; senior Sean Jensen can break the Ivy League record for points by a kicker; senior Michael Malan can break the Brown career rushing record, and the 1976 Ivy League championship team will be inducted into the Brown hall of Fame. On the sad side, Brown will honor the memory of Charles Margiotta, a sophomore on the 1976 team and a lieutenant in the New York City Fire department who was killed int he World Trade Center collapse. He was off-duty and at home Sept. 11- a planned with a friend to buy a hunting cabin didn't occur- when the two hijacked airliners crashed into the towers. He went to work.

Also, Lou Farber, the last surviving member of the famous brown Iron Men of 1926, a former coach at East Providence High School and Arizona coach of the year in Tucson 40 years ago, died Monday. He was 94.

A victory over Dartmouth tomorrow at Brown Stadium will give the Bears a 5-2 record overall, 4-2 in the Ivy League, and a guaranteed winning season. They will play their finale next week at Columbia.

Only once since the formation of the Ivy League in 1956 has Brown put together five consecutive winning seasons. John Anderson produced eight straight winners from 1973 to 1980.

The current streak started in 1997, Mark Whipple's last year as coach, when the Bears finished 7-3 (6-4 on the field, but Penn forfeited five wins that season because of an ineligible player). Phil Estes has fielded 7-3, 9-1 and 7-3 teams.

Ivy League record-breakers were responsible for many of those wins, and Jensen is about to join them. The senior from Fairfield, Calif., needs only four points to break the Ivy League points record for kickers of 218 set by jason Feinberg of Penn from 1998 to 2000.

Jensen's 215 points put him eighth overall in Ivy career scoring. He has scored 49 points this year on 8 of 10 field-goal attempts and 25 of 27 PATs. He kicked three field goals last week at Yale, two at Cornell and two at Harvard. last year, he set the Brown record for extra points in a season with 44. He holds California high-school records for extra points and kicking points.

Malan, who broke Jamie Potkul's single-season rushing record last year with 1,213 yards, needs 159 yards to break Marquis Jessie's career rushing record of 3,098 yards. He smashed Jessie's single-game record this season when he ran for 267 yards against Fordham.

Malan needs 267 yards in his two remaining games to become the first player in Brown football history to have two 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

Brown football players, fans and alumni used to fantasize about winning seasons, Ivy League records and Brown records until John Anderson introduced his first recruiting class to College Hill in 1973. Brown had produced only four winning seasons since 1956 launch of Ivy League play, its last in 1964. Brown had lost 17 in a row to Princeton and was 0-16-1 against Dartmouth.

For eight consecutive years before Anderson arrived, Brown was the joke of college football, ridiculed annually as one of the nation's 20 worst teams. The Bruins, as they were known, won 12 of their 72 games from 1965 through 1972. In 1971 they were 0-9. There was talk on campus of scheduling schools like Colby and Tufts.

Anderson, the cocky coach who had won big at Middleberry, vowed to change all that. He brought in assistant coaches Joe Wirth, Andy Talley and Bill Russo, men who believed anything was possible and who would become successful head coaches. He sold recruits on the chance to play. And he promised his 1973 freshmen that the would win a championship before they graduated.

In November of 1976, they did. In four seasons, Brown went from worst to first. The Bruins were 8-1, a 7-6 loss to Penn the only blemish. Yale was also 8-1.

Brown beat Harvard, Yale and Princeton in the same year for the first time. Brown beat Dartmouth for the first time since 1955. Brown beat Columbia in the season finale for a share of the championship. Anderson was New England coach of the year. Quarterback Paul Michalko, wide receiver Bob Farnham and linebacker Scott Nelson were first team All-Ivy. Michalko and Farnham were also All-East. For the regionally televised Yale game, Michalko and Nelson were the Chevrolet offensive and defensive players of the game.

Mike Sherman won a New England Gold Helmet Award for the Harvard game, Michalko for the Dartmouth game. Sherman and center Mike Praire were All-New England. Linebacker Lou Cole, back Luke Gaffney, Steve Narr, defensive tackle Kevin Rooney and punter Tom Thurow received second-team or third-team recognition or honorable mention. Running back Seth Morris was the R.I. Jewish athlete of the year. Nelson was a second-team academic All-Americana choice and received an NCAA postgraduate scholarship.

The '76 champions set eight Brown records. Michalko and Farnham re-wrote the school's passing and receiving records. Twelve members of that team, and Anderson, eventually were inducted into the Brown Hall of Fame.

But Yale placed seven players on the 1976 All-Ivy first team to Brown's three. "We weren't as talented a group, but we found a way to win," said Whipple, Michalko's back up that season.

Whipple, a sophomore from Phoenix, spent most of that season on the sideline watching history unfold.

"It was kind of a wild team," said Whipple, now the head coach at UMass. "Guys had a lot of fun and acted up, but they had a lot of confidence, and they got better as the season went on.

He recalled practicing in mid November for the Dartmouth game and listening to Anderson worry about whether Dartmouth knew Brown's automatics.

"I remember sitting in a quarterbacks meeting and Anderson was talking about changing all the automatics," Whipple said. "Michalko finally said, 'We're going to win the game. 'We're going to beat their tail.'"

And Brown did, 35-21, at Brown Stadium, the most points Brown had ever scored against the Big Green.

"The coaches were so nervous, but the players were going, 'We'll get this thing done.' We drew a lot of confidence from the seniors that were there," Whipple said.

Although Whipple was "just a young guy" on that team, the joy he experienced that season was a big reason he decided to return in 1994 to coach the Bears. And the affection he still feels for his teammates is why he plans to drive from Orono to Providence tomorrow night to join them for the Hall of Fame dinner at the Westin instead of returning to Amherst with his UMass team after their game at Maine.

"I don't ever remember leaving my football team as a head coach for the trip back, but I'm going to drive down to see the guys," Whipple said. "I probably won't get there until 11 at night, but I know with that crew, it'll just be starting."
 Mike Szostak / The Providence Journa