On a special day, Bears forced to count their losses

Friday, 11/09/2001
Edition: All, Section: Sports, Page D-04

PROVIDENCE - 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 in the World Trade Center collapse. He was off-duty and at home Sept. 11 — a planned trip with a friend to buy a hunting cabin didn't occur — when the two hijacked airliners crashed into the towers. He went to work.
A victory over 1-6 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.

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 the 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 Middlebury, 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 they 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 season 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.

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.
"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.

 Mike Szostak / The Providence Journal