1973-74 Catamounts
(Authentic Reproduction)

With very brief notice, the University Of Vermont had entered the 1972 pre-season in need of a new head football coach. Joe Scannella accepted a mid-June offer to join the coaching staff of the Oakland Raiders and offensive line coach Carl Falivene was immediately promoted. A teacher who stressed fundamentals, Falivene’s approach to offense was a bit less complex than Scannella’s had been and he pushed the ’72 squad to a credible 4-5 record.  As sophomore quarterback Bob Bateman stepped in for the departed, record setting Earl Olson at quarterback for the 1973 season, there were some growing pains. 1973’s finish was a less sparkling 3-6 though there were some defensive gems turned in by secondary performers Carl “Rackum” Clackum and Gary Gottfried while Bateman demonstrated very obvious leadership and playing talent.

Having time to better prepare for the 1973 season relative to the last minute rush of ‘72, Coach Falivene altered the Catamounts playbook as well as the team’s helmet. This was done perhaps as yet another way to infuse the squad with enthusiasm or perhaps to put his own stamp on the program. The shell was Vermont’s green and the V decal on each side was yellow gold, thus reversing the colors of the previous helmet design. Award stickers in the form of gold stars were added for offense and defense “big plays.”

Coach Falivene pushed his squad through a 1974 season that was completed with offensive fireworks that earned Bateman All Yankee Conference, All New England, and All American honors and a 4-6 record. The bigger fight unfortunately, was Falivene's battle against the rumors of the program’s discontinuation. The season ended against American International College on November 16 and though Falivene and Athletic Director Denis Lambert urged no more than de-emphasis, the program was in fact terminated just weeks later. The Board Of Trustees met and voted on Saturday December 7th and made the announcement on Monday, December 9th that due to a loss of approximately $200,000.00, there would be no more Green and Gold football that would bring students, alumni, and fans together on the beautiful fall afternoons. Trustee Francis R. Peisch stated that “Student interest is almost non-existent and only the alumni care.”  Coach Falivene predicted that “the personality of this university is going to change” and an argument could be made that any university that drops their football program suffers a less spirited and energetic start to the academic year every September. The termination of football was accompanied by a cut-back in certain academic programs as the Board cited budgetary woes affecting the entire university. Quarterback Bateman, the final and ironically, the best to ever play for Vermont, transferred to Brown University and with immediate eligibility, led them through a championship season that earned him Honorable Mention All American honors. He was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals in the seventh round of the ’76 draft, rostered briefly with them, the Patriots, and the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes. He later became a high school coach and ski instructor.


Since the bleak days that marked the end of Vermont football, other areas of UVM’s athletics have thrived. Under the current leadership of Athletic Director and Associate Vice President Robert Corran and Director of Athletic Communication Lisa Champagne, the basketball and hockey programs have not only been of national caliber, but prominent in the nation’s athletic news and consciousness. Though many miss UVM football, the University and the athletic department remain highly ranked and award winning in numerous areas of endeavor. Still, as the leaves turn and fall arrives in New England, those who loved Vermont football lament their loss.