Syracuse

1969 Orangemen
(Authentic Reproduction)

 


 

With ten of eleven offensive starters returning, hopes were high that the Orangemen could add a significant number of wins to the 130-62-2 record that Coach Schwartzwalder took into the season. Injuries immediately wiped out those high hopes as QB Paul Paolisso and DE Lou Gubitosa missed the entire season and FB Marty Januszkiewicz went down in the opener and was immediately redshirted. 5-5 was probably as well as it could have gone under the circumstances. All Big East end Tony Gabriel lacked a reliable passer and the ground game, led by leading scorer Al Newton, was weak. What had been a number four ranked defense nationally in '68, became dependent upon soph tackle Joe Ehrmann who performed at close to All American level. Inconsistent play was made worse by racial unrest although the majority of the team believed the charges of internal racism to be unfounded. Still, morale began to fray as the season wore on, resulting in a full scale racial boycott in 1970. The Orangemen got through this difficult season wearing their traditional orange helmets with one-inch navy blue center stripe and celebrated the 100 year anniversary of college football with a 100 year logo on each side of the helmet, moving the two-and-a-half inch navy blue identifying numerals to the rear.
 

After the 1969 season, Syracuse returned to their traditional orange helmet with navy blue center stripe and returned the two-and-a-half inch dark navy blue numerals to the sides of the helmet. Without realizing the future, Ben Schwartzwalder's successful reign at Syracuse was essentially finished by the end of the 1969 season. The charges of racial discrimination, hotly contested by White players, mushroomed into a nationally discussed issue and the threat of violence on campus as a Black boycott of 1970's spring practice snowballed out of control. "The Syracuse Eight" became a cause-celebre as protesters and agitators traveled to the campus from all parts of the country for demonstrations. Coach Ben had banned seven African-American players from the team, one had joined the protesters voluntarily, and two remained with the squad, starting DB Robin Griffin and injured soph RB Ronald Page. Enhanced police security was needed at home games and the remaining sixty-six White players staged a one-day walkout of practice to make known their support of the staff and disagreement with the charges made by their Black teammates. With the perspective of thirty-six years hindsight, the protests, though serious at the time, now seem to be an issue that was more reflective of society's general ills and avoidable, but the 1970 team that finished at 6-4 and allowed a100-29 scoring disparity the first three games was scuttled before the year began. Rebounding to win six of the final seven games, including an upset of Penn State, showed the teamís maturity and a positive response to excellent coaching. QB Randy Zur hooked up with end Tony Gabriel behind a mammoth O-line and FB Marty Januszkiewicz carried the load. Joe Ehrmann was an All American DT with great play from DB Tom Myers who was a Saints mainstay for ten years. Schwartzwalder was named Eastern Coach Of The Year for the 6-4 record under such trying circumstances. 1971 saw the return of the suspended players who still had eligibility but 5-5-1 was the best the team could muster, in part influenced by a rash of injuries. The offense, especially on the ground, was ineffective despite the experience of RB's Januszewicz and Roger Praetorius and the play of Dave Lapham at guard. The defense was hampered by an injury to Ehrmann and the entire athletic department was pressured by an ongoing committee investigation to determine the viability of "big time football" at the University which hurt morale and recruiting. 1972 resulted in a 5-6 mark and the development of guard Lapham into an All American who would enjoy a fine career with the Bengals. Ehrmann was again an All American player who would star for the Colts for many years before completing his career with the Lions. Ben bowed out with an uncharacteristic 2-9 year with OG Lapham the best player. An institution at Syracuse, Schwartzwalder closed his career with an enviable 153-91-3 record, one of the last of the old-school coaches who applied his military combat experience to develop boys into men. He was later named to the Syracuse University Hall Of Fame and the College Football Hall Of Fame. Since 1993, West Virginia and Syracuse play their annual game for the Coach Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy, sculpted by former Syracuse player Jimmy Ridlon.

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