50 years ago: Another big win

A little history lesson . . . ancient history. Fifty years ago, on this date (a Saturday then), I attended my first BC football game as a freshman, Class of 1968. We were in high spirits, I would assume, being young and extremely new to the “college” experience of the time. Little did we know, however, that we would witness that day a historic game, and the best football game, at Alumni Stadium anyway, during our time as students at BC.

Considering that last Saturday’s big win was over a USC team ranked #9 in the country, it’s interesting in a bookend kind of way that Syracuse came into that day’s game ranked #9 preseason. The Orangemen featured an impressive pair of runners: sophomore Floyd Little (22 years old at the time) and senior Jim Nance. Both of them went into the pros and Little had an NFL hall-of-fame career, while Nance played for the Boston, later New England, Patriots.

There’s really only two things I remember about the game. One was that as freshmen we performed card stunts, i.e., we sat in a block; each of us had large poster-size cards and we were to hold one of the sides with different colors up at specific times to form some kind of image visible to others in the stadium. Being behind the card, of course, meant we had no idea if that happened successfully. I don’t think the card stunts ever took place at Alumni Stadium again. (Gee, I hope we didn’t screw it up. :)) The other thing I remember was . . .


With helpful reminders from the Heights of September 25, 1964, I remember that with about 15 seconds left (no tenths or hundredths back then) and the Eagles tied — tied 14-all with the #9 team in the land, which would later beat UCLA that season 39-0! — coach Jim Miller did not settle for the tie. (Update: BS sports historian nonpareil Reid Oslin ’68 tells me Coach Miller indeed called for taking a knee to get the tie/”win,” but teammates in the huddle convinced QB Larry Marzetti to try a long pass. Eagle initiative!) Marzetti threw a wounded duck of a pass that was caught by senior captain Bill Cronin (above). I remember the two defenders colliding, permitting Cronin to complete the 55-yard touchdown play. With the PAT, it ended 21-14. Cue pandemonium and joy. Afterward, we all went back to our dorms and watched the game again on TV. Well, no. Of course, this game was not even televised. Pretty much the only accessible visual record of it is from the Heights and Sub Turri.


This picture from Sub Turri shows QB Larry Marzetti running against Syracuse. The background gives you a sense of scale of the stadium. At this game, it was packed with 25,400 fans.

To give you an even better sense of the physical context of Alumni Stadium in those ancient times, check out this view of the southern end of Lower Campus, from a couple of years later. There is simply the stadium, McHugh Forum (site for hockey and University functions), something meant to serve as a soccer practice field, lousy parking, and remnants of another reservoir. That’s it.


The September 25 Heights also included a column entitled “Where Do We Go From Here?” The closing was “BEAT ARMY.” It was closer than most BC-Army games of the era, but the Eagles fell to the Black Knights, 19-13, on September 26. The Eagles later lost to Tennessee 16-14 (the heart-breakers), had a three-game win streak against Cincinnati, Air Force, and Villanova, lost to Miami 30-6 (we watched that as a student body on some kind of kinescope in McHugh), before beating Detroit Mercy and Holy Cross (10-8) to finish 6-3. Not bad . . . and never better when we were there. Even Doug Flutie was almost 20 years in the future.

A life vell-lived

Professor Florescu (1975)

Professor Florescu (1975)

One of BC’s most well-known and colorful faculty members of the ’70s and ’80s has died. Radu Florescu, professor of history emeritus, was 88 and had taught at the University for 45 years before retiring in 1998. Along with his faculty colleague, Raymond McNally, he co-authored In Search of Dracula in 1972 and the book propelled both of them into popular culture of the time.

“It has changed my life,” he said to the New York Times in 1975. “I used to write books that nobody read.”

A noted scholar of the Balkans, Florescu was born in Romania and left that country at the outbreak of World War II. He learned in his research that he had a family connection to Vlad Tepes, a 15th century nobleman known at the time as “Vlad the Impaler,” for his preferred method of dispatching enemies. Florescu and McNally found links between Vlad and the Dracula of lore.

In Search of Dracula and several subsequent books on the same or similar topics led to an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and interviews and appearances at numerous conferences and events. Prof. Florescu would occasionally attend wearing a long cape.

New York Times obituary
Boston College obituary

In addition to his widow, Prof. Florescu is survived by his children: Nicholas ’74, John ’76, Radu ’83, and Alexandra Lobkowicz ’85.

Kerry and ‘Cooz’

Secretary of State John Kerry JD’76, is to give the main address at tomorrow’s 138th Commencement at BC. He addresses his undergraduate alma mater, Yale, today.

You can watch streaming video of BC’s ceremonies at bc.edu/commencement, beginning at 6:30 am PT.

Coach Bob Cousy (Sub Turri)

Coach Bob Cousy (Sub Turri)

Among those receiving honorary degrees from BC tomorrow will be Bob Cousy P’73, BC basketball coach 1963-69 (I was a student at BC the middle four of those years). All-America at Holy Cross in the Forties (BC’s biggest rival at the time and for decades after) and a Hall-of-Fame player for the Boston Celtics, Cousy (affectionately known to many as “Cooz”) led the Eagles to a record of 117-38 in six seasons, some of the glory years of BC basketball. The Eagles went to the National Invitational Tournament three times (a big deal then as only two dozen teams went to the NCAA, and most of them conference champions), finishing second in the NIT in 1969, and to the NCAA tournament in 1967. In that NCAA, the Eagles (23-3 that season) made it to the regional finals, now known as the Elite Eight, where they lost to North Carolina.

In a time without a shot clock or the three-point shot, Cousy’s teams were fast-moving and high-scoring. The 1965-66 Eagles scored an average of 91.1 points per game, highest of any BC team. The second-highest-scoring team? The 1967-68 Eagles, at 88.8 points per game. Since 1986, when both the three-point shot and shot clock were introduced, which would seem to aid in scoring, no BC team has averaged as high as even 80 points per game over a season.

As co-sports editor of the Heights at the time, I had the privilege of interviewing Coach Cousy in January 1968, a couple of weeks before BC met UCLA in Madison Square Garden, one of the most highly anticipated games in that era. (UCLA, in the midst of a record run of national championships, beat BC 84-77.) In that interview, Cousy was quite candid in talking about the performance of some players and of challenges facing BC in recruitment.

After BC, Cousy went on to coach the Cincinnati Royals in the NBA and was a color commentator on both network and local NBA broadcasts. In recent years, the 85-year-old has been out of the public eye, though a recent newspaper interview spurred by the announcement of his honorary degree has drawn new attention.