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Saturday, December 15, 2012

It's just a game...

I have been a sports fan from my earliest memories. My strongest memories are of sports I played or watched. I will never forget the punch in the gut I felt when my mother woke me up on New Years Day to tell me that Roberto Clemente's plane was lost and he may never be coming back. I was lucky enough to have a best friend who's dad worked at Three Rivers which got me in to see Clemente's 3000th as on unofficial guest three months earlier.

I can replay a specific play from baseball or football in my mind exactly the way it happened after decades when I find it hard to remember a name of someone I should. The feelings of elation or dissappointment come rushing back intensely. For example, I can recall that there were maple tree leaves in the backstop when I went back to get a wild pitch and still threw out a runner at second base. I can still see my football spikes in the air as I was horse collared after a catch. I got a concussion on that play and remember I took three step after catching the ball but I could not tell the coach at the time what month it was when I got up.

Before I attended Duquesne my favorite college team of course was Pitt. I can remember being upset when the Dukes handed the Panthers their lunch or pulled out a close one. I can also remember the games at the cavernous Civic Arena I would go to on a free student ticket when my evening classes were over. I rarely saw the start of the games then. I recall clearly the high rainbow three pointers from Emmit Sellers or Rick Suder over taller opposition.

I remember listening to the radio or watching a football game and cheering for kids like Dave Loya slaying much bigger giants on the football field. I work with Dave now and part of me still sees the kid they called "streach" when he played at East Allegheny and Duquesne. I will forever regret the unfortunate weather during the "Ice Bowl" at Albany when a perfect season was lost.

Although I was not alive at the time, I feel the pride of Duquesne's Massey Ratings National Championship under Buff Donelli. I discovered the rating while doing research for this blog, publicized it here and now it is in the University's PR but not as much as it should be.

I've been away from this blog for a while but am still a huge Duquesne fan even though I promised myself I'd back away for the sake of my own mental health.

I, like you if you are reading this, still have red and blue blood. I always will even after making the effort to walk away. I miss Ron Everhart and wish him well with my appreciation for re-awakening a forgotten tradition. I wish Jim Ferry now well too. I don't think I have ever been so hopefull or more dissapointed in a human being than in T.J McConnell when he ran out before last season.

I have had my heart filled when the Dukes split the NEC Championship and had it deflated last year when the team held so much promise to get to the NCAAs. I fanticize about the Dukes some day playing Pitt again on the turf.

My wife gets upset when I spent hours writing for this blog or if I have to read every article I can get on the internet about last night's game before I get to my to-do list.


It is just a game, isn't it?

Sunday, September 9, 2012


The Duquesne Dukes showed that this year's team could suck it up when it counts by combining the best of those returning with a promising crop of newcomers. The Dukes again were able to pull out a close win against the one team in the nation that may be even more of a rival than Robert Morris, the Dayton Flyers. Their traditional foe from the Atlantic 10 plays and travels well each year they come to Rooney Field and seemed to be on the verge of taking the game in the fourth quarter before an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty took away a score that would have made it a


Some Thoughts on the Old Dominion Game: • The final score did not reflect the closeness of the game. It’s a shame that those not watching the game wouldn’t know that the Dukes led the Number 6 (or 8) team in the nation 20-10 at the half. • Honestly, neither did the half time score reflect the fact that The Monarchs were dominating on both sides of the ball. The defensive strategy of “bend don’t break” was brilliantly executed. • The game really turned on the two Patterson interceptions in the second half. Duquesne’s defense bent didn’t break but did run out of gas from being on the field too long. The Dukes seemed to try to rotate their defensive line/linebacker corps but were missing one vital cog- Dorian Bell. Bell’s difference-maker with his speed would have fit is perfectly with Dave Opfar’s strategy of masking who was rushing and who would drop into coverage. The extra fresh body would have made a difference too. • The Dukes had absolutely no pressure on Todd Heinicke. Bell would have been the one to outmaneuver his way to the quarterback. The defensive coverage really played well but could not cover for ever. • The Dukes really should have gone for a touchdown at the goal line at the end of the first half. You don’t get many chances to get that close. The message to the offense was “I don’t believe in you”. Of course, this is hind-sight and if they didn’t get the points, I probably would be writing the opposite. That is the best thing about this job. • Finally, hanging in with a team that is due to move to the BCS for 3 quarters is a great accomplishment, no matter what the final score was. Yes, I'm back. Dayton game summary later today.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


The Sports Network has chosen our Duquesne Dukes as the team to beat in the Northeast Conference next year. TSN calls the NEC a wide-open race with the Duke's biggest challenges coming at home vs. Albany and Monmouth and away vs. Bryant.

Click on the TSN image above for the story.

Duquesne football will try to build off a Northeast Conference co-championship last season in its 11-game 2012 schedule.

The Dukes will play five home games, including a Nov. 10 match-up against Albany. The two programs shared the 2011 NEC title, but the Great Danes earned the conference's automatic bid to the FCS playoffs as a result of their win in the head-to-head meeting.

Duquesne also will host Dayton (Sept. 8) in non-conference action and NEC opponents Saint Francis (Sept. 29, Homecoming), Sacred Heart (Oct. 20) and Monmouth (Oct. 27).

The Dukes will open the season at Old Dominion on Sept. 1 and also go to Valparaiso on Sept. 15. In NEC action, they will travel to Bryant (Sept. 22), Central Connecticut State (Oct. 13), Robert Morris (Nov. 3) and Wagner (Nov. 17).

The Dukes won their final five games to finish 9-2, including 7-1 in the NEC, last season. Head coach Jerry Schmitt is entering his eighth season.


Sept. 1, at Old Dominion, Norfolk, Va.
Sept. 8, DAYTON, Pittsburgh, noon
Sept. 15, at Valparaiso, Valparaiso, Ind.
Sept. 22, at Bryant*, Smithfield, R.I., 1 p.m.
Sept. 29, SAINT FRANCIS* (Homecoming), Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Oct. 13, at Central Connecticut State*, New Britain, Conn.
Oct. 20, SACRED HEART*, Pittsburgh, noon
Oct. 27, MONMOUTH*, Pittsburgh, noon
Nov. 3, Robert Morris*, Moon Township, Pa.
Nov. 10, ALBANY*, Pittsburgh, noon
Nov. 17, at Wagner*, Staten Island, N.Y.
* - Northeast Conference game

Saturday, February 4, 2012


You are joining a Championship Team at an excellent university with a football tradition going back to 1891. The team has been declared #1 in the Nation among all collegiate programs and then cut from existence. It has won major bowl games such as the Orange Bowl and has played teams ranging from Alabama to Allegheny County Community College after being reborn as a club.

It has steadily grown in stature after its rebirth and has, with your own contribution, fantastic potential.

Please take time to learn some of the tradition you are about to become part of. We wish you well as students and as athletes. No matter what is printed here or on the Football Forum, know that your fans and Duquesne Alumni are behind you. GO DUQUESNE!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

2011 Non-Player of the Year

With all due consideration to those Forum participants who suggested other names to be recognized as the non-player for 2011, I can’t put off timely recognition of Coach Jerry Schmidt for the job he has done over the past two years in turning Duquesne back into a winning program. From what I have heard in the rumor-mill, the administration from two years ago was not content with losing records. Evidently, neither was the coach. He has produced a championship ring for the team.

Coach Schmidt has overcome the scholarship head start that the rest of the NEC had and has mastered the art of coaching and recruiting a higher level of athlete. He has done so with perhaps one of the smallest football fields on the FCS, Division 2, Division 3 or the high school level. He has done so in at a program that competes for attention with the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins and Pitt.

Most importantly, he has done so in an open, honest and ethically driven program in a town where Todd Graham had just finished running off to Arizona with his money and selective, lip service morality. Coach Schmidt coaches football. His team's athletic record and statistics for this year’s team speak for themselves. Academically, if you look at the recent article on the number of students who have made the Athletic Director's Honor Roll, you will see that the football team is very well represented. See- http://www.goduquesne.com/genrel/010512aag.html

He makes the university proud to show that nice guys with a sense of ethics and an educational mission don’t have to finish last.

Perhaps we'll even get around to recognizing one of the excellent staff Coach Schmidt heads up like Joe Rosatto next year.

Congratulations and thanks to the 2011 Duquesne “Non-Player” of the Year.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 Past Player Contest

I'll tell you the winner- Dan Barr. A Duquesne Beer at the Red Ring goes to the first on the Football Forum to tell me who Dan was, what year he played and why he'd be awarded the 2011 Coffee Mug for Past Player.

Congratulations to "Coach L" (formerly Curious) who knew that Dan Barr was Player-Coach and Captain of Duquesne's (Holy Ghost College) first football team in 1891.

Coach L wins the bottle of Duquesne Beer! Let me know when you are going to a game next year and I'll meet you at the Red Ring to pay up. Maybe we can have a Football Forum Day at the Game. I'm only buying the one bottle since I'm cheap.

I never found their record for that first year but we don't seem to appreciate how much tradition we have playing football here on the Bluff. I'd say helping to form, coach and captain Duquesne's first team deserves some recognition.

Next Up- Non-Player of the Year

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 Fan of the Year

I don't know all Duquesne fans but I have had the pleasure of meeting with Judge Jack McVay and Always a Duke at the Red Ring to talk about the Robert Morris Challenge Trophy (Always a Duke is a past winner of Fan of the Year). Judge Jack played for the Iron Dukes and still bleeds red and blue. He's backed up his interest by sponsoring many things such as jerseys for the Iron Dukes and Boosters and is a frequent contributor to the Football Forum.

2011 Fan of the Year- Judge Jack McVay. (Sorry- I didn't have a picture)

Next Up- Past Player.

2011 Most Improved Player

I have a confession to make here. I owe Jerry Schmidt and Charlie Leventry a big apology. I usually try to avoid direct criticism of student athletes unless they show that they are not giving effort. It was obvious that Charlie Leventry was making an effort so most of my (and others) criticism on the blog and on the Football Forum was directed at Jerry Schmidt for not putting a higher priority on recruiting for punting and place kicking. I had little confidence where Coach Schmidt and Charlie had in his ability to even be an average punter and place kicker. When Eric Duale left without a new option, visions of last second missed field goal losses and terrible field position flashed into my head for this year. Concern expressed on the forum even brought about a player parent response defending Charlie.

I have never been so happy to be wrong. Charlie Leventry not only kept working hard but he became an even better punter and place kicker than I ever could have hoped. Leventry made All NEC by placing 22 of his 48 punts inside the 20 and averaging 36.8 yards a punt. He proved he could punt under pressure and was instrumental in providing good field position in exchanges. His performance at filling in at place kicking was even more impressive. He will be in the Duquesne record books for kicking a 51 yard field goal against Wagner. He was extremely reliable on PATs and field goals all year.

Well deserved Most Improved Player to Charlie Leventry.

Next Up- Fan of the Year.

2011 Defensive MVP

The defensive MVP was almost as hard to choose as the overall and offensive MVP. The defensive line was probably the biggest improvement over the Duquesne teams that were pushed up and down the field when we jumped into scholarship ball giving the rest of the league a few years head start. Mike Passodelis was a candidate and will be missed as was Chris Oliver who formed part of an extremely talented and deep line backing corps. The secondary led the nation in pass defense but showed no weak links.

How can you disagree with the experts who chose Junior Safety Serge Kona as the NEC’s only All American? You don’t. Serge selflessly moved from linebacker to free safety and adjusted immediately. He has 48 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, two interceptions and forced 3 fumbles.

Next Up- Most Improved Player

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Offensive Co-MVPs

This was a tough one. There were so many that deserve mention. It all begins with a mature and assertive offensive line that made all the difference in the word between being pushed around in the first years in the NEC to winning all but one against the same NEC opponents. Then we have a legitimate Payton Award Candidate who may end his career with more rushing yards than any other back since WW II with Larry McCoy.

Then how do you ignore Conner Dixon? His skill at getting into the end zone was matched only by his athleticism and leadership. If he is not drafted by the NFL, somebody isn't doing their homework. Getting Sean Patterson out of the way as Team MVP helps a little but still, he was well protected by the Offensive Line.

The offensive line play deserves recognition and Sean Patterson, Larry McCoy and Conner Dixon would be the among the first to join me if I were to give the award to the line. However its just a fact of football life that they are not noticed when they are doing their jobs.

Offensive Co-MVPs- Larry McCoy and Conner Dixon.

Next up- Defensive MVP

Team MVP- Sean Patterson

With consideration given to the Forum discussion and the Blog Polls, I can't help but hold that above all, there was one person last year who made this team a success when he was on and stumble when he was not on. As good a year as Conner Dixon had, there were other receivers who could have picked it up. Larry McCoy is a real Payton Award Candidate going into next year but the team, though balanced, was not a run oriented team. Sean Patterson was the one irreplaceable cog in the offense with his arm and his legs.

I gave more thought to splitting the award up among the offensive line than any other individual. Defensively, there were many stars to choose from, but no single individual seemed irreplaceable as did Patterson.

Next Up- Offensive MVP

2011 Dukes Rated #16 Duquesne All Time Team

I know that the Blog Poll overwhelmingly (73%) selected the 2011 edition of the Dukes to be ranked in the top 5 of all time Duquesne Teams going back to the first in 1882. However, out of respect for historical teams which included undefeated and nationally ranked Division I teams, I can’t realistically agree. Had they been able to hold on at Bucknell, this year’s team may have moved into the Top 15 with similar 1 loss teams and conference champions perhaps but the Top 10 Duquesne teams were all nationally ranked at their level of play. It’s always difficult to compare teams from different eras and levels of competition, but relative to expectations, I’d place this as Jerry Schmidt’s best place at #16. See Rankings at right.

Congratulations to the Duquesne Fans who usually are a bit overly optimistic for their accuracy on the Blog Poll predicting a 9-2 finish with a Conference Championship.

2011 Season Wrap-Up Next- 2011 MVP

Headline From the Duquesne Football Archives:

Headline From the Duquesne Football Archives:
1942 Milwaukee Journal claims city football dominance over Pitt before WW II program cut.

Looking Back 120 Years and Looking Ahead

Looking Back 120 Years and Looking Ahead
1937 Duquesne Orange Bowl Victory over Mississippi State

What was the first collegiate team on record to play Duquesne? (Duquesne was known back then as Pittsburgh College of the Holy Ghost)

The Layden Trophy- 3 Feet Tall- Bronze, glass and real oak.

“For all the Marbles” in the Steel City

The Pittsburgh Coaching Legends Trophy will not be the first award offered to recognize the winner of local college football contests. In December of 1936, The Pittsburgh City Council authorized Mayor Cornelius D. Scully to award a Championship Cup not to exceed $2000 in cost to Duquesne as the top collegiate football program in the city that year. That year, the Dukes went on to win the Orange Bowl in Miami as well. The cup was presented each year until one of the three universities could win it three consecutive years, claiming permanent ownership of the cup. It would be interesting to know if either trophy still exists in a dusty trophy case somewhere on the campuses of Pitt, Duquesne, or CMU.

Pitt and Carnegie Tech had a still earlier similar cup awarded by the city until Pitt was able to win three years in a row, claiming ownership. Technically, Pitt and Carnegie Mellon could still play for the Layden Cup but it is unlikely in the near future given the differences in their assigned collegiate NCAA Divisions. At present, Duquesne and Robert Morris are the only two teams likely to play for the Cup although Pitt does usually play an FCS opponent each year.

I would like to offer the cup to the Heinz History Center’s Sports Museum to house and perhaps set up a small display recording all of the times the local teams went head to head against each other.

The Layden Cup

Well, The Layden Cup is almost complete. It stands 30 inches tall and is pretty heavy. It is made of a solid oak base (courtesy of the students at East Allegheny's wood shop class) and a copper and glass upper half. The glass part is designed to contain marbles representing each one of the games played between Pittsburgh Collegiate football teams (for all the marbles).

The games began with the first in 1901 between Duquesne (then the Pittsburg College of the Holy Ghost)and Pitt (then known as the Western University of Pennsylvania). Between Pitt (29 wins), CMU [originally Carnegie Tech] (18 wins), Duquesne (15 wins) and RMU (5 wins), I need 29 gold marbles, 18 red marbles, 15 or more blue marbles and 5 or more white marbles along with 2 clear marbles to represent the two ties. Overall there have been 69 games played in head to head Steel City College Football. This year's game allows either Duquesne or RMU to add the 70th marble.

One problem- I need help to find these marbles and my wife will shoot me if I spend any more on the trophy. Is anybody able to help? There will soon be a picture of the cup here on this blog when the face plate is added. There already are some articles from the past below as the idea of a Steel City Challenge Cup developed.

Alternate colors to represent the teams could be Pitt (gold), Duquesne (red), CMU (white) and RMU (blue).

I thought that the cup would look nice kept in the Heinz Sports Museum at the History Center along with the record of head to head games.

The Elmer Layden Cup Steel City Collegiate Football Challenge Cup

Pittsburgh has almost forgotten its inner-city collegiate football rivalries. There was a time when Art Rooney Sr., Steeler owner and former Duquesne star, had to take the Steelers on the road to sell tickets when Pitt, Duquesne or Carnegie Tech would play each other in Pittsburgh.

Elmer Layden was the first Duquesne coach to play both Pitt and Carnegie Tech (Later Carnegie-Mellon). Layden had been one of Grantland' Rice's famed Four Horsemen of Notre Dame and later went on to become the NFL's first commissioner. The Dukes would win their first New Years Day game under Layden, the 1934 Festival of Palms Bowl. The bowl was re-named the Orange Bowl the following year. Duquesne would win the Orange Bowl again later that decade.

Past winners of head to head Pittsburgh Rivalry games are listed below.

1901- Pitt over Duquesne 18-0
1903- Duquesne over Pitt 10-6
1910- Pitt over Carnegie Tech 35-0
1923- Carnegie Tech over Pitt 7-2
1924- Carnegie Tech over Pitt 6-0
1925- Pitt over Carnegie Tech 12-0
1931- Duquesne tied Carnegie Tech 0-0
1932- Pitt over Carnegie Tech 6-0
Pitt over Duquesne 33-0
1933- Pitt over Duquesne 7-0
1934- Carnegie Tech over Duquesne 3-0
1935- Duquesne over Carnegie Tech, 7-0
1936- Duquesne over Pitt 7-0
Duquesne over Carnegie Tech 13-0
1937- Pitt over Carnegie Tech 25-14
Pitt over Duquesne 6-0
Carnegie Tech over Duquesne 6-0
1938- Carnegie Tech over Duquesne 21-0
Pitt over Duquesne 27-0
1939- Duquesne over Pitt 21-13 (Last Pitt-Duquesne)
Duquesne over Carnegie Tech 22-7
1940- Duquesne over Carnegie Tech 14-7
Pitt over Carnegie Tech, 6-0
1941- Pitt over Carnegie Tech, 27-0 (Last Pitt-Carnegie Tech)
1980- CMU over Duquesne 39-7
1981- Duquesne over CMU 27-10
1982- CMU over Duquesne 19-0
1983- CMU over Duquesne 14-11
1984- CMU over Duquesne 20-14
1985- CMU over Duquesne 31-10
1986- CMU over Duquesne 33-22
1987- CMU over Duquesne 17-13
1988- CMU over Duquesne 24-14
1989- Duquesne over CMU 11-10
1990- CMU over Duquesne 31-8
1991- CMU over Duquesne 28-14
1994- Robert Morris over Duquesne 28-6
1995- Robert Morris over Duquesne 38-20
1996- Robert Morris over Duquesne 28-26 (ECAC Bowl)
1998- Duquesne over Robert Morris 24-22
2003- Duquesne over Robert Morris 33-28
2004- Robert Morris over Duquesne 34-14
2005- Duquesne over Robert Morris 23-12
2006- Duquesne over Robert Morris 27-7
2007- Duquesne over Robert Morris 17-14
2008- Robert Morris over Duquesne 34-27
2009- Duquesne over Robert Morris 34-20
2010- Robert Morris over Duquesne 34-11
2011- Duquesne over Robert Morris 45-10
2012- Robert Morris over Duquesne 18-13
2013- Duquesne over Robert Morris 21-10
2014- Duquesne over Robert Morris 22-0
2015- Duquesne over Robert Morris 16-7
2016- Duquesne over Robert Morris 31-24
2017- Duquesne over Robert Morris 51-14


College football in the Pittsburgh area goes all the way back to 1890 when the University of Pittsburgh played its first recorded game against the Allegheny Athletic Association, losing 38-0. Duquesne would follow a year later in 1891, but their first games are lost to recorded memory. The third of the great early Steel City football rivals, Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon University wasn’t founded as a school until 1900, but lost no time by starting a team of its own in 1906.

It was in 1901 that that Pitt, then known as Western University of PA, would win the first recorded contest between Steel City teams with a 18-0 win over Duquesne. Duquesne was known at the Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost until 1911. Duquesne or PCC/HG returned the favor in 1903, beating Pitt 10-6. In 1906 Pitt beat up on Carnegie Tech 35-0. Tech got revenge in the next game, but had to wait 17 years in 1923 by a score of 7-2. Duquesne’s teams reached prominence under coach and former Notre Dame Four Horseman, Elmer Layden. One of their standout early players was Steeler founder and namesake of Rooney Field, Art Rooney Sr.. Art Sr. was their quarterback and place kicker in the 1920’s. It took Duquesne’s 41st year after starting a program to play in an inter-city game with Carnegie Tech, drawing 0-0 in a charity game in 1931.

The Pittsburgh college football rivalries took off BIG TIME after that. All three teams, Pitt, Duquesne and Carnegie Tech, were ranked often in the first national college football rankings put out by the Associated Press.

As the teams became better, the rivalries became bitter. All three teams played nationally known opponents including Notre Dame and the then powerful service academies. But they often faced more determined battles in their own back yards. Pitt, Duquesne and Carnegie-Tech all played in New Year’s Day Bowls, but National Championships were up for grabs when they met during their regular season. Back then only the very top teams played in the Rose, Orange (First known as the Festival of Palms Bowl) and Cotton Bowls. There were no Outback Bowls or the dozens of other modern bowls that cheapen the achievement today.

The college game and its rivalries actually dominated local sports to a point where the same Art Rooney had to take the Steelers on the road to places like Johnstown, Louisville, and New Orleans to sell tickets.

Unfortunately the rivalry between Pitt and Duquesne ended in 1939 with a Pitt loss to the Dukes. Pitt was ranked #1 in the nation by the AP going into the game. The Dukes went on to an undefeated season that year and finished in the AP Top Ten and #1 in the Massey Ratings (See article below). The last game of the great city rivalry came in 1943 when Pitt also ended their series with Carnegie Tech, beating the Tartans handily 45-6. By then, Duquesne had folded its team for World War II and only briefly tried again after the war. Pitt’s rivalries then turned to Penn State and today’s Backyard Brawl with West Virginia.

The Pittsburgh collegiate rivalry lay dormant for decades until Duquesne’s club football team stepped up to Division III and re-ignited their rivalry with the Tartans of Carnegie Mellon. CMU and Duquesne played spirited games from 1980 to 1991 at times even at Three Rivers Stadium. When Duquesne stepped up again to 1-AA, the Steel City Rivalries ended again.

It didn’t end for long. A new collegiate team would be founded a century after Pitt and Duquesne began theirs in Pittsburgh. Robert Morris started from scratch under the direction of former NFL head coach Joe Walton. Duquesne’s series with the Colonials began in 1994 with the Dukes holding a slight edge 5-4. Both teams were consistently ranked at or near the top of non-scholarship 1-AA football. Now, both teams are stepping up in talent when the NEC member Robert Morris began offering scholarships three years ago. Duquesne offered its first scholarship since 1950 when it joined the Northeast Conference this year.

And so, with both teams now in the same conference and stepping up in competition, the Steel City Football Rivalry is on again.


No kidding- The Massey Ratings rank the 1941 Dukes the #1 Major College Football Team in the Nation. That team went 8-0 and was one of three undefeated, untied teams in the nation that year along with Duke and Minnesota. They gave up only 21 points all season to lead the nation in scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense. The AP ranked the Dukes #8 that year. See these links- http://www.cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/div_iaa/northeast/duquesne/all_national_champs.php

More About Duquesne and Major College Football Rankings
Many recognized collegiate football ranking systems begin declaring national champions dating back to 1869 when Princeton was declared national champion by most systems. Controversy exists even in that year’s selection of the nation’s best by some systems rating Rutgers at the top. Back then there were no polls taken by sports writers such as the AP Top 25 or the USA Today Poll or the now defunct UPI Coaches Poll.

The most familiar and accepted current system, The Associated Press only released their first collegiate football ranking in 1934. No AP Poll was released in 1935 but they have been releasing continuous rankings since 1936. The only inconsistency with the AP Poll since 1936 relates to the years when they would not issue a final yearly ranking after the college bowl games.

College football teams from 1869 to the present are ranked very accurately and without regional prejudices by statistically based systems such as the Sagarin, Massey, Sorrenson, RPI, Dunkle and other computer models. Most of these commonly accepted and statistically sound models are fairly consistent since they all basically look at a teams record against their strength of schedule. Their formulas as to how to factor in data from when in the year a team lost or home field advantage do rate teams differently.

Thus, even when bias from a sports writer, coach, or fan is not considered, there is seldom a year when all agree as to who is the nation’s best college football team. Even then, who is to say the fans, coaches and writers shouldn’t have a say over cold computer calculations.

The current BCS System makes an effort to achieve some consensus by relying on both polling data and computer ranking systems. Obviously, even the BCS Series Rankings has never made all of the people happy all of the time.

This debate and controversy over whose team is the best is really part of what being a college football fan is all about.

Duquesne’s National Major Football Championship
All this being said, there was a time and respected system that has declared the Duquesne Dukes the National Champion. That honor belongs to the undefeated and untied 1941 edition of the Duquesne Dukes. This rating is no fluke. The ’41 Dukes gave up only 21 points all season and were led the nation in scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense. No major college team since has given up fewer points.

Only Duquesne, Minnesota and Duke finished the 1941 season undefeated and untied among major programs. Admittedly, Minnesota has been recognized by most ranking systems, including the AP as being the # 1 team in the nation that year. However the Massey Rating System has looked at the data and declares Duquesne to be the #1 team in the nation that year. Duquesne was considered to play in the Cotton Bowl that year. Had they been selected and gone on to beat Texas A & M they would have had a good claim over Minnesota.

The 1941 Sorenson System came very close to the same conclusion as Massey, pegging the Dukes at #2, just below Minnesota and well above #3 Notre Dame. See Sorenson's 1941 Ranking at: http://www.phys.utk.edu/sorensen/cfr/cfr/Output/1941/CF_1941_Ranking_CWDR.html

The Massey System.
The first questions that most would ask are what is the Massey system and is it legitimate? It is legitimate to the point that the current BCS Series currently uses it to determine which teams are selected to play in the BCS Bowls and for the National Championship. The Massey Ratings may be the most scientific and full-featured system available.

Kenneth Massey has been doing these ratings since 1995 and offers previous ratings back to 1930 based upon available data. Massey’s system takes no short cuts. For example, most ratings give a standard home field advantage factor of about 4 points to all home teams. Massey makes the home field advantage factor more precise by analyzing each team’s performance at home vs. away and neutral site games to determine a more accurate facet in rating teams. In other words, winning at home doesn’t and shouldn’t have the same degree of advantage for all teams rated.

The Massey Ratings are also thought to be considerably accurate when considering strength of schedule. This is no easy task when considering the college football world of 1941 when the best in the country often still played considerably lesser-developed programs.

National Major College Football Classifications and Ratings
Duquesne’s first team was fielded in 1891. As most other college teams of the era, the original Dukes’ opponents were not necessarily from other colleges. They included athletic clubs and even high school teams. Nor were there restrictions that all team members had to be current or former students. This began to change as the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS), was established on March 31, 1906 to set rules for college athletics. The IAAUS became the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 1910.

Prior to 1937, ranking colleges was difficult since programs varied widely as to the class of opponents each school would play. Going undefeated against a schedule that included Notre Dame, Penn State and Michigan was obviously more impressive than one that included lesser opponents. With the advent of Bowl selections, the college football had to start separating the apples from the oranges.

In 1937 the NCAA began issuing a system that divided its collegiate football programs into Divisions and placed restrictions on how often teams from each division could play each other. In 1937, the top division was the “University” or “Major College” Division. In 1973, The NCAA restructured its classifications to rename the major programs “Division I”. Division I was subdivided into “I-A” and “1-AA” in 1978. Currently, Duquesne plays in Division I-AA or as the NCAA now officially calls it the “Championship” Subdivision of Division I vs. the “Bowl” Subdivision. Other current NCAA Divisions are II and III. The NAIA and the NCCAA govern smaller college athletic programs.

Massey considered all 119 NCAA Major College football programs when he ranked Duquesne # 1 in 1941. (See link at- http://www.masseyratings.com/cf/years.txt )

Duquesne’s Past Collegiate Classifications
Until the NCAA began to define the caliber of competition, Duquesne was considered an “Independent” collegiate football team along with all other college teams. When the University or Major Division was established in 1937, Duquesne was among this group of just over 100 other colleges and universities. Massey’s 1941 rating considered 119 Major Division teams when it selected Duquesne # 1 in the nation.

Unfortunately, just as Duquesne Football was reaching its highest potential nationally, the team was cut by the University due to the Second World War. Both the AP and Massey had ranked Duquesne teams throughout the 30’s and 40’s prior to the war. Massey ranks the 1933 Dukes at #8 and the 1936 Dukes # 2 in the nation. The AP ranks them at # 14 and # 8 respectively.

Duquesne briefly tried to re-establish the team after the war as a Major Division program, but gave up after the 1950 season. Students and volunteers would start Duquesne’s next team as a club.

Duquesne’s Other National Collegiate Football Championships
When Duquesne re-started its football program in 1969 as a club team, it was sanctioned by the now defunct NCFA. Duquesne was recognized as the National Club Champions in 1973 when they went 10 – 0 under coach Dan McCann and defeated Mattatuck 13-7 in the National Championship game played Three Rivers Stadium.

In 1979, the University again took over sponsorship of the program as an NCAA Division III program. Interestingly, Division III would be the only classification where Duquesne Football could not claim a national championship rating or ranking.

The program would be “upgraded” again in 1993 when it would move to the NCAA Division I-AA. However, the move to I-AA did not necessarily mean that the Dukes would be able to compete on even terms with most other I-AA programs since they would join an odd group of schools who were considered I-AA, but would not be allowed to award scholarships and would have severe limitations on the amount of money they could spend on travel or coaching staffs. This “cost containment” approach to keeping the university at the NCAA Division I for the rest of the school’s athletic programs would evolve into a strange subdivision within the I-AA subdivision known at the “Mid-Majors”.

The Sports Network (TSN) and Don Hansen’s Weekly Football Gazette both developed a bit of love for this odd group of so-called major programs who would not or could not commit the resources to compete with the other major programs of Division I-A and I-AA. Generally, there were about 30 college programs that would either play as independents or populate the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference, the Northeast Conference and the Pioneer Conference. All three were officially recognized by the NCAA as belonging to the I-AA Division, but were not given automatic berths to the I-AA Playoffs.

Duquesne would come as close as any of the Mid-Majors to competing with their better-funded I-AA brothers. Greg Gatuso’s squad often played scholarship programs and often won. Not only were these Duquesne team often ranked # 1 by the TSN and Hansen Polls, but were often ranked in the regular I-AA polls. Their highest ranking in the National I-AA Coaches Poll was # 14 before losing their only game of the 2002 season to Albany in the ECAC Classic. Both the TSN and Hansen rankings would select the Dukes the following years as the # 1 Mid-Major National Champions in 2003 when they beat Monmouth to win that year’s ECAC Classic.

Now the “Mid-Majors” are no more. Duquesne and most of the other Mid-Majors have either begun to offer scholarships or have folded.

The Dukes have laid at least partial claim to National Football Championships from the Club level to the I-AA Mid-Majors to, according to the Massey Ratings, the Major College level. What does the future hold for the Dukes at the regular I-AA level now that they have begun to award scholarships? The NEC, the Duke’s new conference will be eligible for a bid to the Division I-AA National Championship beginning in 2010.

The 1941 Massey Ratings

1941 Teams Rated: 119
Team W L T PF PA Off Def Sched Rating Dom

1 Duquesne 8 0 0 17.88 2.62 4 2 44 33.84 0.736
2 Minnesota 8 0 0 23.25 4.75 5 4 41 29.26 0.609
3 Mississippi St 8 1 1 19.10 5.50 28 1 4 26.63 0.530
4 Notre Dame 8 0 1 21.00 7.11 6 11 49 26.20 0.517
5 Alabama 9 2 0 23.91 7.73 8 8 5 26.09 0.514
6 Georgia 9 1 1 29.00 7.73 3 26 28 23.63 0.440
7 Texas 8 1 1 33.80 5.50 1 36 38 23.50 0.436
8 Oregon St 8 2 0 14.30 4.90 23 3 30 23.21 0.427
9 Michigan 6 1 1 18.38 5.12 17 6 22 22.32 0.401
10 Navy 7 1 1 21.33 3.78 16 7 34 21.97 0.390

Filling In Duquesne's Football Tradition: The Real Record

(Written prior to 2010 Season- The Dukes now have over 400 wins)
If you pick up a Duquesne Football Media Guide you'll notice that much of the Duke's earliest football record is incomplete. There are entire years where the team played, but there are no records to indicate how they did. I know that some people may think caring about this is more an excersize in historical trivia, but others may feel that it is a recognition of Duquesne's proud athletic history and tradition.

For example, how many times did Duquesne play Pitt on the football field and what was their record? Duquesne's media guide lists the record at 2-4 with the recognized games being in the 1930's when Duquesne and Pitt were both nationally ranked powers.

Pitt's football records are a bit more complete and show that the first Pitt-Duquesne game turned out to be an 18-0 Pitt victory over the Dukes in 1901. However, the Panthers don't recognize a loss to Duquesne in 1903 by a score of 10-6.

Part of the reason for the confusion could be that Pitt, at the time of both earlier games was known as the Western University of Pennsylvania and Duquesne was officially known as the Pittsburgh College of the Holy Ghost.

Instead of Duquesne's Media Guide record of 2-4 and Pitt's version of 2-5, the actual record is 3-5. This record is now verified by the College Football Data Warehouse.

By cross checking available records from Pitt, West Virginia, Washington and Jefferson, I.U.P., Thiel, Westminster, St. Francis, Geneva, University of Buffalo, Bethany, California University of PA and others, Duquesne's documantable all time record should stand at 395 wins, 287 losses and 25 ties.

Duquesne's Media guide does not include a proud 1891-1901, first decade record of 33-17-5 in its all time record. It does, however, now list Duquesne's first documented collegiate game, a 1893 loss to Washington and Jefferson by a score of 22-19.

It would be a great recognition of a proud football tradition to claim our 400th win if it occurs this year!

1937 Duquesne Orange Bowl Win

1937 Duquesne Orange Bowl Win
Dukes beat Mississippi State 13-12

The Prince of Pilseners is back!


Chatham Square used to be named Tunnel Street, but it wasn't named after The Armstrong Tunnels. It was named after a still existing, sealed off tunnel that carried the old Pennsylvania Canal under the lower hill between a basin near Penn Station and emerging in front of where the Armstrong Tunnels are now. From there the canal barges followed the old re-vamped Suke's Run basin to debauch into the Monongehela River near the base of the Panhandle Subway Bridge (Roughly behind Fisher Hall, crossing Boyd St. and then between Rockwell Hall and the Building just bought from Robert Morris and from there into the Mon). Picture shows the Pennsylvania Canal Tunnel, left and the Panhandle RR Tunnel, right during construction of the USX Tower.

Duquesne Broadcast Crew on WMNY 1360 AM

Duquesne Broadcast Crew on WMNY 1360 AM
ALEX PANORMIOS (right) In his 16th season as play-by-play "Voice" of the Duquesne Dukes. He is the founder and president of Red Zone Media, Inc., an internet company that specializes in streaming high school and college sporting events since 2000. He also serves as the play-by-play voice of the Duquesne women's basketball team. Alex, his wife Mimi and son Alex reside in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. TAD MAUREY (left) Color Commentary. Tad is in his fourth season at Color of the Dukes football team and his 10th in the same position for the Women’s Basketball team. Tad hosts the Suzie McConnell-Serio Radio show during the women’s basketball season. Tad currently resides in Oakmont Borough. RYAN GAVATORTA (not pictured) serves as studio host of the games at WMNY provides weekly coverage of all Duquesne Athletics before and after the games. (Picture and bios courtesy WMNY)

1929 Dukes at White House with President Hoover

1929 Dukes at White House with President Hoover
5th best All-Time Dukes Team went 9-0-1. Pre-AP Rankings. Only blemish was a 7-7 tie with West Virginia. Moved from campus "Bluff Field" to Forbes Field. First night games ever in Pittsburgh. Coach Elmer Layden. Hoover would face the beginning of the Great Depression later that same year.


1. Recruiting- The Dukes are competing for scholarship players now. The field as it looks now is much smaller than most high school stadiums where these students are coming from and is far below all of our opponents we play.

2. Scheduling- It will be very hard to attract quality out-of-conference opponents to Rooney Field. Even the soccer teams that come in think the field looks “quaint” to be polite.

3. Attendance- I’ve brought along friends to see a game at Rooney and it really doesn’t feel like a real college game atmosphere. They enjoyed the game, but would be more likely to come back if there was more atmosphere.

4. Crowd Noise/Emotion- Emotion feeds emotion. It is extremely difficult to get a crowd into the game with so few rows behind you.

5. Home Field Advantage- This crowd noise obviously help the home team.

6. Financial Benefit- It would be easier to charge admission to build a revenue base. Football needs to be a moneymaker for the rest of the department (or at least support itself) as it does for many other colleges. Too many fans, particularly from the opponent’s side of the field are just walking up without paying. A better field will also attract more paying customers and also could be a chance for student groups to set up booths as they do at other universities.

7. Press Coverage- If given a choice between covering a game at other college with a lower or same classification, but a better field facility, we are not competitive. TV highlights from games at Rooney look small time.

8. Hosting Games- Central Catholic actually decided to hold its games elsewhere due to the lack of seating capacity. This is a good school to keep associated with.

9. Academic Excellence- Who knows how many students come on campus to consider Duquesne when Central Catholic plays here or when they take a campus tour or if they come to see a Dukes game and get the feel of a real college game? The students we want to attend Duquesne are those with school spirit who want to picture themselves as being part of something fun and exciting. Rooney’s size does not paint this picture.

10. School Pride- This field just looks small time in comparison to other local fields such as Walton Stadium.


Guys, I'm thinking that I'd like to get a corporate sponsor to donate at least $100 to the winning team of the Duquesne RMU game. This way the trophy doesn't get bogged down with the Athletic Departments of either school. The trophy will remain the property of the Forum Members and we can name it what we want.

I think the latest and best idea is to name it "The Pittsburgh Coaching Legends Trophy". That way we can reference such local coaching greats indirectly such as Layden, Warner, Klausing and Walton and the thing will still be for "all the marbles in the 'Burgh". This way nobody gets bent out of shape that we are just recognizing a person from just one school.

Then the only thing we need is permission to present the trophy and a checks to the schools. Does anybody out there have connection to a business that would be willing to donate a few bucks to the winner and maybe another to donate a check for a bit less to the other team so both get something for their athletic departments?

Duquesne University Fight Song-Rev. Thomas Quigley 1926

We'll sing hooray for the Red and Blue,
A big hooray for the Red and Blue;
For the flag we love on to victory,
And when the foe is down,
we will raise a mighty shout
And sing hooray for the Red and Blue;
We're all your sons and daughters true.
Now with all your might, give them
fight,fight, fight
for the grand old Red and Blue.


Wins-403, Losses-298, Ties-25
Winning %- .574

*College Football Data Warehouse


10+ WINS: 11 in 2002 and 1896, 10 in 2000, 1996, 1995, 1973 and 1933 (Duquesne played less than 10 games most years)

10+ LOSSES: None

300+ POINTS: 397 in 2002, 393 in 1999, 370 in 2001, 347 in 1998, 345 in 2003, 322 in 1934, 319 in 2004, 319 in 2004, 313 in 1995.

FEWEST POINTS ALLOWED >35: 12 in 1899 (Only 4 games), 22 in 1934 (10 games), 23 in 1941 (8 games with only 21 allowed by defense), 23 in 1973 10 games), (10 games), 26 in 1994 (10 games), 28 in 1936 (10 games), 32 in 1928 (9 games), 33 in 1933 (11 games).

200+ DELTA: +300 in 1934, +282 in 2002, +263 in 1996, +235 in 2000

Unbeaten 1929 Dukes at the White House with the President

Unbeaten 1929 Dukes at the White House with the President
5th best All-Time Dukes Team went 9-0-1. Pre-AP Rankings. Only blemish was a 7-7 tie with West Virginia. Moved from campus "Bluff Field" to Forbes Field. First night games ever in Pittsburgh. Coach Elmer Layden. Hoover would face the beginning of the Great Depression later that same year.

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