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Dartmouth Football Navigating Future After Lost Season

Big Green look to stay sharp and pick right players in recruiting
Published: Dec. 6, 2020 at 3:40 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - College sports in our region have remained shut down since mid-March in contrast to much of the rest of the country, particularly on the gridiron. Our area’s lone division one football program is one of the many sitting out this Fall.

The Dartmouth Big Green did not get the chance to defend their Ivy League title in 2020, and unlike many Football Championship Subdivision teams, they won’t get that opportunity in the Spring either. The Ivy League has already announced the wholesale cancellation of Winter sports and won’t play Fall sports in the Spring like they were at one point hoping to do. So by the time Dartmouth hopefully returns to action in mid-September of 2021, it will have been about 22 months since the team last played a competitive game. Head Coach Buddy Teevens says it will be a challenge to keep his team sharp as they look ahead to next Fall.

“Kind of threw the seasonal clock completely out of order,” Teevens said. “It felt like Spring practice at the end of the Fall because we didn’t have a competitive season. And then the Christmas break, the time away is about normal, but looking forward, it’s now, ‘Ok, what’s next?’ And it’s kind of a re-do of Spring practice, we hope. And the uncertainty is a little bit frustrating, but we tell the guys, ‘A & I, adjust and improvise.’ One of the nice things about the Dartmouth quarter system is that most of our guys are generally away in the Winter quarter anyway. We don’t feel like we’re losing ground in that regard, which is very hopeful and optimistic, with the vaccine and hopes that we will have Spring practice and hopefully return to some degree of normalcy at the college during the Spring quarter.”

And that’s not the only challenge the Big Green are dealing with. As college football fans know, recruiting the right players is absolutely critical for maintaining success on and off the field. Dartmouth didn’t play this Fall, and neither did high school football players in many states like New York, Massachusetts, and California. Teevens and his staff aren’t operating with the full extent of information they usually have.

“A lot of things that we do will be off junior tape right off the bat,” Teevens said. “They all had junior seasons, but the kid that was injured in his junior year, that’s the tough thing. And then the other end, developmentally, quite often in our sport, physically you see a change from the junior year to the senior year with their performance level or they were a backup guy and now they’re starting. And sometimes you can’t see that if guys aren’t playing. So it’s somewhat of a leap of faith and you talk with high school coaches about what they’ve seen, what they project. But it is, it’ll be a little bit of a dice roll for a lot of people. You haven’t seen a guy play for you know, a year and a half, two years and you’re offering him an opportunity to come, and you hope that you’re right.”

Teevens also said the kids are taking a bit of a leap of faith because many of them will have never set foot in Hanover when it comes time to make their college decision, but the technological improvements of things like Zoom and other video calling services help. In any event, it should be interesting to see how COVID affects the program over the next few years.

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