By Mark Simon
It doesn't get any bigger than this.
For one weekend, that's not just hype. This is Rivalry Week, where the games are big and the legends are bigger. This week, teams from around the nation meet their fiercest competitors. With a win Saturday, even a 1-9 team can go out a champion. Here's a glance at just some of those contests that shape careers, heroes and dreams:
Wabash Little Giants at DePauw Tigers
Randolph-Macon football coach Scott Boone has his own team's rivalry with Hampden-Sydney to worry about, but he'll never forget his encounter with the famous Monon Bell, awarded to the victor of the Wabash-DePauw game.
"We had it all four years, so we didn't have to steal it," said Boone, a Wabash alumnus. "They stole it my sophomore year and we had 150 students go there and come back with it."
Boone is the one who in the Sports Illustrated story of a few years back referred to the game as "the roughnecks against the pretty boys" when he was the offensive coordinator for the Little Giants.
Indeed the words get pretty heated when these clubs meet, all in pursuit of an advantage in a rivalry that is knotted at 48-48-9. Alumni gather throughout to watch the game, televised via sattellite, at 40 locations across the country. While together, they exchange stories, usually revolving around theft attempts of the 258-pound bell and its 33-pound frame.
"It's the greatest symbol of any rivalry in any game,'' said DePauw head coach Nick Mourouzis. "Our senior group is going to try to achieve four bells in a row for the second time since I've been here. They did it from 1986 to 1990."
That's not a rarity, even though it is an even rivalry. Seven times previously, one of the teams has won four games consecutively. With each win, the streak seems to get tougher to stop.
Amherst Lord Jeffs at Williams Ephs
Dick Farley refers to the Williams-Amherst game, the oldest rivalry in Division III football, as the original brother against brother backyard struggle.
Yet to him, it's just another game. He'll still be stoic on the sidelines. He'll still go to church after the game. Farley's reputation amongst his peers is similar to that of Casey Stengel. Consider some of the sayings attributed to him:
"It took me about five years here to realize that every one of these kids is a hell of a lot smarter than I am so I just have to make sure I don't confuse them with coaching."
If a player messes up a play in practice it's not unusual to hear Farley bellow:
"Which one of the professionals in the Admissions Office is running around bragging about letting you in?"
Asked a few weeks before the 1998 season if he knew when he thought he might stop coaching. "What else would I do? I haven't been home in so long. Do you think Suzanne is looking forward to tripping over me every day?"
There's one other thing about Farley that's similar to Stengel besides the frequent goofy phrases. He wins. In the 12 years this game has been played, he has a record of 11-0-1 against Amherst.
The game will be broadcast live on NESN and is available with the DirecTV sports package (Ch. 623) or on a satellite dish at SATCOM 3, Transponder 14. This is also the D3football.com Audio Game of the Week. Williams leads the series 63-45-5.
The rivarly began in 1818 when some members of the Williams Board of Trustees thought of moving the college east into the Pioneer Valley. Then-Eph president Zepheniah Swift Moore resigned and headed east with some Williams faculty members, students and library books to found Amherst Academy which later became Amherst College.
As a result of the Moore defection the first college alumni society in the world was launched at Williams in 1821 to save he college. At Williams, Amherst teams are known as 'The Defectors' and not the Lord Jeffs.
What other rivalry in this great nation had to have its News Directors decide the outcome of games played 80 years earlier? For many years the Ephs and Lord Jeffs reported different won-loss totals until John English of Williams and Horace Hewlett of Amherst in 1964 finally resolved the scores of the games in 1884, 1886, 1887, 1890, 1891, 1896, 1897, 1918 and 1925.
Cornell Rams at Coe Kohawks
Cedar Rapids, Iowa resident Art Swarzentruber hasn't missed more than a handful of Coe-Cornell games since the last one he played in 63 years ago.
"I played linebacker and guard," said Swarzentruber, who at age 86 will be among the thousands in attendance as his alma mater hosts Cornell. "That was back when you pulled two guards to run interference, kind of like a fullback."
The two colleges are such intense rivals because they are as close geographically (20 miles) as they are alphabetically.
This contest is actually the last of three football games played on the field that morning into the afternoon. Coe will host a 48-minute alumni game, followed by breakfast and a flag football game pitting students from the two archrivals.
"You probably need half a dozen officials,'' said Coe football coach D.J. Leroy with a laugh, "to keep those games under control."
This will be the 109th meeting between the two teams, though the records dispute whether Coe leads the series 55-49-4 or 54-50-4. Both teams claim to have won the 1902 game, in which the officials failed to properly keep track of time.
Swarzentruber played against Wisconsin, Illinois and Army during his time as a Kohawk. He has some recollections of those games, but has a better memory of the games against Cornell. He'll be there again this year, attired as he always is in a shirt and tie.
"He could tell you about every game,'' Leroy said. "He's at our games when we're at home and at their games when we're on the road."
Hampden Sydney Tigers at Randolph-Macon Yellow
The Hampden-Sydney-Randolph-Macon football game is like being at the Olympics - Virginia style.
The opening ceremony before the 105th meeting of these two teams involves what's known as "The Running of the Football" in which a pigskin is brought by foot from the Hampden-Sydney campus to Day Field at Randolph-Macon in Ashland, Va. Students from both colleges split the running by meeting at a designated halfway point.
"It's like an olive branch,'' said Hampden-Sydney head coach Phil Culicerto. "It's been going on for years and years and years."
Hampden-Sydney hasn't won since the 100th game, the celebration of which is still talked about today. Following the game, Tigers fans took down one of the goalposts, sawed off a piece for the team (which its players touch as they come out on to the field before every game) and paraded through the campus along the hill surrounding Hundley Stadium, until they reached Chalgrove Lake. What remains of the goalposts is at the bottom of the water and a plaque was put alongside the pond to commemorate the event.
"You can lose them all," said Culicerto, who has struggled to rebuild the program he has been with as a head coach for three seasons and an assistant for the 11 before that. "But you better win that last game."
Monmouth Scots at Knox Prairie Fire
One day in 1993, a turkey walked into a bar ... well not any old turkey. We're talking the original Bronze Turkey, the one awarded to the winner of the Monmouth-Knox game.
Missing for nearly a decade, "it just showed up" at a class reunion according to Monmouth football coach Kelly Kane, whose team will try to even the series, one Knox leads 50-49-10.
"The game always used to be played on Thanksgiving day," Kane said, "so the newspapers made up a turkey to go to the winner."
The late date made for some cold-weather contests, though none quite like 'Arctic Tundra Day' in 1991, when Monmouth squeaked out a 12-6 overtime win.
The games are traditionally close and well remembered from year to year. In 1985, Knox won 16-14 because it began calling out the Scots' snap count. The next season, Monmouth won 49-0.
"There's no 'getbacks' for the entire year," Kane said. "You have to live with it. You live with the downside, you live with the upside. You'll hear about it all year. It always comes up at the basketball games or the track meets between the two teams."
Kalamazoo at Hope
It's got to be the shoes.
The 79th meeting between the Hope Flying Dutchmen and the Kalamazoo Hornets isn't so much about pride as it is about shoes- wooden shoes.
The winner of this contest, in which Hope holds a 38-34-6 advantage, doesn't get a pair of smelly old cleats. To the victor goes a pair of hand-carved wooden shoes, which date back to 1931. On one shoe is carved a flying dutchman. The other has a fighting hornet. When the teams tied, the shoes were shared, but that doesn't happen any more.
"I'm kind of new to this," said second-year Kalamazoo coach Tim Rogers, who equates the rivalry to the Bears-Packers games in the NFL. "It's a very special week. This is the first thing that comes to the kids minds. It is important to us regardless (of record)."
The question isn't so much whether or not the Flying Dutchmen can win to capture a share of the MIAA title, it's what the Hope fan base will do to get even with the Kalamazoo fans who will try to paint a big K in the middle of Holland Municipal Stadium.
"We try to stay focused on the game,'' said Rogers, "and everyone is focused on the legend and the history, so it's difficult to do.''
Hanover Panthers at Franklin Grizzlies
Franklin coach Bill Unsworth thinks that those that come to this year's Victory Bell battle will get their money's worth.
Both Hanover and Franklin run a modified version of the run-and-shoot, meaning that a four-hour game and a combined total of 100 or more passes isn't out of the question.
"The fans pay their money to see us,'' said Unsworth. "They might as well be there a while."
Make no mistake about it, these are two groups of people who will be at each others' throats the entire afternoon.
"I don't know (why)," Unsworth said. "If you go to Hanover, you learn to hate Franklin, and if you go to Franklin, you learn to hate Hanover. We recruit the same kids too."
The Grizzlies have lost nine of 11 games since the rivalry was renewed after a 17-year hiatus that began after the 1971 season. But Unsworth is always optimistic.
"We have a shot every year," Unsworth said. "If it's a good day, it will likely be an offensive shootout."
Hanover has already clinched the Heartland Conference title, but don't think that they don't want to put the gold chain with the letter 'H' over the bell for another season.
There have been plenty of high-scoring games in recent years. The 49-41 Hanover win in 1994 stands out, along with the 34-31 Hanover triumph in 1991, a game in which the Panthers trailed by 17 points in the fourth quarter.