On November 6, 1869, college football played its first-ever competitive game.
That day, Rutgers and Princeton were the two schools to introduce the United States to college football.
Just over 150 years later on November 9, 2019, the latter team will be celebrating its role in the sport’s genesis when it takes on Dartmouth at Yankee Stadium.
“It is exciting to have a game in Yankee Stadium between two teams that will be at or near the top of the Ivy League during the week that celebrates the 150th anniversary of college football,” Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris said. “To have one of those teams be Princeton, which played in that [first-ever] game, it is terrific how everything came together to allow us to have this celebration of Ivy league football during a quite momentous year and week.”
To help promote CFB 150 and the Dartmouth-Princeton game, the Ivy League debuted its #Ivy150 campaign last summer. From June 26 to November 23 – the final day of the Ivy League regular season – the league featured 150 consecutive days of original content.
Thus far, the entire initiative has had more than 1.85 million impressions on The Ivy League’s Twitter profile.
On August 15, The Ivy League’s Twitter post revealing that ESPN+ would host the Ivy League Football Media Day garnered at least 150,000 impressions. It broke the previous campaign record set on July 2, when its post about the birth of The Ivy League registered over 107,000 impressions.
The Ivy League’s branded team week coverage – which featured facts and stories about each of the eight-member schools – also resonated on Twitter. They occurred over two periods – July 14 through August 10 and August 18 through September 14 – and saw more than 430,000 impressions.
“Those weeks resonated well with our audience and with alumni and current student-athletes as well,” said Sam Knehans, The Ivy League’s assistant executive director of communications and championships.
Having Princeton and Dartmouth face off at Yankee Stadium was nearly three years in the making. Kevin Weiberg, executive director of CFB 150, said that talks around the 150th anniversary began as early as August 2017. With nearly 800 college-football programs on an FBS, FCS, and JUCO level, plenty was discussed about a suitable logo identity.
Once they decided on the appropriate logo, it also doubled as a uniform patch – with almost every program wearing it this season, said Weiberg.
When it came to rolling out CFB 150 anniversary celebrations, Weiberg elected to start on Aug. 24 – which featured the ESPN-televised Florida-Miami contest. The Florida-Miami affair was the third of four games that day honoring CFB 150.
Up until October 31 – the official start of CFB 150’s Anniversary Week – 10 games were played recognizing CFB 150.
The first tribute to CFB 150’s Anniversary Week took place on November 4 during Monday Night Football between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. The NFL allowed players to wear helmet decals illustrating their alma mater’s logo.
Then on November 6 – the 150th anniversary of Princeton-Rutgers – Miami and Ohio played against each other on ESPN2.
But the real celebration comes in Saturday’s all-Ivy League matchup at Yankee Stadium, which Weiberg sees as a “terrific bookend for the anniversary week.”
“It’s been a very interesting journey,” Weiberg added. “We weren’t quite sure what kind of support we could get across the country. I quite honestly didn’t fully know what to expect – but I felt that if we could energize people to embrace the anniversary, we could make it as user-friendly as possible. And I think relative to just raising awareness and visibility of the 150 years of college football, we’ve been successful.”
Even though Dartmouth wasn’t a part of college football’s inaugural game, its matchup against Princeton is of equal importance. While Princeton is remembering its place in college football’s inception on Saturday, Dartmouth College will be celebrating the 250th anniversary of its founding, said Sam Hopkins, senior associate athletic director for external relations.
Leading up to the Princeton encounter, Dartmouth created its Big Green in the Big Apple website to inform its community about other events, said Hopkins. One of the events ahead of the game is a special screening of the film Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse alongside a Q&A with filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who are Dartmouth alumni.
Then on game day, there will be numerous tailgates taking place before kickoff at 3:30 p.m. EST on ESPNU, said Hopkins. Two weeks before Princeton-Dartmouth, The Big Green sold roughly 14,000 tickets; by Saturday, both he and Senior Associate Athletic Director Richard Whitmore anticipate that it’ll be a sold-out crowd on hand at Yankee Stadium.
“Everybody hears about Oklahoma and Alabama when they talk about college football, but for one afternoon, one Saturday in November, Dartmouth is going to be front and center,” Whitmore said. “That’ll be great for everybody associated with the college – not just associated with athletics or football – that Dartmouth is a name brand that day in college football. That’s terrific for us in every way.”
There’s plenty on the line for both Dartmouth and Princeton on Saturday. Each has a perfect 7-0 record to start 2019 – with the winner potentially locking up the Ivy League title.
After a disappointing 4-6 finish to the 2016 season, The Big Green had 8-2 and 9-1 records in each of their following seasons. A win over the Tigers would get them one step closer towards their first Ivy League title since they finished in a three-way tie with Harvard and Penn in 2015.
Since the start of the 2018 season, the Tigers have accumulated a flawless 17-0 record, and are aiming for their second-straight Ivy League title. It would also be their fourth championship of the decade – tied for second with Harvard and one behind Penn.
Princeton Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan is also on the board of CFB 150 with Weiberg. She was alongside him at MetLife Stadium when the NFL honored college football during the Giants-Cowboys Monday Night Football game.
At that moment, when she heard the NFL compliment college football for its role in developing the league’s talent, Princeton’s place in that was quite evident.
“It’s just given everyone a chance to step back and reflect on football from the past to the present,” Marcoux Samaan said. “My staff has done a phenomenal job of thinking through this to get to this moment. I have completed a bit of work and people have dug into it and loved it – celebrating our history is fun.”