Designated Hitter: College football in New England

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Dick Farley, the retired Williams College football coach, is in the College Football Hall of Fame.

I think about it this week because I received the list of candidates — from large and small colleges — who will be voted on for induction this summer.

When you think of New England, college football does not trip right off the tongue.

Doug Flutie might have won a Heisman Trophy while playing at Boston College while Gordie Lockbaum and Joe Dudek were candidates at Holy Cross and Plymouth State, respectively. You should look up Dudek some time.

But the list of New England football figures nominated, particularly in the small college category, is pretty impressive for our area. It also got me thinking about those I saw.

Two of Farley's biggest coaching rivals during his Williams tenure are up for induction this year: Trinity's Don Miller and Amherst's Jim Ostendarp are candidates.

What the list of candidates is missing, as is the Hall of Fame, is a spot for former Williams College defensive end Ted Rogers.

Doing a little research for this, I didn't remember that Farley was the second person with a Williams connection in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Meet Ben Lee Boynton of Waco, Texas. Boynton, born on Dec. 6, 1898, quarterbacked an undefeated Williams team in 1917 that beat both Cornell and Columbia.

Rogers didn't have that kind of success, because Williams didn't play Ivy League schools when he was an undergraduate. But he played on two undefeated football teams in 1989 and 1990.

Rogers forced a fumble to beat Amherst in 1989, ensuring the first perfect season, and registered all eight points in an 8-6 win over Hamilton that year.

Rogers was a three-time All-American, a far bigger chunk of a resume than most of the college division or university division players I noticed.

Hopefully, he'll get his nod sooner rather than later.

As far as those on the current ballot, I saw both Miller and Ostendarp coach against Farley during the time I have covered the Ephs football program. While my tenure coincided with the end of the Ostendarp Era, a not-so-pretty era in Amherst football, the same can't be said for watching Miller's Bantams.

In fact, one of Miller's Trinity teams wore the "black hat" to end Williams' 23-game winning streak back in 1991.

Williams led 27-25 in the final minutes and kicked off. Trinity's John Mullaney ran the kickoff back to the 30 and pitched to freshman Shaun Kirby, who gained 18 more yards. Kirby was a Pittsfield High School graduate and a standout three-sport athlete on East Street. He was a member of the last Berkshire County high school hockey team to win a state championship.

But the Bantams marched down and James Lane threw a five-yard TD pass to Mullaney for the winning score. Before that, Lane had thrown two clutch first-down passes to receiver Mike Giardi. Yes, it is the same Mike Giardi who is a sports broadcaster on CSN.

Four of the players on the small-college ballot, I had the privilege of seeing play in person.

One of them is UMass' Rene Ingoglia, now a police detective in Orlando, Fla., and an ESPN college football analyst. He holds the UMass career rushing record with more than 4,600 yards.

I also had a chance to see UConn linebacker John Dorsey, an All-American in 1983, and Rhode Island quarterback Tom Ehrhardt, who was a 1985 All-American.

My radio career included three seasons as the color commentator for UMass football, where I saw Dorsey, Ehrhardt and Holy Cross defensive back Bill McGovern, another candidate. Ehrhardt was the best Division I-AA quarterback I ever saw.

McGovern, now the linebackers coach for the New York Giants, was a defensive coach at his alma mater, at UMass and at Boston College.

So, while college football in New England might not draw 70,000 fans to a game, might not have people in campers driving from the four corners of Massachusetts to a game in Amherst or might have 20,000 converging on East Hartford to watch Connecticut, the sport is important to this region.

Farley, Boynton and the current nominees are proof of that.

Reach sports columnist Howard Herman at 413-496-6253 or @howardherman.


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