And So it Begins: Football Comes to Madison

Post Author: Jonathan Frame

Football starts in front of a full crowd at Godwin Field- click for more info
Football starts in front of a full crowd at Godwin Field-    click for more info

What was supposed to be one of the culminating events during the Parents Weekend of 1972, the first game of the Madison football team was supposed to be the highlight of the weekend. Unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans, and they were forced to push the time of that game that day, and would no longer be the primetime night game they had hoped for (“Rain Alter Parents Day”). It would not end there, as the team was also forced to play on a make shift field that they usually used for practice. It was not the most ideal situation, but it was something that they had to deal with. Madison would lose the game, and would not even score a point, a result that would happen to have with every single game during that year. It was easy to say that it was not the best of years for the new football game, and it would not be until the following year that they would score a point, little alone win a game (Bluestone ’73). Even though it took some time to get things pieced together as a team, the Madison football team would quickly hit their stride.

One problem that the team would face was probably the biggest issue that you could have; some people just did not want to have a team. There was fear of what would happen of the school, that it would no longer be the small school with small classes that they knew and loved. Many thought the money could go to better usage, even if it was just into the department of health sciences, which in some aspects went hand in hand with the formation of an athletic program (editorial). The thing is, that is exactly what President Carrier wanted to accomplish with the football team. It wasn’t that he wanted to take anything away from the school, or make it a school that only cared about sports; it was just in his plan for creating that coeducational institution (JMU Football). He thought creating a football team would help bring men to the school, and in the eyes of President Carrier, it was also to prove to other people that there were men at the school, and he felt like the football team was the best way about it (JMU Football).

The first football team, who would help start President Carrier's plan for the University
The first football team, who would help start President Carrier’s plan for the University

Even though the football team was walked over in their first full season as a team, it would quickly be put behind them. They would win their first game the following year, and would do so convincingly, and would actually go on to win several other games that year (Matson). In 1974, the team would face their full varsity schedule, and come out of it fairly well for the level of competition they were playing at. They would finish the season 6-4, and at this point would actually leave the school with a whole new problem (Hodge). With just three years under the football teams belt, they had already stricken fear into other opponents, to the point that after the 1974 season; many of the local colleges did not want to face the team (Hodge). At this time, the school did not have the money to send the team out of state to face opponents. Even though the 1974 season showed great promise for the team, no one would expect what would happen next.



Byron L. Matson, “Dukes Post First Gridiron Victory,” The Breeze, September 25, 1973

Editorial, The Breeze, May 19, 1972.

Greg Hodge, “Sideline,” The Breeze, January 24, 1975.

JMU Football-40th Season Series, Part 1 of 5, April 18, 2013 (originally aired in 2011).

“Rain Alter Parents Day Program, The Breeze, October 13, 1972.

James Madison University. “Bluestone 1973.” (accessed January 17,2013).

“The Band Lines Up in Impressive Formation During Half-time,” The Breeze, October 13, 1972.