By Matt Noonan
After having their season canceled due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic last summer, all eight Ivy League coaches, along with a few players shared their excitement for returning to the field this fall during this morning’s virtual media day.
“I think the 2021 Ivy League football season has the chance to be its best ever because of the collective effort of all these teams and all these amazing student-athletes,” said Cornell University coach Dave Archer.
“We finally get to showcase our football ability, (and) I’m really looking forward to that.”
While Archer’s excitement was echoed amongst his peers, so was the unknown: how good are these teams going to be this fall?
Like many college football teams returning to campus this summer, there is a lot of unknowns about each squad considering so many rosters will feature a slew of sophomores and first years that yet to play a single down. But the uncertainty was overshadowed by enthusiasm to practice, and yes, compete again, too, later this year – most teams will begin their preseason later this week.
“We’re anxious and ready to go, and open up this Thursday,” said Dartmouth College coach Buddy Teevens.
Princeton University will enter the 2021 season as the favorite – the Tigers, who have accumulated 28 National Championships, along with 12 league titles since their initial campaign in 1869, return some key pieces from its 2019 squad that finished 8-2 overall. Princeton was unable to capture its second-straight Ivy League crown or at least share the title – Dartmouth and Yale University ended the season as co-champions.
But despite not finishing atop the Ancient Eight two years ago, Princeton coach Bob Surace told the media that his group has “worked really hard” over the last 17 to 18 months and will be ready to compete in a few weeks against Lehigh University.
“We have a lot of guys who love football, who want to be with their teammates, and who want to see how good we can be,” said Surace.
While the Tigers should be pretty good this season, the same could be said for Dartmouth, Yale, and Harvard University — all four teams were picked to finish in the top half of last week’s preseason poll. And while Dartmouth and Yale maybe early favorites to challenge the Tigers for the top spot, one should not rule out the Crimson, who are returning a lot of seniors that coach Tim Murphy believes will help the squad be successful this year.
“It feels like Christmas is coming and we can’t wait for that day,” said Murphy, who will lead the Crimson into their first game next month against Georgetown University. “We have plenty of challenges ahead of us … we have a ton of work to do (and) we can’t wait to get started.”
The 2021 Ivy League season officially kicks off Saturday, September 18 with six games scheduled to appear on ESPN linear networks, according to the conference website.