Princeton Tigers football

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Princeton Tigers Football
2016 Princeton Tigers football team
Princeton Tigers logo.png
First season 1869
Athletic director Gary Walters
Head coach Bob Surace
7th year, 33–37 (.471)
Stadium Princeton University Stadium
Seating capacity 27,773
Field surface FieldTurf
Location Princeton, New Jersey
Conference Ivy League
All-time record 791–369–51 (.674)
Claimed nat'l titles 28
Conference titles 11
Heisman winners 1
Consensus All-Americans 93
Current uniform
Princeton Football Uniform 2009.png
Colors Black and Orange[1]
Fight song "Princeton Cannon Song"
Marching band Princeton University Band
Rivals Yale Bulldogs
Harvard Crimson
Penn Quakers
Dartmouth Big Green
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1869–1980)[2]

The Princeton Tigers football program represents Princeton University and competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA. Princeton’s football program—along with the football program at nearby Rutgers University—is the oldest in the world. The schools competed in American football's first intercollegiate contest in 1869.


First football game[edit]

Students from The College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) traveled to New Brunswick, New Jersey on November 6, 1869 to play Rutgers College (now Rutgers University) in a new variant of rugby called football.[3] Rutgers won the inaugural game 6 runs to 4 runs. A week later, Rutgers students traveled to Princeton, New Jersey for a rematch, which Princeton won.

Early history[edit]

Due in part to their invention of the sport, the Tigers were one of the dominant forces in the early days of intercollegiate football, winning 22 of the first 40 national titles (between 1869 and 1909). As the sport transformed at the hands of figures like Penn's John Heisman and Yale’s Walter Camp and more schools began competing, Princeton and the rest of the eventual Ivy League faded out of national championship contention. The Tigers won their last national championship in 1950 when Dick Kazmaier, the 1951 Heisman Trophy winner, was a junior.[4]

Formation of the Ivy League[edit]

When Princeton joined Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, and Yale Universities, Dartmouth College, and the University of Pennsylvania in formally organizing the Ivy League athletic conference in 1955, conference rules prohibited post-season play in football. (Princeton never competed in the post-season.) The policy further insulated Princeton and the Ivy League from the national spotlight. Despite an undefeated season in 1964, Princeton was not among the top 10 teams in the season-ending AP Poll.[5]

NCAA Division I subdivision split[edit]

The NCAA split Division I collegiate football into two subdivisions in 1978, then called I-A for larger schools, and I-AA for the smaller ones. The NCAA had devised the split, in part, with the Ivy League in mind, but the conference did not move down for 4 seasons. Unable to play competitively against long-time rival Rutgers anymore, Princeton stopped scheduling them as a football opponent after 1980. Then in 1982 the NCAA created a rule that stated a program’s average attendance must be at least 15,000 to qualify for I-A membership. This forced the conference’s hand, as only some of the member schools met the attendance qualification. Choosing to stay together rather than stand their ground separately in the increasingly competitive I-A subdivision, the Ivy League moved down into I-AA starting with the 1982 season.[6] Despite often finishing its seasons ranked in the championship subdivision, Princeton cannot play in the NCAA Division I Football Championship per Ivy League rules.

Recent history[edit]

Since the formation of the Ivy League, Princeton has achieved moderate success on the gridiron, with eleven Ivy League championships, three outright and eight shared, 10 Big Three championships since 1955.[7] Most recently, Princeton instituted a head coaching change as ten-year coach Roger Hughes was replaced by Cincinnati Bengals assistant offensive line coach Bob Surace. Surace was an All-Ivy league center at Princeton and graduated in 1990. Beginning in 2018 Princeton will play Penn in their final game, intensifying the already heated rivalry between these two neighboring Ivy League schools.

Conference championships: 1957, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1969, 1989, 1992, 1995, 2006, 2013, and 2016.

Stadium and facilities[edit]

Palmer Stadium[edit]

In 1914, Princeton built Palmer Stadium, the third college football stadium ever built and what was the second oldest standing college stadium until its demolition in 1996. Palmer Stadium was modeled after the Greek Olympic stadium and seated 45,750 spectators. In the 1990s the university decided to demolish it for a new stadium rather than undertake a long and expensive renovation process, as Harvard had with its stadium in 1984.

Princeton University Stadium

Princeton University Stadium[edit]

During the construction of the new stadium, the Tigers played a season of nine away games, plus a homecoming game against Yale at Giants Stadium in 1997. Princeton University Stadium opened on September 19, 1998 and seats 27,773. After eight years of natural grass fields, FieldTurf artificial playing surface was installed for the 2006 football season and named "Powers Field" in honor of William C. Powers, Princeton class of 1979, who was an All-Ivy punter for the Tigers and donated $10 million to the football program that year.

Practice facilities[edit]

The Finney-Campbell practice fields to the east of Princeton University Stadium have been outfitted with FieldTurf. They consist of nearly 1,600 square feet (150 m2) of playing surface, with two full football fields and lines for men’s and women’s lacrosse.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Athletics Logos". Retrieved 2016-04-01. 
  2. ^ White, JR, Gordon S. (January 22, 1979). "Princeton-Rutgers to end football rivalry". The Day. New London, CT. Retrieved September 13, 2015. 
  3. ^ Elliott, Len (1969). One Hundred Years of Princeton Football 1869–1969. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Athletic News, Princeton University. p. 3. 
  4. ^ Princeton Office of Athletic Communications, Princeton Football Media Guide 2009
  5. ^
  6. ^ Mark F. Bernstein, Football: The Ivy League Origins of an American Obsession
  7. ^

External links[edit]