A 60-Year Throwback

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Marquette football player Ray Buivid jumps to throw a pass in 1936.

Marquette University cut their football program in 1960. The program had been around for about 70 years.

Beginning in 1892, Marquette fielded a varsity football team and even produced some future NFL stars.

However, the school decided to cut football among other sports leaving Marquette without a varsity team for the past 60 years.

On Dec. 9, 1960, Rev. Edward J. O’Donnell, S.J. announced the cancelation of football due to the program losing more money than they were bringing in to support the team. In 1959, the football team was more than $50,000 in debt.

While there are certainly no talks of resuming a football program at Marquette in the coming years, the years Marquette did have a team is remembered by several alumni.

Stan Andrie, a walk-on in 1951, remembers hearing about the program’s end just four years after he graduated from Marquette.

“Basically, my brother was in school at the time and he was on that team. He was a junior. I remember, we were just dumbfounded. We just couldn’t understand it because they were on the upswing. They had just hired Lisle Blackbourn back as coach. So we were just totally amazed, just dumbfounded is all I can say,” Andrie says.

Marquette had just picked up head coach Blackbourn, who had coached with Marquette, UW-Madison and even was a head coach for the Green Bay Packers for a number of years.

Andrie’s brother George Andrie had come to Marquette after Stan was there and eventually would have an illustrious 11-year career with the Dallas Cowboys.

However, Stan says George Andrie’s view of the program ending was a little more emotional.

“Let me put it this way. He was really mad when they canceled the sport. He basically blew his top,” Andrie says.

Robert Wilkins, a member of Marquette’s final team in 1960, says the team had been hopeful for the following year because they knew it would include “a lot of experienced players.”

Wilkins also says the decision to shut down the program changed his path.

“Football was dropped when I was a junior so I had another year to go. I did visit a couple schools but I wasn’t really interested with one year left. At that point, I just wanted to finish out. I mean, (Marquette already) paid for my college education and one year of law school,” Wilkins said.

Stan Andrie looks back fondly at his time with Marquette and holds reunions with the individuals who were involved in the football program.

“We started one with the 1951 to 1954 team. We did it every five years, then we did it every three years. We’re still doing it, but we canceled this year’s because of the virus. Many of the guys still come back, we get anywhere from 40 to 50 guys every year,” Andrie says. “It’s a lot of fun to see the old guys and talk about old times and what they’re doing now.”

Andrie remembers very clearly one individual who was in charge of the walk-ons: Doc Erskine.

“He’d come up every day to the freshmen practice and they had ten transfer players and needed one player every day. But when the freshmen saw him coming up, they’d hide or get out of the way; they didn’t want to be picked,” Andrie says, laughing. “After a while, I wasn’t getting any attention so I asked Doc ‘I’ll go down there with you’ and after a day or two, I said ‘heck, I’ll come down here all the time’. I did that and at the end of the season, they called me in and gave me a full ride.”

While Andrie was there, Marquette had a difficult playing schedule and a losing record until the 1953 season. Andrie still remembers the scores of the three losses the team had that year.

“We lost to Wisconsin 15-11. Indiana beat us 21-20. Michigan State, who went to the Rose Bowl from the Big Ten, beat us 21-15. Those are the ones that really stand out because we were in every game and we had a real chance to win each one,” Andrie says.

Andrie says the Wisconsin game was especially memorable that year.

“Wisconsin beat us because we were leading at half time but we had a tremendous downpour. The second half was played on a muddy field and the only guy who could gain any yards was Alan Ameche and they ended up beating us 15-11,” Andrie says.

From the time that football was around on campus, players like Andrie remember the type of atmosphere the sport brought to the university.

“We would get somewhere between 18-20,000 people and if we had Homecoming or something like that, they would put temporary bleachers up in the endzone. I think the fans were supportive. You were acknowledged around campus and it felt good to be a football player,” Andrie says.

This story was written by Bryan Geenen. He can be reached at bryan.geenen@marquette.edu.