• The modern era of MIT football began with the formation of the MIT Football Club in 1978. Pictured here, quarterback Bruce Wrobel '79 tries to elude a rush in the team's opening game.

    The modern era of MIT football began with the formation of the MIT Football Club in 1978. Pictured here, quarterback Bruce Wrobel '79 tries to elude a rush in the team's opening game.

    Photo: Gordon Haff/The Tech

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  • In 2014, MIT Football went undefeated for the first time.

    In 2014, MIT Football went undefeated for the first time.

    Photo: DSPics.com

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From cancelled to champions: The strange history of MIT Football

MIT Football 1978

In the playoffs for first time, MIT's football history has included an 88-year winless streak, an ugliest-man competition, and borrowed orange uniforms.


Press Contact

Jay London
Email: londonj@mit.edu
Phone: 617-715-5200
MIT Alumni Association

Historically, the words “MIT” and “football” aren't usually associated together. But the narrative has changed during the football team’s record-setting 2014 season. The MIT squad finished the regular season a perfect 9-0 — the first undefeated season in team history — and will play in the NCAA Division III Football Championship tournament for the first time.

The Engineers will play Maine’s Husson University Eagles (8-1) in their opening round game on Saturday, Nov. 22, at noon in Bangor, Maine. MIT’s surprising season has not gone unnoticed — the squad was featured in an article in the The Wall Street Journal and in a video profile on CBS News.

Visit the Slice of MIT blog on Friday for a full game preview and details on how you can watch the game. Until then, check out a condensed timeline of the strange history of MIT football, which includes an 88-year winless streak, an ugliest man competition, and borrowed orange uniforms. (Further details can be found via back issues of The Techan October 2002 article in MIT News, and the MIT Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation's football record book.)

  • 1881: The MIT football team, nicknamed the Techmen, records its first victory by defeating Exeter College, 2-0.
  • 1885: MIT trounces Amherst, 80-0, to tie Williams College for the Northeastern Intercollegiate Football Association (NIFA) league title. In perhaps the first playoff game in college football history, MIT loses to Williams, 18-10.
  • 1886: MIT loses to Yale, 96-0.
  • 1887-1888: MIT wins back-to-back NIFA league titles.
  • 1890:  With two games left, the football season is cancelled due to injuries.
  • 1901: MIT President Henry S. Pritchett holds a controversial student vote that eliminates the football program by a two-vote margin (119-117).
  • 1901: The inaugural Technology Field Day, an MIT tradition for more than 60 years, takes place. The freshmen-versus-sophomores football game becomes its signature event.
  • 1939: A non-varsity Junior-Senior team forms, plays four games, and Virginia Jewell is crowned “MIT Football Queen” before a football dance.
  • 1941: The non-varsity team disbands after two seasons.
  • 1966: A student survey indicates a desire for intercollegiate football, but the MIT Athletic Board votes unanimously against adding an MIT team.
  • 1978: The MIT football club forms and joins the National Club Football Conference (NCFC), thanks to the efforts of players including Walt Crosby ’81, Bruce Wrobel ’79, and Gary Spletter ’79.
  • 1978: The Rochester Institute of Technology drops their football program, and the MIT club purchases their football equipment and uniforms for $2,000. The team wears orange and white jerseys during the 1978 season.
  • 1978: A crowd of 2,000 attends the club’s only home game, held during Homecoming Weekend. The Engineers lose to Siena College, 30-14, and the winner of MIT’s Ugliest Man on Campus contest is honored at halftime. The team finishes the season 0-6.
  • 1987: The NCFC disbands. The club becomes a varsity program and joins the NCAA Division III.
  • 1988: The Engineers win their first varsity game of the modern era, beating Stonehill, 29-7.
  • 2013: The team wins a then-record six games and post back-to-back winning seasons (5-4 in 2012) for the first time in 124 years.
  • 2014: The Engineers finish the regular season 9-0 and win their first NEFC title. The team will play in the NCAA Division III Football Championship tournament on November 22.

Topics: Alumni/ae, Students, Sports, Athletics, Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation (DAPER), History of MIT

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