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How Many More Victories?

We’re almost halfway through another Dartmouth football season and the annual parlor game of speculating on Coach Buddy Teevens’ future is well underway. It’s the ninth season of his second stint at the Big Green helm and the common man’s thinking is that five victories this season will get him fired, six could have the same result and seven is needed to realistically stave off a pink slip.

Teevens was brought back after the 2004 season and with the program in a real rut. After bottoming out with a winless 2008 season, he may have benefitted from the college’s turnover in athletic directors. With an interim athletic director in place and the hunt on for a new one, it didn’t seem likely a new football coach would be hired first.

But Harry Sheehy has been in the corner office for three years now, during which time the football team has gone 6-4, 5-5 and 6-4 again. Sheehy is a staunch believer that if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse, and five victories this season would be a backwards step any way you look at it.

Dartmouth is 2-2 and let’s assume it will beat struggling Bucknell and Columbia, who have combined for one victory this season, in the next two games. So that’s 4-2 going into a hyped, 5 p.m. contest at Harvard, where the Crimson has never lost under the lights and the Big Green hasn’t won since 2003.

Harvard looks down a bit so far this season, but the Crimson has won the teams’ last five meetings by a combined 179-66. Let’s go the direction in which the oddsmakers would head and call this another Dartmouth loss, then give it a victory over visiting Cornell the next week. That would leave the Big Green at 5-3 with games against Brown on the road and against Princeton at home to finish the season.

Brown is almost always in the Ivy League title hunt and Princeton appears substantially improved. So it could be nail-biting time again in Hanover.

Heck, Dartmouth could run the table and win its first league title since 1996. But it seems more likely that the Big Green will finish short of that goal.

Sheehy knows that recruiting takes a hit when you fire a coach and one viewpoint says this would be a bad time for such a move because the football team is on the verge of climbing into the Ivies’ upper eschelon. The counterpoint would be that Teevens, although he’s done a nice job of bringing Dartmouth back to mediocrity, isn’t the leader to get the program over the hump.

The next five weeks will be interesting ones, indeed.