UNDEFEATED FOOTBALL IN THE BRONX
The Revival of the Fordham Football Program
October 10th, 2013
October 10th, 2013
At one time, Fordham Football was among the nation’s elite, an annual powerhouse that played in the major bowl games and sold out huge venues. The era of dominance was cut short by WWII, and the cancellation of the program in 1954. It has been a slow, painful journey back to relevance, but the first scholarship class since 1954 is now in its Senior season, and after a string of impressive victories, they have Fordham back on the map.
Fordham began its football program earlier than most, kicking off for the first time in 1883. The 1925 team went 8-1 and started building some hype around the Ram Football team. Fordham earned elite status in the 1930s posting a 60-14-9 record and consistently selling out Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds. The strength of the squad was it’s stout offensive line, a group so memorable it earned the infamous nickname, “The Seven Blocks of Granite.” Led by several All-Americans, this offensive line also featured Vince Lombardi, who of course would go on to become one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport. The 1937 Rams went a perfect 7-0-1 and finished the season ranked #3 in the nation! With a big enough national spotlight, Fordham was selected to play in the first ever televised football game, a 34-7 destruction of Waynesburg College. Fordham had so much attention and such an appeal, that the newly founded Cleveland NFL franchise selected the nickname “Rams” because of them (Later moved to LA then St Louis). Riding the past successes of the Blocks of Granite, Fordham earned two major bowl invites: the 1941 Cotton Bowl (lost to Texas A&M), and the 1942 Sugar Bowl (defeated Missouri).
Due to World War II, the football program was dropped from 1943-1945, just as the Rams were at the peak of their dynasty. After some weak seasons, the program was dropped for good in 1954 and the decision was mostly financial. A decade later, a club team was founded – but the glory was gone. In 1970, the program was reinstated as a Varsity team, but was forced to play at the lower level of Division III. Finally in 1989 the team made the jump up to Division 1-AA, but it took 13 years for the Rams to finally earn a winning record.
The Patriot League has historically not allowed athletic scholarships to its student-athletes, but in 2009, Fordham resumed its football scholarship program for the first time since 1954. While they cannot compete for the Patriot League Championship, they are still eligible for an at-large bid to the FCS Playoffs.
A former starting quarterback here, Coach Joe Moorhead achieved the best turnaround in Division 1-AA taking the 1-10 Rams to 6-5 last season. Now in Year 2, with the first class of scholarship seniors, Moorhead has the Rams undefeated. After a season-opening win over Rhode Island, the Rams hosted FCS power #4 Villanova, and pulled off the historic upset 24-21. Next, the Rams traveled to Philadelphia to take on Division 1-A Temple. Trailing by 6 with 13 seconds left, QB Michael Nebrich found Sam Ajala for the game-winning score, giving Fordham its first win over a D-1A opponent since the ‘40s [VIDEO below]. After a thrashing of rival Columbia in the Liberty Cup, Fordham hosted #10 Lehigh. The Rams went on to hang 52 on the Mountain Hawks, earning a Top 10 ranking in the FCS Coaches Poll. Fordham travels to Washington DC Saturday to take on Jesuit rival Georgetown, as they continue this historic season.
It has been a long, 70-year struggle, but dominant football has officially returned to the Bronx. As the Rams go for Win #7, the 7 Blocks of Granite would surely be proud to see this revival.