The Cal Poly football program will take on a member of the Ivy League for the first time in school history two years from now when the Mustangs host Yale at Alex G. Spanos Stadium on Oct. 5, 2013.
The arrangement is for one game only, Cal Poly athletic director Don Oberhelman said, “not that we wouldn’t entertain a series of more games against Yale or other Ivy League institutions.”
The Bulldogs, who were once coached by Walter Camp and count the legendary Amos Alonzo Stagg among their alumni, evoke a storied history for old-time college football fans.
Yale has won 26 national titles, with the last one coming in 1927. The school, which in 2000 became the first collegiate program to surpass the all-time 800-win mark, also produced the second and third Heisman Trophy winners in 1936 and 1937, Larry Kelley and Clint Frank.
Some of the most famous Yale football alumni from more recent years include Gary Fencik, a two-time Pro Bowl safety with the Chicago Bears in the 1980s, Calvin Hill, a four-time Pro Bowl running back for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s and 1970s, and Dick Jauron, the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns.
Contemporarily, while the Ivy League isn’t the national powerhouse it used to be, Yale remains successful at the FCS level. The Bulldogs have had winning seasons in four of the past five years, and under third-year head coach Tom Williams, they won their season opener last week, 37-27 over Georgetown.
Oberhelman, who was hired in March, credited former Mustangs interim athletic director Phil Webb for arranging the game before he was brought on.
“I think it’s important to get a longtime, traditional college football power like that to come here,” Oberhelman said. “They have a long, rich tradition in college football, and I think any time we can measure ourselves up against teams in the Ivy League, it’s one of the rare opportunities where we’re facing a school with academic standards that aren’t lower than Cal Poly’s.”
The game could also help boost name recognition for Cal Poly on the East Coast.
“With Cal Poly being in the Big West (Conference), a majority of our sports really don’t have an opportunity to play out-of-state games,” Oberhelman said. “I do think we’ve got a great reputation nationally; playing a game like this only enhances that.”
Yale, located in New Haven, Conn., has played only twice on the West Coast in its history, at fellow FCS program San Diego in 1999 and 2005.