Twenty-five years ago, George Van Tassel was crouched under center,
reading the defense and barking out plays as an RIT Tigers' quarterback
during the squad's final seasons of play.
Pacing the sidelines a few years earlier was Tom Coughlin, who
was at the cusp of a distinguished head-coaching career.
Fast-forward to 2001. Following successful coaching jobs at collegiate
and professional levels, Coughlin guides the National Football
League Jacksonville Jaguars. And Van Tassel (BS graphic arts and
photography/printing management '80), is out of his quarterback
crouch (and out of football entirely notwithstanding an occasional
pigskin toss to his daughters in his suburban Maryland backyard)
and standing tall as a vice president of commercial sales for
Quebecor World in Bethesda, Md.
Van Tassel and countless others commonly share fond memories
of the days, a quarter century ago, when field-goal posts adorned
RIT's nascent campus.
|Members of the RIT Tigers' varsity football team in the
And lately those fond football memories have come on like a quarterback
In tribute to the gridiron Tigers of days gone by, current members
of RIT's student chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers
- most not even born the last time RIT converted a first-down
- are remembering the squad through a fund-raiser benefiting travel
to student conferences. They're selling T-shirts proclaiming "RIT
Football-Undefeated Since 1978."
Sales have been brisk, leaders of the student group say, with
hundreds sold at $10 a shirt. In fact, more people have purchased
T-shirts than, on average, attended Tiger football games.
"I thought it would be a fun way to raise money, and it's been
successful," says Jennie Grigonis, fifth-year industrial engineering
major, who had the idea for the T-shirts. Students say they'll
keep printing more T-shirts to keep up with demand, and they may
add sweatshirts to their clothing line.
Like a quarterback running a two-minute drill, Van Tassel got
to work to find out more about the fund-raiser the moment he heard
about it. "I think the shirts are a fun idea," says Van Tassel,
adding that he thinks football didn't enjoy widespread popularity
at RIT because students were more focused on their studies and
future careers. "Not many of my friends from home had six job
offers like I did before I graduated!" he boasts.
Joe Comfort of Webster (MBA '81, BS graphics arts and photography
'79), a former Tigers' defensive-end, alerted his ex-teammate
to the T-shirts after reading about them in the newspaper.
RIT's football Tigers began as a club in 1970 and became a varsity
squad a year later. After going 0-8-1 in the 1977-78 campaign,
the team was sacked following eight inauspicious seasons.
Coach Coughlin, a native of nearby Waterloo, compiled a 16-15-2
record, coaching from 1971 to 1974.
The T-shirts can be purchased at www.rit.edu/~iiewww/football_shirts/.
They're available in gray with either orange or black lettering
and in a variety of sizes. Best of all, they'll never be outdated!