Princeton Tigers football
Princeton Athletics Logo Princeton Helmet 2009
First season 1869
Athletic director Gary Walters
Head coach Bob Surace
Home stadium Princeton University Stadium
Stadium capacity 27,773
Stadium surface FieldTurf
Location Princeton, New Jersey
Conference Ivy League
All-time record 791–369–51
Postseason bowl record 0–0
Claimed national titles 28
Conference titles 7
Heisman winners 1
Consensus All-Americans 93
Current uniform
Princeton Football Uniform 2009
Colors Orange and Black            
Fight song "Princeton Cannon Song"
Mascot Tiger
Marching band Princeton University Band
Rivals Yale Bulldogs
Harvard Crimson
Penn Quakers

The Princeton Tigers football program represents Princeton University college football at the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA). Princeton’s football program is the oldest in the world, having devised the sport along with Rutgers University in 1869, and has a legacy that includes the most national championships of any college or university.


First football gameEdit

Students from The College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) traveled to New Brunswick, New Jersey on November 6, 1869 to play Rutgers College (now Rutgers University) in a new variant of rugby called football. Rutgers won the inaugural game 6 runs to 4 runs. A week later, Rutgers students traveled to Princeton, New Jersey for a rematch, which Princeton won. Since the teams split the two games series, they were both retroactively awarded a share of the national championship for the 1869 season.

Early historyEdit

Due in part to their invention of the sport, the Tigers were one of the dominant forces in the early days of intercollegiate football, winning 22 of the first 40 national titles (between 1869 and 1909). As the sport transformed at the hands of figures like John Heisman and Yale’s Walter Camp and more schools began competing, Princeton and the rest of the Ivy League slowly faded out of national championship contention. The Tigers won their last national championship in 1950 when Dick Kazmaier, the 1951 Heisman Trophy winner, was a junior.[1]

Formation of the Ivy LeagueEdit

When Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard University, Princeton, and Yale Universities, Dartmouth College, and the University of Pennsylvania formed the Ivy League athletic conference in 1955, conference rules prohibited post-season play in football. Princeton had always abstained from post-season play, but other future member schools had participated in bowls. The new policy further insulated Princeton and the Ivy League from the national spotlight. Despite an undefeated season in 1964, Princeton was not among the top 10 teams in the season-ending AP Poll.[2]

NCAA Division I subdivision splitEdit

The NCAA split Division I collegiate football into two subdivisions in 1978, then called I-A for larger schools, and I-AA for the smaller ones. The NCAA had devised the split, in part, with the Ivy League in mind, but the conference did not move down for 4 seasons. Unable to play competitively against long-time rival Rutgers anymore, Princeton stopped scheduling them as a football opponent after 1980. Then in 1982 the NCAA created a rule that stated a program’s average attendance must be at least 15,000 to qualify for I-A membership. This forced the conference’s hand, as only some of the member schools met the attendance qualification. Choosing to stay together rather than stand their ground separately in the increasingly competitive I-A subdivision, the Ivy League moved down into I-AA starting with the 1982 season.[3] Despite often finishing its seasons ranked in the championship subdivision, Princeton cannot play in the NCAA Football Tournament per Ivy League rules.

Recent historyEdit

Since the formation of the Ivy League, Princeton has achieved only moderate success on the gridiron, with seven Ivy League championships and 10 Big Three championships since 1955.[4] Most recently, Princeton instituted a head coaching change as ten-year coach Roger Hughes was replaced by Cincinnati Bengals assistant offensive line coach Bob Surace. Surace played center at Princeton and graduated in 1990.

Stadia and facilitiesEdit

Palmer StadiumEdit

In 1914, Princeton built Palmer Stadium, the third college football stadium ever built and what was the second oldest standing college stadium until its demolition in 1996. Palmer Stadium was modeled after the Greek Olympic stadium and seated 45,750 spectators. In the 1990s the university decided to demolish it for a new stadium rather than undertake a long and expensive renovation process, as Harvard had with its stadium in 1984.

Princeton University StadiumEdit

During the construction of the new stadium, the Tigers played a season of nine away games, plus a homecoming game against Yale at Giants Stadium in 1997. Princeton University Stadium opened on September 19, 1998 and seats 27,773. After eight years of natural grass fields, FieldTurf artificial playing surface was installed for the 2006 football season and named "Powers Field" in honor of William C. Powers, Princeton class of 1979, who was an All-Ivy punter for the Tigers and donated $10 million to the football program that year.

Practice facilitiesEdit

Since October, 2009, the Finney-Campbell practice fields to the east of Princeton University Stadium have been undergoing resurfacing to be outfitted with FieldTurf. When finished in early 2010, the fields will consist of nearly 1,600 square feet (150 m2) of playing surface, two full football fields, and lines for men’s and women’s lacrosse.

See alsoEdit


  1. Princeton Office of Athletic Communications, Princeton Football Media Guide 2009
  3. Mark F. Bernstein, Football: The Ivy League Origins of an American Obsession
  4. Princeton Office of Athletic Communications, Princeton Football Media Guide 2009

External linksEdit

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