Georgetown Football: History & Tradition
Rory Quirk (C'1965, G'1971, L'1980)

Quite simply, Georgetown football would not be here today without the work of Rory Quirk.

Quirk grew up in Philadelphia during the heyday of football in that city: the great Penn teams of the 1950's, Villanova's "Grocery Bowl" games at Municipal Stadium, and the Philadelphia Eagles' march to the 1960 NFL title. Arriving at Georgetown in 1961, he found a tepid intramural program struggling to maintain campus interest, and a number of fellow students who wanted to take a step forward.

A sports editor of The HOYA and chairman of the Student Athletic Commission, Quirk undertook an extensive survey of 50 small college programs in the East to determine if Georgetown could justify and maintain a low-cost, non-scholarship program within its educational and athletic philosophy. Of the fifty schools, 49 answered in the affirmative. The 110 page report, since lost to posterity, sparked student interest, alumni support, and a reluctant University administration to sanction what became known as club football; born, albeit a year late, on November 28, 1964 before 8,004 fans at Kehoe Field. By decade's end, nearly 110 schools nationwide had adopted the standards and practices first identified by Quirk and his committee.

Following graduation from the College in 1965 and military service in Vietnam, Quirk returned to Washington, where he is an attorney and author. The chairman of the Athletic Hall of Fame Committee, Quirk is a past president of the Georgetown University Alumni Association and received the John Carroll Award in 1992, the University's highest alumni honor. With the help of fellow students like Dick Williams, Tony Lauinger, Pierce O'Donnell, and even a young S.A.C. chair named Bill Clinton, Quirk's dream of bringing football back to campus took hold in the mid-1960's, and endures to this day. A salute to his efforts in the 1965 game program, excerpted below, reflects the thanks of a grateful campus for a job well done.

"Rory Quirk has been graduated as have Ed Moses and Steve Langhoff, Sky MacGuire, John Drury and John Quirk, but theirs was a triumph Georgetown will not soon forget.

Intercollegiate football, an institution dead 14 years at Georgetown, rose again last year thanks to their efforts. The names of the men above will not enter the record books or become legends as did other Hoyas like Jack Hagerty, George Murtagh, Al Blozis, Augie Lio and Harry Costello, but on its own scale of emphasis, last year's 28-6 victory over New York University was one of Georgetown's greatest triumphs. Georgetown's 2-game football season is shorter than most, but a football season at all on the Hilltop is directly attributable to Quirk, who perhaps did more for Georgetown in his undergraduate days than any other student.

Like many other schools, Georgetown dropped football after it was unable to face the rising costs and dwindling attendance of the post-war years.

The end came in 1951 after the school had lost thousands of dollars in seven years. An era ended then-an era which had seen the Hoyas produce unbeaten teams, professional greats, and All-Americans. The apogee was reached from 1938 to 1940 when the Hoyas, coached by Jack Hagerty, now director of athletics, won 23 games without a defeat and held their opponents to 48 points in 1938 and 39. The Georgetown era was capped by an Orange Bowl bid in 1940, with Mississippi State winning, 14-7. That year the Hoyas finished 8-1, losing only to Boston College 19-18, in a game called by the immortal Grantland Rice "one of the greatest games ever played by colleges or by pros."

Last year's game was scheduled to reward students and players for their interest in the intramural program. The credit goes to Quirk.

In 1962, when he was a freshman working with the Student Athletic committee, Quirk compiled a 110-page report, favorable to low-budget football, gleaned from questionnaires sent to over 50 schools playing the sport without scholarships.

In 1963, working with an alumni group headed by Jim Castiglia, former G.U. and Washington Redskin fullback; Bill Curtin and Steve Barabas, another former Hoya great, Quirk and his committee petitioned for an intercollegiate football game.

With the consent of the Very Reverend Edward B. Bunn, S.J., then president of the university, and the cooperation of Father Robert L. Hoggson, S.J., moderator of athletics, a game was scheduled with Frostburg State College...The game was cancelled in the wake of the tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but the enthusiasm of Quirk never waned. That spring he continued his efforts with strong and logical editorials in the HOYA, urging a return to intercollegiate play.

His success and cogent writing stirred a latent feeling on the campuses of Fordham and New York universities, marked now by their return to the game on a limited basis, calling it club football. Quirk's constant lobbying brought last year's fine Homecoming weekend. It was his show.

The week before the game, he wrote: "It's here and if we blow it, it will never come again... The only argument we, as students, have is that nonscholarship football will be a unifying force for students and alumni as well, and that the small outlay of money necessary to administer such a program would be well spent because alumni giving would increase and national publicity would be gained....

"Let's not end [this] through indifference. A chance like this won't come again."

Quirk's dream was proved a reality and his belief in the Georgetown students' desire for football was upheld. Over 8,000 fans stomped and clapped in freezing temperatures and biting winds on Kehoe field for last year's game. A week later Quirk was able to crow: "This is what the students and alumni want. There is strength in numbers. Eight thousand people can't be wrong."

Intercollegiate football is far from being on solid ground at Georgetown but Quirk and the 1964 varsity gave it its present footing. Last week's game and the contest today are still adjuncts to the school's intramural program and are in no way considered a return to full varsity status, even if eight or eighty thousand persons look on.

Overemphasis, scholarships, recruiting and all the other trappings of the "old" way are feared the most by Quirk and his cohorts.

Grantland Rice, writing about de-emphasis in the Ivy League in his autobiography, The Tumult and the Shouting, struck a theme which also applied to schools which dropped the sport: "You can't laugh off school spirit, college presidents not withstanding. And as sure as the Ivies, one-time kingpins of the game, shrivel and decline, something far more important than athletic scholarships will go out the window. I've never seen it to fail. The more abject a "name" school's football team, the more virulent becomes the cynicism and sophistry of its undergraduates."

We don't ask for stadiums, scholarships, tutors, cross country trips or high-salaried coaches. Today marks the third Georgetown game after 14 years of sleepless nights.

We only ask that our dream continue."

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