BETHLEHEM, PA – Big Green head football coach Buddy Teevens, a Dartmouth man in a Dartmouth family and a trailblazer for hiring a full time female assistant coach and implementing measures to decrease head injuries in football, died Tuesday following injuries from a bicycle accident in March. He was 66 years old.
News of his death reverberated around Twitter feeds all over the world on Tuesday, and his positive impact on the game of football and the Dartmouth community.
A native of Pembroke, Mass., Teevens grew up in an athletic Dartmouth family. His father, the late Eugene F. Teevens II ’52, played hockey at Dartmouth, and his brother Shaun ’82 played football and hockey. Also, his sister Moira ’87 was captain of the cross country and track teams and garnered All-Ivy and All-East recognition as a runner.
Buddy would star at Dartmouth first as a player, then eventually as head football coach, coaching 22 out of his 30 years in Hanover, coaching at Tulane and Stanford before returning to Dartmouth in 2005. He replaced John Lyons who was fired off a 1-9 record and amid rumors that Dartmouth could no longer be competitive in the Ivy League.
His press conference on his return to Dartmouth was a standing room only crowd at the Hanover Inn, after football alumni clamored for his return after learning of his availability. He was such a no-brainer of a hire that it took a scant five weeks for the Big Green to hire him after he was let go at Stanford.
In 1986 Teevens was hired by Dartmouth to take over a struggling program from retiring head coach Joe Yukicka, and in his fourth year he surprisingly won the Ivy League title with a 7-2-1 record.
One of those victories was a 33-14 win over Lehigh, who was ranked 20th in the nation at that time. It was stunning not only that it was a Big Green win over a ranked opponent, but that it was so comprehensive, the Big Green coasting to a 30-0 lead before conceding two late touchdowns, brutally effective in shutting down the “Air Lehigh” attack led by QB Glenn Kempa. RB Erick Torain was humbled on the ground as well, only notching 50 of Lehigh’s 75 rushing yards and one late touchdown run.
“It was one of those games where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong for us,” Lehigh head coach Hank Small said at the time.
(If you’re a Lehigh fan and enjoy pain, you can watch highlights of the game at the 10 minute mark.)
Teevens would go on to be a legend at Dartmouth. becoming a trailblazer for the sport and player safety.
The former history major worked to reduce full-contact practices by focusing on technique, leading to the development at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering of the Mobile Virtual Player, a robotic tackling dummy that has also been used by other college programs and NFL teams.
“He’s proving we can change football, make it safer, work within the system,” Chris Nowinski, a founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, told the New York Times in 2018.
Teevens was also part of the Manning Passing Academy for 25 years, and through the camp in 2018 wound up hiring Callie Brownson at Dartmouth, where she became the first full-time female Division I coach in football.
I had the honor of talking to Buddy at the conclusion of one of the best games of the year in 2018, a physical battle of wills as Princeton outlasted Dartmouth 13-7 in a battle of undefeated teams. It wasn’t a overlong press conference, as it was Princeton’s day, but you could feel the star power he brought and the command he had of the room, similar to how Andy Talley was at Villanova.
He loved biking. In 2007 at the age of 50, when some folks are reaching for another slice of pizza, Buddy instead during the offseason fulfilled a lifelong dream when he flew to San Diego and proceeded to bike across the country for a month, averaging 160 miles a day.
He got inspiration to make the journey when in 2005 he pedaled from New Hampshire to a family vacation on Lake Michigan. “It was kind of on a whim and it was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done,” he said. “You are out there by yourself and you just go. You meet farmers or locals and they are curious. They wonder why you’d do something like this but they are tremendously supportive. It was refreshing to see how friendly people could be. They didn’t know me from anyone. I was just Buddy on a Bike.”
In that sense the complications from the truck accident that would ultimately end his life were especially tragic, because it seemed to be one of his genuine passions outside of football. In fact when I heard about the accident in Florida, which caused him to lose his leg and undergo a serious spinal cord injury, I could hardly believe it, knowing he was a subject matter expert on bikes and biking.
The death of this legendary man certainly changes the energy and the nature of the game scheduled for this Saturday with a 1:30PM kickoff at Memorial Field in Hanover.
In fact Dartmouth athletic director Mike Harrity and President Sian Leah Beilock said the football team will play this weekend “as Teevens would have wanted.”
Harrity and Dartmouth interim head coach Sammy McCorkle met with the football team after practice Tuesday to share the news of Teevens’ passing.
There will be a moment of silence prior to the game and a gathering of remembrance afterward.
With all of this, there is a football game to be played between Lehigh (1-2, 0-0 Patriot League) and Dartmouth (0-1, 0-0 Ivy League). Both the Mountain Hawks and Big Green are coming off losses, Lehigh a hard fought 23-20 loss to Cornell, and Dartmouth an equally hard fought loss to New Hampshire 24-7 in a game that featured gusts of wind of up to 30 miles an hour..
“They’re Dartmouth,” Lehigh head coach Kevin Cahill said this week. “They’re always going to be tough. And to play up there is really tough. You’ve got to make sure you’re very sound. They’re going to make you drive the field, and they’re going to try to control the ball on offense, and you’ve got to be gap sound. They’re a really, really good very well coached team. They’ve always been a contender in the Ivy League. They’ve got a little bit of a dynasty going up there, and very familiar with it and we’ve got to play really, really sharp.”
They will have to for sure, as Dartmouth will certainly have the extra motivation to win one for their fallen head coach this week.
LEHIGH MOUNTAIN HAWKS (1-2. 0-0 Patriot) AT DARTMOUTH BIG GREEN (0-1, 0-0 Ivy)
Memorial Stadium/Hanover, NH. 1:30PM
STREAMING BROADCAST: ESPN+ (subscription needed)
PxP – Matt Corsetti; Analyst – Steve Goldberg
BROADCAST (Fox Sports Lehigh Valley 94.7 FM/1230 AM; LVFoxSports.com):
PxP – Matt Kerr; Analyst – Steve Lomangino
Game Notes and Injury Report
The Lehigh depth chart formalizes some of the changes to starting lineup. C Jackson Wiles moves over from guard to replace injured captain C George Padezanin and sophomore DB Brycen Edwards takes over at rover for injured DB Javin Adderly. Edwards had a terrific game last week at Rover, joining teammate LB Mike DeNucci in leading the team in tackles.
Another development is first year CB Aidan Singleton getting the start at corner. He’s proved to be up to the challenge with 10 total tackles through three games, a part of a very strong defense through the first three games of the year.
Technically with the season a quarter done, it’s worth shining the spotlight on senior WR Connor Kennedy, whose 2 touchdown catches against Merrimack helped propel Lehigh to victory. In the early going he has 12 catches for 121 yards and has emerged as a threat alongside WR Geoffrey Jamiel. WR Eric Johnson has sat out the last two games nursing an injury – he’s a gametime decision this week, but if he’s back too, that could make for an exciting development with all three pistons firing.
It’s very hard to make a judgement on Dartmouth based on their game against UNH last week, won 24-7 by the Wildcats in a gusty bad weather game.
What can be said is that Dartmouth’s defense – with a weather assist, for sure – shut down one of the odds-on favorites for the Walter Payton Award, UNH RB Dylan Laube, for three quarters.
Early in the 4th quarter, this was a 10-7 game until the Wildcats put on some points late. Twice the Big Green drove into Wildcat territory in the final minutes, but turned the ball over on downs both times before UNH ran out the final 1:17 off the clock to close out its victory.
The Big Green proved to be UNH’s equals, which underscores the challenge Lehigh will face this Saturday.
Senior QB Dylan Cadwalllader sturuggled to a 16-for-30 game, but that’s understandable based on the weather. More worryingly, he found star WR Paxton Scott for 10 of those and 153 yards, giving Scott over 1,000 receiving yards in his career. Both Texas residents, this connection will be one to watch on Saturday.
Dartmouth used two quarterbacks in the game, with QB Nick Howard acting more as a running QB in the vein of Taysom Hill. He actually led the team in rushing with 62 yards (and is a better passer than his 0-for-5 might indicate). Its telling that Howard and RB Q Jones combined to grind out 128 yards against UNH’s run defense – a big, powerful interior line, led by OL Nicholas Schwitzgebel, helped make it happen.
From Dartmouth’s game notes it looks like Dartmouth will line up in a multiple 3-4 fresh off a physical game against UNH. LBs Brandin Mullin and Macklin Ayers combined for 19 tackles and 3 tackles for loss and they will highlight a very, very tough run defense up the middle.
LFN’s Keys to the Game
- Hog Heaven. Dartmouth’s biggest successes under Buddy Teevens have come from great line play. Lehigh can expect a very physical game up in Hanover and they will need to be able to compete along both trenches to have a chance. If either line gets overwhelmed it will be a very long day at the office for the Mountain Hawks.
- Gotta Grind. Lehigh will not have the luxury of having a subpar running game this week if they want to have a chance to win – UNH’s success came from the Wildcats averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Sure, having a Walter Payton candidate helps, but the truth is Lehigh will have to establish the run to have a games. The three-headed dog will need to get things going – RB Gaige Garcia, RB Jack DiPietro, and maybe too RB Luke Yoder – will need to grind out more rushing yardage.
- Guarding Against The Big Play, Part Two. Another slow start like we saw against Cornell will almost certainly end up in a loss with a fired-up emotional Dartmouth team and Big Green crowd. Lehigh will need to be ready from the opening coin toss and prevent big plays whenever they happen. Two long TD passes last week were enough for Cornell – to have a chance this week they’ll have to minimize or prevent them.
This was going to be a tough, physical matchup before the untimely death of Buddy Teevens. Adding the fire and emotion from the moment will add a layer of complication to Lehigh’s task this week as well.
With emotion comes unpredictability, but it can also become a disadvantage to the home team as well. This game is best seen as another step in this Lehigh team’s development – how will they come out in this game? How will they react and take care of what they need to do?
Like last week, football-wise I’m interested to see how both lines fare against another big, tough physical group up in Hanover. The defensive front, which has been stellar, will have to be stellar again. The offensive front has been better than last year, but will still need to get even better.
Continued development and the emotions of this unique weekend probably are too much to will Lehigh to victory this week. But if they play with consistency and follow head coach Kevin Cahill’s advice on working hard and letting the results happen, they’ll have a chance.
Lehigh 13. Dartmouth 24
Chuck has been writing about Lehigh football since the dawn of the internet, or perhaps it only seems like it. He’s executive editor of the College Sports Journal and has also written a book, The Rivalry: How Two Schools Started the Most Played College Football Series.
Reach him at: this email or click below: