Titans ended football tradition with a loss

The final football game took place in Boston on Nov. 21, 1964. The Titans lost 17-9 to Boston College, capping a 3-7 season and leaving U of D with an all-time record of 305-203-25.After the season, the university president at the time, the Rev. Laurence V. Britt, S.J., announced that the deficit from the 1964 season alone had surpassed $65,000 and that the university could no long afford to keep the program. The football team was being axed, he announced.

The decision drew fire from students and alumni.

"We may have a lousy team, but . a university without football is not a university," said then sophomore Dennis Baringer.

Seven hundred students marched against the decision, tearing apart the football field and tying up traffic for a mile around the campus for over two hours, reported the Detroit Free Press.

"This is a tragedy for the university and a slap at the alumni and students given they were given no voice in the matter," said Howard Keating, a former player.

The University of Detroit had had a strong football tradition, making the decision by Britt a difficult one.

But declining revenue and increasing costs doomed the program. The program was no longer able to "prosper as an integral part of the institution’s total educational program," he had said.

Though the football team struggled in its later years, it had its time in the spotlight.

Football records in back issues of The Varsity News show that the team’s best season occurred in 1928, when the Titans and Georgia Tech finished as the only two nationally prominent teams to win all of their games, giving the Titans a claim on the national title.

The Titans’ victories that season included a 39-0 beating of Michigan State and a 46-0 drubbing of Louisville. Over the course of the nine-game season, they outscored opponents 267-27.

Two outstanding backs led the Titans that year: first-team All-American Lloyd Brazil and third-team All-American Tom Connell. Brazil gained 5,861 yards during his three-year collegiate career, and Detroit compiled a 19-game winning streak during his tenure.

He would go on to become athletic director of the university, serving until he died in the aftermath of a 1965 car crash.

Over the years, the Titans would collect three Missouri Valley Conference championships and hold their own against Big Ten and Big East teams.

It is because of the football team that university athletes are today known as Titans. Until 1919, the teams were nicknamed the Tigers.

That changed when Stan Brink, a Free Press sports writer, praised the size of the men who played on the football squad. He began calling them Titans, and the name stuck.

The team’s 20,000-seat football stadium, which in the 1930s also served as home to the NFL champion Detroit Lions, stood near where the track, soccer and lacrosse field is today.

But nothing remains there to commemorate the glory of those days. The stadium followed the football program into the history books. It was demolished in the 1970s.