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The Division I Unforgotten: Bowling Green Falcons

Remember when Bowling Green played NCAA lacrosse? Me neither.

While I was pretending to do work at the office today, I came across the video up there featuring Bowling Green men's lacrosse clips. This was interesting on two levels: (1) Bowling Green once played varsity lacrosse and this fact wasn't issued by the Ministry of Truth?; and (2) Really, Bowling Green played varsity lacrosse?

As it turns out, the Falcons had a 15-year stay as a varsity program, competing from 1965-1979 (the last chunk of existence as an NCAA team playing in the Midwest Lacrosse Association). The video was issued as part of a reunion that lacrosse alumni held this past weekend at Bowling Green. Doing a little digging on the Google machine, I came across this piece from Lacrosse Magazine that fills in a little detail on what the Falcons were doing way back when olive green refrigerators were fashionable:

BGSU lacrosse won more than 75 percent of its games and three Midwest Lacrosse Association championships in its heyday.

“The program had an amazing amount of success,” said Dennis Vereb. “And that was the product of putting together a quality group of guys with some great coaches. We were a team and a family, and clearly we still are.”

The Falcons were ranked in the top 25 nationally in five different seasons, and at one point in the mid-1970s won 27 straight league games.

“Playing lacrosse at Bowling Green was all about working hard and showing your true character,” said Pete Farrell. “Our coaches showed us we had what it takes to get things done.”

Five Falcon lacrosse coaches and players are in the BGSU Athletics Hall of Fame -- Cochrane, Farrell, Mike Wilcox, Chuck Winters, John Brizendine.

“I knew nothing about the place, but I came here because Bowling Green had a great lacrosse program, and being a part of this changed my life,” said Wilcox, a former BGSU All-American and current chairman of the US Lacrosse Foundation Board.

Perusing the NCAA lacrosse record books, Bowling Green shows up a few times:

  • The Falcons won 15 consecutive games from 1975-1976, the 13th-longest streak in the NCAA era. I have no idea who Bowling Green played in this period, but -- hey! -- 15 straight wins are 15 straight wins!
  • The Falcons won 27 consecutive conference games in the 1970's -- really, NCAA? this is the most accurate description you have for a record book? "1970's"? -- against, presumably, other college lacrosse teams. This mark ranks third all-time.
  • Bowling Green had nine consecutive winning seasons from 1968-1976. That ranks 15th all-time.
  • Mickey Cochrane won 77.8 percent of his games from 1966-1975, 13th among winningest coaches all-time (regardless of division). (His mark ranks fifth for those that spent a minimum of 10 years as a Division I head coach.)

Other than that, Bowling Green's lacrosse history kind of exists in the ether. This retrospective sheds a little bit of light on the Falcons' varsity lacrosse efforts. . .

. . . but there really isn't much available to the public for consumption with respect to the program's Division I days. Losing this kind of history stinks, especially given the strides Midwestern lacrosse had made over the last decade. There should be a pride in dominating a region of the nation for an extended period of time (even if NCAA Tournament appearances did not inure from the efforts); the fact that much of Bowling Green's lacrosse history is not publicly available is a loss not only for those interested in the Falcons' past but also Midwestern lacrosse on the whole.