Under the Ciccarone regime, the coaching staff met each Thursday afternoon at Lexington Market to discuss the upcoming game over lunch. For Chic, one element of that noontime repast was sacred: eating a fried chicken liver.
The coaches didn't have much of a choice when it came to the menu. "If we had won the week before, and with Chic you didn't lose very often, you had to order the same thing you'd had the previous Thursday," recalls then face-off coach Jerry Schnydman '67, now director of alumni relations. For Ciccarone, that meant a Greek hero sandwich. For "Uncle Fred" Smith '50, beef stew and an order of fried chicken livers. Each week, Smith would present one of those livers to Ciccarone.
The gustatory ritual must have had something to it: For three seasons running, in 1978, 1979, and 1980, the chicken- liver-eating Ciccarone led his Hopkins team to the national championship (making him the first coach ever to win three consecutive NCAA Division I titles). Of course the 1980 victory over Virginia (9-8) was a nail-biter, with two overtimes; it might well have gone the other way were it not for Jeff Harris's winning goalÄand the quick thinking of Uncle Fred, who'd played on the 1947-50 championship teams.
On the Thursday before that game, the eight seniors on the Hopkins team participated in a special graduation ceremony (they would miss the regular Commencement due to the game). Chic attended the ceremony, but that meant missing the traditional Lexington Market lunch. So, during the ceremony Smith headed down to the market, where he bought an order of chicken livers. He returned in time to hand one to Ciccarone as he boarded the bus for the game. On Saturday, victoryÄalbeit a close one.
It probably didn't hurt that Ciccarone also wore the same "lucky" tie, old shoes, and shirt that he'd worn for virtually all his games as head coach, and that he and his coaches went out for their traditional championship-eve Neapolitan dinner.
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