old college try, (give it) the

old college try

a valiant effort. Will made the old college try, but that wasn't enough to get the job done.
See also: college, old, try

old college try, (give it) the

Do the best you can, even if you think it’s a hopeless cause. This slangy Americanism dates from the 1930s when college football films became very popular in the United States. The phrase was one of the cheers intended to urge on a team that was falling behind or facing overwhelming odds. Transferred to other endeavors, it came to be used more or less ironically.
See also: college, old