Archive For October 17, 2014
We break down the Cornell game after the flip.
The Cornell Big Red are led by the youngest head football coach in all of Division I, David Archer.
His resume sounds like a college football player’s dream; starter on the offensive line at Cornell, invited to remain on the coaching staff after a year as an assistant at Franklin and Marshall, and then, after five years and a surprise departure from then-head coach Kent Austin, being promoted from within to become the head coach at your Alma Mater.
What may not be a dream is Cornell’s record ever since he took over. While not entirely his fault, Archer has gone only 3-11 as head Big Red. Still, it’s more victories (and more losses) than I’ve enjoyed as a Division I head football coach, and he’s not even 35. (To both of you who are wondering: My Division I coaching record is a perfect 0-0-0.)
Cornell is a typical Ivy League school in that NFL prospects have been known to compete up in Ithaca, and this year is no exception, as you’ll find out.
You hate to put it this way, but this weekend’s tilt between Lehigh and Cornell could be the anemic force versus the extremely movable object.
Lehigh’s defense would be the movable object, ranking dead last in FCS in total defense, but the Not So Big Red’s offense, ranked 121 out of 123 FCS teams, hasn’t exactly impressed either.
It sets up two teams extremely hungry for victory this Saturday, eager to get something positive going before the rest of the regular-season schedule gets back underway.
In May, this might have seemed like a speed-bump up in Ithaca. Now, it seems like a game that must somehow be a victory to get the bus out of the ditch.
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The latest disco music was available right off campus at “Records and Things”. A young Phillies pitcher named Steve Carlton wins his second Cy Young Award. Debbie Boone‘s “You Light Up My Life” topped the charts, spending 10 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard . Rocky was still in theaters. Billy Joel would tour Bethlehem and the valley, perhaps setting the stage for his later hit Allentown.
In local news in 1977, Lehigh was also in the running for an invitation to the football postseason.
Coming into the 113th meeting between the Leopards and Engineers, as they were commonly known at the time, never before had been so much on the line for Lehigh. In front of an expected sellout crowd of 18,000 people, a win would in all probablility give them the Lambert Cup, given to the best team in the East, and an invitation to the Division II playoffs.
But a loss to the team that beat them last year would see all of Lehigh’s opportunities fade away, the chance to qualify for the eight-team postseason playoff and championship Bowls, the opportunity to reverse last year’s humbling loss to the Leopards.
It was win, and get the hardware, and a chance to compete for the championship. Lose, and sit at home, wondering what could have been.
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As you may have heard, our family has been blessed with a new puppy. As you probably have not heard, puppies require 7AM walks to do their business, and puppies don’t care if you’re tired, upset, frustrated, or angry.
At 7AM on Sunday, I exited the house with the dog, and promptly ran into another entirely too happy dog owner walking his dog.
My inner Clark Kent-ish personality jumped to the front, somehow pasting an easygoing smile on my face, packing away all the frustration of Saturday’s game as I made smalltalk about being a dog owner, the same smalltalk that dog owners have probably been making about dogs since dogs showed up in our caves thousands of years ago.
It wasn’t a bad conversation – I didn’t regret having it, even though it was unmemorable. I was glad to share some goodwill with the neighbors. But it did demonstrate to me what sports fans have to do in this age when our teams are struggling. You have to be able to put your fan alter ego away to get through life.
Fifteen minutes before the game was about to start, ESPN Radio announcer Matt Kerr told the radio-listening public that 4-1 Bucknell would not only be missing their starter quarterback, QB R.J. Nitti, but would also be without the services of their star running back, RB C.J. Williams.
You might be forgiven if that made you think that Lehigh’s chances of getting their first win, and avenging last season’s loss to Bucknell in Lewisburg, would be much greater.
It didn’t turn out that way, however, as backup QB Trey Lauletta stepped right up into the void and had the game of a lifetime against Lehigh’s beleaguered defense.
After Lehigh scored the game’s first touchdown, Lauletta and the Bucknell offense helped create the the next 31 points for the Bison, and when Lehigh finally settled down and cut the deficit to one score, Lauletta would find WR Will Carter for a back-breaking touchdown to win the game for the Bison.
“Embarassing” is what Lehigh head coach Andy Coen told ESPN radio sideline reporter Matt Markus it was.
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This weekend’s Bucknell/Lehigh game, if you’re not able to make it to Bethlehem, will be available to be viewed online for free thanks to the Patriot League Digital Network.
If you’re in the Lehigh Valley, you don’t need a TV since the game will be televised on Service Electric 2, with Mike Zambelli and Mike Yadush on the call.
You can listen to the game for free on www.espnlv.com (or on the radio at AM 1230 and 1320 of the Lehigh Valley), with Tom Fallon, Matt Kerr and Matt Markus on the broadcast team.
Game time is 12:30 PM.
And I will also say that if you follow my Twitter feed (@LFN), I’ll do my best to keep up with the action.
We break down Bucknell after the flip.
One thing that is worthy of mention about last year’s game, and may have gotten lost in all the talk of “revenge”, was the element of surprise.
Head coach Joe Susan, facing off against a then-Top 25 team, had just re-introduced QB Brandon Wesley to the staring lineup the prior week, and also unveiled a brand-new offensive attack against Lehigh as well, meaning that the game film head coach Andy Coen saw from the prior week against Dartmouth was essentially worthless.
Surprise doesn’t excuse the outcome, from a Lehigh perspective – not at all – but it’s worthy of mention that Bucknell’s pistol formation and offense shouldn’t be taking anyone by surprise this week. It also means that nobody should be reading too much into Bucknell’s loss at Bryant last week, either.
It didn’t really need to be mentioned by head coach Andy Coen and the coaching staff, because everyone already knew.
They all remembered last year’s beatdown by Bucknell at Lewisburg, 48-10.
Many of them, even the sophomores, remember the pain of that day.
300 yards rushing by the Bison. QB Brandon Bialkowski‘s broken collarbone. Five turnovers. 130 yards receiving for Bison sophomore WR Will Carter.
They also remember the humiliating exclamation point: sophomore RB C.J. Williams‘ hurdle over Lehigh’s secondary, getting an emphatic touchdown to put the icing on the cake.
Sometimes the pain of losses of games gone by can seem distant, unconnectable, by the playing members of a football team. There is no way for these players to imagine how it felt in 1997 for the Mountain Hawks to lose to the Bison, for example, the last time a Lehigh team had lost to Bucknell in football before last season.
But last year’s loss was so raw, so emphatic, and so emotionally charged that nobody on this team could have possibly forgotten how it felt to go in there and lost that badly, that comprehensively.
There was no need for coach Coen to invoke revenge in a fiery post-practice speech. They know.
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“A silver cup has been offered by Mr. R. P. Linderman, Lehigh ‘84, as a trophy of the foot-ball championship of Pennsylvania,” the Lehigh Burr reported in 1889. “Designs for the cup have not yet been prepared but it will be very handsome, of massive silver, while special care will be taken to secure a design thoroughly artistic and appropriate, and the cup will be fully equal to any college trophy of the kind ever offered. The [articles and conditions drawn up for the Championship] is not intended to form a foot-ball league, such a thing being deemed unnecessary, but to provide such general regulations as will fairly determine the state championship.”
The idea of Lehigh, Lafayette and Penn competing for the “state championship” has as its origins the student newspapers, who had started tallying the records of the games between each other in the hopes of crowning a mythical “champion of Pennsylvania”.
In 1888, Lehigh and Lafayette played each other twice, and played Penn once apiece in Philadelphia.
But the final records of Lehigh (2-1), Penn (2-1) and Lafayette (1-2) made it inconclusive as to who the state champion really was.
In 1889, with interest high in some sort of champions to be crowned, all three schools made an attempt to start a true “Championship of Pennsylvania”, complete with its own trophy. It was was founded in part to broaden the interest in football at both Lehigh and Lafayette, to be sure, but it also may have been a way to lock in Penn to playing return games in the Lehigh Valley, as Penn had already cancelled return games against both Lehigh and Lafayette in the past.
It made for a thrilling season, and one that further intensified the already-fierce Rivalry.
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Its a bye week, but that doesn’t mean the college football world stops.
Four Patriot League games are happening this weekend, including one tonight, on Friday.
Lafayette heads up to the Bronx to take on Fordham in a nationally-televised tilt on CBS Sports Network (check to see if your local cable company carries it).
It’s a huge early game that will put the winner in the driver’s seat for the title, and the loser squarely behind the eight-ball in terms of a Patriot League championsip.