Archive For December 31, 2015
New Year’s Eve is supposed to be about all the good things about college football.
For FCS, it’s about the run-up to the FCS National Championship game in Frisco, Texas. This season – again – North Dakota State heads to the party once again, while the No. 1 team in the nation. Jacksonville State, tries to be the team that finally harpoons the Bison to break their consecutive national championship streak.
In the FBS, the bowl games that really matter – the plus-one playoff teams, the four teams that could win their bowl championship – are being played. Lots of people will tune in. Advertisers will see a very strong return on investment on their ad buys for the game. The administrators for Alabama, Michigan State, Clemson and Oklahoma will be entertained, and well paid.
Yet now, at the end of 2015, there are dark clouds on the horizon looming pretty much everywhere about the entire sport. Folks are worried about head injuries more than ever. The bowl system, with more exhibition games than ever, feels overstretched, and the games are competing with more and more sports entertainment and feeling diluted. Even the revenue model for sports on TV feels under threat as more and more people cut the coaxial cable and media conglomerates like ESPN actually shrink in viewership.
College football was, and still is, the greatest sport in the entire world. But many forces of change feel like they’re coming, and it’s making a lot of folks pessimistic about the future of the sport.
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, according to my radio.
Although it can’t possibly be the most wonderful time of the year, since there’s no Lehigh football or Patriot League football teams playing right now, I suppose the next best thing – recruiting period for the next four years of Lehigh football – is in full swing.
My thoughts for Santa pretty much involve the players I think Lehigh needs in the upcoming years, so, as I do every year, here’s what I would like Santa to leave under head coach Andy Coen’s tree this season.
(No lumps of coal, hopefully.)
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Everything about the 2015 season screamed “rebuilding,” even if the Lehigh faithful never really could bring themselves to completely believe it.
Lehigh was coming from a frustrating 2014 where the Mountain Hawks came close to beating James Madison at home, but couldn’t finish the game, making Lehigh slide to an uncharacteristic 3-8 record.
There was the departure in the offseason of RB Chris Leigh, the one player that scored a touchdown for the Mountain Hawks in the 150th meeting between Lafayette and Lehigh in Yankee Stadium, and RB Brandon Yosha, the transfer running back that battled injury and chop blocks leading to his retirement from football as well.
With pretty much any other team and any other fan base, expectations for the year would have been low. But at Lehigh, expectations are sky-high, for better or for worse, all the time. Perhaps it’s the historic success of the program; perhaps it’s the fans, who are spoiled by all the Patriot League championships, wins over Lafayette, and FCS playoff wins, but that’s what playing at Lehigh is all about.
What the 2015 Mountain Hawks will be best known for is righting the ship from that awful 2014 to return to the winning ways that all Lehigh fans seem to expect. Going into the 2015 offseason, the Mountain Hawks 6-5 record wasn’t good enough to win a Patriot League championship – though they came very, very close – but it definitely shows that the foundation has been rebuilt for future success.
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Being a college football fan sometimes means being disappointed. It comes with the territory.
Disappointment comes in many forms.
In the Lehigh football world, there’s the type of disappointment when a non-Lafayette game is lost, like when, say, the Mountain Hawks underperform in a loss to Yale. While you can be upset that the Bulldogs push you around in your own house, the disappointment abates, eventually. You get a bunch of really good wins, win the most important game on your schedule, and the disappointment fades away. You move on, the Yale game an aberration in a mostly terrific year.
But recently, a bunch of Lehigh football players disappointed for a different reason.
What they did isn’t exactly a secret, but I thought it worthwhile to say exactly what such news does to huge fans of the Lehigh football program, like myself, and how it affects many of the other passionate Lehigh fans that are a part of the great Lehigh football community. It’s not pleasant, but it is real.
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