Archive For The “Frank Tavani” Category
The first time I asked a question of Lafayette head football coach Frank Tavani was in 2004.
It was at Fisher Field, and I had just spent my first game ever in the press box.
I had gone into that press box hoping to cover an expected Lehigh victory over Lafayette, the final crowning glory to yet another Lehigh football season.
I barely knew what I was doing, how I should act, or how to set up a computer in the press box. But there I was, taking notes for a “game diary” for a national website called I-AA.org.
I had proven my bona fides for writing by penning a very long, very detailed summary of the Lehigh/Colgate game a few weeks prior. That game, a Lehigh victory that went down to the wire, was sort-of a precursor to the type of coverage I do now during Lehigh games in terms of tweeting, except rather than tweet it out instantly to followers, I would write all the observations down, shuffle them up, edit them, and put them in a thousand-word article. (Trust me when I say it made sense at the time.)
But Lehigh did not beat Lafayette in 2004.
Instead, fourth year head coach Frank Tavani’s team would dominate the Mountain Hawks on both lines of scrimmage to secure a well-deserved 24-10 victory, and in so doing punched their first-ever ticket to the I-AA Playoffs.
It was in this environment where I would first ask a question of Frank Tavani, that year a finalist for the Eddie Robinson award for the best head coach in I-AA football.
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The parties raged on in the parking garage next to Fisher Field, which were packed with Lafayette fans eager to enjoy a party with plenty of great food and copious drinks.
The tiny businesses below Fisher Field, the small bits of capitalism next to the concrete husks of factory jobs that have left ages ago, had plenty of visiting Lehigh fans, enjoying the tailgates and ready to invade the stadium that they hadn’t seen in four years.
In the line coming into the stadium, a silent protest of hundreds of Lafayette students clad in black, handing out a political statement on a piece of paper and showing some signs that were up seemingly to simply show that these people exist, and are not happy.
Somewhere in this mix of people escaping, people expressing and people denying, a football game was played, one that matched an 8-2 team that was headed to the national stage and the FCS playoffs, the other a 2-8 squad that had their fans questioning the tenure of their head coach.
It was one of the strangest disconnect of emotions that I’ve ever seen in a Rivalry game, one where the outcome, a 45-21 victory by the Brown and White, was almost expected by everyone going through the crowded gates at Fisher Field.
There was plenty to celebrate – for one side, anyway.
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We break down #Rivalry152 – and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.
When you take away The Rivalry, when you take away the emotions, when you take away the craziness, the energy – what do we have? When you look at the Xs and Os, what do you have?
Certainly, this game, like every Rivalry game, will be dictated and informed by emotion. You can count on the fact, as a Lehigh fan, that Lafayette will play out of their minds. For their seniors, it is guaranteed to be their last game played together as a team. For them, there is no practicing on Thanksgiving.
Countless football teams have taken this “300” mentality and turned it into wins. Quarterbacks that used to struggle to not get intercepted suddenly become the second coming of QB Tom Brady. Linebackers that didn’t wrap up their tackles before suddenly become LB Mike Singletary. It can happen to Lehigh. Don’t think that it can’t.
That shouldn’t stop us, though, from looking over the Leopards and seeing what they’re all about. They will put together a gameplan to come away with victory. It’s up to the Mountain Hawks to keep that from happening.
It is an easy narrative to point at the 150th meeting of The Rivalry as the turnaround for the Lehigh football program, where the Mountain Hawks got together after that bitter, bitter loss and decided that enough was enough, and that they were going to not allow their team to be a cellar-dweller.
Let’s take a look at all the training camps around the Patriot League and see what’s up.
Last week, I talked about the first week of Lehigh’s training camp and you can read about that here.
Today’s “Know Your 2016 Opponents” series continues with the team that is predicted by College Sports Journal to finish 6th in the Patriot League: Lehigh’s arch-Rival, Lafayette.
(Last week, I published Know Your 2016 opponents: Georgetown.)
Lafayette needs little introduction to those who know Lehigh well. (151 meetings on the gridiron will do that to a Rivalry.)
In parallel to the College Sports Journal preview, this preview encompasses the one that is printed there – with some additional goodies for Lehigh fans as well.
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We break down the #Rivalry151 – and we give our fearless prediction below the flip.
One of the things that makes Lafayette such a dangerous and frightening team is the fact that they’re 1-9, oddly enough.
As a Lehigh fan, despite the Xs and Os, you have to wonder if Lehigh will come out flat tomorrow, after a heartwrenching loss last week to Colgate, 49-42.
Coupled with that is the fact that Lafayette has had two weeks to contemplate the end of their football season, to get healthy, to come to terms with the end of their football careers.
Sometimes, even in a huge Rivalry game, with a Patriot League championship on the line last week, you wonder if the Mountain Hawks can bring it as intensely as they brought it to Colgate.
Despite the breakdown, despite the football side, the question is – can they?
Chuck laid down on the couch, his therapist staring at his pencil. He focused at a spor on the celing, listing to the pelt of rain on the thin roof overhead.
“Do you remember it now?” the balding doctor with the shaggy salt-and-pepper beard asked.
“I… I don’t remember,” Chuck said. “I have a vague recollection, some faint memories, about being… excited. About being excited for a football game, but not The Rivalry I expected. It was being played… in a stadium I didn’t recognize. It was a dream. A nightmare. It had to be a nightmare.”
“Go on,” the doctor said. “This is good. Very good. By confronting what…. happened last year, you can finally face up to it and defeat it. Defeat your nightmare. Defeat a year’s worth of angst. Defeat it.”
“I don’t know,” Chuck said. “It’s all so hazy.”
“Let’s see if we can work this out,” the doctor said. “We’ll work it out, and fix this.”