Know Your 2015 Opponents: Penn

Lehigh's relationship with the schools of the Ivy League go all the way back to the 1880s.

Yes, really.

In 1885, Lehigh's fledgling football team opened the season with the University of Pennsylvania, who throttled the Brown and White 54-0.

1887 was the year that Princeton first squared off against Lehigh, throttling them 80-0

And it would be 1890 when Yale first hosted Lehigh, 26-0 winners.

These three traditional Ivy League football opponents appear on Lehigh's football schedule for 2015 and will be a critical litmus test for this your Mountain Hawk football team.

But one opponent stands out more because of the fact that Lehigh hasn't played them in more than a decade.

We're going to be talking today about Penn, a rival (with a little r) that hasn't faced off against Lehigh in over a decade.

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Posted in Al Bagnoli, Andy Coen, Colton Moskal, Football, Joe Sterrett, Know Your 2015 Opponents, Lehigh, Nolan Biegel, Penn, Ray Priore, Will Fisher-Colbrie | Leave a comment

How To Get Lehigh Fans To Games, And Keep Them There?

You don't have to have attended more than twenty-five years of Lehigh football games to know it's a completely different world out there for your friendly neighborhood sports fan.

When Lehigh's Murray Goodman Stadium was opened in 1988, there were only about a dozen channels on the small, eighteen inch black and white TV we had in our dorm room.  Only two channels might have had "major college football" games on at the same time a Lehigh football game was being played live over the mountain.  (Notre Dame, the only school who had all their games televised, almost always played their games at 3:30 PM.)

Nowadays there's way more entertainment options on a typical college weekend than ever, and it's very logical to think that the increased amount of competition might not just keep students away from attending football games, but local fans as well.

It's not an issue confined to Lehigh - in 2014, home attendance at all FBS games dropped to their lowest levels in fourteen years.  As student options have increased across the country, home attendance has decreased.

It's a question worth asking at a school like Lehigh - how to get fans to the games, and keep them coming back?
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Posted in Fans, Fisher Field, Football, Lehigh, Murray Goodman Stadium, Nick Shafinsky, Stephen Camasta, Taylor Stadium | Leave a comment

Know Your 2015 Opponents: James Madison (And The CAA)

In a typical Lehigh football season, there is one early "stretch game" that tests the Mountain Hawks in regards to their potential stature in thw wider FCS world.

There's little question that Lehigh's trip to Harrisonburg, Virginia is going to be that test.

Last year, first year head coach Everett Withers guided the Dukes, whose fan base expects FCS playoff appearances and deep playoff runs, probably exceeded expectations, going 9-4 and making the playoffs in his first year as James Madison head coach.

In 2015, the Dukes will be in an unfamiliar place - living up to the expectations.
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Posted in 2015, CAA, Everett Withers, Football, James Madison, Khalid Abdullah, Know Your 2015 Opponents, Kyre Hawkins, Lehigh, Vad Lee | Leave a comment

Searching For Les Expos

The nostalgia kind of crept up on me.

I wasn't expecting to feel nostalgia on our family's trip to Montreal, a trip designed (mostly) by my wife to get us away from the stresses of the day job and the business of running a family.

But somehow I found myself in front of Olympic Stadium today, or the "Big Owe", as it was called at one time, with memories of piling in a car in Connecticut eighteen years ago with a pal of mine to watch a baseball game there.  Here.

I never expected to be here talking about the Montreal Expos.  But I am.

I never expected to want to buy a Montreal Expos hat today - to want that hat more than any other souvenir I could buy on this trip.  But I did.

The memories of a baseball game I went to so many years ago became a trip down memory lane of the Expos franchise - the most amazing, improbable, groundbreaking, doomed franchises in the history of professional sports.  Their story is one of optimism triumphing over reality to come into existence, coming tantalizingly close to tasting postseason success, and finally, when the end came, one of the saddest, most injust experience in history about the end of a sports franchise.

I may have been the only one in the city of Montreal today who felt the pull of the Expos, but standing there on the sea of concrete looking up at the Montreal Tower jutting out of the Stade Olympique amid a unique sea of cables, it was there.
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Posted in Andre Dawson, Baseball, Expos, Montreal, Pedro Martinez, Vladimir Guererro | Leave a comment

Latest Lehigh Football Schedule (With Times)

Recently, Lehigh's Week 2 opponent, James Madison, announced their kickoff times and broadcast schedule.

This allows us to update what we know about this fall's schedule.

What is clear is that Lehigh's first two road games will not be broadcast on TV.

However, they will be streamed online - and for free.

If you're not headed to New Britain, Connecticut to catch the season opener vs. Central Connecticut State or to Harrisonburg, Virginia to see the Mountain Hawks vs. James Madison, you will be able to watch the games with the help of a computer.

While TV information is not completely available, it does seem like there will be a live stream of every game online, and in nearly every case, the online streams are free.


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Posted in 2015, Football, Lehigh, Schedule | Leave a comment

FBS’ Problems With Mixing Religion And Football

When most people think of the University of Notre Dame, they generally think of three things, and not necessarily in this order: Catholicism, academics, and football.

Nobody questions the role that football has at Notre Dame.   Football was what allowed the South Bend, Indiana school to grow from a growing Catholic university to a national, iconic institution.

But what allowed Notre Dame to become Notre Dame was a path that isn't available to religious institutions today.

Much virtual ink has been spilled about the effects of collegiate realignment, how some conferences have been torn asunder, how some schools are stuck in places that don't make sense, how other conferences are receiving piles of money that would make Scrooge McDuck envious.

But one of the biggest losers in this conference-driven realignment is the idea of independent football-playing schools, either loosely-tied or untied from the conference structure that drives the bus today.

When realignment articles come out today, floating schools like BYU or Liberty as potential conference-mates for schools like Texas or Old Dominion, they ignore the issue that they dare not speak publicly - mixing religion and football is not something they're comfortable doing.


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Posted in BYU, FBS, FCS, Football, Independents, Lehigh, Liberty, Notre Dame | Leave a comment

No Patriot League Football Games Planned In CBS Sports Network Coverage in 2015

The CBS Sports Network and the Patriot League go way back.

The first major media agreement the Patriot League had was with the network, CBS' stand-alone national network partner that used to be called CSTV.

For many years, CBS Sports Network carried as many as three Patriot League football games on the channel during the course of a season.

In 2015, however, that streak of nationally-televised Patriot League football games on the network seems like it will be coming to an end.

"Unless something major changes there will not be any through the Patriot League package this year," the Patriot League office told me.
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Posted in CBS Sports Network, Football, Lehigh, Media, Patriot League, TV | Leave a comment

Know Your 2015 Opponents: Central Connecticut State (and the NEC)

CCSU Athletics
The Pete Rossomando era couldn't have started much better for Central Connecticut State fans in 2014.

Not many outsiders gave the Blue Devils much of a chance when they made the trip to Johnny Unitas stadium to take on the No. 7 team in the nation, Towson.

Sure, they had RB Rob Holloman, an all-purpose everything back that would almost certainly be invited to an NFL camp (he was), but certainly that wasn't enough to run with the Tigers, right?

Behind a career game by QB Nick SanGiacomo, a transfer from Tulane, CCSU did indeed run with the Tigers, upsetting Towson 31-27 and seemingly announcing that the Blue Devils were going to be in stiff competition for the NEC title and a bid to the FCS playoffs.

Unfortunately, that's not how things turned out for the Blue Devils.
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Posted in C.J. Morrison, Central Connecticut State, Football, Know Your 2015 Opponents, Lehigh, Nick SanGiacomo, Pete Rossomando | Leave a comment

#FreeUAB Worked. Would #FreeBU Have, Too?

By all accounts what happened at UAB was extraordinary.

Last November, football at AUB was essentially abolished by the University of Alabama's Board of Trustees and confirmed by president Ray Watts.  The decision was made secretly, in the middle of the season, with an entire press release written up - but since it didn't "look good", Watts kept up with the fiction that there still was a decision to be made.

After the season concluded, Watts announced the termination of the program, saying that "was not about finances... but planning for excellence in the future for everything we do."

You probably know the rest of the story.  It was immediately apparent to all (but apparently not Watts, or the CarrSports Consultants who were commissioned the data to help make that decision) that UAB's termination of football would almost certainly cost them membership in Conference USA, which was one of several factors that helped set ablaze students, alumni, and most importantly important boosters and community sponsors who mobilized immediately to save football (and bowling and women's rifle, the two other programs that were cut in the same move).

#FreeUAB was a hashtag that never really went away from December 2014 to June 1st, 2015, when the Alabama Board of Trustees and Watts stunningly reversed their decision, saying that they would be reinstating football and remain members of Conference USA.

So much at UAB echoes what happened at other schools that shuttered their football programs, too, but nowhere does it echo more strongly than what happened at Boston University in October of 1997.

It makes me wish Twitter, and some variation of a #FreeBU hashtag, existed back then.
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Posted in 1997, Boston University, Disbanding, Football, FreeBU, FreeUAB, John Silber, Lehigh, Leon Spivack, Patriot League, T.J. Hartford, UAB | Leave a comment

Why Don’t Loyola U. and Boston U. Sponsor Football (Again)?

When you see this picture of Loyola University headgear, do you think football, or lacrosse?

If you're a rabid college football fan, you're forgiven if you think of this as a possible concept football helmet for a member of the Patriot League, Loyola (MD), though it's actually a lacrosse helmet, of course.

This last week I started to take a look at the financial details of the schools of the Patriot League, and some of the other schools in the Northeast that sponsor FCS football.

Yet one nagging question kept reappearing in my mind.

Why am I looking around for Patriot League expansion candidates to aid in the League's football conference when two of the best possible additions in the league for football are already full-sports members?

One had a decidedly modest football history that didn't make that much of a dent on the college football consciousness.  The other had a rich football history buried by a president that was an ideological zealot.  Neither sponsor the sport today.

But both have the facilities, the money, and the conference to do it.  You can make a very good case that they should be the eighth and ninth football-playing members of the League.

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Posted in Boston University, FCS, Football, John Silber, Lehigh, Loyola University MD, Patriot League | Leave a comment