Category Archives: 2004

Frank Tavani Retires After Thirty Years Of Rivalries And Thirty Years At Lafayette

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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Lehigh 45, Colgate 31 Postgame Thoughts: Nearly 10,000 At Lehigh Win Evokes Memories Of 2004

It honestly felt like a day from another era out there on Saturday - in a good way.

In a world of bitter political debates, supposedly declining college football attendance, alleged tensions between the generations and the ongoing charges increasing collegian apathy, there it was: the official attendance total of the Colgate/Lehigh game of 9,255.

There were a multitude of reasons why people wanted to go see the game.  Perhaps it was something good to do with the family on Family Weekend.  Maybe it was a concerted effort to get students into the games, and keep them there, with new policies and new promotions.  Maybe it was a thumb-your-nose effort at the fans who come for cocktails but don't go enjoy the game.  Maybe it was individuals, all as a unit, wanting to come out and see if this high-flying, record-setting Lehigh football team is for real.

Or maybe it was all of them; I have no idea, but I know it required a whole lot of planning and a huge amount of effort from a whole lot of people, and I'm glad they did.

Because it felt like something special was brewing in Bethlehem - and not just from the team making everyone pay attention to them on Saturday.  It was the whole thing - the team, the fans, and the atmosphere.  On Saturday, for the first time in a long time, it felt like "it" was back.
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Know Your 2014 Opponents: James Madison

(Photo Credit: Lehigh Athletics)

When the Dukes come to Murray Goodman Stadium this September 6th, it won't quite be a full decade since James Madison last came to Bethlehem.

But the occasion of that almost-decade-old meeting - the first round of the FCS playoffs in 2004 - is not easily forgotten by either side.

For fans of the Purple and Gold, it was the first step towards a memorable FCS National Championship run - all four wins coming on the road.

For fans of the Brown and White, however, the memory always goes back to those seven downs.
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Hate the Gate Top Games No. 2: Lehigh 21, Colgate 14, 10/30/2004

The best part of this particular game was not only the win for Lehigh, and not only the fact that it ended up clinching a playoff game, in retrospect, for the Mountain Hawks.  It's that it was my first-ever real sportswriting piece, for the now-defunct I-AA.org, detailing Lehigh/Colgate and the rivalry that had built up in the years before.


Below the flip, behold my first "I-AA Diary" of the game, in its entirety, pulled from the top-secret LFN archives as the No. 2 "Hate the 'Gate" classic.
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