Category Archives: Big South

Lehigh At Monmouth Game Preview: Revenge for the First Half Shutout


The word "Monmouth" last season became a sort-of shorthand for a humbling experience, a game that should have gone much different than it actually did.

It was usually used in the context of:

"Don't pull another Monmouth."

"Lehigh's been doing pretty great - but they have to be careful not to have another Monmouth."

The memory of last year's loss to the Jersey Hawks stung particularly hard, because it had ramifications that slowed the recognition of Lehigh as a legitimate title contender.  Wile their loss last season wasn't stated as a reason why the Mountain Hawks didn't earn a home game in the FCS Playoffs, it was the one, big blemish on Lehigh's record that may have prevented them from being in consideration for a possible seed (and, by extension, at least one home game).

And yet, last year's Monmouth loss also was important in that the loss in that first game of the year seemed to galvanize the Mountain Hawks, sending a potent message that winning every game was going to be hard and nothing was going to come easy.  The lessons learned from that game carried through the season, and, in a way, set up everything good that was to come.

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Know Your 2017 Opponents: Monmouth

Monmouth and Lehigh have a lot more in common than meets the eye.

They don't share a conference - the Mountain Hawks are in the Patriot League in all sports, while the Jersey Hawks (my name for Monmouth's mascot) compete in the Big South in football, and the MAAC in all other sports.

But athletically, in terms of everything from enrollment, participation to overall athletic department spending, Monmouth and Lehigh are like peas in a pod.  They are both universities; they both have between 4,000 and 5,000 undergrads; and the size of their athletic departments are similar as well.

The Mountain Hawks and the Jersey Hawks have also been frequent opponents of the other in football and men's basketball as well.  Since 2010, Lehigh has played Monmouth twice in men's basketball and five times on the gridiron.  (Recently, it was announced that Monmouth's hoop squad and their wacky bench antics will be headed to Stabler this fall to play Lehigh hoops as well.)

But in football the last few years, Lehigh's games against Monmouth have proven a liability to their national stature.  That's because they've lost their last two games against the Jersey Hawks, and while their loss last season wasn't stated as a reason why the Mountain Hawks didn't earn a home game in the FCS Playoffs, it was the one, big blemish on Lehigh's record that may have prevented them from being in consideration for a possible seed (and, by extension, at least one home game).
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FCS Games You Should Follow On Your Bye Week

Lehigh's bowl game comes next weekend, of course, as they take on Lafayette in the 152nd meeting of The Rivarly in Easton.  After that bowl game, though, comes the FCS playoffs, and until the FCS Playoff Bracket is announced on Sunday at 11:00 AM after the Lafayette game, we don't know where, or when, Lehigh will play their playoff game.

Don't fret, football fans.  LFN is here with a warm cup of chicken noodle soup, a nice grilled cheese sandwich with the crusts cut off, and a schedule, complete with links, involving the most important FCS games on the schedule that will impact Lehigh's postseason schedule the most.

Sit back.  Enjoy your soup.  LFN's here to help you for this Saturday.
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New to the FCS Playoffs? Here’s What Lehigh Fans Need To Know

For us Patriot League diehards, we know what the FCS playoffs are all about.  We know who's in line for the autobid, we know who the No. 1 teams are, and we have a pretty good idea about who can get in, and why.

But you, dear Reader, might not be as dialed into the FCS playoff scene as the rest of us.  You know that Lehigh will be practicing on Thanksgiving, and will be playing a football game after the 152nd meeting on the gridiron between Lehigh and Lafayette.

In the span of one blog post, let me tell you, new or old Lehigh fan, what you need to look for in regards to the FCS playoffs.


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Lehigh At Georgetown Narrative Street: Avoiding The Same Fate As Monmouth

Although you see big, bright smiles on the faces of senior CB Brandon Leaks and senior WR Trevor Soccaras when talking about the performance over the last four football games, their focus has understandably been on Georgetown and guarding against a possible letdown.

Such thought is undeniably warranted, especially if they caught the college football scores from yesterday.

There was only one college football game being contested Thursday night, which was Monmouth vs. Presbyterian.

The Hawks, who already beat Lehigh on opening weekend and also beat Fordham last weekend, had a short week to prepare for their Thursday game.  But few people thought they would struggle against 1-4 Big South leaguemate Presbyterian, who had already lost to a Division II school (Florida Tech).

Instead, the classic letdown game happened - a 17-13 loss that almost certainly doomed any chance Monmouth has to not only win the Big South, but also to qualify for any sort of at-large postseason berth.


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Idaho’s Return To Big Sky Shows How Broken FBS Membership Is

People rightfully can paint me as an FCS football fan.  I love Football Championship Subdivision, the section of Division I where Lehigh and the rest of the Patriot League competes.  I find the quality of the games tremendous, and the emphasis on football and competition as the exact right balance.

From that fact, some might also think I'm performing cartwheels around my office now that the University of Idaho, after they were unceremoniously cast out of the Sun Belt as football-only members, have decided that their only choice to retain football is to join the rest of the Big Sky in sponsoring football at the FCS level, starting in 2018.

You'd be wrong about that.

What Idaho's decision really should be telling us is that the process for switching subdivisions is a senseless, conference-driven exercise that forces schools into making tough decisions that they shouldn't be forced to make.
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My FCS Top 25 Vote, Week 9, 11/3/2015

If you'd like, you can check out my FCS Top 25 vote below.

Pity Dartmouth.

The Big Green and Harvard, whom I've had in my Top 25 all season, played a game last Friday that was as great as a game between Top 25 teams can be.

For 3 1/2 quarters, Dartmouth controlled the game, up 13-0 and the Big Green's defense, somewhat surprisingly, completely smothering Harvard's potent offense.

Then, in the span of about six and a half, Harvard, amazingly, pulled out the win.

One touchdown pass to WR Seitu Smith, one Dartmouth fumble and another touchdown throw from QB Scott Hosch to RB Justice Shelton-Mosley, and Harvard took their first lead of the game with 36 seconds left in the game.

It was a great game to watch, and amply showed that both teams were worthy of Top 25 status, but it is impossible, as a neutral fan, to not feel for the Big Green, who had them right there.

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My FCS Top 25 Vote, Week 7, 10/19/2015

If you'd like, you can check out my FCS Top 25 vote below.

Last week, I said people around the country are starting to understand that James Madison is a pretty damn good FCS football team.

Apparently, someone at College Football Gameday was also paying attention to the Dukes as well.

At 7-0, James Madison University was chosen as the site for ESPN's pregame show College Football Gameday, to highlight their game versus another Top 25 school, Richmond.

It's not the first time College Football Gameday has elected to cover an FCS school.  The nationwide program has already made a couple stops in Fargo, North Dakota to cover the North Dakota State Bison, and last year the hot rumor was that Gameday was going to cover Lehigh vs. Lafayette's 150th celebration at Yankee Stadium, but ultimately decided to go with Harvard vs. Yale, as "The Game" was for an Ivy League championship and "The Rivalry" ended up being for pride.

Harrisonburg, Virginia I'm sure will be a great host for Gameday.  It's also worth mentioning Dukes fans, and possibly their athletics reps, will be doing a great job showcasing Bridgeforth Stadium and their "FBS-ready" program.  Already some have taken to the papers to talk a little about an FBS move.

And why not?  I don't blame them.  As much as I like the Dukes in FCS, I can very much see their team end up in the FBS eventually, ideally as a travel partner/rival to Old Dominion in Conference USA.

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My FCS Top 25 Vote, Week 6: 10/12/2015

If you'd like, you can check out my FCS Top 25 vote below.

People around the country are starting to understand that James Madison is a pretty damn good FCS football team.

At 6-0, they bear little resemblance to the team that squeaked by 3-8 Lehigh last season.  The lowest offensive point total they put together in a game was 38 - versus Stony Brook, who could be a playoff team.  QB Vad Lee is firing on all cylinders, just showed up in Sports Illustrated's Faces in the Crowd, and the Dukes faithful may be getting a look from College Football Gameday in a few weeks.

After they made mincemeat of Lehigh in Week 2, I knew they were good.  But I didn't really know how good until they got into the league portion of the schedule.  They pounded Towson 51-30 last weekend, and they will in all likelihood go 7-0 after their trip to 2-4 Elon this weekend.  I've had them at No. 1 the past three weeks or so, and they've amply justified my pick.

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Virginia Bill to Micromanage Athletics Funding Hurts Smaller Schools

James Madison vs. Virigina Tech (HamptonRoads.com)
This article from the Virginian Pilot-Online might have escaped your attention, but it could be something that has deep-ranging effects on collegiate athletics.

While the bill only affects schools in Virginia, if other state houses take up similar legislation across the country, it could deeply impact and potentially hurt smaller public universities across the country.

The article, written by Harry Minium, says it like this:
Old Dominion, Norfolk State and many other state schools will have to depend more on fundraising and ticket sales and less on student fees to fund their athletic budgets under a bill signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe Sunday night. 
McAuliffe signed HB 1897 without any amendments. The bill, sponsored by Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, sets limits on the percentage of athletic budgets that can be funded through student fees. 
“I am very happy to see that Governor signed the bill,” said Cox, the House Majority Leader. 
Cox said he introduced HB 1897 to try to slow the increase in student athletic fees, which he said has been one of the major drivers behind a 122 percent increase in tuition and fees since 2002.
At first glance, this bill might seem to have a worthy goal - an attempt to halt the reliance on certain public institutions on reliance on soaking students in order to fund their athletics departments.  Look at the bill more closely, though, and you start to wonder if that was the intent of the legislation at all.
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