Archive For The “Hofstra” Category
I remember the last game Lehigh played on Long Island; I was there.
It also happened to be a FCS Playoff, or back then, I-AA Playoff, game.
It wasn’t against Stony Brook, who finished their very first season in I-AA that year with a 5-5 record and a win over St. John’s (NY), 28-6.
It was against a team that used to be the biggest college football program on Long Island – an East Coast independent, Hofstra, that was led by head coach Joe Gardi. Like Stony Brook, Hofstra had transitioned to I-AA football, but they had done so much earlier, and even with the challenge of scheduling as an independent, had developed into a playoff team quickly.
Hofstra used to have a national presence on the football stage. Jets fans marveled at the diminutive WR Wayne Chrebet, and fell in love with his story – the local boy who led the Dutchmen in receiving, but only was on the Jets because he hustled his way into a tryout. Legend has it that the security guard at Jets training camp stopped him on the Hofstra campus, not believing that he could possibly be a NFL wide receiver at 5 foot 10 – despite his success on that same field.
That was a big part of the story of Hofstra’s football program, and 1999, when Lehigh played the Dutchmen in Long Island might have been Hofstra’s peak not only as a football program but as an athletic program. Since then, Stony Brook has passed Hofstra in about every measurable way, but in 1999, Hofstra, who was still looking for a football conference after the Patriot League would still not offer them an invite, loomed as Lehigh’s opponent.
The analogy is not perfect.
When WR Wayne Chrebet came to Jets training camp in July of 1995 as a free-agent signee, the 5′ 9 1/2 inch tall athlete from Hofstra was turned away by the security guard, thinking he was “just another Hofstra kid” trying to sneak his way in to see some of the big stars training in Hempstead, Long Island, like QB Boomer Esiason or LB Mo Lewis.
WR Ryan Spadola, too was a Jersey resident. He, too, came from an FCS school, a I-AA school. But nobody turned the blond-haired, 6’3 Spadola away at the gates of SUNY Cortland, even if the Jets depth charts had his name written in pencil rather than Sharpie, down at the very bottom, just like Chrebet years ago.
When Chrebet reached out to Ryan to talk pointers on Jets training camp, it wasn’t just an email conversation between a legendary Jet and a rookie still learning the ropes. It was also a bridge between two powerful Northeast football programs in the mid-1990s, Hofstra and Lehigh, at the I-AA level.
It wasn’t a perfect analogy. But it was still a pretty damned good one.
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(Photo Credit: USA Today)
Today, Jet head coach Rex Ryan led his daily press conference with heaping praise about WR Ryan Spadola, who, in case you’ve just woken from a seven month nap, has been fighting and clawing to make the roster of the NFL’s New York Jets.
This morning, on the first roster cutdown day, there was still doubt whether Ryan would make the 53 man roster. Even when four camp wideouts were released this morning, it still wasn’t a done deal.
But that was before the announcement that WR Braylon Edwards was cut. And it was also before Rex Ryan spent a couple of minutes on talking about him.
Suddenly, he went from “bubble” to “in”.
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