Category Archives: Lafayette

Lehigh’s Bye Week: Former Teammates of Lehigh Players Shine; Army Surges; Columbia Shines; Bucknell Stuns

I know, I know, it's strange when there's no Lehigh football game result to pick apart.  That doesn't mean that the rest of college football stood still during the Mountain Hawks' bye week.

Lehigh's bye week came during a time when Penn State football, already rabid at the best of times, was at peak foaming-at-the-mouth after Happy Valley hosted ESPN College Gameday on Saturday morning and Michigan on Saturday night.

In case you've been living under a rock, Penn State RB Saquon Barkley has a local connection: he went to Whitehall at the same time a guy called QB Nick Shafnisky was under center.  Now, Barkley is the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman with the Nittany Lions after a 263 yard, 3 TD effort against the Wolverines as Penn State coasted to a 42-13 win.

Completing the return to 1986, Notre Dame also went to 6-1 after their own resounding 49-13 win over USC Saturday night as well, surprising in the ease in the way RB Josh Adams carved through the Trojan defense for 194 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Oh yeah, Josh Adams' high school isn't too far from Barkley's - he came from Central Bucks South in Warrington, the same high school where Lehigh freshman LB Nate Norris played.

Seeing the success of Barkley and Adams on college football's biggest Saturday showcase serve as a fresh reminder that Lehigh's football players frequently come from the same schools that produce some of these massive football talents.
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The Need For A Lafayette Football Nation Has Never Been Greater

(Photo Credit: Harvard Magazine)

Last weekend, Lafayette traveled up to Harvard to play the Crimson up in Cambridge.  It was the 19th meeting between the Leopards and the Crimson, a series that started in 1966 and has been a frequent event since the early 1990s.

It was a pretty historic game, too: the 700th football game contested at Harvard Stadium.

In years past, you might have found members of the local Lehigh Valley media making a trip up to Boston to cover the game from an independent Lafayette perspective, and you would have seen a recap online and some postgame quotes from the postgame press conference in there as well, as well as seeing an article or two about the game in the Sunday paper.

This weekend, though, there was nothing.

The recap in The Morning Call was not the great work of Paul Reinhard, who freelances for the paper - they didn't pay him to go up to Cambridge to take in the game and ask John Garrett about the progress of the team.  Instead, someone added a topper sentence to the AP recap of the game - and that was it.  Four paragraphs for the online crowd and the Sunday readership.

And on Lehigh Valley Live online, the old Easton Express-Times - nothing.  This week, quietly, they dropped their college sports coverage, citing the fact that there wasn't enough traffic to justify their continued coverage of Lehigh, Lafayette, or Patriot League football.

For Lehigh fans, who still get significant coverage of Mountain Hawks football from Keith Groller of The Morning Call, and yours truly, there's still a fair amount of online and print content covering Lehigh football. 

But looking over at Lafayette, the need for a Lafayette Football Nation has never seemed so acute.  And in the general scheme of things - the loss of Lafayette football coverage is actually a much more historic event than it seems.
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An LFN Investigation: What’s Wrong with Patriot League football?

This week, Lafayette plays Harvard up in Cambridge, where the 2-4 Leopards are expected to lose to the 2-2 Crimson.  I say expected to lose because with one exception since 2000, that's what's happened every time Lafayette has played Harvard: they have lost 12 out of their last 13 to the Johnnies, and have a lifetime record of 3-19 against them.

The expectation among Patriot League football fans is that football scholarships was supposed to change all of that.  Simply offer conventional football scholarships, add to that a chance to play in the FCS Playoffs, and suddenly football recruits choosing between Harvard and Lehigh for business would start choosing Lehigh.

It hasn't worked out quite that way.

Through five games in 2017, the combined record of the Patriot League is a mind-boggling 8-21 outside of Patriot League contests.   And of those eight wins, only one has come against a team from the Ivy League - Colgate's 21-7 win over Cornell.  Collectively, the Patriot League is 1-7 against the Ancient Eight, with six of those seven losses coming by more than two touchdowns.

This is not what fans of the Patriot League signed up for five years ago when they decided to offer the same sort of scholarships that schools like Delaware, Montana and North Dakota State.  But is the problem scholarships, or is it something else?


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An LFN Investigation: What’s Wrong with Patriot League football?

This week, Lafayette plays Harvard up in Cambridge, where the 2-4 Leopards are expected to lose to the 2-2 Crimson.  I say expected to lose because with one exception since 2000, that's what's happened every time Lafayette has played Harvard: they have lost 12 out of their last 13 to the Johnnies, and have a lifetime record of 3-19 against them.

The expectation among Patriot League football fans is that football scholarships was supposed to change all of that.  Simply offer conventional football scholarships, add to that a chance to play in the FCS Playoffs, and suddenly football recruits choosing between Harvard and Lehigh for business would start choosing Lehigh.

It hasn't worked out quite that way.

Through five games in 2017, the combined record of the Patriot League is a mind-boggling 8-21 outside of Patriot League contests.   And of those eight wins, only one has come against a team from the Ivy League - Colgate's 21-7 win over Cornell.  Collectively, the Patriot League is 1-7 against the Ancient Eight, with six of those seven losses coming by more than two touchdowns.

This is not what fans of the Patriot League signed up for five years ago when they decided to offer the same sort of scholarships that schools like Delaware, Montana and North Dakota State.  But is the problem scholarships, or is it something else?


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The 2017 Patsy Ratings: No. 2, Lafayette

Frank Tavani always made sure the Patsies were celebrated in downtown Easton.

Perhaps it was the Bourger Field House needing an event to host in February when the men's wrestling team was out of town, or that field hockey practice was finishing up - the shindigs that Bourger fielded back in those days were great.

All that steak, not overcooked, was barbecued outside, filling the Eastonian air with charred meats usually only present during Lafayette/Lehigh week.  Many students would come up - giving up their vegan diets, maybe just this one time - to eat beautiful steak sandwiches, and to sip delicious Coke under huge cardboard cutouts of their beloved head coach.

Today, Lafayette has a new head football coach, and so far there's no Coke billboards with head coach John Garrett on them.  And there was no smell of steak as the Committee got the folder filled with the printouts of Lafayette's Patsy Ratings class.

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Seven Positive Thoughts About All the Patriot League Recruiting Classes

It's recruiting season.  Every incoming recruit is a Patriot League all-star, everyone is a first team all-American, everyone is undefeated.  It's all good times, a chance for kids to be admitted to some of the best Universities in the world.  In that, it's a win for everyone.

While we wait for each of the remaining recruits to be announced as a part of their recruiting classes, I thought I'd comb through all of the incoming classes of the Patriot League and tell you what sticks out to me.

This summart isn't a ratings-based system, than folks like 247Sports have in terms of measuring the number of "starred recruits" (they list Holy Cross as the "winner"), or even a hybrid-based system, like LFN's yearly Patsy Ratings (last seasons "winner": Lehigh) or HERO Sports' list of the top overall FCS recruits (which lists Lafayette as the "winner").  It's just one guy, looking at the recruit lists, and giving his opinion.

Let's start.
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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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Fate Determined That Lehigh Would Crush The Sweet Dreams Of Their Rival Lafayette, 45-21

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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QUICK RECAP: Lehigh Dominates The Leopards In A 45-21 Rivalry Win

In the most-played college football Rivalry, there was a mild concern of complacency on the Lehigh side.

Would they be able to manage the emotions of the Rivalry after a bye week?  Would they come out flat, and let 2-8 Lafayette take away their chance at an outright Patriot League championship, an undefeated Patriot League record, and a 9-2 regular season mark?

The Mountain Hawks proved resoundingly that fans needn't have worried.

Lehigh rolled to a 17-0 lead before Lafayette connected on a big pass play, then kept the foot on the gas to get to a 45-7 lead before starting to put in the second stringers.

It was pretty telling that the biggest outpouring of emotion during the game happened when Lehigh's marching band, the Marching 97, marched off Lafayette's pep band after they went over on their time to play.  It was that sort of day for a joyous Lehigh victory.
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#Rivalry152 Game Breakdown And Fearless Prediction: Don’t Sell Lafayette Short

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.

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