Category Archives: Patriot League

Patriot League Fans Stunned At the Firing of Tom Gilmore at Holy Cross

It was clear that Holy Cross' 32-0 loss to Yale wasn't going to yield many highlights for their end-of-the-year DVD.

“We just couldn’t string anything together,” head coach Tom Gilmore said after the loss. “They got us on our heels. They were executing some big plays and it snowballed. Yale kept the pressure on and it one of those days we couldn’t flip the momentum.”

At 2-5, the Crusaders did, and still do, have a chance to win the Patriot League, if they win the rest of their games and Lafayette loses twice - certainly not an inconceivable notion.

Even so, Holy Cross athletic director Nathan Pine sent shockwaves through the Patriot League this weekend when he called head coach Tom Gilmore and told him that he was being terminated immediately, with Brian Rock, the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, taking over in an interim basis.

“Traditionally I’m not a proponent of a mid-season change,” Pine told Jen Toland of The Worcester Telegram-Gazette, “but I’ve watched carefully, and especially over these last three weeks our team has seemed to spiral and our performance has gotten progressively worse and so I didn’t want to delay the decision any longer, because hopefully this can be a rallying point and a galvanizing moment for our team to still have some success at the end of the season. I just didn’t feel like that would happen if we didn’t have a significant change.”

The fall of this Holy Cross team and the circumstances that led to Gilmore's firing was stunning.
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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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Lehigh At Wagner Game Preview: Two Teams Battling Their Own Curses

Lehigh has never played Wagner in football, despite the fact that the schools are separated only by an hour and a half drive and that the institutions both sponsor FCS football in an area of the country where nearby opponents are sometimes hard to come by.

Long-time Patriot League fans might remember Wagner as legendary Lafayette head coach Bill Russo's coaching stint before he came to Easton to coach the Leopards for an 18 year stretch from 1981 to 1999. 

Back in those days, Wagner was a Division III school, playing local schools like Iona, Pace, Seton Hall and Fordham, during a time when it was OK to field a Division III football program and a Division I athletics program (this is something that is no longer allowed today).

Since then, though, many Lehigh fans may not know that much about Wagner College, the Seahawk football program, and their ascent to becoming, eventually, and FCS playoff team.


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LFN’s FCS Top 25, 9/19/2017


I don't officially vote in any of the FCS Top 25 polls, but I do share who I think deserves to be in the Top 25, and let's just get all the drama out of the way now - James Madison is my clear-cut No. 1.

I know, right?  Shocking.

This week saw two Top 10 teams of mine last week go down - and Virginia, the games weren't close.  One might not have been too much of a surprise, as it came against a nationally-ranked team at their place.  But the other stunned a lot of people, including myself, and frankly, I hate missing the call of a Patriot League team upsetting a CAA team.
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Villanova at Lehigh Game Preview: Battle Of Nationally Ranked Teams Highlight Mountain Hawk Season Opener

One has been here before; the other has not, at least not lately.

Over the course of the last few seasons, Villanova Stadium has hosted all sorts of games involving Top 25 teams.  James Madison, New Hampshire, Richmond - all of these CAA teams have been to the Main Line, at one time or another, at the same time the Wildcats have also been in the Top 25.  When it comes to hosting big football games, Villanova is no stranger to that situation.

Not so, Lehigh.

Sure, the Mountain Hawks have played a bunch of Top 25 teams over the course of the last several seasons.  And last year, Lehigh returned to the Top 25 as well.

But the Mountain Hawks haven't hosted a game like this, a Top 25 tilt between two opponents that are both in the Top 25, since the Mountain Hawks beat New Hampshire 34-27 back in 2012.

This year's season opener represents the cumulation of the long, hard road of building a Top 25, national-caliber FCS football team.  Last season was a year of a Patriot League championship, a return to national respect, and rings.  And it all leads to this weekend, one of the biggest games on the Week 1 FCS National schedule that will provide a tremendous test to see how this 2017 Mountain Hawk team might turn out this season.
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The 2017 Patsy Ratings: No. 1, Holy Cross

The pie-eating contests were what I loved the best about the Worcester Patsy Parties.

Maybe it was the Purple People Eater moniker, the fact that they coincided with a particularly busy party weekend, it wasn't abundantly clear, but they always made for a great shindig.

I remembered the undergrads, lined up, eating the blueberry pies one after another.  It never ended well, but for some reason all the unsuspecting young people, waiting for the starting gun to go off, made me smile, as if they didn't know what they were really getting into.

It wasn't just about the pies: there was all sorts of great food and drink there: the blueberry crush cocktails, of which I had too many on multiple occasions, stood out.

Today, however, the only crush experienced in the offices were the ones of Holy Cross' Patsy Rating spreadsheets hitting me in the head.

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Patriot League Media Day: Duffy: "No Congratulations Are Needed"

(Photo Credit: Brown and White)

With this year's Patriot League Media Day being a Patriot League Media Conference call instead, the opportunity is there for media folks to tweet out things like preseason all-Conference lists and the preseason polls.

When the league posted their preseason all-Patriot League team, unsurprisingly there were seven Lehigh football players on it, one of whom was senior OL Zach Duffy.

I sent out a tweet congratulating the seven - Duffy, junior RB Dom Bragalone, junior P/K Ed Mish, senior OL Tim O'Hara, senior WR Gatlin Casey, senior WR Troy Pelletier, and senior DE Tyler Cavenas - and almost immediately Zach responded.
In the span of a tweet, Zach established immediately that re-reading one's press clippings from the 2016 season is not something this 2017 edition of the Lehigh football team will be doing.  They'll be judged on accomplishments, not preseason all-Conference teams.
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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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The 2017 Patsy Ratings: No. 3, Lehigh

Where were you during the last Patsy Party at Lehigh?

It coincided with morning cocktails, I think - the actual memory is hazy, a gauzy film hanging over the proceedings like Vaseline over the eyelids.

It involved neon - a very large amount of neon, as Lehigh's incoming class was announced in the morning, lights on Murray Goodman's video scoreboard.  (The neon light, I think, came from the generator trucked into the stadium to fuel the temporary lights and scoreboard, of course.)

The actual party I was actually able to recreate through my Flickr feed on my phone.  Somewhere, there was a printout of several "LFN Drinks of the week" and a 1962 Freshman Dink dyed neon purple, probably because the undergrads at the time didn't think Brown and White was an appropriate color for the party.  And there was the blue curacao, of course, which made one of the concoctions that I don't exactly remember.

Today, there is no blue curacao as the thin, typewritten letter with the "Lehigh" letterhead came to the Committee's door.  Somewhere, a microwave rang out as the steel-cut oatmeal reheated from yesterday was complete.

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