Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Know Your 2015 Opponents: Penn

Lehigh's relationship with the schools of the Ivy League go all the way back to the 1880s.

Yes, really.

In 1885, Lehigh's fledgling football team opened the season with the University of Pennsylvania, who throttled the Brown and White 54-0.

1887 was the year that Princeton first squared off against Lehigh, throttling them 80-0

And it would be 1890 when Yale first hosted Lehigh, 26-0 winners.

These three traditional Ivy League football opponents appear on Lehigh's football schedule for 2015 and will be a critical litmus test for this your Mountain Hawk football team.

But one opponent stands out more because of the fact that Lehigh hasn't played them in more than a decade.

We're going to be talking today about Penn, a rival (with a little r) that hasn't faced off against Lehigh in over a decade.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How To Get Lehigh Fans To Games, And Keep Them There?

You don't have to have attended more than twenty-five years of Lehigh football games to know it's a completely different world out there for your friendly neighborhood sports fan.

When Lehigh's Murray Goodman Stadium was opened in 1988, there were only about a dozen channels on the small, eighteen inch black and white TV we had in our dorm room.  Only two channels might have had "major college football" games on at the same time a Lehigh football game was being played live over the mountain.  (Notre Dame, the only school who had all their games televised, almost always played their games at 3:30 PM.)

Nowadays there's way more entertainment options on a typical college weekend than ever, and it's very logical to think that the increased amount of competition might not just keep students away from attending football games, but local fans as well.

It's not an issue confined to Lehigh - in 2014, home attendance at all FBS games dropped to their lowest levels in fourteen years.  As student options have increased across the country, home attendance has decreased.

It's a question worth asking at a school like Lehigh - how to get fans to the games, and keep them coming back?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Know Your 2015 Opponents: James Madison (And The CAA)

In a typical Lehigh football season, there is one early "stretch game" that tests the Mountain Hawks in regards to their potential stature in thw wider FCS world.

There's little question that Lehigh's trip to Harrisonburg, Virginia is going to be that test.

Last year, first year head coach Everett Withers guided the Dukes, whose fan base expects FCS playoff appearances and deep playoff runs, probably exceeded expectations, going 9-4 and making the playoffs in his first year as James Madison head coach.

In 2015, the Dukes will be in an unfamiliar place - living up to the expectations.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Searching For Les Expos

The nostalgia kind of crept up on me.

I wasn't expecting to feel nostalgia on our family's trip to Montreal, a trip designed (mostly) by my wife to get us away from the stresses of the day job and the business of running a family.

But somehow I found myself in front of Olympic Stadium today, or the "Big Owe", as it was called at one time, with memories of piling in a car in Connecticut eighteen years ago with a pal of mine to watch a baseball game there.  Here.

I never expected to be here talking about the Montreal Expos.  But I am.

I never expected to want to buy a Montreal Expos hat today - to want that hat more than any other souvenir I could buy on this trip.  But I did.

The memories of a baseball game I went to so many years ago became a trip down memory lane of the Expos franchise - the most amazing, improbable, groundbreaking, doomed franchises in the history of professional sports.  Their story is one of optimism triumphing over reality to come into existence, coming tantalizingly close to tasting postseason success, and finally, when the end came, one of the saddest, most injust experience in history about the end of a sports franchise.

I may have been the only one in the city of Montreal today who felt the pull of the Expos, but standing there on the sea of concrete looking up at the Montreal Tower jutting out of the Stade Olympique amid a unique sea of cables, it was there.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Latest Lehigh Football Schedule (With Times)

Recently, Lehigh's Week 2 opponent, James Madison, announced their kickoff times and broadcast schedule.

This allows us to update what we know about this fall's schedule.

What is clear is that Lehigh's first two road games will not be broadcast on TV.

However, they will be streamed online - and for free.

If you're not headed to New Britain, Connecticut to catch the season opener vs. Central Connecticut State or to Harrisonburg, Virginia to see the Mountain Hawks vs. James Madison, you will be able to watch the games with the help of a computer.

While TV information is not completely available, it does seem like there will be a live stream of every game online, and in nearly every case, the online streams are free.


Friday, June 26, 2015

FBS' Problems With Mixing Religion And Football

When most people think of the University of Notre Dame, they generally think of three things, and not necessarily in this order: Catholicism, academics, and football.

Nobody questions the role that football has at Notre Dame.   Football was what allowed the South Bend, Indiana school to grow from a growing Catholic university to a national, iconic institution.

But what allowed Notre Dame to become Notre Dame was a path that isn't available to religious institutions today.

Much virtual ink has been spilled about the effects of collegiate realignment, how some conferences have been torn asunder, how some schools are stuck in places that don't make sense, how other conferences are receiving piles of money that would make Scrooge McDuck envious.

But one of the biggest losers in this conference-driven realignment is the idea of independent football-playing schools, either loosely-tied or untied from the conference structure that drives the bus today.

When realignment articles come out today, floating schools like BYU or Liberty as potential conference-mates for schools like Texas or Old Dominion, they ignore the issue that they dare not speak publicly - mixing religion and football is not something they're comfortable doing.


Monday, June 15, 2015

No Patriot League Football Games Planned In CBS Sports Network Coverage in 2015

The CBS Sports Network and the Patriot League go way back.

The first major media agreement the Patriot League had was with the network, CBS' stand-alone national network partner that used to be called CSTV.

For many years, CBS Sports Network carried as many as three Patriot League football games on the channel during the course of a season.

In 2015, however, that streak of nationally-televised Patriot League football games on the network seems like it will be coming to an end.

"Unless something major changes there will not be any through the Patriot League package this year," the Patriot League office told me.