So here I am, trying to come up with a word on this week in Lehigh football, and I stumble upon David Brooks' NY Times editorial about the Mets. It was pretty serendipitous, as I could care less about the Mets and the World Series in general (well, now that my beloved Red Sox stunk up the joint in August and September, and the Yankees were happily humiliated against the Tigers). But Mr. Brooks did have a quote from Arisotle that I thought was worth repeating.
"As Aristotle says, the more one is possessed of excellence, the more one will be pained at the thought of elimination."
After reading this, I realized that I had found the sentence that perfectly describes the angst of the Lehigh fan not just this year, but for all time. We, as Lehigh fans, know we have good, talented teams. But the pain of losses, the potential of losing the Patriot League title again this year, despite our obvious talent, is real. Aristotle, man. He put all of our angst into one easy-to-remember sentence.
We look at the Georgetown game and, rightly or wrongly, see our Mountain Hawks as a team that is "possessed with excellence" and should have been destroying them. We've got Sedale. Good running backs. Solid receivers. A good "O" line. A defense that has been getting turnovers and getting better each week. All this, and we were facing a team that has struggled to score points and get any offense going this year. Yet this game, going into the 4th quarter, we were in real danger of giving Georgetown a way back into it.
Ultimately, we did put the hammer down. Paul Fabre forced the fumble, and Julian Austin grabbed it. Sedale led the change for the TD drive, and Marques Thompson iced it with 2 TDs. But we're not focusing on being "possessed with excellence" in a 28-3 win. We're focusing on the "potential pains of elimination" at the end of that 3rd quarter, trying very hard to give Georgetown a chance.
It wasn't what I wanted to see. As a long-time Lehigh fan, I wanted to see fewer mistakes, less hubris, less "we're going to show up and win without even playing, and we're going to jaw at the Hoyas even though we're 1-3 just like they are". 10 penalties for 81 yards were inexusable, especially since the miscues negated countless good returns and runs. 5-of-12 on 3rd down conversions? Unacceptable. Does that sound like a team that has the right to jaw at anyone?
I would hope that the Yale game next week - a team that beat Lafayette and is 3-1 on the year with their only loss to a nationally-ranked opponent - wouldn't see a repeat of the jawing and sloppy play of last week. Normally I'd say about the Yale game that it would be nice to keep up the winning ways, or to see a good game without a slipup. Now, it becomes crucial to win this game against yet another quality opponent and keep the winning ways coming. I think the psychic factor of beating Yale, who is 3-1 and also beat that college in Easton, could be huge.
I think what we all wanted Lehigh to do this week was learn how to win. After this week, despite the fact that we came away with the victory, it's clear this Mountain Hawk team hasn't learned that yet. Hopefully they will very soon. Hopefuly they'll learn to put teams away early and not kill themselves with penalties and mistakes. But Yale won't be an easy time or place to learn. If we go into the Yale game with the attitude that this game doesn't matter, or that we're not going to play 60 minutes of football, we'll be 2-4 with more questions than ever about the mettle of this team.
Hopefully this Lehigh team will understand that.
In the meantime, like Aristotle says, we Lehigh fans will have to remain "pained with the thought of elimination" -- for at least one more week.