Thursday, August 09, 2007

Top 5 Goodman Moments, and The Personal Touch

Think you'd get this at Ohio State? In a busy week for Lehigh athletics, yesterday marked a first: a season ticket pickup event where holders could chat with coach Coen, assistant coaches, and the captains of the 2007 squad: senior QB Sedale Threatt, senior DB Ernest Moore, senior C John Reese, and senior DB Brannan Thomas. It took place at the Lehigh Athletics Hall of Fame (at Taylor Gymnasium in the middle of campus) and sounded like a fun event - I'd love for stuff like this to be an annual thing which emphasizes the personal and familial nature of Lehigh football. What better way to get folks excited than to talk to the players and coaches? (You can still buy season tickets if you click here.)

In other big news, our men's basketball coach Billy Taylor was hired away by Ball State this week, leaving the Lehigh basketball program in (what seemed to me) some disarray. The Morning Call report made it sound like Lehigh was somewhat caught flat-footed by the departure, with incoming recruits being unclear on the new direction and Lehigh Athletics Director Joe Sterrett heading a team to find an interim basketball coach.

First of all, I can't really blame coach Taylor for taking this opportunity to take a coaching position closer to his alma mater (Notre Dame). It sounds like a fantastic opportunity for him to climb the coaching ladder. Unfortunately, Lehigh also loses not only a very successful basketball coach who resurrected a program that was down in the dumps, but his presence also was one that served to welcome other African-American coaches and athletes into the Lehigh family. "Diversity" is an overused word, but Lehigh's diversity (for lack of a better term) has gotten better in recent years (for example, 11% of the class of 2010 was either African-American or Latino), and it's coaches like coach Taylor that we have to thank for that.

Coach Taylor hardly left a blank cupboard here, with a successful recruiting class and a team that isn't short on talent. Any incoming coach has a golden opportunity to make Lehigh the next Holy Cross or Bucknell in men's basketball in my somewhat-biased opinion. Here's hoping that the next coach will continue waht coach Taylor started.

Finally, Lehigh also kicked off their 20 seasons at Goodman promotion, where Lehigh Athletics will be compiling the Top 20 moments at Goodman Stadium. Lehigh Athletics is taking submissions from fans for their favorite games - just shoot them an email at sports@lehigh.edu with "Goodman 20" as the subject. When they're done on August 20th, they will compile the results and Lehigh's weekly sports magazine will count down the top 20 all-time games. Sounds like fun!

If you don't live in the area or don't get one of the buffet of different channels that carry the Lehigh Sports Magazine (DirecTV, DISH Network, Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh, Fox College Sports Atlantic, and CSTV: College Sports Television, and Service Electric 2 Sports), you can click here on the Lehigh Athletics site to find out about subscribing to the Yahoo! Sports Pack so you can watch (or listen) to Lehigh sports (and not just football), Lehigh press conferences, and the Sports Magazine online. I'm an old-fashioned "just barely off of basic cable guy", but I am a proud user of the Yahoo! Sports Pack and I find it to be the best sports deal of the century - last year it was about $6 per month (I think).

To help with the discussion on the "Top 20 Moments at Goodman", I thought I'd rank my personal Top 5 that doesn't include some of the more obvious choices (like "The Catch" during Lehigh/Lafayette 1995, or the 43-42 almost-win versus Holy Cross in 1991).

5. "The Abdullah Show" - October 21st, 1995. In Goodman's history, the best individual performance could have been RB Rabih Abdullah's 266 yard, 5 TD effort against the Cornell Big Red, including 2 TD runs of more than 60 yards. Abdullah was responsible for 30 of Lehigh's points (!) in a 34-23 win.

4. "7th and Goal" - November 27th, 2004. Yeah, we did end up losing this game 14-13 to the eventual national champion James Madison Dukes - but this was a truly underrated game in the annals of Goodman (and one of my first I-AA diaries). A defensive war, the "D"'s toughness stood out by stopping a powerful JMU offensive line on six straight goal line stands from the 1 yard line after finally yielding.

3. "Stambaugh's Scramble" - September 26th, 1998. It was too early then to speculate that Lehigh would have an undefeated regular season, but this thriller at Goodman against a rising Tiger squad was a dandy that went into overtime. After a rushing TD saw Princeton come all the way back to tie it at 24, Aylsworth was intercepted with time remaining to bring the game to OT. Then, Stambaugh took off on a broken play and found his way to the end zone - and CB Sam Brinley would seal the deal on Princeton's possession with an interception in the end zone for a 31-24 victory.

2. "Halloween Revenge" - October 31st, 2004. I'm not biased in favor of my diary games - really I'm not. But this 21-14 win over Colgate didn't only break a 2-game losing streak to the Raiders - it was the moment that Lehigh needed to show that they could beat a team that had been to the national championship game the year before, with most of the supporting cast still there. Tied most of the way, a surprise option play to Eric Rath ended up being the go-ahead score. Colgate was driving for the winning TD when an end-zone interception with 13 seconds left sealed the deal.

1. "South Mountain Miracle" - December 8th, 2001. The 24-21 victory over Hofstra in Lehigh's first-ever home playoff win has to be near the top of the list of moments - especially the way it played out. Star WR Josh Snyder on crutches to start the game? The Pride jumping out to a 14-0 lead which had their head coach thinking "blowout"? An ineffective QB Brant Hall benched for a little-used backup, QB Luke Cianello? Yet somehow, against all odds, Lehigh would battle their way back. With 3 minutes to play, RB Trevor Dimmie fumbled for Hofstra and Cianello would embark on "The Drive", a 92-yard grind that saw RB Jermaine Pugh get the game-tying score (and K Brian Kelley getting the extra-point) with 19 seconds left. You know the rest of the story: the "D" would stop the Pride in OT, and Kelley converted the FG to win their first postseason game since 1979 - and the first (and only) one at Goodman.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Aylsworth's scramble? Aylsworth graduated in 1996. It was Stambaugh.