Friday, February 02, 2007

Lehigh/American... and Super Bowl Sunday

Though I haven't a copy of this literary masterpiece, somehow I doubt that the press gaggle bothered to check this out before interviewing former Saints QB Archie Manning and his son (who happens to be the QB for the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl this weekend). Supposedly written by Archie himself (though the credits include "with John Underwood", legendary ghost-writer for athletes such as Ted Williams), Archie pontificates about how messy Peyton was as a kid, raising kids who are now in the "family business" as NFL QBs, and his personal history.

This book has a lot more facts than the "puff pieces" being written about the lead-up to the Super Bowl, which is becoming even more comical than ever this year. You know there's a problem when few people are talking about the Super Bowl around here, or about Peyton Manning, or about Tank Johnson, or anything. Without a doubt the best Super Bowl pieces are coming from the ESPN Sports Guy, my favorite Holy Cross alumnus who is covering pretty much everything about Miami except for the game.

Yeah, I'm a bitter Saints fan that can't get out of his head how this game on Sunday will likely go down. Of course the buzz around an Indy/New Orleans Super Bowl would have been a hundred times more entertaining for America (and about a thousand times more entertaining for me), but that wasn't meant to be. (Besides, as a result you probably missed about 27 blog postings about "Marques Colston: Fantasy Football Savior, and Great American".)

To me, the Super Bowl will probably go to the Bears. Yes, I know, I could do a better job at QB than Rex Grossman, and five years from now we'll all be hard-pressed to name a single member of this Bear squad. But they way the Bears beat the Seahawks and Saints was just too fishy. Somebody in the NFL officiating crew loves the Bears (or is well-paid by a bunch of hoodlums in Vegas - I'm still waiting for the new congress to start that inquiry on the Bears' march through the playoffs). I just have a feeling, with everyone and their mother picking against the 16-2 Bears, that somehow Chicago is going to mug their way to a Super Bowl ring - and that there will be a lot of rich bookies in Vegas come Monday. When the Bears win this Super Bowl 34-17, don't come crying to me.

Closer to home, with the Lehigh wresting team off this week, Lehigh's men's and women's basketball teams play a big doubleheader in Maryland this weekend as both squads face off against American. The men (9-14, 4-3) can get a great jump on the second half of the season with another desperately-needed road win against the Eagles (11-11, 3-5) at 7:30 Saturday night. With the Eagles losing at home to Holy Cross on Wednesday, a Mountain Hawk squad with a full week's rest could be in a good position to get to 5-3 in the conference and have an outside chance at getting to the #2 spot for the tournament. Barring that, they could get to a solid #3 with a win.

Last week, as expected, Lehigh fell to Holy Cross 64-53 in Worcester. With senior C Jason Mgebroff still out with a leg injury, Lehihg closed the gap to 54-51 before the Crusaders pulled away at the end. Familiarly, Lehigh was victimized by turnovers as Holy Cross had 16 steals on the day. That's the difference between Lehigh and the elite teams in our league - they play more sound basketball.

As for the ladies, their loss to Holy Cross put us at 7-14, 2-5 on the year. After putting up 41 first half-points, the Lady Hawks allowed 41 to the Crusaders in a 75-61 defeat. It's underneath where the Crusaders killed us, where Crusader C Kaytlin Foley scored a whopping 24 points in 30 minutes.

Although we're at #7, all is not lost yet if the Lady Hawks can get a run together and get back in the pack. A win over American (9-13, 4-3) would put them right back in the thick of things, where two games separate the #3 and #7 teams. At Stabler, American squeaked by us 55-52 as G Liz Hayes got 15 points, including a key 3-pointer late. Like the men, key will be better protection of the ball and perimeter defense.

All these games will be available on AM 1230 and 1320 in the Lehigh Valley, and will be available on Lehighsports.com over the internet via Patriot League All-Access.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Scraps

It's that recruiting time of year that is simply excruciating for Lehigh fans. We seize on little bits of tomato or salad (like in this picture), scraping by for some sort of update on who Lehigh head coach Andy Coen is looking for, or sniffing around to think about where assistant coaches are driving (or flying) to talk to recruits.

There are tireless folks out there (like RichH and ngineer on the voy board) that consistently get the steak for us, working hard and combing over the local press reports for scraps of tantalizing information... who reports for us, and we eagerly gobble down the information.

I'm a fan, just like anybody else, and I admit I look over RichH's posts on the voy message board and look at the recruiting websites. But (with no offense to RichH) until I have an official announcement from Lehigh, I tend to make an attempt at curbing my enthusiasm - especially when it comes to reporting who's committed and who hasn't. It is not a stance that every college sports blogger shares.

Why is that? Why don't I simply just take every scrap of information and publish it here? Quite simply, I prefer to cross-reference my sources, especially with an official source if at all possible. If I can't get that - and there will never be any official sources before Lehigh announces their recruits - to me, it's only right that all names are just "rumored" until officially announced by the university. Getting a commit wrong on an anonymous message board costs that anonymous person nothing; but if I get that commit wrong, my integrity about Lehigh football, and my audience, is compromised. Not all bloggers will adhere to this standard, but I will.

That's not to say that I won't report some of the rumors that are flying around. But they are just that - rumors - until the official announcement day comes. Part of the reason is the nature of Patriot League recruiting in comparison to scholarship recruiting.

In an effort to set some rules on college recruiting, many scholarship schools are a part of something called the Letter of Intent program (or LOI). In a nutshell, the LOI is a written declaration of intent to play athletics for a particular school, with penalties imposed on their student aid (read: scholarship) if that student backs out of his commitment. A student that signs such a letter to a Penn State, Delaware, or Hampton has a binding contract to their school. On these websites like scout.com who announce that Joe Prospect has committed to a school like Mississippi State, what they mean to say is that Joe has signed an LOI agreement with that school.

Lehigh does not participate in the LOI program. What does that mean? It means, as far as I can tell, that instead of having sites like scout.com track recruits independently, Lehigh will only announce their group as a unit when everyone has signed a "letter of understanding" that they will be playing football for Lehigh. This means that while Hofstra fans are celebrating their two-star recruits signing LOI's (whatever that means), Lehigh fans will sit and wait up to a month or more to see which recruits may be wearing the Brown and White. And there will be no "announcement" until the whole class is on board, and the university declares it.

So anything I hear that an athlete has "committed" to Lehigh has to be taken with a grain of salt. There is no LOI document that says that they are playing here.

As we wait, here's the latest names that are flying around (UPDATED):

FS/RB John Veniero (West Essex, Essex, NJ) 6'2", 185 lbs. Tough defender and rusher rumored to be in Brown & White. Would be nice to see him as an enforcer on defense.

DL/OL David Brown (Hopewell HS, Hopewell, PA) 6'0", 265 lbs. All-state and rumored to be heading to Lehigh. Could probably have his pick of position - we need both OL and DL.

QB Marc Quilling (Parkland HS, Parkland, PA), 6'3", 206 lbs. Visited Lehigh and Lafayette recently, as well as some FBS schools.

QB Tim Jefferson (Woodward Academy, College Park, GA), 6'0", 193 lbs. Also a decent shooting guard in basketball, he's also being recruited by Bucknell, Air Force, and Navy. Was a highly-touted QB prospect and could fit nicely in the Sedale Threatt mold.

DB Casey Eldemire (Lake Brantley, Altamonta Springs, FL) 6'1", 180 lbs. From a powerhouse Florida program, Lafayette is in the mix for him - Lafayette has gotten these Florida recruits in the past. Would be nice if we got this speedy one for a change.

TE/DT Joey DeBerardinis (Pius X, Bangor, PA). Wondering if maybe some more of these Pius X kids might be visiting Lehigh like this kid who helped Hildabrant put up some great numbers.
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