Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday's Word: Blessed

This will probably be the shortest "Sunday Word" ever. 

It will not deal with the playoff field, or much about the game Lehigh lost last weekend.

There are a lot of disappointed fans, players, and people around the football program.  The Patriot League championship this year is Colgate's.  They earned it.

But the season is not over.

And it's time, instead, for Lehigh to count their "blessings".

Playoffs will happen, or they won't.  10-1 will happen, or it won't.  But this team is so "blessed".

Lehigh is "blessed", every year, to play an important game the weekend before Thanksgiving every year.

So many kids, at so many schools, do not have the opportunity to play in such an historic Rivalry game - only a select few.  Just like at Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Auburn, Army, Navy, Notre Dame, and USC, Lehigh and Lafayette kids play in something special.

No matter what the record, the game is important.  So many do not get to do that, to play in front of a sellout crowd, to play with so much crazy on the line. 

Lehigh is "blessed", this year, to be 9-1.

Only three other FCS teams are 9-1 in the entire subdivision - Old Dominion, North Dakota State, and Montana State.  Think about that a second - no other FCS teams can say that.  121 schools, 4 can say they are 9-1.  And only only five schools have 9 wins, if you include Stony Brook.

That is a huge achievement, even if casual observers don't really understand exactly how difficult that is.

Lehigh is "blessed" to have a winning record three years in a row.

Lehigh is "blessed" to have gone down to a hostile environment, Liberty, played in front of 20,000 crazy fans, and found a way to win.  Liberty, a team still alive for the FCS playoffs.  Not many football programs get to do that.  I went there; that may as well have been Lehigh's FBS game this year. 

Lehigh is "blessed" to sweep the Ivy League this year.  Admittedly, Columbia is down and rebuilding at 3-6, but Princeton was a hard-fought battle, and is no slouch.  If Penn stumbles against Cornell and they get past Dartmouth, Princeton will be co-champions in the Ivy League.

Few really understand that these are great achievements, but they are.  Nobody can take this away from this team, even if the season ended today.  Winning seasons; big-time environments; these are "blessings".  And this team, even though it might not have felt like it, this weekend, is very fortunate.

Coach Coen in the post-game press conference talked about his time as an assistant coach at Penn - how hard it was, sometimes, to get the kids to play in the final weekend of the year against Cornell.  Penn/Cornell is an historic rivalry, for sure, but it's not The Rivalry, with sellout crowds, craziness, a bowl game to enjoy every year.

There should be one goal this week for this group of seniors - and that's to be a perfect 4-0 against Lafayette.  There are no playoffs.  There is no title.  Just one bowl game, and one win.  Just remember how "blessed" you are to play this game, and that you can play in this Rivalry, and do this thing, and any other "blessings", that hopefully happen, will happen. 

There is one "blessing" you can control.  Get it done.

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