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More Names; Some Departures

Coach Lembo at Elon has officially hired two Lehigh assistant coaches to join him at Elon to rebuild their football program. Defensive line coach Jay Bateman and linebacker coach Tony Trisciani are joining Elon. Jay Bateman is joining Elon as defensive coordinator, while Trisciani is keeping his same position, linebackers coach.

Both Bateman and Trisciani were in their first years as the defensive line and linebackers coach, respectively, in 2005 for the Mountain Hawks. Trisciani was known as an excellent recruiter for New Hampshire (his previous coaching stop), and Bateman had a wealth of experience coaching -- not only had he coached every defensive position imaginable, he was also head coach at Siena before they stopped football there.

Lehigh didn't have a dominating defense in 2005 (partially due to injuries), but this mass defensive defection to Elon means that the new Lehigh head coach may also need to get a brand-new defensive coordinator in there as well - the third in thre…

Football Scoops: A New Name

Checking footballscoops.com, the following names hit the rumor mill officially today:

LeHigh names: Jim Hofner (former HC Buffalo), John Luckhardt (California, PA HC), Dave Cecchini (OC Harvard), Andy Coen (OC Penn), Brian Norwood (DB Penn State), Bob Heffner (OL Lafayette), Steve Spagnulo (LB Philadelphia Eagles), Kenny Carter (RB Vanderbilt)

First of all, this is one heck of a roll-call for Lehigh's head coaching vacancy, if all are really in the running. All but one of these coaches were already profiled here on the blog, but the one highlighted coach - Kenny Carter from Vandebilt - has not. Let his name officially be thrown in the mix now. Below is a profile on this new candidate.

Kenny Carter, RB Coach, Vanderbilt. A Citadel alum and former Citadel assistant coach, Carter has only been a RB coach at Vandy for the past year. He has quite a packed resume, however, with three years as an assistant at Penn State to go w…

A Few More Names To Throw In The Mix

Hope everyone had a happy holiday. As you can tell, I have not been idle in my Christmas "break" from reporting the developments on the Lehigh head coaching search. But some names have been popping up, and I wanted to add these guys to the list of possible coaching candidates. Some names may surprise you.

Issac Collins, defensive coordinator, The Citadel. A former "Higgins Guy" who was a part of the Lehigh family, Collins is a firey defensive coordinator who has been at Holy Cross and Delaware over the past three seasons. Very recently he made it to The Citadel to be reuinted with Higgins, but what if he had an offer too good to refuse to become one of the youngest head coaches in Division I? Collins is flat-out a great defensive coordinator - it's no coincidence that Lehigh had great defensive teams with him coaching the defense. But his bitter separation from Lehigh in 2003 may have burned his bridges.

Steve Spagnulo, linebacker coach, Philadelphia Eagles. A fo…

The Latest Dirt On the Head Coach Search

So much has been flying these days before Christmas it's been dizzying to keep up with it all. Here's my take on the latest developments in the Lehigh head coaching situation. Brace yourselves, this is going to be an awfully long post, but it's one you'll not want to miss.

[Updated with Paul Solokowski's column link & quotes - how did I miss that?]

(While I have no idea if former Lehigh head coach Kevin Higgins (picture to your left) is actually in the running for the head coaching job once again, at this hour it seems unlikely. Every indication is that he wants to remain at The Citadel to bring that program back to prominence.)

The Allentown Morning Call has featured three articles on the developing head coaching situation, and the Easton Express-Times has also reported some information as well. Here are the links to the articles:

Allentown Morning Call:
Groller: Shadow of Higgins Unfairly Haunted Lembo
Lembo Takes Over At Elon

Easton Express-Times:
Solokowski: L…

Lembo Leaving Lehigh

Today, Elon University in Elon, NC will be announcing that Lehigh head football coach Pete Lembo will be their new head coach.

They will be getting a head coach who has enjoyed great success at Lehigh. Coach Lembo inherited Kevin Higgins' team in the 2001 season and guided them to their first home game in the I-AA playoffs (in which Lehigh beat Hofstra, 24-21, in overtime). For his efforts that year, he not only won a Lambert Trophy for Lehigh (for the best I-AA football school in the East), but he also won the Eddie Robinson award for the best coach in I-AA as well.

Overall, the Lembo era had Lehigh in the playoff hunt every year, and had Lehigh in the national I-AA rankings almost every year. With a 44-14 overall record (incliding 2 playoff losses), you could almost always say "Lehigh is in the race for the Patriot League Title" and you'd have been right. Lembo is a very even-tempered, poised coach, who is a complete professional on and off the field. Elon will be ge…

Say it ain't so....

Normally I don't post rumors on here, or anything I cannot follow up independently elsewhere, but this one is serious.... footballscoop.com is saying that it's a done deal that Pete is taking the head coach position at Elon, with an 11:30AM press conference coming tomorrow.

Elon scoop: Pete Lembo (HFC at Lehigh) has been hired by Elon as HFC


Say it ain't so, Pete. Say it ain't so.

Tune in tomorrow at 11:30AM. It will be an interesting day.

I-AA Championship Game Tomorrow

It's finally here. Tomorrow, in Chattanooga, TN, Appalachian State will play Northern Iowa to determine the true champion of I-AA. It's determined on the field, not by a bunch of sportswriters or computer formulas.

Of the 16 teams in the I-AA playoffs, you could make an argument that the two most consistent and deep teams made the championship. Both have survived injuries to their QBs to make it here. Both have won with a combination of above-average offenses and defenses - they are teams with few, if any, huge weaknesses.

If there's a talent advantage, it could marginally go to Appalachian State, since they place three Sports Network first and second team All-Americans to Northern Iowa's zero. But the road to Chattanooga has been littered with teams with supposedly more talent than the Panthers. Eastern Washington learned in the 1st round that it would take more than QB Erik Meyer and WR Eric Kimble to win the game. New Hampshire learned in the quarterfinals th…

Ivy & Patriot Dibs & Dabs; Playoff Predictions, Semifinals

The I-AA postseason rages on, and for Lehigh fans the 2005 season has been over for a couple weeks. Some may sit and think of what could have been (or bash Lafayette), but action around I-AA football doesn't stop after the last game of football has been played.

Around the Patriot League and Ivy League, there has been some interesting goings-on that deserve some special attention.

Ed Foley out in Fordham.Foley resigned as Fordham's head football coach shortly after Fordham lost to limited-scholarship Albany 41-0, capping off a 2-9 season with losses to 2 limited-scholarship schools. Foley managed to get some good talent to Rose Hill, but was unable to translate that talent into winning football games. Replacing him today will be coach Tom Masella from Central Connecticut State. In 2 years, "Buzz" has coached the Devils to back-to-back NEC championships, as well as coaching CCSU to a September upset of I-AA playoff team Colgate.

LFN's take: This looks like a great hir…

Playoff Predictions, Round 2; Improving the Playoffs

Every year, I love following the I-AA playoffs. I pick the games, and follow the teams until the champion is crowned on December 16th at Finley stadium in Chattanooga, TN.

The 16 team playoff system is a good one, no doubt about it. 8 autobids, and 8 at-large bids makes for a perfect 4-game playoff and national champion.

But the playoffs could be made even better. Here, in my not-so-humble estimation, are five ways to make the playoffs even better.

1). Get the Ivy and SWAC in there. I don't care what it takes - find a way to move mountains, cajole, and politic the SWAC and Ivy to participate in the playoffs. The Ivy and SWAC teams not only are some of the most important conferences in I-AA, they represent some of the largest, and biggest potential moneymaking, football teams in all of I-AA.

Right now huge teams like Southern, Grambling St., Yale, and Harvard are considered I-AA, but aren't considered part of the I-AA playoffs. That has to change. When most people think …

Patriot League Season Over

The Patriot League's football season is officially over in the I-AA playoffs this weekend. Lafayette and Colgate fell to a pair of great I-AA football teams in New Hampshire and Appalachian State.

I had the honor of watching most of both of these games on TV this weekend. The Colgate game, unfortunately, was over reasonably early. When I saw New Hampshire KR David Boyle return a punt for a TD, I thought that Colgate may be in for a long day, but that obscured a pretty good defensive effort in the first quarter, stuffing the Wildcats on three out of four possessions. Unfortunately, despite freshman RB Jordan Scott's eye-popping 205 yard 3 TD performance, it wasn't enough. Colgate just didn't have the high-powered offense to stay with the hyper-charged offenses of Top 25 I-AA teams, and it showed. With Scott, Colgate has lots to look forward to next year, and Lehigh will have a tough time stopping them.

For the second year in a row, Lafayette almost pulled off the up…

Predictions: I-AA playoffs

There are 6 other I-AA playoff games being played this weekend. Here's my fearless predictions for all these games this weekend:

Richmond at Hampton. Congratulations on Hampton with their 11-0 season, and congratulations on Richmond's 8-3 year. This is an intriguing first-round matchup. Hampton has plenty to prove, but I think the difference will be the inability of the Pirates to score on Richmond's defense. Give Tutt a big play or three, and I think the Spiders get through. Richmond 17, Hampton 6.

Southern Illinois at Eastern Illinois. The Panthers surprised most of I-AA nation by hosting a first-round game. I think the Salukis, first-round doormats in '03 and '04, reverse the trend this time, even on the road. SIU 38, EIU 3.

Nicholls St. at Furman. The surprise winner of the Southland takes on a grateful first-round host in Furman. Beating Furman at home seems like a tall order for a team who may just "be happy to be here", but the triple-optio…

Mini Patriot League Previews

As promised, here's a mini-breakdown of the Lafayette/Appalachian St. and Colgate/New Hampshire games.

Colgate/New Hampshire:
On Colgate's offense: QB Mike Saraceno and RB Jordan Scott have been the engine that has made this Raider team go. WR DeWayne Long is a great target on the outside, but the key to Colgate's game is not turning the ball over. On offense, when they've held onto the ball, they've won games.

On Colgate's defense: LB Jared Nepa anchors a Raider team with a tough secondary and solid overall defense. With 18 takeaways, Colgate's secondary was the best in the Patriot League in 2005, while the defensive front held most opponents to under 100 yards rushing.

On New Hampshire's offense: QB Ricky Santos and WR David Ball are I-AA.org "cover boys", and there's a reason for that. Santos is a tough customer who can run well, while Ball is one of the more amazing WR's I've seen with lots of acrobatic grabs, even in double…

It Still Hurts, But Let's Face Facts

"The loss" still hurts.

If you read the comments on the other Lehigh/Lafayette posts below, it's clear that the rest of Lehigh Nation feels the same way. Fans are mad, they're filled with regret, and frustration. But the loss still hurts, more than any other Lehigh football loss that I can remember.

It hurts, and I think I know why.

At the turn of the 19th century, Lafayette had some revolutionary football teams that changed the way the game was played. Lafayette's only year where they were recognized as national champions was in 1896 - a year where Lehigh refused to play Lafayette due to the fact that they felt that "Babe" Reinhardt was ineligible to play college ball.

Through the 20th century, most Lehigh/Lafayette games were about Lehigh Valley pride and bragging rights. Sure, sometimes Lafayette would have a great team, or Lehigh would be in the Division II playoffs, but never at the same time. Although a beloved tradition during NCAA's &quo…

Lehigh's season is over; Lafayette's and Colgate's are still on

Don't know if you know, but both Colgate and Lafayette are in the I-AA playoffs today.

Lafayette will be travelling to Boone, NC to play Appalachian St.

Colgate will be travelling to Durham, NH to play New Hampshire.

Lehigh's "bubble" is officially burst. I didn't think Lehigh would make it, but until the picks are actually made, there was always some hope. It's now officially time to wait for next year.

"The Game" still hurts. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts. If I took away from Lafayette's determination to put themselves in a position to win, I apoligize. Let me be the first to say that Lafayette deserved the win. They put themselves in a position to make a play to win the game, and they did. Lehigh did not. And two things stand out on Lafayette's team on their play this Saturday. Jonathan Hurt played a whale of a game - he deserved the MVP probably before the miracle catch, but he stepped up in an huge way.

Second, the Lafayette lineback…

Lehigh 19, Lafayette 23, final

Game of tears.

It really hasn't totally sunk in yet, but I can't think of a Lehigh loss that has devastated me more. Seriously. I don't think we were outplayed or outcoached. I think we lost because our team gave away 7 points on a messed-up punt attempt, and because senior QB Pat Davis on Lafayette managed to barely get the ball away and junior RB Jonathan Hurt somehow got open on a completely busted play. Contrary to what the legions of nay-sayers will be spouting in the off-season, no amount of coaching would have changed anything on those plays. There is no gameplan that could have fixed them.

Before that play, I thought the story of the game was how Lehigh's defense did such a great job shutting Lafayette down, especially in the passing game. Senior CB Drew Nelson and junior CB Brannan Thomas were batting away ball after ball, forcing tons of third and fourth downs.

It is with great pain that I say that I feel like Lehigh's season was lost on two broken plays, wh…

Watch Lehigh Today!; Other Fearless Predictions

If you're not going to the game, here's where you can score the broadcasts of "The Game":

WFMZ-TV Channel 69 live (Lehigh Valley Area)
Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh live (select markets)
Fox College Sports Atlantic live
DirecTV channel 657 live
DISH Network channel 448 live
Lehighsports.com streaming video live

Oh yeah, I forgot. There are other games being played today. Let me go ahead and pick them, shall I?

Patriot League:
Albany at Fordham. I think the Rams will play better than last week, and will be eager to put this season behind them on a winning note. Fordham 27, Albany 3.

Holy Cross at Bucknell. Senior RB Steve Silva's final game? He's going to make it one Crusader fans will never forget. HC 49, Bucknell 10.

Georgetown at Colgate. If Georgetown's ends can get to Saraceno, it could be a really interesting day, but with a possible I-AA playoff berth, I think Colgate wins handily. Colgate 21, Gerogetown 0.

I-AA Top 25:
Maine at #1 New Hampshire. No need to…

Press Mash-up; Link from Alumni Website

One more picture from the Morning Call's collection, this one from my first Lehigh/Lafayette game in 1988. Even though we lost, this game will always have a special place in my heart since it was my first. (By the way, I very much prefer today's players' uniforms to these from yesteryear.)

I want to give a big shout out to eveyone who is linking to me here from the official Lehigh Alumni website. I wanted to tell you all who are floating over here that this blog is not an official part of the University website system and is not endorsed by Lehigh Athletics (as you'll no doubt figure out from all the grammatical and spelling errors), but it is the labor of love from a passionate (some might say rabid, others might say crazy) Lehigh football fan. I've been blogging about our beloved Mountain Hawk football squad since the 2003 season, and it's an honor to be recognized by the official Alumni website as the source for everything about "The Game". Gla…

Action Item: Friday

ESPN.com is ranking the best college football rivalries on its website. Listed in their 21 rivalries is Lehigh/Lafayette (as it should be). The DOPES over at ESPN.com, however, not only have said that "The Game" started in 1897 (it didn't; it started in 1884), but they also have put in a picture of Louisiana-Lafayette representing "The Game". Rather than put in senior RB Eric Rath, or senior LB Maurice Bennett, they took some moronic stock footage from one of La-Laf's dopey meaningless I-A games and put it in the graphic representing "The Game", the most-played, the best rivalry in all of sports!

I mean, how much Google time would it take to fact-check THAT? Five, maybe ten, seconds?

Your two action items on the night:

1) Click here to Vote and make sure Lehigh/Lafayette is not LAST (where it currently resides). Suggested voting: 1) Lehigh/Lafayette; 2) Harvard/Yale; 3) Amherst/Williams; 4) Army/Navy; 5) the Egg Bowl.

2) Write these dopes at ESPN.c…

Partial Press Roundup Before Lehigh/Lafayette

God, I love this pic from the Morning Call from the classic days of the Lehigh/Lafayette rivalry. Fisher Field features in this picture, which dates the picture to the late 1920s or early 1930s. The Morning Call has a great photo gallery of Lehigh/Lafayette through the years - I'd strongly suggest you go check it out. (Incidentally, the outcome of the game in the picture was almost certainly a Lehigh loss - Lehigh's first win at Fisher Field didn't come until 1934.)

I'm going to round up as much as the press that I can scrounge up for Lehigh/Lafayette this week, in anticipation of the onslaught of stories that we're bound to get tomorrow. Not sure if I'll get a press mash-up together tomorrow, but I'll try.

Allentown Morning Call:
The Name of the Father - But Little Else - For Sedale Threatt

Easton Express-Times:
Lehigh's Rath Has Personal Agenda

Lehighsports.com:
Gerran Walker: A Fast Learner

Preview of the 141st meeting: Lafayette/Lehigh

Remember when? November 20th, 2004? The 140th meeting?

Were you huddled in Fisher Field's stands, watching this guy, Lafayette's junior QB Brad Maurer, create 232 yards of offense for the Leopards?

Did you see LB Maurice Bennett punish Lehigh's offense with 11 tackles? Did you see LB Justin Stovall force two key fumbles, leading to Lafayette's 24-10 win?

Did you stick around to see him collect his Lehigh/Lafayette MVP trophy?

Did you stick around to see Lafayette carry their Patriot League championship trophy around Fisher field?

Did you see Lafayette fans storm the field to celebrate?

Did you have that sick feeling after the game that Lehigh's wonderful season was now laying in tatters? Did you have a restless night wondering if Lehigh will be selected to the I-AA playoffs as an at-large team?

I did. And I bet everyone involved in the Lehigh program did as well.

Well, it's nearly been a year since this game. The rest of the regular season has been played, and Lehig…