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Lehigh Football Ending... or Beginning?

The chants of "Lafayette Sucks" from Easton have died down; Lafayette's time in the FCS playoffs are done after this weekend; Lehigh's fall sports season is coming to a close; and the temptation is to put away the talk about Lehigh football for another year.

Although I'm thinking about talking about other Lehigh sports in this space (though with the Lady Hawks basketball team sitting at 2-3 losing to the Lady Dragons of Drexel, and the men's basketball team sitting at an incredibly disappointing 2-6 after losing to Notre Dame last night), the truth is this blog is about Lehigh football, first and foremost. And although the 2006 season is over, recruiting for 2007 is very much underway already and in two short months we'll have an idea about how far Lehigh is in regards to getting another Patriot League title and FCS playoff bid in the future.

With the FCS playoffs not even over yet, rumors are flying. Will a former Patriot League freshman of the week be willing to sit out a year in order to transfer to Lehigh? Will a certain I-A star, recovering from shoulder surgery while falling behind on the QB depth chart, transfer to Lehigh? Where are the Mountain Hawks concentrating their recruiting - California? Louisiana? Texas? All good questions; all juicy unconfirmed rumors; all fascinating. But the answers aren't here yet.

There's even talk about the Ivy League - are they outrecruiting us? Could it be true that the Ivies are actually accepting athletes with a lower academic index (or AI) than Patriot League schools? If this is true, it would explain a lot about the sudden resurgence of talent overall in the Ivy League in the past couple of years vis-a-vis the Patriot League, especially concerning NFL-caliber players - which are present on every Ivy team in recent years, even lowly Columbia. Who thought that the Patriot League would have to be *more* selective than the Ivies?

The NEC, once a limited grant-in-aid conference, is also flexing its muscles with the possibility of offering up to 30 full (or split into more partial) scholarships which also has the effect of affecting the recruiting landscape. NEC schools can offer a very good education at a fraction of the price of a Lehigh. Although I feel like a Lehigh (or any Patriot League) education is more than worth the money, the truth is Patriot League schools could be getting squeezed further by NEC schools getting that "not eligible for grant-in-aid's but not made of money" recruit.

We still have the biggest carrot of all to offer - that coveted FCS autobid. The Ivies won't let their teams compete for it, and the NEC still yet has to have a team qualify for an at-large bid. But the landscape has changed where Lehigh coaches could just show up with pictures of seniors who have never lost in the Lehigh/Lafayette rivalry and get recruits. It's harder than ever.

If the "elephant in the room" is true - the possible transfer of a big-time I-A QB from a BCS school to Bethlehem - it could be a huge shot in the arm for recruiting. It would be a signal that Lehigh isn't fooling around - they want to win championships and win an FCS championship.

The wait on solid information continues.


Anonymous said…
All this speculation about a "big-time" QB coming to Lehigh sounds great but why would he even consider coming? Threatt has another year and from my understanding this mysterious QB only has a year of eligibility left. I can't see Coen letting a transfer, no matter how good he might be, bump Threatt. He'd lose the entire rest of the team if he made a move like that. Not that I wouldn't welcome a change myself.
Anonymous said…
Who is the QB, or can you give us a School or maybe even a conference. I'm totally not getting it with the "hurt shoulder" hint. Please help.
Anonymous said…
Over 30 years ago, I attended and played a varsity sport at one of the schools now making up the Patriot League. Not much has changed. Although the league has been renamed and reformed one thing stands out... Lehigh, Lafayette, Colgate, Bucknell, Fordham play each other now as they did 30 years ago. Each team schedules a few Ivy league games as they did 30 years ago. The rest of the schedule has been supplemented with a few other "beatable" schools. Back then, the frequently used term for our schools was "The Poison Ivy League". This term inferred, rightly or wrongly, that we had the
student athletes that didn't fit the Ivies' academic profiles. The Patriot League Football landscape has changed over the last few years. The Ivies still outrecruit the athlete that is qualified, because they are the Ivies and to a good student that's the gold ring, not a new stadium. With the Ivy League band system, they now can admit a few athletes that may be getting offers from 1A schools. These same athletes would also be admitted to Lehigh, but wouldn't necessarily be interested in giving up a scholarship unless it was for an Ivy degree. Harvard now has an endowment of over 27 billion dollars... any student, athlete or non, goes for free if their family earns under $60,000. That's tough to compete with. The schools that were beatable a few years ago are now offering scholarships and have advanced sharply in a short time. Attending a $40,000 plus a yaer school is no longer the decision of the student's now the family's and the financial aid award. When I attended it was my decision...but then again, college cost $6,000 a year.
Ngineer said…
Anonymous, above, makes some very good points. That being said, it is all the more reason for the PL to seriously look at going the 'regular' scholarship route IF it intends to compete down the road; not only against the Ivies, but the NEC, who I see as a greater threat with their growing use of scholarships. Tying our coaches recuiting arms behind their backs makes no sense in this 'brave new world'. The PL has seen fit to allow scholarships in other sports, and Lehigh has certainly seen how offering scholarships has improved recruiting for wrestling--which has also improved it's academics.
LU in NJ said…
>>>>>>>>>Makes me wonder how lehigh defeated the Ivies and NEC schools over the past eight yrs if the deck is stacked against us.

Sounds like alot of whining when the previous two coaches simply went out and got the job done.

Did we lose to Albany (by 1 pt),Harvard (2 pts), Princeton (4 pts) and Yale (in OT) because the recruiting landscape suddenly changed in the past year-------or perhaps it was our offense that was throttled back by an average of 7-8 pts per game this yr versus past years-------or perhaps it was the 3rd Q blues which seemed to afflict the team after Lehigh's coaches made their halftime ajustments that caused us to come up short on the scoreboard.

Higgins and Lembo managed to figure out a way to win a high percentage of games against tthe IVies and NEC.

It has never been a walk in the park to recruit against the Ivies in football or any other sport------which made beating them like a drum in football the eight yrs prior to this past season that much sweeter.

I wish we'd stop with all the excuses and whining and focus on the things that made Lehigh so successful for that eight year stretch.

If Higgins and Lembo could do it---then Coen should be able to as well.
Ngineer said…
LU in NJ forgets that the NEC was horribly weak 8 years ago. They were virturally D-III and our lopsided scores against Albany, Cent.Conn., etal revealed they were nothing but tune-ups. No longer. They're building toward full CS Scholarship status per the statements made just this week my Stony Brook's coach about working up the 63 full scholarships. The Ivies have also modified their recruiting practices as has been discussed on the AGS Board. Lehigh and the PL has pretty much been status quo during these past years, and we'll have to adjust. If you've watched the last 8 years the quality of athlete showing up at the NEC's and Ivies has much improved. Power will always be shifting (a number of 'big time' programs struggled this year, i.e. Ga. Southern, Colgate0, but if the opposition is going to upgrade their weaponry, we cannot stand still. Regardless of the coach, when he presents "Lehigh University" to a recruit he has to be provided the materials. Being a solid, nice guy, which Coen is, won't do it alone.
Anonymous said…
Damn, LU in NJ- you drive me nuts! The discussion is recruiting and how dynamics have CHANGED in a short period of time. Not Lembo vs Coen. My son was recruited by Lembo and offered in August before his senior year. Then the fun began. The offer was on the table but my son couldn't say yes, no matter how much we liked Lehigh, because we didn't know how much financial aid was to be awarded and whether or we could afford the school. Players don't commit early unless they come from a low income family, or a high one who isn't looking for help. Maybe this hasn't changed over the last 8 years, but what no one is saying is Lembo had secured less than 10 recruits when he left in December. And, along with him leaving, the assistant coaches weren't sure if they would be retained by the new head coach that had yet to be named.In my son's case, the coaching staff transition was seamless because his recruiter stayed on and Penn had been actively recruiting him also, so he was known by Coach Coen. He was also being recruited by other schools who went through similiar coaching staff turnovers where,in some cases, the phone stopped ringing when the coaches dissappeared. MY SON WAS SOLD ON LEHIGH BY COACH COEN. Someone who coached another sport at Lehigh in the early '90's, who knows both Lembo and Coen very well, praises both... but made it REAL clear that we couldn't find a better man to coach our son over the next 4 years than Coach Coen. Period.

So LU in NJ, Please let it go!
LU in NJ said…
>>>>>>>When Coen wins at the level and consistency of Higgins and Lembo ( or Whitehead for that matter), I will give him full credit.

Until then, I'll pretend I'm from the show-me state (Missouri).

I've been thru I-AA and D-III recruiting for two sons. I'll agree that a coach's character is a critical element.

But I also know the value of a coach with a proven record in the recruiting process and a coach with a system that is aggressive and fun for the players.

It was time for Lembo to move on----and it's nice that Coen is a likable guy.

But I'd sure like to see Lehigh re-commit to the successful Air lehigh offense and win more than 6 games a season.
Lehigh74 said…
LU in NJ you certainly continue to have a one tract mind. Please stop lumping Higgins and Lembo together. Higgins took over a moribund program and made it into one of the top I-AA programs in the country. By the way whose offensive system did he use? Not the "All Shot Gun All The Time" offense of Pete Lembo but the balanced offense of Andy Coen. Lembo took over a program at the top of its game with the entire coaching staff in tack. Coen took over a program in the middle of the recruiting season that had lost 3 out of 4 to Lafayette. In addition through no fault of Andy Coen virtually the entire coaching staff turned over.
Ngineer said…
I agree, Higgins offense was more balanced than Lembo's--plus Coen was his OC for a good chunk of that time. I do not want a return to the pure "Air Lehigh" that put up 35 pts/game but gave up 40, which seemed to occur with frequency under Hank Small, who created the 'Air Lehigh' era.
To me, we MUST shore up the defense. The teams of Whitehead and Higgins that were successful had tough defenses. The idea is to win, not just entertain the fans. Take note of all the great passing yardage stats of many NFL QB's--but they don't win alot of those games. With a good, balanced attack that scores 20-30 pts/game, a good D will keep you in every game.
Keep in mind, a balanced attack will also use the clock and keep the opposition's O off the field, and at the same time give the D a rest. The overemphasized passing game whle putting up points, also tends to score quickly as well as higher turnover potential, meaning the D is on the field more than the O and tires out, which, IMO happened frequently in the Small era.
I'm looking forward to some of our nice freshman making an impact next year. GO LEHIGH!
Anonymous said…
The QB is Adam Bednarik from WVU. He is a Bethlehem Catholic grad. I've spoken to a couple trusted sources down at WVU and they have heard no such rumors concerning Bednarik transferring from WVU to Lehigh.
Anonymous said…
He's not coming here period, so find another rumor mill.
Anonymous said…
And all this time I thought we were talking about Chad Henne. Damn!
Anonymous said…
He is going somewhere. He wont play another down at WVU with white and now freshman brown. He should go I-aa so he doesnt sit out. So, why not Lehigh? I wouldnt be surpised if he comes.
Anonymous said…
Are you saying Bednarik is leaving White and Brown to join the white and brown?
Anonymous said…
I would love to see Bednarik come to lehigh but I believe Lafayette has the inside track.
Anonymous said…
\\\Anonymous said...
I would love to see Bednarik come to lehigh but I believe Lafayette has the inside track.

10:44 PM \\\\

You mean Bednarik couldn't get above an 800 on his SAT's?
Anonymous said…
I would love to see Bednarik come to lehigh but I believe Lafayette has the inside track.

yea lafayette sucks why would he go there?
Go Lehigh TU owl said…
I know someonw who goes to WVU and has known Adam since his second year. He said that Adam is seriously contiplating leaving WVU if he still has his heart set on playing football. Lehigh is one of a handful of 1-AA schools he's considering. Lafayette is not one of them. I believe JMU and UD are two of them not sure about the rest.

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