Skip to main content

Sunday's Word: Rivalry

The Lehigh/Lafayette rivalry - what I like to refer to as simply "The Rivalry" - is the purest and greatest rivalry in the world. And this year it's for all the marbles - a I-AA playoff berth.

Sure, Lehigh clinched a Patriot League co-championship by blowing out Fordham in an impressive display on Saturday. But it sure would be awfully empty sharing it with Lafayette, losing to the Leopards in "The Rivalry" and sitting at home Thanksgiving weekend. Lehigh/Lafayette is always more than just a game, but with a I-AA Playoff game on the line, "The Rivalry", in effect, is another playoff game. Win, we survive and play on. Lose, we're done.

Lehigh and Lafayette have played each other more times than any other rivals in the history of college football. This will be the 142nd meeting between these two schools, who are separated only by about 13 miles along old Route 22. There are other rivalries are considered big games: Michigan/Ohio State, Alabama/Auburn, or USC/Cal - but those teams play games in the higher reaches of Division I athletics that are completely corrupted by money. Many of these players are using these games to shore up their resume for a possible NFL career, and too many don't graduate.

There are other rivalries that stake themselves out as "pure" - like Harvard/Yale or Amherst/Williams. But since they play no postseason, these great games get relegated to the level of "strange oddities" that simply don't have much relevance in the football world. More often then not the games are meaningless to their conference championships; they never have postseason ramifications.

There are other rivalries that are "old" - like Richmond/William & Mary, Montana/Montana State, Appalachian State/Western Carolina. But they can't touch 142 meetings. Montana's "Brawl of the Wild" are playing their 106th meeting on Saturday, and that's the closest of this bunch. 106 meetings is a long time to have developed hate, but it's nothing compared to the hate after 142 meetings.

Finally, there are some schools that are pretty close together. But it's hard to top a 13 mile journey. Theoretically you could walk the entire distance. It's not easy to hate someone who's hundreds of miles away. But Lehigh and Lafayette seem to share the same plot of land. Whatever you do when following Lehigh, you cannot escape the view of Lafayette, and vice versa. Lehigh's wins are generally followed by... "... and what did Lafayette do?" This doesn't happen anywhere else. Even Michigan fans ignore Ohio State sometimes.

It's got everything. Hatred. Proximity. Too many meetings to count. And not only conference championships at stake, but a Golden Ticket to a possible I-AA championship.

Coaches, players, and fans will all tell you this is the best "rivalry" in America. And they're right.


Popular posts from this blog

Nick Shafnisky Is Pushing Hard to Get To Play at the Next Level in Football

"Don't take anything for granted, just keep pushing."
Those are the words of QB Nick Shafnisky, told to The Whitehall-Coplay Press all the way back in 2013, about his preparation as a high school athlete.
And they seem to summarize the Whitehall, PA native perfectly, then as now.
Dubbed the "Male Athlete of the Year" by that publication, the article goes on about Shaf's many exploits at Whitehall high school - leading the Zephyr football team to a co-Lehigh Valley Conference title, becoming the first player ever in that conference to rush and pass for over 1,000 yards, and earning the league's co-MVP award as well.
He also was a member of the Zephyrs playoff basketball team, and for good measure also helped set a record for the 4x100 relay team as well.
At Whitehall, and at Lehigh, coaches pushed him, but it was his own hard work that helped make him the best athlete he could be.
This weekend, Shaf, like every eligible college football player, will be …

What Are You Doing the Night of Lehigh's 2017 Home Opener?

I have this vision.

It's the weekend of the home opener at Murray Goodman Stadium, Labor Day weekend.  It could be a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.

And it's 6:00 PM.

In 2018, the Lehigh football team will open the season with a big celebration of the football program - at Navy, Lehigh's first game against an FBS team in over a decade.

In 2017, why not, as a one-off opportunity, try to have one Lehigh football game, the home opener, be the first-ever night game at Murray Goodman Stadium?

Will it cost money?  Yes.  Will it be easy?  Probably not.

However, is it doable?  I've got to believe the answer is "yes".

Seven Positive Thoughts About All the Patriot League Recruiting Classes

It's recruiting season.  Every incoming recruit is a Patriot League all-star, everyone is a first team all-American, everyone is undefeated.  It's all good times, a chance for kids to be admitted to some of the best Universities in the world.  In that, it's a win for everyone.

While we wait for each of the remaining recruits to be announced as a part of their recruiting classes, I thought I'd comb through all of the incoming classes of the Patriot League and tell you what sticks out to me.

This summart isn't a ratings-based system, than folks like 247Sports have in terms of measuring the number of "starred recruits" (they list Holy Cross as the "winner"), or even a hybrid-based system, like LFN's yearly Patsy Ratings (last seasons "winner": Lehigh) or HERO Sports' list of the top overall FCS recruits (which lists Lafayette as the "winner").  It's just one guy, looking at the recruit lists, and giving his opinion.