Skip to main content

What Playoff Expansion Means For The Patriot League

The long-rumored expansion to the FCS playoffs came true late Friday of last week. Starting in 2010, the NEC and Big South will have automatic bids into the FCS playoffs, and NEC schools and Big South schools couldn't be more delighted with the announcement.

Below, I list the three immediate impacts that playoff expansion has on the Patriot League from my perspective.

Impacts
  1. The NEC and the Big South will be offering more free education. With their brand-new shot at the FCS championship, you can bet that neither league will stand pat and not want to compete. The NEC is likely to bump up their scholarship levels - right now they offer 30, and it's likely to be bumped up to 45 in 2009, and maybe even 63 come 2010. They may find some level of resistance from the smaller schools in their league, like St. Francis (PA) and Sacred Heart, but the pressure of competition is probably too great. Similarly, Big South schools also haven't always been funding a full array of scholarships either, but the pressure on VMI, Gardner-Webb and Charleston Southern will be enormous to "cowboy up" with schools that are already there or close to it: Coastal Carolina, Liberty and Stony Brook.
  2. Any recruiting advantage of "playing for a national championship" will disappear with NEC schools. Patriot League recruiting is hard and becoming harder with more and more free education around them with the full array of NEC schools and Stony Brook. But there was always that autobid that the Patriot League could always dangle in front of a recruit to say that "we have access to the championship, and if you go to Central Connecticut State you very likely won't have that chance." In 2010, that recruiting advantage is gone.
  3. If nothing is done, the Patriot League will continue to slide. A long-overdue overhaul of the AI - very likely simply the formal adoption of an Ivy League-like banding system - may seem like enough to the Patriot League presidents to stay competitive. But it's clearly not the solution, with more and more free education luring away the remaining middle-class students that may want to look at a Patriot League education but are put off by the need to apply for financial aid. A partial scholarship model, with a strict Academic Index, mostly need-based aid for football players combined and some scholarships to get good middle-class students, could be a powerful combination competitively, while still keeping academic integrity intact and increasing economic diversity. But if solutions like that aren't considered - or if AI reform is considered "good enough" - we could see what Lafayette head coach Frank Tavani feared most: that things might be "staying the same [while we] watch the level of play diminish".

Comments

Anonymous said…
the pl most definatly needs to adjust or wont be able to compete against the caa and other elite conferences.


where are your pics from the brown/white game? you took some good ones last year and i've been looking forward to seeing this years batch.
LehighWrestling said…
Hello, When will the Lehigh brown and white pics be up?
Anonymous said…
Al Pierce was your best defender last year, by far.

If he impressed you guys the most during the spring game I assume you mean most improvement... and that makes me nervous.



-Opposing Offensive Player

Popular posts from this blog

Remembering Lehigh's Battles With The Late Tubby Raymond

(Photo Credits: Delaware Online)

When I heard the news Tubby Raymond, legendary Delaware head football coach, died last week at the age of 92, two immediate memories came rushing back to me.

One occurred on October 16th, 1999, when Tubby had made a complaint to the local paper or radio in the run-up to Kevin Higgins' Mountain Hawks beating his Blue Hens on Delaware's homecoming, 42-35.

I have no idea if the quote even actually happened, but my recollection is that Tubby said that Lehigh had "St. Bartholomew's" on their schedule, and hadn't played anybody.  It was a verbal jab that many Delaware fans took with them to the stands to heckle the Mountain Hawk fans that made the short trip to Newark.

Up until that point, I had watched a bunch of Lehigh football games over the years.  I experienced their rise in the 1990s.  I enjoyed wins, and championships, and playoff victories.

But never had I felt a win so viscerally vindicating than the one over Tubby Raymond&…

Lehigh Wrestling Gets Superstar Treatment at PPL Center. Lehigh Football Needs The Same At Murray Goodman.

"We knew it would be nice," Lehigh wrestling head coach Pat Santoro said. "But it was even better than we expected."

Pat was talking about the reception his Lehigh wrestling squad experienced at Allentown's PPL Center this weekend, when a sellout crowd over nearly 10,000 people came to watch No. 1 Penn State grapple with No. 5 Lehigh in a collegiate wrestling event.

It was, by all accounts, something special to behold. 

"I thought it was really cool and an exciting place to wrestle," said Penn State wrestler Nick Nevills. "These fans were really into it, a rowdy bunch. It's a lot more fun as an athlete to wrestle in an environment like this. I'd say it was one of the most exciting times I have had in my career."

The sense of spectacle at the PPL center, though, puts a spotlight on what more can be done at Lehigh itself to make their athletic contests into spectacles.  It requires money to be spent and energy to be expended.  But the…

Troy Pelletier Hasn't Stopped Outworking His Rivals On His Journey To Professional Football

Many Patriot League football fans remember the 153rd meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette, one that ended happily for the Mountain Hawks.

They might remember the MVP performance of QB Brad Mayes, or perhaps the halftime speech by OL Zach Duffy that seemed to spur the Mountain Hawks to victory.

Or perhaps they might remember the spectacular single play of Mayes rolling right and finding WR Gatlin Casey in the end zone to give the Mountain Hawks a lead they didn't relinquish.  It was an incredible play by Mayes, who returns this upcoming year for his senior season, and Casey, who, having exhausted his eligibility at Lehigh, will be playing one more year at Middle Tennessee State.

As great as those individual moments are, though, they are not my biggest takeaway of that game.

Too many Lehigh people forget that Lehigh was down 31-21 at half, and that victory was no sure thing.  And they sometimes forget that so much of that victory came from the grinding of WR Troy Pelletier, deliver…