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Media and the Patriot League

I've been blogging about Lehigh since the 2003 football season, meaning that I'm entering my sixth straight year talking about Lehigh, "The Rivalry", and the Patriot League. It started with a computer, this upstart company called "Blogger" and a dream about a site devoted to Lehigh football coverage: the first "Football Nation", if you will, modeled after my beloved Red Sox Nation which had "officially" come into being only a year or two before my foray into... er... nationhood.

Blogging has had it moments like this picture to my left, where I've simply been overwhelmed by the amount of backlog of writing articles that I've had. Holding a day job, while still writing articles for the College Sporting News and archiving articles about the FCS, it's a tough (self-imposed, admittedly) assignment. (And, yes, I probably looked a lot like that yesterday.)

Each year I've done this I've looked around and seen many folks in the local papers covering Lehigh and Lafayette in an extremely thorough way. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the oeuvre of Keith Groller, Corky Blake, Jennifer Toland, and too many local reporters to mention in regards to Patriot League football. Without their work, I don't have a blog.

This year, however, is very different.

I'm looking around me for Patriot League football coverage... and finding squat. Granted, it's always been an uphill battle to get media attention in New York City for Fordham (hard to compete with, say Brett Favre getting traded to the Jets) or Washington, DC for Georgetown (granted it's hard to get good attention when you're 1-10 - but anything would be better than breathless reports about U. of Maryland football recruiting in Florida in the Washington Times). Granted, even though the Worcester Telegram & Gazette has good coverage for Holy Cross during the season, they don't usually send anybody to Media Day, which I sort-of understand with gas at $4 a gallon.

But this year is the thinnest I've ever in terms of coverage. Fordham, Georgetown, and Bucknell didn't have any local reporters at Media Day. The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Colgate) filed a staff report with no player interviews, as did the Worcester Telegraph & Gazette (Holy Cross). Lehigh and Lafayette filed exactly two reports: Keith Groller's report for the Morning Call and one article in the Easton Express-Times about the preseason defensive player of the year.

Some of this was to be expected, with Lafayette and Lehigh picked 4th and 5th respectively, and newspapers everywhere suffering with budget cutbacks and staff cuts. But to cut back this far this quickly? To have so few writeups of media day? To see the Express-Times with a section on Penn State... but not Lafayette?

This puts me, and my Lehigh football Nation blog, as the leader of (independent) Patriot League football coverage, even (dare I say) ahead of the mainstream media. Folks look to me and my blog for news from the League about expansion, for exclusive interviews with coach Coen and Lehigh players at Media Day, for not only news about Lehigh, but Fordham, Colgate, and all the other Patriot League schools, too.

Locally, I can't compete with the papers with boots on the ground following the teams (especially at Lehigh). But at a Patriot League level?

It's a huge challenge - as I'm discovering. I don't bring it up to pat myself on the back, but more to simply bring up the enormity of it all. I think that's what happens when you start something and make it grow - and then find out that it's only you and a few of the writing heavyweights out there. (And this isn't even my day job.)

I'm swamped. I'm sitting on interviews I simply haven't had time to transcribe. I'll get to them this week and next - but first, I need to go around the horn one more time to cover the news around the League that, quite frankly, has been piling up.

Next up, hopefully tomorrow: some more Media Day interviews.

  • First and foremost: the Lehigh Football Alumni alert. TE Adam Bergen ('05) was signed by the Baltimore Ravens and has caught the eyes of camp observers for (surprise) his great hands. Good luck, Adam! Also, LB Jon Guynes ('06) has left as linebackers coach at Iona to coach outside linebackers at a Patriot League School... namely, Holy Cross.
  • Other Patriot League football alumni are thriving, too. Colgate's Ryan Vena ('03) is simply ripping up the Arena League 2 playoffs for Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
  • If there's a Lehigh Football Alumni alert, maybe we should also have an Almost Lehigh Alert, too. OL Chris Aaron was reported as a "transfer" to Vanderbilt (meaning: it looks like he did manage to walk on to the team), while highly-touted recruit Kenny Shaw made a decision to go to U. of Washington on a track scholarship after committing to Lehigh last year... and based on this report, it seems like it was the right move for him.
  • In regards to current Mountain Hawks, sophomore TE Brandon Radke has a nice write-up in the Milton Standard Journal about his return from injury and his hope to crack the starting lineup after a hard-working offseason. Will he give sophomore TE
    Alex Wojdowski and senior TE Troy Healion a run to be the starting TE?
  • In other Lehigh news, senior DB Brendan VanAckeren was named a finalist to the 2008 AFCA Good Works team. This team acknowledges "the extra efforts made by college football players and student support staff off the field."
  • Also senior LB Tim Diamond was written up in the Lehigh Alumni magazine. Quote from the senior co-captain: “We want to restore Lehigh football to what it used to be.”
  • With the possible exception of this brief report about Fordham junior OL Rob Reis shifting from guard to center, there frankly hasn't been much said about the Rams - which scares me. Furthermore, the shift shouldn't mean all that much since Fordham has four returning starters on their "O" line - not to mention junior QB John Skelton.
  • From a short press release (the norm up their in Hamilton), Colgate announced the start of their preseason camp - the first in the PL this season. Everyone has heard about senior RB Jordan Scott's one-game suspension to start the year, but the key to the Raider defense might be another important upperclassman: senior DB Sam Breslin. He details in this report his frustrations about getting shuffled from defense to offense in his career - and reveals some possible plays with the speedster at QB in the "spread-like offense". More importantly, though, he gives a tantalizing peek at the 2008 Colgate Raiders: “We should be a very solid contender. Two of our (offensive) tackles are preseason All-Americans, we have an experienced quarterback and a talented backfield. We should be able to score a lot of points... We throw a lot of three-step (slots). I play the inner slot and we have 10 different three-step calls, as well as all the run audible from the same package."
  • Bucknell was the first team to kick off preseason practice, and coach Tim Landis, well, seems to have a spring in his step he hasn't had for several seasons. “The win over Fordham was a great springboard into the offseason,” he said. “The team’s attitude has just been tremendous. There has been a renewed enthusiasm in the weight room since the end of last year. We are really preaching team chemistry. The way to improve in that area is to spend time together, and that’s what they have been doing this summer. I just think the commitment of this group is going to show. It’s going to make us a better football team.”
  • Georgetown's group has been working hard at strength and conditioning this offseason, according to the Hoya athletic department. Junior DB Dennis Jackson: "Earlier this month, we began our second session of summer workouts, with more guys pouring onto campus and reunited with their teammates. As I walked into the weight room that Monday and saw a majority of our incoming freshmen and teammates from last season, I must admit that I was really excited and couldn't wait to get to work. Now with about 60 or so guys back on campus, you can definitely feel camp fast approaching."
  • The Crusaders are hoping their superstar senior QB Dominc Randolph will have a breakout season that will have NFL scouts making frequent trips to Fitton Field. This interesting profile, however, details the long route it finally took for Randolph to thrive at QB: after being buried behind future Ohio State QB Rob Schoenhoft, Randolph toured the Northeast looking at Harvard as a possible destination and almost came to Holy Cross as an afterthought. Now, at Patriot League Media Day, he was the only QB in the room.
  • "That school in Easton" had, predictably, Curley-to-Roeder as Lafayette's Male Athlete Play of the Year. Did I mention I'm already looking forward to the third weekend in November?


Anonymous said…
The newspaper industry is in trouble and are cutting back 'big-time' on everything. I am not surprised that the other out of town papers weren't going to spend the money on having a report drive several hundred miles roundtrip. It's a shame, but the reality of today. The Morning Call is laying off people, the paper is 'thinner' and 'narrower'. I don't get the E-T but expect the same is occuring there. The non-center ring schools and leagues continue to suffer relative to the print media; hence, the internet websites and 'you guys' filling the void. Thanks for your yeoman effort!

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