Ten years ago today, I was late to a football game.
It was a picture-perfect night for football. While I wasn't a blogger about Lehigh football at that time, I still was a crazy Lehigh fan, and despite the fact I lived in Connecticut I had somehow convinced my friend Matt to go to the first night game at Palmer Stadium in Princeton with me. He was coming back from the Yankee game earlier that day, and I drove down to meet him in central New Jersey to pick him up to head to Princeton.
That day the Yankee game fatefully ran later than usual, and we got to Princeton after dark. So we found ourselves wandering around the Princeton campus, after listening to the first quarter on the radio.
It's then when we met Kim and a friend of hers. Kim wasn't a Princeton alumna, nor had she ever seen a college football game before that day. She had been volunteering for the Red Cross and was helping recovery efforts from Hurricane Floyd that had passed through earlier that week. She got a bunch of complimentary tickets from the Red Cross, and at the last minute decided to go to the game.
We bumped into each other struggling to find the biggest landmark on campus. She and her friend needed help finding the stadium. Out of the blue, she asked the guy with the sideburns and Lehigh T-shirt where the stadium was. I said we didn't know, but we walked and ultimately found it.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Serendipity is a word thrown around way to much these days, but after being married for eight years it's something I often think about. Two of the choices I made - going to Lehigh instead of another school, and getting to the Princeton game late - changed my life forever. Had I gone to Drexel, we may never have met. Had I made sure to get to Palmer Stadium on time - a game where Lehigh blanked Princeton, 31-0, incidentally - we may never have met. There are an awful lot of scenarios I can paint where we never meet.
But I remain very happy that it did happen. And Kim puts up with a lot from me that most other wives don't need to endure - some late nights writing previews, Saturdays at the game, post-game press conferences that sometimes drag on too long. She also puts up with a lot of chatter about Lehigh from me, too: either crooning on incessantly when they win, or endless kvetching when they lose.
That's why there's no one better. And I have a day ten years ago to thank for that.
This weekend ends a month-long drive to collect 5,000 books to support Reading Rocks!, a joint program between St. Luke's Hospital and Lehigh. If you're going to the game, you're encouraged by Lehigh Athletics to bring new or gently used children's books for donation. As a thank-you, you'll receive a voucher for a complimentary Lehigh University Men's or Women's basketball game. (Pretty good deal for children's books that you were going to bring to the yard sale anyway!)
The books will be collected at the St. Luke's vehicle near the Kids Day activity area, so don't forget!
Also, in support of the American Football Coaches Association's national charity project, Coach for the Cure MD, Coach Coen will be sporting an armband with their insignia. Coaches around the country this weekend will be raising awareness of the disorder Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
During the bye week, there were a host of interesting pieces on Lehigh football players that came out that I didn't compile. Here they are:
The Morning Call: Jim Thorpe's WR Craig Zurn an old-school player for Lehigh
Lehigh Athletics: SS Jesse Sanchez is Pursuing His Passion
Finally, here are my weekly Patriot League picks, partially compiled from my weekly column at the College Sporting News.
Fordham at Colgate. The question is: which Colgate running back will get 200 yards this week? Sophomore Jordan McCord? Sophomore Nate Eachus? The third waterboy from the left? The only way qaurterback John Skelton and the rest of the Rams have a chance is if they keep the turnovers down and play much more disciplined ball they showed in their first two games. Don’t count on it.
‘Retched Raiders 41, Lovable Lambies 21
Penn at Lafayette. Hope you like defense: in the last three meetings between these two local rivals, no team has scored more than 24 points. Look for a lot of punts, hard-hitting, and maybe even a defensive touchdown: and a win for head coach Frank Tavani, linebacker Mark Leggerio, and the Leopards.
Tavani’s Blunt Objects 11, Bagnoli’s Raw Meat 9
Towson at Morgan State and Howard at Georgetown. With 0-3 FBS Maryland struggling so bad, Maryland and DC have an opportunity to showcase their FCS teams this week in interesting regional rivalries. At Morgan State, look for Towson defensive lineman Yaky Ibia to build on his sack totals, and at Georgetown look for the Hoyas to score their first offensive touchdown on the year. Running back Charlie Houghton might even score two.
Fightin’ Unitases 24, Fightin’ Roosevelt Browns 16
Hoyas Score-A 17, Georgia Brown’s Bison Burgers 6
Marist at Bucknell. The Red Foxes come to Lewisburg at a good time for the Bison: they desperately need to develop some more offense and some more depth. The Red Foxes, who stunned Sacred Heart 31-12 on opening weekend but haven't scored much since, won against the Pioneers in a very Bucknell-esque way: through interception returns for touchdowns. Count on coach Landis to keep the ball on the ground more - and win the games.
Runnin' Bison 27, Flattened Foxes 12
BONUS EASTERN LEAGUE PICKS OF INTEREST:
Northeastern at No. 2 Villanova. You’ve got to figure that the Huskies will pull off an impressive upset against a CAA squad sometime this year. Could they do it against Villanova, ready to show up on national TV next week in an obvious letdown situation? While it’s tempting to pick against quarterback Chris Whitney and company, common sense prevails.
Wildcats Don’t Stumble 27, Don’t Try to Out-Rocky A Philadelphia Team 13
Delaware at No. 5 William & Mary. If Blue Hen quarterback Pat Devlin had problems with Delaware State’s pass rush at home last week (in a 27-17 win in the “First State” Cup), just imagine what trouble he might have against Tribe defesive lineman Adrian Tracy.
Yo, Adrians 24, Devlin’s Devils 0
Dartmouth at No. 6 New Hampshire. A good policy when picking games is to never pick the team that wants to cancel a series because in their minds it has become uncompetitive. In this “Granite Bowl", go with the nationally-ranked home team.
Granite Wildcat Gridders 56, “Play UNH Or Die?” 0
Stony Brook at No. 15 UMass. No disrespect to the Seawolves, who’s impressive last-second 28-27 win over Brown earned them a deserved first victory, but UMass, behind the efforts of defensive lineman Michael Hanson (16 tackles, 2 sacks), have been the class of CAA North this early part of the season and it’s hard to picture the tide stopping right now.
Roll Minutemen 40, Bowled-Over Fictional Sea Creatures 3
Brown at Harvard. Last year, this game catapulted wideout Buddy Farnham and the Bears to a share of the Ivy league title. This year, both the Crimson and Bears are coming back from late closes losses to Holy Cross and Stony Brook respectively. Look for a spirited battle between teams desperate to avoid an 0-2 start - and also look for Crimson quarterback Collier Winters to build on his solid week one performance and allow the Crimson to enact some revenge.
Red Shelly Winters’ 28, Brown Buddy Boys 27
Finally, I think Central Connecticut State will beat Columbia 27-21 this weekend. But I'll be rooting for the Lions.