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Sunday's Word: Horus

Yes, I've resorted to Egyptian gods for my "Sunday Word" now. It's a byproduct of following a 2-7 team, I think - the more tough losses I endure, the more creative I have to be.

In ancient Egyptian mythology, "Horus" is the son of gods Isis and Osis. He's the Egyptian god of the sky, the sun god, the god of life and the god of war. (Those Egyptian gods seemed pretty malleable, depending on how you felt that week, it seems.) Furthermore, while most translations depict "Horus" having a head of a falcon, the alternative spelling of his name, Nehkeny, means literally "one from Nehken", known as the "city of the Hawk".

So for the sake of my belief (and this "Word"), "Horus" is an Egyptian god, with the head of a hawk. (And contrary to popular belief, I do not have a life-sized statue of "Horus" on my nightstand with a Lehigh logo pasted on it.)

Bear with me. Trust me when I say this will make sense in the end.

*****

There was a time when it seemed like Lehigh, in terms of the Patriot League anyway, was like "Horus".

One of the gods, flying above the rest of the Patriot League. Millenia from now, the hieroglyphics would reveal Lehigh as the dominating force of the League.

During those glory years, the question if "Horus" would be competing for Patriot League championships were a given. The question was - posed in all seriousness - whether "Horus" could make a run at a national championship. The heck with beating "that school in Easton" - how do we beat Furman?

I got flak last year from Lafayette fans when I mentioned that the Leopards were much more defined by "The Rivalry" than Lehigh was. That's because "Horus" had a true aura around them when they were winning that the Patriot League that they could actually compete nationally for a national title.

While Lafayette has had a lot of success recently - and are a win against Holy Cross away from going to their fourth FCS playoffs in six years - they haven't been able to get out of the first round. They could probably get to that "Horus"-like status too if they can win one of these first-round games, but as of right now they're merely God Kings on Earth, like Pharaoh Ramses II, for example.

How tides have turned now, though: now that Lehigh has been out of any postseason picture for the third straight year, the mummified Mountain Hawks have been more defined by "The Rivalry" than ever. It's become Lehigh's Super Bowl, perhaps a chance to play spoiler to the Leopards' playoff chances if Lafayette loses to the Crusaders next weekend.

It's amazing in "The Rivalry" how the power ebbs and flows. For a seven year stretch "Horus" was dominating, but then the Evil Empire has won five of the last seven against a Lehigh team that has fallen back to earth. It's no secret Lafayette will be favored on November 21st.

*****

But back to the weekend that was. Obviously, the days of "Horus" are long gone now. For the third straight year, Lehigh will not be competing for a Patriot League championship. And it's natural for folks to ask why.

This weekend, I said that it would have been the biggest Lehigh upset in two decades if the Mountain Hawks beat Holy Cross. Seven years ago, the idea that Lehigh's Patriot League opponent could be a prohibitive favorite would have been unheard of.

That's because Lehigh was "Horus". One of the gods. Lehigh seemed to get all the athletes, the biggest and the best high-academic players on offer. The academic index allowed enough room to get the pick of local talent - and, thanks to Kevin Higgins, more national talent as well. While Holy Cross and Lafayette were in the doldrums wondering if they wanted to compete, Lehigh was doing things they could only dream of doing.

But now, in 2009, Lehigh no longer has that advantage from the "Horus" days. Colgate, the Anubis to Lehigh's "Horus", has continued their success and Patriot League titles - though they had a brief down period, too. Lafayette lost a president that frankly brought their football program down, got a new president and some alumni with big checkbooks and the Leopards are now fixtures atop the league. Tom Gilmore took over a Holy Cross program and made them into a great program in the last four years, and are on the cusp of a championship and their first postseason appearance since 1983. And Fordham, who has had playoff success more recently, has gone down the road of football scholarships and aren't coming back, which may promise more athletes choosing the Rams.

"Horus" doesn't get all the high-academic athletes anymore, either. Two potential NFL prospects at quarterback, senior QB Dominic Randolph and senior QB John Skelton, are at Holy Cross and Fordham. Senior DT Andrew Poulson is a giant kid at Lafayette, and I keep thinking about what might have happened if Holy Cross senior OT Aaron Jones, himself a possible invite to an NFL camp, had gone to his original choice, Lehigh, instead of Holy Cross.

The playing field is much more level. Not tilted against Lehigh at this point - Lehigh still gets great athletes, obviously - but even. "Horus" used to be so stacked that when QB Brant Hall went down, we had a QB Luke Cianello right behind him who could have been a starter for more than half the teams in the league. That's not true anymore of any Patriot League team - no team is that loaded, at quarterback or any other position.

*****

That's not to make excuses for losing. If the playing field is level, then Lehigh should be winning their fair share of these close games somehow, not sitting at 2-7. And every week it seems to be something new - giving up big plays against Colgate, penalties here, turnovers there that are preventing wins. And when Lehigh plays well against Colgate and Holy Cross but fall just short, it's frustrating. Where were these teams against Princeton and Yale, two games you can't help but wish could be do-overs?

But it's important to realize Lehigh ain't "Horus" anymore, and never will be again. That era is as dead as ancient Egypt. The new era of Lehigh football will need a different way to win championships. Looking at the years of "Horus" is interesting, but it won't make Lehigh into a national power tomorrow.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Okay- for the 99th time:

Under Coen-head:

Points per game...

2006- 27
2007- 20
2008- 25
2009- 18 (so far)

In the previous four seasons, LU averaged 32 points per game and 8 wins per year.

Coen's record in games decided by 10 points or fewer:

16 losses. SIXTEEN!!

Coen's record agains the Ivy League - 1 - 10


I say he's a crummy coach. I say that for a guy whose background is "offense", he is offensive in the wrong sense.

I say that he cannot compete against the very competition LU used to own.

I say his time has come. Even if Lehigh is "this close" under his leadership.

What have we come to? A program that feels that a keeping it respectable is acceptible?

Please Joe Sterrett. Please tell me you have had enough...that you made a mistake...that the page must be turned. If not, when?

Voice of Reason
Anonymous said…
Chuck sez:

"That's not to make excuses for losing. If the playing field is level, then Lehigh should be winning their fair share of these close games somehow, not sitting at 2-7. And every week it seems to be something new - giving up big plays against Colgate, penalties here, turnovers there that are preventing wins. And when Lehigh plays well against Colgate and Holy Cross but fall just short, it's frustrating. Where were these teams against Princeton and Yale, two games you can't help but wish could be do-overs?"


Then the problem must be the coach, no????
Douglas said…
I think a loss to Fordham seals the deal... It doesn't matter then if we beat Lafayette... I think Coen is gone!!!! I hope!!!
Anonymous said…
Lest anyone fear "overemphasis on sports" if Mr. Coen is shown the door --

Two Ivy League sources I know are saying that Princeton is planning to sack their Head Coach. Eleven years of middle-of-the-pack-standings are enough for them, I reckon.

I guess beating Lehigh won't be an argument used to justify his return.
Anonymous said…
Again, I can't wait to see what garbage Coen has to spew on tonight's Lehigh Sports Magazine. I bet that he's going to talk about how they were "oh so close". News flash Andy: Being close to your opponent and getting "moral victories" doesn't cut it. Where were you when a phantom pass interference was called on one of your players, and another was blatently held, and neither call was in your favor?? Clearly not in the official's face; I guess buried in that play sheet looking for an answer Enough is enough with this guy. I could go on and on, but it's all been said before. Let's just finish this season out with the worst record I've ever seen, hire a coach that doesn't coach his players to the tune of 8 or 9 penalties per game, and knows how to actually WIN!!! What a novel concept!!
Anonymous said…
Hey fellow Lehigh fans...

http://www.opensports.com/community/user/blog_entry/52/fa890d35-5b0a-45af-aa16-4a89588425e9
Anonymous said…
As to the video at "http://www.opensports.com/community/user/blog_entry/52/fa890d35-5b0a-45af-aa16-4a89588425e9":

Okay, here are 5 differences between the Memphis and Lehigh situations:

1 - Tommy West is an intelligent coach
2 - Tommy West is a leader of the players
3 - Tommy West motivates the alumni
4 - Tommy West won some big games and went to several bowls
5 - Tommy West was coaching at a school with inferior resources and an uneven playing field for their conference

None of these apply to Lehigh's coach.
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