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Lehigh's Frisco Treat: Delaware In FCS Championship Game

This year's FCS playoffs, the first since the field was expanded to 20 teams, has made for a season of growing pains.  Not necessarily bad ones, but pains nonetheless.

With a 16 team bracket, it made for an easy beginning and end to the FCS regular season.  It always ended the weekend before Christmas, the all-America teams were done - and the national champions were crowned, as all of the world of FCS partied on the eve of the new year.

But with an extra round of playoffs, it was the semifinals that would end the week before Christmas - and three long, long weeks before knowing for certain the identity of the national champions.

And the team that defeated Lehigh in the playoffs the week after the playoffs may very well be the team that is this year's champion. (more)

Vice President Joe Biden, one of many Delaware alums who have been seen at Tubby Raymond Stadium in the Hens' run at the championship, could not confirm or deny that he would be at Pizza Hut park in Frisco, Texas to watch the championship game. But there was plenty of reason to believe that he would be there:

Biden aides declined to confirm his plans Thursday, Gillman writes. But the FAA has ordered airspace restrictions around Frisco before and during the game, of the sort reserved for the president, vice president or visiting heads of state.

It's a dead giveaway that Biden and his entourage - as they were in 2003 (pictured), when the then-Senator came to Chattanooga to cheer his Hens to a resounding national championship against then-undefeated Colgate - will be among the attendees of this year's battle.

Biden, New Jersey governor Chris Christie and the seeming bottomless pit of Delaware fans in politics may be seeing Delaware head coach K.C. Keeler's final game as Blue Hen coach. After UConn head coach Randy Edsall abruptly doubled his salary by heading to Maryland, Keeler's name has risen as a possibility to take his place by no less of an authority than the New York Times.

It's odd to think of Keeler giving up his near-demigod status in Delaware to become third banana in a town where Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma are the Twin Towers - and it's especially odd to think of UConn, a school that not all that long ago was in the same conference as Delaware, now being in the position to poach Delaware's head coach. But it is a Big East football coaching job, and they don't come up all that often, so it's an interesting development.

As for Keeler, he has a game to prepare for - and managed to give praise to a future Big East school in the nearby area in Texas, too - making one wonder if it's a done deal:

"I just can't figure out how people can't get this right," Keeler said of having a playoff system decide the champion. "We're doing it right in Division III, II and I-AA [FCS]. I just wish they would do it right in Division I. ... The public would love it. It's the right way to do it. It's tough to argue TCU's not the best in the country. I mean, how do you argue that? They are very impressive and they should have had a chance to win the whole thing."

(If he does go to UConn, it's time to coin a phrase: to Keeler somebody, v. to pre-emptively praise an opponent. I didn't even choose to get in the ring, yet Mike Tyson was Keelering me!)

Another storyline to watch for - and, probably, to hear over and over again in the ESPN2 broadcast, will be the fact that Delaware and their opponent, Eastern Washington, have two FBS transfer students suiting up at QB: the Hens' senior QBPat Devlin from Penn State, whom Lehigh fans have seen up close and personal, and the Eagles' junior QB Bo Levi Mitchell from SMU, whom most have not.

Mitchell's story is particularly interesting since he hasn't played in Texas all year, and now faces a homecoming of sorts playing - finally - in a venue that might have temperatures about 60 degrees. He's played in all sorts of outdoor venues in Big Sky country - and three snow-filled home games on the "Inferno", or Roos Field's red turf in cold Cheney, Washington - but you've got to believe that he's popping to play football in front of a lot of friends and family.

"It's too cold out in Washington, I'm used to playing in 90-degree weather," the 6-2 quarterback said. "It'll be good to be back near home."

Mitchell, who has "Gunslinger" tattooed on his left arm, threw for a season-high 292 yards and four TDs on 27-for-38 passing against Villanova. On the season, he has a school-record 34 touchdown passes.

But he'll be facing a great QB in his own right, the Penn State transfer who is doing his best Joe Flacco impression in the Hens' run to the national championship. In contrast to the "Gunslinger", Devlin could be nicknamed the "Professor", with the way he dissects opposing defenses.

Keeler called him a "legendary local player":

"Pat is a local kid, a legendary high school player in the area and the recruiting process was pretty easy," Keeler said. "We didn't promise him anything. He understood we were going to play the best player.

"He just came in and competed and it was obvious very early that he was going to be our starting quarterback."

Devlin expected to earn anything he got.

"I've never wanted to be handed anything," he said. "But Delaware gave me a chance to compete for a job and play right away. It just felt like the right place for me."

While both teams have a lot of answers to a lot of questions - notable, Eastern Washington has LB J.C. Sherritt, the Buck Buchanan award winning-linebacker, and Delaware has FS Anthony Walters, and a daunting secondary that will be hoping to make Mitchell's life miserable - but it seems destined to come down to the two star QBs. Whomever makes more plays will win this game.

And it should make for a great game to enjoy tomorrow night at 7:30PM on ESPN2. A real Frisco treat, complete with Mr. Biden.


Anonymous said…
The only reason Keeler could be leaving Delaware for UConn is because he's going to a bigger school that will knowingly let him recruit known scumbags and degenerates. How could you hire someone who has had more players end up in jail then any other program in college? In 2007 several players were arrested after robbing current teammates at gun point...starts at the top. See Uconn men's basketball for the blue print on how to recruit "character guys". Keeler is a notorious scumbag recruiter, from the time he was at Rowan, Best of luck in Storrs.
Anonymous said…
What a stupid comment by a dirty little dweeb. Keeler would go to UCONN because the money would be tripled, the facilities are second to none, the commitment to put a national power product like their two basketball teams, baseball team, soccer team and current top 25 football team, the media attention and future for your family. If coaching is your life and it's 1AA Delaware or D1 UCONN what choice is there? To play on national tv nearly every week? Let's see, you get ofered the vice precident of marketing at IBM, but you are currently the vice president of Jack in the Box, ohhhh now I see your point, my bad.
Anonymous said…
Keeler is a promoter, a big talker, a recruiter of good athletes for sure. Energetic.
A great game coach? Hardly.

After last night's epic collapse, whats his record in championship games again? PATHETIC.
Anonymous said…
Heard Keeler described as the Mack Brown of FCS.
Anonymous said…
on another note..any chance Savage ends up as a MountainHawk?
Anonymous said…
Only if Savage wants to be a hero
Anonymous said…
0% chance Savage will come to Lehigh

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