With a two-year headstart on everyone else, many folks thought that the Lombardis would be stomping on the rest of the Patriot League by the 2012 season - if merit aid would indeed result in FCS championship-caliber teams.
In 2013, head coach Joe Moorhead finally delivered one of those types of teams, delivering an 11-1 regular season record, Fordham's second-ever playoff victory, and a signal to the rest of the FCS of what regular scholarship Patriot League teams might look like in the future.
Yet the success, too, was not completely as it seemed.
Had Fordham been eligible for the Patriot League championship, they would have been no more than co-champions - with their loss to Lafayette, they would have lost the autobid to the Leopards anyway.
And the way they've built their team - as you will see - has not been so much built on Patsy Points, but has been at least partially built... in a way that the Patsy Points does not measure.
With this knowledge, how does Fordham's Patsy point total stack up?
If the hypothesis is that allowing merit aid will improve the quality of the incoming class, if you judge "quality" by "number of players that show up in the scouting services,", that theory seems to hold true, at least for Fordham's incoming class. Seven out of ten recruits, or 70%, were star rated in at least one service. Additionally, every one of the Ram recruits generated at least one Patsy Point.
However, there is another hypothesis that is still yet to be tested for the Rams - that you need at least a minimum number of recruited athletes to replenish your supply of players from year to year. Even the Committee couldn't screw up this math: ten recruits, times four, equals forty athletes - i.e. not enough to field a modern college football team.
(There is reason to believe that there is another way that Coach Moorhead is going to field that football team - but more on that later.)
Not what the Mara family had in mind to fill out the Rams roster
PATSY POINT CALCULATION
QUALITY = 35. Last year, coach Moorhead got an incoming class worth a whopping 70 points, with 32 of those points being "quality points". This season, with significantly fewer athletes, the Lamb Chops topped their quality number from last season. That's pretty impressive.
There is some same evidence of "Patsy Point Inflation" with the new scouting service, but it was not nearly as huge a factor as it was with Colgate's incoming class. One recruit that would have only fogged a mirror became a two-star recruit. Another went from a two-star recruit to a three-star recruit.
CLASS SIZE = 0. 10 Recruits - well below replacement level. Even with this requirement being lowered for this season, Fordham didn't come close to meeting the minimum.
DISTRIBUTION = 5. With a small recruiting class comes weak distribution numbers. Only five different areas were covered. Having one player recruited as an "athlete" didn't help either.
SPEED = 13. This is where the Rams made up their Patsy Point totals in a huge way. Five players had certified, published speed numbers with the scouting services, and four of them were clocked at less than 4.6 seconds per 40 yard dash.
The Committee was not sure if this was a suitable replacement for class size and distribution on a yearly basis, but it did seem like made up the difference - and then some - this year.
Additionally, with speedsters like RB Carlton Koonce on their team last year it's obvious that speed is something that Coach Moorhead is looking for in many aspects in his team. He appears to have that in this year's recruiting class.
TRIGGER = 0. Despite the fact that the Lambs don't really have any need for a QB, the fact that they didn't have a tirggerman in their incoming class meant a fat zero here for Patsy Points.
JUMBO = 4. Of the ten recruits, half of them were linemen. Four of the five players hit the "jumbo" number easily. Importantly, even the linemen without a page on the recruiting services made the "jumbo" numbers, meaning that every recruit got at least one point.
Which begs the question - Could it be that coach Moorhead is trying to pad their Patsy Rating by only recruiting kids that generate Patsy Points? The Committee cannot reiterate enough how foolish that would be - reminding everyone that the Patsy Point calculation is for entertainment purposes only, a way to sleep away the time from now until August. It also does not mean that a recruit that gives ten Patsy Points will be a guaranteed star, nor does it mean a zero Patsy Point kid will never see the field, let alone be all-League. The Patsies are what they are - entertainment.
"And then The Committee said, 'That Lineman is too fat! No points!' But then they saw the ten Patsy Point kid for Fordham, he was JUST RIGHT..."
DL = 2 (of 5). The points came from the fact that both defensive linemen generated quality Patsy Points for the Lombardis. But only two, because there weren't the numbers recruited here that are required to "fill a need area".
OL = 2 (of 4). On the offensive line the Committee saw the largest number of Patsy recruits - three, which is a good number (though four would have been better). But they also didn't see any starred recruits, which limited the number of Patsy Points to 2.
RB = 3 (of 3). There was a skirmish here in the Committee as to whether this was really the third need area for the Rams. One faction thought, with defense as their main weakness last season, linebacker should have been a much more pressing need, considering the Lombardis had three running backs returning. But another thought that the wishes of the Ram fans should be respected, even if the Committee did not completely agree.
Ultimately it was determined that the fans are probably right - they are more often than the Committee might wish to admit - so running back was added as the third need area, a need that was outstandingly met with a three-star recruit and an two-star recruit.
Is it true that you can never have enough highly Patsy-rated running backs?
COMMITTEE ADJUSTMENT: -1. Another Patsy class, another big debate.
As always, the Committee scrutinizes the official release of each school to generate the number of Patsy Points.
And this years release, as in prior Ram years, has a high-profile recruit that transferred to Rose Hill - this one with a famous last name. And the same debate, started last season, rose up again. Namely: what do you do with transfers?
Last season, the Committee used the dreaded "Committee Adjustment" to recognize that there was some extra quality coming into the incoming class through the transfer route. Similarly, you can do this again with the incoming guy for the Rams - a two-star guy in 2012, offered by a lot of different FCS and FBS schools, and in the No. 1 need area for the Rams.
This started a push by some Committee members to plead with the others to find some way to include transfers in the Patsy Point Calculations.
"Put it this way," one persuasive Committee member said. "In real terms, Fordham used a scholarship to have this kid come. In the Patsy world, though, not only is he invisible, he uses up precious resources that would ordinarily be spent as Patsy Point recruits."
"Scholarships are the metric coach Moorhead uses," he continued. "It's pretty clear that Moorhead's strategy is to attract transfers, and to even hold back scholarships in recruiting in order to nab good ones. QB Michael Nebrich, WR Tebucky Jones, Jr., RB Carlton Koonce - they were all zero-Patsy guys that used three Fordham scholarships. They're also guys without whom the Rams would not have been in the FCS playoffs last season. So, of course they should count."
Philosophically, there seemed to be some level of consensus on this fact - as much consensus as can be had with the Committee members, anyway. What to do about it, though, was not a majority.
"We can't spend every waking hour researching every recruit from past years," another member said. "How do you know whether data from years ago applies anymore? Anything could have happened from that time. Suppose a kid is coming back from a broken leg. Are they full points? Partial points? Should we require a medical certificate to award the points?"
There was another big concern about this Fordham class as well - its size.
Even with the high-profile transfer, there were only eleven members in the incoming class. Whether coach Moorhead was butting up against the sixty-scholarship Patriot League scholarship limit, or if he was holding back for another late transfer player, it was unclear.
Some on the Committee looked at this tiny class and got the impression that Moorhead might ride Nebrich to a train station in Muncie, Indiana, stepping his way into a head coaching gig at, say Ball State, when Cardinal head Pete Lembo takes over at Illinois next season. (This started an eraser fight in the meeting chambers, tamping down the wild speculation.)
One class, so many uncomfortable questions. Do transfers count? Should they? Should a class that is so obviously below replacement level have negative adjustment points?
What came out of the 18 hour meeting - aside from a lot of empty pizza boxes from Little Caesars, and a lot of consumed crazy bread - were two post-it notes. One post-it note said, "-1 Patsy points for this season." The other said, "Next year's Patsy formula: Find a way to properly include Patsy Points transfers, and find a way to punish a team that is five bodies short of replacement."
FORDHAM - 63