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So This Is What Rock Bottom Feels Like

As a Lehigh football fan I have seen an awful lot.

I've seen the football program reach some pretty terrific highs.  I've seen a lot of Patriot League Championships.  Trips to FCS powerhouse programs - and beating them. FCS Playoff wins. 

Wins over Lafayette in the last two minutes of the game.  Overtime wins.  Shootout wins.  Wins without an offensive touchdown.  Do I remember WR Brian Klingerman?  I was in the stands explaining the new overtime rules. Yes, I've seen a lot.

I've also seen a lot of lows during the course of my Lehigh football fandom, too. 

Yes, I was at Yankee Stadium.  I was also at Murray Goodman when Tom Gilmore's Holy Cross team dropped 59 on the Mountain Hawks. 

I was at Lafayette in 1994 to watch Erik Marsh run over Lehigh.  Jonathan Hurt?  I was there.  I see the ghost of that play every time I set foot in Murray Goodman.  Yes, I've seen a lot.

In all of this time being a Lehigh fan, I never saw two things:

  1. I never saw Lehigh lose six games in a row, and 
  2. I never saw Lehigh lose to Georgetown.

And yet, here we are, in a brand new world where Lehigh can lose six straight and can lose to Georgetown.  We are in a world where Georgetown and Lehigh are coaching and talent equals, tied at 9 after regulation and separated only by the will to win in double overtime.  Simply put, Georgetown wanted it more.

With zero disrespect meant to Georgetown, who 100% deserved their win over Lehigh, the Mountain Hawk program is right now at rock bottom.

You know when rock bottom is. 

It's when your team loses a game like last weekend.

It's a double overtime game where you never had the lead.

It's a game that goes to overtime tied at 9.

It's a game where the opponent's 9 points in regulation come from a touchdown off of blown coverage on the very first play, and the other two points came from a blocked two-point conversion run back for a score.

It's a game when the opposing team lines up for five different field goals, miss all five, and you still lose.

It's three Lehigh offensive drives inside the Georgetown 25 that finish: missed FG, turnover on downs, turnover on downs.

It's a game where both sides seem to have it inside their heads they're going to lose. 

You could sense the entire game that Georgetown was on the brink of learning how to finally beat Lehigh, yet something held them back. 

What was it?  Was it Lehigh mystique?  Was it some other form of lack of confidence in the Hoya team?  I am not sure, but as the game went along and Lehigh wasn't getting that big-play touchdown or crushing interception that has crushed many a Hoya hope before, you could sense Georgetown slowly, and surely, building confidence.  Slowly, they saw that Lehigh was struggling to get back into the game, and as they saw Lehigh struggle, they got more confident as the game went along.  Even as the Hoya special teams kept missing field goals or getting them blocked, you could see them gaining confidence.

When the second overtime happened, and Lehigh's offense failed to score, Georgetown took the field and had to have known at that time, despite Lehigh's game defensive effort, that it was over. 

There was nothing that would stop this group of teammates the pleasure of working together to finally do something that a whole generation of Georgetown football players were unable to do. 

They weren't just equals with the Mountain Hawks - they simply wanted this more, much more than Lehigh.  They were not just winning for themselves, they were winning for all those other teams that couldn't do it.  This was a moment that used to be just a dream for the Hoyas; now, with the goal so close, there was no way they weren't going to do this.

And that literally is the only thing separating the two teams.  It was a game where Lehigh had opportunity after opportunity to put the game away.  Three interceptions were right in the breadbasket of defensive players, and dropped.  Big gains were erased through penalties.  Fourth downs unconverted. 

This wasn't a game lost at the opening coin flip, like the way Lehigh lost vs. Fordham, or just a complete talent mismatch, like it was vs. Princeton.  This was a loss to a team that in every way is Lehigh's equal.  Georgetown just wanted it more.

And for Lehigh, this is what rock bottom is - going into a game, expecting to lose, and doing whatever possible to lose. 

It seems like this team and coaching staff doesn't fully appreciate that beating Lehigh means something to other teams.  Georgetown certainly has other goals every season, but every single year they had been circling Lehigh on the calendar and doing and thinking of everything possible of how to beat Lehigh.  Georgetown had beaten every other Patriot League team at least once since joining the Patriot League in 2001 - except Lehigh.  They wanted this badly.  It was abundantly clear to anyone who was there, or watching the game on the Patriot League network.

For this Lehigh team, to salvage the season, they need to get together and pick up the pieces of this broken season and say to themselves that this is not the way they want to be remembered.  They have to not want to be remembered as the team that didn't care that they lost to Georgetown, thought it wasn't a big deal they lost 66-7 to Princeton, that they lost to 0-5 Fordham, that they were the team that lost, six, seven, eight, nine, ten in a row.  They need to say that they have hit rock bottom and they want me to write a different story through the rest of the year.

Because frankly, that is how I am viewing this 2018 Lehigh football team - as a team whose internal divisions have wrecked the season, losing games at the opening coin flip, proving that the players and the coaching staff doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to beat a determined, together team like Georgetown. 

I'd like to write something different for a change.  But time is running out.


Anonymous said…
You sound like an old lady. The right coach will come in, kick a little ass, get rid of the malcontents and turn things around quickly.
Anonymous said…
Was the Jonathan Hurt play the one where the Lafayette QB was well past the line of scrimmage when he threw it? I will forever remember that. I still see it. I was on the visitor's side for that game. Clear as day the QB was past the marker when he threw it. Still pisses me off to this day.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for saying what every fan who cares is feeling. This team has quit and the coaches dont appear to know what to do to change that.
Anonymous said…
I sure hope that you are writing these words to fire up the team and coaching staff because I saw a lot of sad, disappointed Lehigh players this weekend who sure didn’t look like they had given up.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous Sais

Coen is goen
Anonymous said…
Three possibilities only.
Have given up
Sub par FCS talent
Sub.par FCS coaching

Take your pick. Mostly the slow degradation of quality coaching over the last 5 years
Anonymous said…
AD never rocks the boat. He’s been complacent for years, just collecting s pay check and never doing what is obvious to everyone else needs to be done. The Administration obviously isn’t interested in being bothered either. Sad...
Anonymous said…
I and several of the folks I played with from 1999-2002 are embarrassed and angry about the state of what used to be a program with pride, unwaivering confidence, and a team mentality that anything less than winning and your best (coaches & players), was absolutely unacceptable. The Princeton loss was the last straw for me. 66-7 to Princeton? Really? And Coen’s comments afterward were absolutely ridiculous. He said something to the effect of “I wish I had some of the Scholarships that they say they don’t give but do, it’s clear when their 3s are as good as our 1st team guys that they have more talent”. Are you kidding me? Last I checked - Lehigh has 60 scholarships to award. Just an example of this team being out of touch with the reality that they are in. I played for Coen for a year and he was a good coordinator and a good guy but something is missing clearly from a leadership standpoint. I think a sizeable portion of the blame has do with absolutely terrible coordinators and assistants not ready for the Division I level, but the buck does stop with the head coach. Question is how much more are we forced to endure? If you’ve watched any of the games this year you can tell this is a broken team. Lazy missed tackles, blown assignments all over the place, hands in the air pouting (Coach Higgins had a zero tolerance for that), and just a general malaise that is palpable even on tv. I hope, that like any other job, when failure occurs, action is taken to right the ship. and confidence is restored.
Anonymous said…
This made me cry. Now go have a Bloody Mary with your mates.
Thank you very much for recommending it.

Anonymous said…
Fire the coaches at the end of the game and make them walk home.
Anonymous said…
Just loat 56-0 to a 1-6 team. They should fire the coaches and make them walk back to Bethlehem.

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