Tuesday, November 09, 2004

WEEK 9 PREVIEW: IT'S TITLE TIME

Well, the story of the week is clearly the match-up of undefeateds that will take place this Saturday at historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia. #15 Harvard, the only team in I-AA without a loss, will try to keep #17 Penn from three-peating. Everything that can be said about this game has been said in so many other places, but some things to look for :

  • Harvard sophomore RB and Payton Award candidate Clifton Dawson
  • Penn senior WR Dan Castles, who is also on his way to breaking the school record for TD catches in a career
  • The kicking game...Penn has been living and dying by it all season...will it be a factor? The Princeton game was won by a freshman making his first career FG....
  • Home field advantage...in the last ten years, this match-up is almost always won by the home team. Will Harvard be able to overcome that?
  • Pressure...winning a title in the first place is hard enough. Winning the second time is even more difficult. But three times in a row??? Teams have been gunning for Penn all season long, and this young team has thus far held up pretty well. But Harvard is no Columbia or Cornell. They have established themselves as an elite program and this could well be the hardest game the Quakers have seen all year.
  • Prediction: PENN 23, Harvard 21

Meanwhile, the rest of the League is playing for pride. Particularly Cornell, who is suddenly on the way to having a respectable season after many picked them to finish dead last this year. Here are my picks for the other three games:

Harvard and Yale have "The Game", but Princeton and Yale have the longest-running series in the Ivy League, and the second-longest in the country behind Lehigh-Lafayette. The disappointing Bulldogs host the Tigers this weekend in what I like to call the "wounded animal" match-up. Both teams have severely damaged pride after painful losses. Princeton has lost its last two games by a combined two points, and although former Payton award candidate Alvin Cowan passed for over 400 yds against Brown last week, it wasn't enough to create a win for his team. It will be tight, but Yale is ultimately the more solid squad and they will take the home field advantage for all it's worth. Prediction: Yale 21, Princeton 17

In-state rivals Columbia and Cornell meet in Harlem this weekend (oh, sorry..."Morningside Heights") in a pride game. Columbia is looking for a win...any win, and Cornell is trying to clinch a winning record in the League. The Lions got hosed in Cambridge last week, and Cornell had to work a little too hard in a 14-7 win over dismal Dartmouth. Prediction: Columbia 12, Cornell 10

Finally, in a match-up only their mothers could love, winless Dartmouth hosts Brown in an attempt to muster some dignity out of this season. Brown is coming off a surprising win over Yale in New Haven last weekend, while Dartmouth lost yet another close game to Cornell. The Big Green are just too...well, green, this year. Prediction: Brown 31, Dartmouth 17.


Harvard & Penn Contend For Title, But Not Much Else

In both of the major I-AA polls, Harvard (8-0, 6-0) and Penn (7-1, 6-0) are now ranked 15th and 17th in the nation, respectively. Both remain undefeated in League play, while Harvard is the only team in all of I-AA that has yet to lose a game. The two teams are scheduled to meet this Saturday in Philadelphia for what has become the defacto Ivy League Championship game for the last 4 years. Penn will be looking for their third straight title, while Harvard will look to recapture the glory they last had in 2001, when they defeated Penn 28-21 in Cambridge. That game, which clinched the title for Harvard, was also the last time Penn lost an in-conference game. After a squeaker over Princeton last Saturday, Penn's league winning streak is now at 20 games.

Yet, regardless of who comes off of Franklin Field the victor, the only thing either team has to look forward to is their final Ivy League conference game. For Harvard, it is "The Game" against Yale, and for Penn, their traditional end-of-season match-up against Cornell for the Schoellkopf Cup. Sure, these games have a certain amount of pride and bragging rights attached, as well as the opportunity for Saturday's winner to clinch the Ivy title outright, but the significance is really only for the relatively small group of fans who continue to follow the Ivy League rivalries.

The original and primary purpose of this page has always been to put forward the argument that Ivy League football programs should be permitted to participate in the postseason. All other Ivy League sports are allowed to do so, and the League has shown its ability to compete at the highest levels of I-AA.

Here is a link to a great article in todays Harvard Crimson about this very subject:
http://www.thecrimson.com/today/article504373.html

Saturday, November 06, 2004

WEEK 8 PREVIEW

With Harvard and Penn all but guaranteeing that next week's match-up at Franklin Field will be for the Ivy Title, the other 6 schools have little more than pride on the line this weekend. But nowhere is there more potential for spoilers than in the Ancient Eight, where rivalries are strong and passions run high. Here's a look at what is in store this Saturday:

In one of the most bitter rivalries in the country, albeit fueled more by both schools' recent successes on the basketball court than on the gridiron, Penn, ranked #20 nationally in the latest Sports Nation poll, brings their unblemished League record to Princeton Stadium to take on the surprising Tigers, who are undoubtedly looking to make up for a disappointing loss at Cornell last weekend. Picked by many to finish at or near the Ivy basement this season, the boys from Old Nassau have compiled a respectable 4-3 overall record and sit in a 3-way tie for second place in the League. However, just as Penn and Princeton have been head-and-shoulders over their Ivy compatriots on the basketball court, so Penn and Harvard have clearly become the elite on the football field. Princeton will compete early, but won't be able to keep up beyond halftime.
Pick: PENN 27, Princeton 14

After a surprisingly close contest at the always-intimidating Yale Bowl last weekend, Columbia looks to play spoiler to Harvard's title hopes in a visit to Cambridge this week. Once again, the Lions have been saddled with the curse of losing close games, and have not been able to close out many contests in which they had a legitimate shot of winning. While Harvard showed some serious vulnerabilities in a one-point win over Dartmouth last week, look for the Crimson to re-focus on the title picture when they return to their home field, setting up a meeting of the unbeatens in Philadelphia next weekend.
Pick: Harvard 31, Columbia 17

In a match-up which many at the beginning of the season understandably thought would have title implications, the underachieving Yale Bulldogs travel to Providence to meet the equally disappointing but always tough Brown Bears. Yale made up for a tough loss to Penn by beating up on Columbia, but Brown's high-powered offense and home-field advantage may be too much for the Elis. Both teams are dangerous, and playing for pride. Look for a tight back-and-forth contest, with Walter Payton Award candidate QB Alvin Cowan ultimately leading his team to victory.
Pick: Yale 21, Brown 20

And finally, in the "Who gives a shit, it's FREEZING out here?!?" category, the perfectly awful Dartmouth Big Green try to stave off an 0-for-season when they travel to Ithaca to take on Cornell. Fresh off a hard-fought victory over Princeton, Cornell is in serious contention for a second-place League finish. (Considering their 2-5 overall record, this doesn't say much for the League, but I digress.) The Green, meanwhile, will try to capitalize on whatever momentum they can muster from their moral victory in a one-point loss to first-place Harvard in Hanover. Dartmouth will put up a fight, but they're just not tough enough this year to close it out.
Pick: Cornell 12, Dartmouth 6 (yeah, it'll be that ugly)

Sunday, October 31, 2004

WEEK 7 SCOREBOARD

Well, it looks like it's going to be Harvard and Penn going up for the Ivy title in two weeks, as both teams remained undefeated in the League this weekend, although the Crimson just barely survived a nail-biter in Hanover. Here is a look at the weekend's scores:

PENN 20, Brown 16
Harvard 13, Dartmouth 12
Yale 21, Columbia 14
Cornell 21, Princeton 20

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Div. I-AA Schools Push to Keep Programs Viable

Here is an interesting article about the efforts of some Division I-AA schools to increase revenue to keep the programs viable on a national level. It also has comments from Penn's Athletic Director about the issue of the Ivies in the I-AA playoffs.

http://www.dailypennsylvanian.com/vnews/display.v/ART/41774a23486a3?in_archive=1

CURRENT IVY STANDINGS, WEEK 7 PREVIEW

Current Standings:
Team ...................Conf. Rec........... Overall Rec.
HARVARD................. 3 - 0..................... 6 - 0
PENN........................ 3 - 0...................... 5 - 1
PRINCETON ............ 2 - 1....................... 4 - 2
BROWN.................... 1 - 2........................ 4 - 2
YALE......................... 1 - 2....................... 3 - 3
COLUMBIA ...............1 - 2........................ 1 - 5
CORNELL .................1 - 2........................ 1 - 5
DARTMOUTH.......... 0 - 3......................... 0 - 6

After taking down Columbia and former title-contender Yale in weeks 5 and 6, Penn returns home to face Brown, another formidible speedbump in the drive for a third-straight title for the Quakers. Meanwhile, undefeated Harvard takes on winless Dartmouth in Hanover, while the surprising Princeton Tigers will take on the cold and the Big Red in Ithaca, and Columbia tries for its second straight victory on the road against the disappointing Yale Bulldogs.

Predictions:
PENN 23, Brown 14
Harvard 42, Dartmouth 17
Cornell 10, Princeton 7
Columbia 17, Yale 15

Sunday, October 10, 2004

IVY LEAGUE WEEK 4 SCOREBOARD

PENN 32, Bucknell 25 - 2OT
Harvard 34, Cornell 24
Yale 24, Dartmouth 14
Colgate 29, Princeton 26
Brown 27, Fordham 20 - OT
Lafayette 35, Columbia 14

Current Standings:
Team ...................Conf. Rec........... Overall Rec.
HARVARD................. 2 - 0..................... 4 - 0
PRINCETON.............. 1 - 0..................... 3 - 1
PENN ......................1 - 0..................... 3 - 1
YALE....................... 1 - 1..................... 3 - 1
CORNELL................. 1 - 1..................... 1 - 3
BROWN ...................0 - 1..................... 3 - 1
COLUMBIA............... 0 - 1..................... 0 - 4
DARTMOUTH............ 0 - 2..................... 0 - 4

The Patriot League Scholarship Experiment

As I have mentioned previously on this page, the Patriot League was established with many of the same goals as the Ivy League. While not as prestigious or well-known as the Ivy League, Patriot schools, for many years, also shunned the idea of athletic scholarships in the name of admitting only true "student-athletes" who could compete in the classroom as well as the playing field. (I have added a link to the Patriot League site for anyone interested in looking at the history of the League's formation and their principles.)

However, while the Ivy League institutions were long associated with each other even before forming an official athletic conference, the Patriot League members are solely athletic rivals, and the conference itself does not even have static membership. Some members are only in it for football (Fordham, Georgetown), while others are in it for everything *except* football (Army, Navy.) Trying to follow Patriot League membership is like trying to keep track of J-Lo's marriages, with the League allowing "associate membership" for certain sports, while other members compete in the League for all sports. American was recently added to the League, while Towson left for the Atlantic 10. The rest of the membership includes Lafayette, Lehigh, Bucknell, Colgate, and Holy Cross.

I am not arguing that the Ivies should start giving scholarships...but the Patriot League is an interesting barometer by which to judge the possibility of postseason play for Ivy League football. Scholarships or no, the Patriot League has always allowed their teams to participate in the I-AA playoffs, and with some success, as well. (Colgate played for the I-AA championship in the 2003 season.) Here is a group of schools that is just as concerned with academic integrity as the Ivies, yet they do not engage in the same hypocrisy with regard to their football programs.

Even after allowing scholarships to their athletes, Patriot schools often find themselves outmatched by Ivy League squads. It stands to reason that the Ivies could be just as competitive, if not more so, than the Patriot schools in the football playoffs.

In the last few years, the Patriot League has decided to start giving scholarships for certain sports, and apparently, its working. Here is an interesting article to that effect:

http://www.dailypennsylvanian.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2004/10/07/4164e419e15b5

Two Ivy Leaguers In Contention for I-AA's Top Award

In 1987, the Walter Payton award was established to honor Division I-AA's most outstanding player of the year. Payton, who played for I-AA Jackson State, went on to become one of the greatest players in NFL history.

This year, two Ivy League players are in the running for the award: Alvin Cowin, a Senior QB from Yale, and Clifton Dawson, a Sophomore RB from Harvard.

Click here to read the complete story on these two exceptional *non-scholarship* athletes, who may very well be the best players in the nation not able to prove their greatness on a national, postseason stage.

http://www.sportsnetwork.com/default.asp?c=sportsnetwork&page=cfoot2/indexpic.htm

Friday, October 08, 2004

A Quick History Lesson

Just for any newcomers out there, here is a quick history lesson on the Ivy League, Division I-AA, and why we are in the predicament we are in right now....

  • The Ivy League is comprised of eight schools: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale.
  • The "Ivy League", despite many stories or rumors about its origins and creation, is really an athletic conference, formally created in 1954 with the Ivy Group Agreement. Rather than being administered by the athletic directors of the respective schools, the Ivy League is governed by the Council of Ivy Group Presidents.
  • The Ivy Group Agreement of 1954 was an extension of a 1945 pact that only governed the eight schools' football programs.
  • Although the Ivy League programs competed on the Division I level for most of their histories, they decided to stop giving athletic scholarships in the name of more academic integrity. All Ivy programs still compete at the top level of their respective sport with the exception of football, which is at the I-AA level. (NOTE: The I-AA level was not created until 1978, and is only for football).
  • All (or virtually all) I-AA football programs give scholarships. Until recently, only the Patriot and Ivy Leagues did not give athletic scholarships, but Patriot member Holy Cross was instrumental in making changes in that policy, and now I'm pretty sure all Patriot schools give scholarships for football.
  • Many schools that you would think of as having big-time programs in other sports have I-AA football programs. It has to do with school size, facilities, and other factors. Some examples of I-AA schools include Georgetown, UMass, Delaware, Villanova, Lehigh, Colgate, Fordham, as well as all of the traditionally Black colleges and universities. (However, Florida A&M has petitioned to become the first traditionally Black school to play in I-A).
  • Some notable I-AA alums in the pros include: Jerry Rice, Steve McNair, Dexter Coakley, and Jay Fiedler.
  • Perhaps the most important factoid you need to know is this: The Ivy League competes in 33 NCAA sports at the Division I level....all programs participate in their sport's championship EXCEPT for football! Why? This makes NO SENSE!!! This will be explored soon.....

Thursday, October 07, 2004

NCAA Sees Penn as I-AA Contender

For you doubters out there, here is a link to the NCAA Division I-AA Football Preview for the 2004 season, listing Penn as one of ten teams that "could challenge for the title this year." This, despite their non-scholarship, non-playoff status. Penn is compared here with major powerhouse programs in I-AA.

http://www.ncaasports.com/football/mens/story/7619724

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Beautiful, Historic, Franklin Field Posted by Hello

Bringing Glory Back To Franklin Field

See the article that inspired my quest.....

David Burrick: Why fans ignore Quakers football

http://www.dailypennsylvanian.com/vnews/display.v/ART/4163797e76348