Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Jersey Boys

In a quiet off-season for the 2015 Georgetown Hoyas, the team got its most coverage by, of all things, a jersey change.

But that was only half the story.

Such changes seem to rotate every two years on the Hilltop, nothing like the run of Oregon's uniforms du jour or even the regular rotation of basketball jerseys seen at the University. One hoop jersey appeared for the regular season finale, saw action in five games, and already seems to be gone for good. You can do that with 15 jerseys, not 100.

I guess the fan base can be thankful that Nike didn't put something really silly out there, but the look of the 2015 Hoyas isn't anything to write home about. In fact, it looks a lot like the style of the Michael Ononibaku era, circa 2005:

Were they playing to this era? Of course not. Nike doesn't invest in Georgetown's jerseys as they do for basketball, so it's more likely they offered three of four generic designs and the staff decided on a simple one. And it's simple--no "wow" factor, unless you count the words "Hoya Saxa" along the sides of the pants. It certainly could have been worse.

As for an alternate helmet, well, what were they thinking?

Georgetown has worn gray or silver-shelled helmets for 50 seasons, and it served them well. Who thought of picking up the Georgia Southern helmets instead?

The style of numbers only and color (a near-black, at least from the photos) bear no particular ties to Georgetown. A post on a Lafayette message board suggested it was a nod to its pre-1950 heritage (when Georgetown wore blue helmets), but that's a stretch even to this amateur historian. I'm not convinced alternate helmets are necessary, but a simple switch to a gray G on a blue helmet would have been even more impactful.

Uniform styles don't change on great programs: Alabama, Penn State, Georgia, USC. Georgetown had a great look in the Sgarlata-as-player era and it would look great today:

But that's not Nike talking.

So what's that on top of the helmet?

If it's Nike, that means a generous dollop of kente cloth design, something I've complained about for nearly 20 years. I still get questions as to what my problem with it is, and it gets a little complicated. Here, once and (maybe) for all, is my argument:
Kente cloth is a deeply held cultural symbol of the Ghanian people, specifically the Ashanti tribe. It was never made as a marketing tool; yet, by Nike's generous use of it on Georgetown basketball  jerseys from 1994-97 (playing off Georgetown's popularity in the black community) it cheapened what kente is all about.

Would Nike have been so cavalier to use the stripes of the Hebrew tallit to sell warm-up jackets? How about a jersey that looks like a dalmatic? How about references to Allah on a design  to sell Nike shoes? (Well, they actually did that one ...)

Kente cloth has no institutional ties to Georgetown University whatsoever and to suggest that it does is disingenuous. It's a Nike branding instrument, nothing more, which is sad. The point is that cultural artifacts are not suited to selling merchandise, and as a global university, Georgetown should have known better.  Yes, the relationship Georgetown basketball has with Nike may override such thinking, but how does it tie to football? It doesn't. 

Finally, I said that the new jersey design was only half the story. Where are the white (road) jerseys with the new design?

As of late August, they haven't been seen in a single photograph, tweet, or Facebook post. It's likely that Georgetown didn't get a pair of road unis from Nike, and will likely be using the 2013-14 style which bears no resemblance to the new look:

This, of course happened two years ago, as the white jerseys were new and the blue jerseys were two years older, as if GU can't get a pair of jerseys anymore. And unless you're the Dallas Cowboys, home and away jerseys should be the same style.

Clothes maketh the man, but not in football. It's what's inside that counts, even with that Georgia Southern helmet.

(And for a further look into jerseys, check the Georgetown Football History Project.)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Where Football Is Everything

For all the excitement about a new season for Georgetown football, facts are stubborn things. In the last 15 years, Georgetown fans have enjoyed just one winning season, and students have a way of smelling a struggling program at a distance. They might come to the first game, they'll show up at the tailgate at Homecoming, and then the talk will turn to basketball.

That's unfortunate in so many ways, but it speaks to a fan base that, for better or (mostly) worse, doesn't appreciate football for what it is: a great game, win or lose. That's an experience you don't get on TV or on a video feed, but for a lot of newer fans, this may be their own experience to the game these days. Unless you're a student at a Big 10 or SEC school, a ticket to one of these high-voltage games would set you back a monthly car payment, and the Patriot League pales in comparison. Add in the lack of any rivalries between Georgetown and schools in that conference, and students tune out before they even give it a chance.

As students return to college across the nation this weekend, one freshmen is ready for football. She's Cole McConachie, from Verona, NJ, who wrote a column at Odyssey Online about what football means to her.

"Football, in a lot of small towns like mine, is the heartbeat of the fall," she writes. "And although football doesn’t completely dominate my small town as I’m sure it does in some small southern towns, it’s such a big part of fall life here. Whether it’s a football game played by the local youth, the high school team, the college players, or a professional team, football is uniting. Football, more than any other sport in America, brings people together."

Another excerpt follows:

"Whether it’s the mother rooting on her son, the girlfriends decked out in their boyfriends’ jerseys, or the old man who played on this same team himself many years ago—everyone comes out for the game. The small sports store in town sells the jerseys of the high school football legends. The band gets the crowd hyped up as we cheer until we lose our voices.

"I can remember spending all day, all weekend, watching games. I’d wake up early to watch my brother play and then stay for the next game, and the next one, until the sun went down and I’d realized the only thing I had eaten all day was a pretzel from the snack bar. I even announced a couple of youth games before I realized that being a screaming fan was more my forte than holding back my cheers through the loudspeaker."

She continues. "The critics complain about the emphasis on the what some call the violent nature of the sport. They complain about the stereotypical “dumb jocks” that football players are made out to be, and although I don’t think they’re heroes like some claim, they’re for the most part good guys and together they make a family. A football team creates the type of comradery [sic] that is rare to come across because every single person is critical to every single play. Every team member has to come together each play to make the pieces work; one man can’t hold the team up alone.

"In my town, the football family extends beyond the field, from the players and coaches to the families and fans, the small businesses, and the booster clubs—football allows people of all backgrounds and walks of life to come together to support one common goal."

And the best part? Where she's headed.

"This fall will be a bit different. I will miss seeing my younger brother’s games and the fan section full of familiar faces at the high school games. But you can guarantee that I’ll be in the stands at Georgetown, at every game cheering on my new team because that’s what I know how to do best."

Memo to the Gridiron Club: get this student a t-shirt, a jersey, a front row seat at the tailgate, whatever it takes. Georgetown, and college football, needs more fans like this.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Second Chance

"At UAB in Birmingham
All hail our players bold
They are the mighty Blazers
Who wear the green and gold..."

It's early June, but it's still a good day for football. A great one, perhaps.

You don't have to be from Birmingham, or step foot on its campus, or know the difference  between Southside and Mountain Brook to raise a toast to the decision by the University of Alabama-Birmingham to reverse a decision to drop football.

Such reversals of fortune are rare in the number-crunching world of college athletics, even more unlilely in the rarified air of I-A football. No I-A school has dropped football in almost 20 years, and no school had brought back football since SMU in 1988. Politics nearly killed football, and politics brought it back.

UAB football began as a Division III independent in 1991, and when 26 other schools made the leap up to I-AA, the Blazers kept going, joining I-A by 1996. With only one bowl bid and a combined record of 106-147 in I-A, no one was confusing the Blazers with the Crimson Tide or War Eagle. But because the school  is the "University of Alabama" at Birmingham, trustees from the flagship began to  make their case--the only football in the Alabama system would be played in Tuscaloosa, not Birmingham.

Led by its chairman, Paul W. Bryant Jr, (son of the most famous Alabama coach of all time),  many locals felt the fix was in. On Dec. 2, with a bowl bid in the balance,  president Ray Watts dropped the program and two other sports. You can't beat city hall, right?

As the Birmingham News relayed on Monday, you beat city hall where it makes a difference--in the wallet.  Nearly $18 million was committed from a cross-section of Birmingham that had little in common for a commuter school--students, alumni, businesses, city leaders. The Crimson Tide is everywhere in the city, but the green and gold would not go quietly.

"Look at what the supporters of a program "nobody cares about" were able to accomplish, wrote columnist Kevin Scarbinsky. "They didn't just overcome the kind of old money and secretive, selfish, self-perpetuating power that's held this entire state back forever. They brought a football program back from the dead, and they gave new life to a university and an entire city...."

"And now, against all odds, with Clark returning to lead the rebirth as head coach, that wrecking ball has a massive crack in it. UAB football, rifle and bowling have new life. There's hope for this university and this city yet."

So UAB lives again. Can it be repeated elsewhere? It's not so easy. The newspaper provided a list of five key factors for the turnaround, something not every school can engineer on such short notice:
  • A former football player who became the face of the #Free UAB movement, driving a sustained fundraising campaign when the money wasn't (yet) there;
  • A state representative, who felt that Tuscaloosa was calling the shots and who worked behind the scenes for financial and organizational support;
  • Two local businessmen who were able to raise neatly $8 million from the Birmingham business community;
  • An interim athletic director whose time on campus was going to be short if he took on the trustees, but kept ties with Conference USA and helped make the case that an exit from football would cost UAB in more ways than one; and 
  • An inspirational student leader who understood the power of social media and galvanized an indifferent commuter population to fight for its identity, not just a team.
Does a Seton Hall, a Pacific, a Santa Clara, or even a George Washington have such leaders at its calling?

The youngest football alumnus at Seton Hall is over 50. The mayor of Stockton or Santa Clara is not going to put his reputation on the line for a college team. Is there a student leader at GW who would even see the need to fight for sports on its concrete campus, or would he shrug his shoulders and worry about his resume?

As an institution, the University of Alabama-Birmingham is just 45 years old. Traditions are hard to come by when you haven't been around that long, and even more challenging when larger schools within the state demand loyalty over all else. The Crimson Tide averaged 98,177 a game, the Blazers just over 21,000.

The school will regroup for football in 2016 even as most of its veterans from 2014 scattered following the announcement. The next few years will be decidedly uphill. UAB plays in a decaying Legion Field, built in 1924 and destined for implosion within the next decade. But amidst it all, UAB football will see another day.

Would that Pirates and Tigers and Broncos and Colonials could say the same.

And this being a Georgetown column, some thoughts: could the revival of UAB football have happened at the Hilltop in 1951? What would Hoya Football be like if it had never left the major college ranks?

Well, of course, it couldn't have happened, and wouldn't have, because the world of Georgetown 1951 is not the world of Birmingham in 2015.

Ray Watts is a political appointment, a university president who answers to trustees confirmed by the state legislature and answerable to the governor. Hunter Guthrie, the "president-rector" of Georgetown circa 1951, acted unilaterally to drop football. The board of directors at Georgetown was comprised solely of members of the Georgetown Jesuit community, none of whom would dare question the decision of the rector. And none did.

The mayor of Birmingham is a UAB grad who knows what a Saturday afternoon in Legion Field could do for his economy. In 1951, DC had no mayor, no elected officials. A three man board ran the capital, and the agenda was set by Congress. Sports meant little in the capital city.

Jimmy Filler and Don Hire raised $17.5 million in less than six months for UAB football. In 1951, Georgetown had no sustained fundraising organization and was some $400,000 short of finishing a gymnasium project in the works for nearly 14 years. A sustained annual fund, driven by alumni and not the school, was still three years away.

Shannon Ealy kept the UAB athletic department aligned when it could have spun out of control and provied a public sign than UAB could support football again. At Georgetown, Guthrie would have fired athletic director Jack Hagerty on the spot if Hagerty had so much whispered about promoting a return to football.

In UAB, the school has found a leader in Timothy Alexander, who will never play football again following a car crash that paralyzed him from the waist down, but whose passion for the game inspired a campus.

In 1951, any student that publicly questioned Rev. Guthrie would find a swift kick out the Healy Gates, never to return. But this is not 1951.

And thankfully for UAB, it's not 2014 anymore.

"Tonight let's fire their golden blaze
The flame of victory
Go, Blazers! Go, Blazers!
Win for UAB!"
Win for UAB!

Monday, May 11, 2015

An Affordable Option

If this site has focused a little too much on the inertia that is the Multi-Sport Facility,  it's not from malice. It's a story that was buried amidst 15 recruiting classes and some 20,000 undergraduate alumni who have spend their entire college years walking past a construction site posing as an athletic field and collectively coming to the same conclusion: "Georgetown doesn't care, why should we?"

What we have is not a failure to care. What we have here is a failure to communicate.

Having been the bridesmaid for every capital project at Georgetown for a decade, including most of the buildings which surround it, it's a fair question: what will it take to get this proverbial bridesmaid to the construction altar?

In a decade where the soft bigotry of low expectations for football at the Hilltop threaten to obscure any meaningful progress in players, coaching, or approach, it may be hard to see an opening in the clouds where the MSF has an opportunity to move forward. But surprisingly, that time is now, nut not for the reasons you might think.

Stadium...ummm, "facility" projects generally fall into three categories:  they are aspirational, they are confirmational, or they are simply te result of a gift at the right time and place.

Mercer University, heretofore unknown in football circles, joined the ranks of Division I-AA with a brand new 10,200 seat stadium--a significant bet on a program that had not played since the 1930's. It was at 98% capacity this season for an undergraduate school of 4,500.

Confirmational projects don't seek to set the world on fire, but make a statement of where they are. Unless you're lost in western Maryland, chances are you'll never see Kenneth Gill Stadium, home of McDaniel College, a Division III school in Maryland.  Once known as Western Maryland College, the school does not have aspirations for the big time, but chose a facility that states its case to confirm where they are.

"This gets us to a level where we are not only competitive in the Centennial Conference, but this stadium will compete with those in the Patriot League and the Ivy League," said athletic director Paul Moyer. "It definitely compares favorably with any place that I've been."

And some stadiums are an outright gift, and that's OK too.

West Liberty University will not be confused with Georgetown: a small state supported school in the rugged West Virginia panhandle. And it was that hardscrabble, rural environment that propelled Gary West into the welding business, where his firm is now the largest private distributor of welding supplies in the United States. West has been generous to his school: the business school is named after him, and he has served on the school's trustees. When the school needed a much needed upgrade to its football field, West made the $5 million gift that turned West Family Stadium into a reality:

What lessons do these projects have for Georgetown?

For one, each of these projects were completed for less than $15 million. Clearly the cost of Georgetown's high-dollar contractor firms isn't the rate in rural Maryland or the outskirts of Wheeling, West Virginia, but these projects aren't at the bloated $40 million price tag once floated by some senior Georgetown administrators, either.

Next, they are not monuments but community spaces. For those that never knew, the original MSF was always more than a football field--it was seen as a place for speeches, for concerts, for commencements.

"The new field will continue to function as an open recreational space for students when games or practices are not being held. The four entrances to the MSF at each end of the facility allow for mid-campus walks. The four gothic entry pavilions will create a strong threshold experience which echoes the architectural fabric and traditions of Georgetown. The proportions of the pavilions, colonnades, detailing and features in the design all reflect the American Gothic character of the campus."

That's not a fan talking, that was Georgetown University talking, in a 2005 press release.

Finally, these three projects stress the possible. There is not a Kyle Field or an AT&T Stadium in the lot. Affordable, right-sized projects, that can fulfill what Bob Benson implored nearly two decades ago: "Build a new facility with all the tradition of the past in mind. Place it in the center of campus. Create a new school spirit among our students, faculty, and the community, and bring an environment with a wonderful aura of history and tradition to the Georgetown campus."

Mercer Stadium cost $14 million. Can we not aspire?

Kenneth Gill Stadium cost $8 million. Can we not confirm a place for football?

West Family Stadium was built on a $5 million gift. Is there not such a benefactor out there?

And the confluence of these ideas lies in the capital campaign, the campaign that left the MSF out of its plans. In 14 months, the campaign will have concluded and all gifts received to date will be part of the total, regardless if they have been expensed.

Is this not the time to reengage the athletics community and get some serious MSF commitments in the door and under the campaign wire? Because if you think it's tough to raise money during a $1.5 billion campaign, try raising it when the fundraising team has scattered after one.

We don't have to build a $40 million or $60 million or $100 million stadium. But we have to build something.

We can aspire. We can confirm. And some can give. But first, Georgetown needs to ask.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The MSF At 10

"A new era in Georgetown Athletics took another step forward as team captains, students, alumni, donors and University officials, as well as, members of the Georgetown community attended the groundbreaking for the Multi-Sport Facility on April 30th. Speakers included Interim Director of Athletics Adam Brick, Associate Head Women's Lacrosse Coach Bowen Holden, parent and member of the Board of Directors Peter Cooper, Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson and University President Jack DeGioia. All spoke of the importance of this project not only for the future of Georgetown athletic success, but also for the entire Georgetown community."

-GUHoyas.com, May 3, 2005

On a cold and rainy Saturday not that long ago, I found my way across a mud-filled Harbin Field to a tent filled with alumni, parents, and assorted development officials. Speeches were made, shovels were cast into the dirt, and celebratory t-shirts were handed out. It read:


What I most remember wasn't the speeches or the plaudits, but one single remark. I forget to this day who said it to me, albeit in passing, but I remember the message, endemic of what this project has become. "The worst thing that can happen," he said, "is for people to be content with what they have right now."

That remark--and that t-shirt-- are reminders to me that not much changed since those shovels turned the dirt on Harbin Field, and we're all the lesser for it.

"The Field With No Name" has become a sad monument to Georgetown Football, from the temporary seats (that were being finished the morning of the home opener with Brown) that never went away, to the sand that piles up on its fringes from other construction projects more favorably blessed in the University's capital budget. The message this project has sent to prospective students and prospective opponents is an exceedingly poor one--it's the academic equivalent of setting up trailers on Healy Lawn and telling people that this is the library until we get the real one built.

A Google search brings up all kinds of old articles about the place, some official, some less so. "The proposed design will feature permanent spectator seating for 4,652, a two-story press box with VIP seating, sports lighting and sound system, a digital video screen and scoreboard," reads GUHoyas.com.

"Freshmen expect the typical autumn football experience, where you go watch your team win on Saturday, and that hasn’t happened,” the GUSA president told the New York Times. “But at the same time, no one wants football eliminated. We just want it to get better. But people are waiting and wondering."

"The Multi-Sport Field," he said, "is a metaphor for where things stand at Georgetown."

"The present hiatus in the construction process — albeit brief, we’re sure — will minimize interference with game schedules and allow more time for fundraising efforts," wrote the HOYA in 2005. "The stadium, with seating for 4,500, will guarantee enough room for every Hoya fan. New locker rooms, video conference rooms and a training facility will be housed within the stadium itself."

"Students, faculty, administrators and alumni — and hopefully local community members — agree that the future of Georgetown relies on the betterment of existing programs. That future starts right now."

Or not.

Few great universities would put up a temporary building, do nothing with it for years and be satisfied with it. Georgetown would not have considered putting up temporary housing in the New South parking lot and calling it the Southwest Quadrangle. It would not have considered knocking out some drywall in the Ryan Administration building and hand it over to the fine arts department as its new facility. But where is the person that works outside McDonough Gymnasium that sees this monument to institutional inertia and expects something better?

"It is crucial that we complete the Multi-Sport Field," wrote interim athletic director Dan Porterfield wrote in 2009, the last official mention of the project. "Our goals will stay the same: To improve our teams' game-day experience, to make the venue more fan-friendly, and to construct an aesthetically pleasing facility. As we develop new options for this important project in the coming months, we look forward to sharing its details with our friends and donors."

The question is not what what happened or did not happen over the last seven months or the last five years, but when there will be a visible and tangible move forward for the student, alumni, and donor community--not talk, not shovels, but actual construction. (As a point of disclosure, I'm one of these donors, albeit a meager one. In the early part of this decade, I made the largest gift to GU I had made to date, $1,000, to buy the equivalent of a seat in the new MSF that was to open in 2003, then 2005, then....well, whenever. In the intervening years, I've never received any correspondence from University Development as to what my $1,000 bought, if they want a second gift out of me, or even if there'll be a "seat" after all.)

The diminished returns with many Georgetown sports coupled with fading aspirations for the true promise of what a new facility can mean-- not just to Georgetown athletically but holistically-- may leave some bureaucrat to ask why it can't just be left as it is now, with a few pieces of wood here and some more gravel there, and spend the money on something else.

What was true then is true now: "The worst thing that can happen is for people to be content with what they have right now."

And if you think that's discouraging, consider this: this article was written five years ago this month. What's changed?

The groundbreaking of the Multi-Sport Facility in 2005 was heralded as "the most significant undertaking in the history of Georgetown Athletics." Now, it's no longer a "facility", and not much of anything. It's become an administrative oversight and a head-scratcher to any parent or prospective student students who visits the campus. "Someone plays here?" they ask.

Georgetown raised nearly $12 million from its donors in 2004 to get those ceremonial shovels in the ground, and what followed in return? Temporary stands that are still sitting where they were placed for a six month rental. A chain link construction fence that covers three quarters of the perimeter because the fence that abuts the Southwest Quadrangle wasn't finished. The scoreboard left over from Harbin Field, a place holder for the heralded "video board" than never arrived. A flagpole, awaiting for a memorial paid for by Hoyas Unlimited to honor student-athletes lost at 9/11...until the University forgot all about it a few years later.

Georgetown can raise a toast that the John Thompson Center is finally getting built. And it should. But the tangible lack of public commitment shown a project approved by the Georgetown Board of Directors a decade ago that would benefit hundreds of student athletes and thousands of intramural and recreational participants every year is now an affront to many donors, parents, and alumni of Georgetown. And while most students will never see the inside of the Thompson center, a project built for an entire community sits forlorn, forgotten, and the source of fond ridicule at rival schools.

Over the next ten days, we'll discuss why the three "A's" --athletics, administration, and alumni -- have led the MSF languish far too long and why promises need to be kept for Georgetown Athletics to make-right with this project. It's one thing to propose a project--Georgetown's archives are replete with fanciful "what-if" projects. It's quite another thing to seek (and get) major commitments and continue to "kick the can"--as the weeds grow up in the gravel, and where a showplace for Georgetown athletics is anything but.

What was envisioned (2003):
What was fundraised (2005):
What was deemed affordable (2007):
And what it is today:

"Little more than an unremarkable football field just six months ago, the developing Multi-Sport Facility has emerged into what some officials are calling the most important addition to Georgetown’s campus in recent decades.

The facility will continue to hold events for the football team and the men’s and women’s lacrosse and soccer teams. With a planned seating capacity of 4,500, Bob Benson, head coach for the Georgetown football team, promises that it will be the new athletic hub of the university upon completion.

“[The MSF] will probably be the most important addition to this campus in the last 50 to 100 years,” Benson said...

Jeanne Fisher-Thompson, interim director of athletic development, called it “a meeting place for students, which is not just for athletics.” Fisher-Thompson said that the field would play host to concerts and other events, as well as provide much-needed “green space” for students.

The MSF has been under construction since April of this year. The current structure only reflects the completion of the first of two main construction phases that have been planned...According to [Vice President of Facilities and Student Housing Karen] Frank, the timing on the construction of phase two is dependent on the simultaneous progression of three elements – design, zoning and fundraising. “When those three pieces converge, then we’ll build,” she said.

The more in-depth designs for the second phase of the project are nearly complete. “We’re going along, we’re trying to do the detailed design so we can get better [cost] numbers,” Frank said...

Fisher-Thompson described fundraising for phase two as “on track.”

-The HOYA, Oct. 7, 2005

Georgetown has “conversations” on the MSF. It maintains “dialogue”. It seeks “opportunities” to see progress. These are words better suited to a discussion on ethics, not construction projects, and certainly not projects where money was raised and accepted. And according to that story cited above, $12.7 million is not an insignificant number....

Because a the bottom of all this, this project is all about commitment, one which unfortunately speaks loud and clear to recruits, to parents, and to fellow coaches. It’s hurt football recruiting, even if people won’t say it, and it has hurt lacrosse recruiting, even if people won’t say that, either. How can Georgetown be committed to sports like football if it doesn’t even finish what it started?

The University doesn’t need a replica of AT&T Stadium for a facility, even if Jerry Jones himself is the parent of an football alum. It doesn’t need another Byrd Stadium, named after a former Georgetown quarterback, no less. [Dan] Porterfield’s goals in that 2009 letter were simple and direct: “To improve our teams' game-day experience, to make the venue more fan-friendly, and to construct an aesthetically pleasing facility.”

This project needs ownership and a frank discussion with its donors about what it is prepared to do…and what it expects its donors to do in return. And those in McDonough Gym that are used to my squawking about this subject understand it’s not personal, that despite talk that things are getting closer, some of us have heard that offer for too many years now.

In the meantime, day 3,000 will be day 3,001 before we know it.

-Third Rail Blog, Dec. 14, 2013

Friday, November 14, 2014

'Ships In the Night

Yes, it's been five weeks since the blog was updated. A little too much work and not enough sleep upset the weekly to-do to get the blog out each Monday, but to be fair, the comments would have been remarkably consistent:

The Hoyas' defense sure played well.

The offensive game plan is conservative and isn't very productive.

The special teams missed another play this week.

Georgetown still makes too many mistakes with the game on the line.

It may be another loss but this teem sure has a lot of fight in it. They might just win next week against...

Over the course of the five game losing streak, the last statement would have applied to any of Georgetown's adversaries, even Harvard. It last three Patriot League losses were all in single digits and there were clear points in those games where a turn here or there could have put the Hoyas in contention to win it. Lafayette. Bucknell. Lehigh.

But no further.

Scenarios which show Georgetown battling Fordham into the sunset skies of the Bronx Saturday afternoon are all but nonexistent. Not only is Fordham ranked as high in the national polls (#8) at any time since Sleepy Jim Crowley's Rams ran roughshod at the Polo Grounds, or that it wrapped up the Patriot League autobid a week ago, or even that Fordham is a 28.5 point favorite for any degenerates in Las Vegas who are absolutely out of things to wager on.

For most of the last century, the football fortunes of Fordham and Georgetown have paralleled one another. Not so anymore. In fact, the last three years have seen these two programs move in distinctly different directions.

On Senior Day, 2011, Georgetown forced four turnovers and held Fordham to just 59 yards rushing as the Hoyas won 30-13, raising its record to 8-2. Fordham stood at 1-9. Over the next 30 games, the Hoyas have won just nine games. Over the next 30 games, the Rams have lost just eight. That's not by accident. While Georgetown has noticeably stood pat in the Patriot League arms race, Fordham is at the front of the line. And while Georgetown's  football budget has been mostly flat for the last decade, Fordham now spends $5.7 million on football each year, more than all but eight Division I-AA schools nationally. In fact, that's more than almost a dozen I-A schools in the Sun Belt and Mid-American Conferences.

More about that later.  But for 2014, budget or not, Fordham is a very, very good team. They have mostly steamrolled the opposition this season, with the exception of a thumping at Villanova, so strangers to the I-AA limelight. Fordham QB Michael Nebrich is a legitimate NFL prospect, and not one of those free agent signings whose career in the NFL never make it out of a early June mini camp. Nebrich is from Lake Braddock HS in Fairfax County, but there's no particular record he was interested in playing for Georgetown. The recruiting services at the time linked him with James Madison , Marshall or Ohio. He ended up at UConn but when Joe Moorhead left Storrs to become the Fordham coach, Nebrich followed, reinvigorating his career. In eight games in 2014. Nebrich averages 325 yards passing per game with 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions, an efficiency rating of 163.4.  During that same period, Kyle Nolan has six touchdowns and five INT's.

Nebrich doesn't do it alone, of course. Sixty scholarships allows Fordham to recruit with the best of them, to schedule teams like Temple and Army  (next week's Ram opponent) and to sell the excitement scholarship football in New York.  Attendance hasn't followed suit (the Rams still average less than 5,000 a game), but until Moorhead takes another job outside of the Bronx, Fordham figures to be in the limelight for quite a number of years.

Fordham now spends more on football than Georgetown did on men's basketball in 2005. Think about that.

Georgetown doesn't spend that figure today. The Hoyas' basketball budget has zoomed past $10 million with little discussion nor dissent, but a winning basketball team can draw fans and TV money in March. Fordham can sweep the Patriot and still play before 4,000 people in a first round playoff game seen on ESPN3 from Macomb, IL. One of the perverse ironies is that Fordham's football budget grows while its basketball team is under-invested--the Rams have gone to one NCAA tournament since Digger Phelps was the coach in 1971. Put another way, Fordham's last win in the NCAA's came when John Thompson was a high school teacher and his son was a first grader.

If the Rams were spending on football what it spends on basketball ($3.9 million), they'd be competitive but not dominant; close to the PL budget spend along the lines of a Holy Cross. Conversely, if they were spending $5.7 million on basketball, that would be more than Georgia Tech, Notre Dame or Creighton, probably enough for a big name coach like Larry Brown, a few games at the Garden, and a fairly good chance that as many or more people would be talking about Fordham in march than St. John's, a program in a 15 year slump.

That isn't happening. Fordham averages 2,330 a game in basketball and lost 17 of its last 20 to end the 2013-14 season.

Also not happening: a $5.7 million football budget at Georgetown.

But that's not to say that Georgetown can't improve that budget. Plenty of PL fans go on message boards and assume that since Georgetown doesn't have football scholarships, it can't, or that the Hoyas are hell-bent on the competitive hospice that is the  Pioneer League. Neither are true.

I truly believe there is a scholarship solution (athletic and otherwise) which will get Georgetown to where it wants to be in competitive college football. But, as Jack DeGioia echoed three years ago, it is not going to be at a level where Georgetown will have to spend more on football scholarships than it spends on soccer, lacrosse, track, rowing, golf, tennis, and baseball combined. At some point, but not now, that'll be a point of discussion. For now, there's a game, and a rivalry to attend to, even if the recent results do not resemble a rivalry.

Next week, Fordham plays Army. Next week, Georgetown plays Holy Cross.  If anything explains the divergent road taken among these two schools, that ought to.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week 6 Thoughts

So, where is Georgetown at the halfway point of the 2012 season? A really, really good defense and a really, really ineffective offense.

Courtesy of the Patriot League statistics page, here's where the Hoyas rank in the PL among major statistical categories:

1 Fordham 6 31 9 29 2 0 1 248 41.3
2 Lehigh 4 17 0 15 1 0 0 119 29.8
3 Lafayette 5 18 3 15 1 0 1 136 27.2
4 Bucknell 5 19 2 13 1 0 0 135 27
5 Colgate 5 11 8 9 0 0 1 101 20.2
6 Holy Cross 6 14 6 9 0 0 1 113 18.8
7 Georgetown 6 7 5 7 0 0 0 64 10.7
1 Colgate 5 10 6 7 1 0 0 87 17.4
2 Georgetown 6 13 5 12 0 0 1 107 17.8
3 Bucknell 5 13 3 12 0 0 0 99 19.8
4 Fordham 6 16 4 11 1 0 0 121 20.2
5 Holy Cross 6 21 3 18 0 0 0 153 25.5
6 Lafayette 5 15 7 13 1 1 0 128 25.6
7 Lehigh 4 21 4 16 2 0 0 158 39.5
TOTAL OFFENSE G Rush Pass Plays Yards Avg/P TD Avg/G
1 Fordham 6 1144 1826 454 2970 6.5 30 495
2 Lehigh 4 836 897 303 1733 5.7 16 433.2
3 Bucknell 5 808 1158 319 1966 6.2 18 393.2
4 Holy Cross 6 895 1334 422 2229 5.3 14 371.5
5 Lafayette 5 823 939 350 1762 5 15 352.4
6 Colgate 5 1135 585 322 1720 5.3 10 344
7 Georgetown 6 572 1016 392 1588 4.1 6 264.7
TOTAL DEFENSE G Rush Pass Plays Yards Avg/P TD Avg/G
1 Bucknell 5 579 908 319 1487 4.7 13 297.4
2 Fordham 6 869 964 405 1833 4.5 15 305.5
3 Colgate 5 767 884 333 1651 5 10 330.2
4 Lafayette 5 815 857 339 1672 4.9 15 334.4
5 Georgetown 6 1228 945 397 2173 5.5 11 362.2
6 Holy Cross 6 1173 1209 420 2382 5.7 20 397
7 Lehigh 4 995 1452 315 2447 7.8 21 611.8
1 Colgate 5 220 1135 5.2 8 227
2 Lehigh 4 172 836 4.9 8 209
3 Fordham 6 224 1144 5.1 14 190.7
4 Lafayette 5 192 823 4.3 6 164.6
5 Bucknell 5 169 808 4.8 8 161.6
6 Holy Cross 6 215 895 4.2 7 149.2
7 Georgetown 6 179 572 3.2 3 95.3
1 Bucknell 5 182 579 3.2 5 115.8
2 Fordham 6 232 869 3.7 6 144.8
3 Colgate 5 180 767 4.3 4 153.4
4 Lafayette 5 198 815 4.1 7 163
5 Holy Cross 6 250 1173 4.7 9 195.5
6 Georgetown 6 249 1228 4.9 8 204.7
7 Lehigh 4 155 995 6.4 9 248.8
PASS OFFENSE G Comp Att Int   Pct. Yards Avg. TD Avg/G
1 Fordham 6 142 230 5 61.7 1826 7.9 16 304.3
2 Bucknell 5 80 150 6 53.3 1158 7.7 10 231.6
3 Lehigh 4 75 131 4 57.3 897 6.8 8 224.2
4 Holy Cross 6 119 207 6 57.5 1334 6.4 7 222.3
5 Lafayette 5 92 158 7 58.2 939 5.9 9 187.8
6 Georgetown 6 109 213 2 51.2 1016 4.8 3 169.3
7 Colgate 5 59 102 2 57.8 585 5.7 2 117
PASS DEFENSE G Comp Att Int   Pct. Yards Avg. TD Avg/G
1 Georgetown 6 85 148 8 57.4 945 6.4 3 157.5
2 Fordham 6 90 173 5 52 964 5.6 9 160.7
3 Lafayette 5 68 141 3 48.2 857 6.1 8 171.4
4 Colgate 5 96 153 6 62.7 884 5.8 6 176.8
5 Bucknell 5 79 137 5 57.7 908 6.6 8 181.6
6 Holy Cross 6 113 170 4 66.5 1209 7.1 11 201.5
7 Lehigh 4 110 160 4 68.8 1452 9.1 12 363
PASS EFFICIENCY G Comp Att Int   Pct. Yards TD Effic.
1 Fordham 6 142 230 5 61.7 1826 16 147
2 Bucknell 5 80 150 6 53.3 1158 10 132.2
3 Lehigh 4 75 131 4 57.3 897 8 128.8
4 Lafayette 5 92 158 7 58.2 939 9 118.1
5 Holy Cross 6 119 207 6 57.5 1334 7 117
6 Colgate 5 59 102 2 57.8 585 2 108.6
7 Georgetown 6 109 213 2 51.2 1016 3 94
PASS DEFENSE EFFIC. G Comp Att Int   Pct. Yards TD Effic.
1 Georgetown 6 85 148 8 57.4 945 3 106.9
2 Fordham 6 90 173 5 52 964 9 110.2
3 Lafayette 5 68 141 3 48.2 857 8 113.8
4 Colgate 5 96 153 6 62.7 884 6 116.4
5 Bucknell 5 79 137 5 57.7 908 8 125.3
6 Holy Cross 6 113 170 4 66.5 1209 11 142.9
7 Lehigh 4 110 160 4 68.8 1452 12 164.7
1 Lafayette 5 24 552 1 23
2 Colgate 5 13 264 0 20.3
3 Holy Cross 6 20 392 0 19.6
4 Georgetown 6 15 291 0 19.4
5 Fordham 6 21 330 0 15.7
6 Bucknell 5 9 140 0 15.6
7 Lehigh 4 22 324 0 14.7
1 Lafayette 5 7 122 0 17.4
2 Holy Cross 6 5 66 0 13.2
3 Bucknell 5 10 116 1 11.6
4 Colgate 5 5 55 1 11
5 Fordham 6 14 148 0 10.6
6 Lehigh 4 5 50 0 10
7 Georgetown 6 6 14 0 2.3
1 Georgetown 6 8 122 1 15.2
2 Colgate 5 6 115 0 19.2
3 Bucknell 5 5 91 0 18.2
4 Fordham 6 5 79 0 15.8
5 Lehigh 4 4 97 1 24.2
6 Holy Cross 6 4 52 0 13
7 Lafayette 5 3 73 2 24.3
PUNTING G No. Yards Avg/P Ret. Avg. TB Net/P
1 Lehigh 4 19 795 41.8 8 0.4 2 39.3
2 Fordham 6 26 1051 40.4 93 3.6 1 36.1
3 Colgate 5 19 737 38.8 37 1.9 1 35.8
4 Lafayette 5 34 1342 39.5 123 3.6 2 34.7
5 Holy Cross 6 21 813 38.7 70 3.3 2 33.5
6 Bucknell 5 23 771 33.5 62 2.7 0 30.8
7 Georgetown 6 39 1591 40.8 276 7.1 6 30.6
KICKOFF COVERAGE G No. Yards Avg. Return TB Net Avg.
1 Bucknell 5 25 1501 60 365 4 41.4
2 Holy Cross 6 24 1341 55.9 313 2 40.8
3 Lafayette 5 25 1375 55 353 1 39.9
4 Lehigh 4 21 1219 58 284 4 39.8
5 Fordham 6 45 2622 58.3 788 5 38
6 Colgate 5 24 1371 57.1 387 3 37.9
7 Georgetown 6 18 1056 58.7 307 3 37.4

SACKS BY G No. Yards
1 Fordham 6 18 112
2 Bucknell 5 15 107
3 Georgetown 6 13 82
4 Lafayette 5 11 80
5 Holy Cross 6 9 47
6 Colgate 5 6 51
7 Lehigh 4 4 38
1 Colgate 5 8 59
Lehigh 4 8 70
Holy Cross 6 8 51
4 Bucknell 5 11 83
5 Georgetown 6 13 119
6 Fordham 6 16 105
7 Lafayette 5 19 109
FIRST DOWNS G Rush Pass Pen Total Avg/G
1 Fordham 6 63 74 10 147 24.5
2 Holy Cross 6 53 60 9 122 20.3
3 Georgetown 6 35 54 13 102 17
4 Lehigh 4 46 45 10 101 25.2
5 Bucknell 5 43 50 5 98 19.6
6 Lafayette 5 41 43 8 92 18.4
Colgate 5 62 28 2 92 18.4
OPPONENT 1ST DOWNS G Rush Pass Pen Total Avg/G
1 Lafayette 5 41 33 8 82 16.4
2 Bucknell 5 34 40 10 84 16.8
3 Fordham 6 43 45 11 99 16.5
4 Colgate 5 47 44 10 101 20.2
5 Georgetown 6 65 41 5 111 18.5
6 Lehigh 4 47 62 10 119 29.8
7 Holy Cross 6 74 57 3 134 22.3
1 Holy Cross 6 46 92 50
2 Lehigh 4 28 61 45.9
3 Colgate 5 29 71 40.8
4 Fordham 6 33 81 40.7
5 Bucknell 5 20 58 34.5
6 Georgetown 6 25 85 29.4
7 Lafayette 5 20 75 26.7
OPP 3RD-DN CONVERT G Conv. Att. Pct.
1 Lafayette 5 15 71 21.1
2 Fordham 6 32 94 34
3 Georgetown 6 31 82 37.8
4 Colgate 5 25 65 38.5
5 Bucknell 5 32 78 41
6 Holy Cross 6 45 88 51.1
7 Lehigh 4 31 56 55.4
1 Colgate 5 8 11 72.7
2 Lehigh 4 5 7 71.4
3 Lafayette 5 9 13 69.2
Holy Cross 6 9 13 69.2
5 Fordham 6 5 8 62.5
6 Bucknell 5 2 5 40
7 Georgetown 6 4 13 30.8
OPP 4TH-DN CONVERT G Conv. Att. Pct.
1 Georgetown 6 4 12 33.3
2 Lafayette 5 2 4 50
3 Fordham 6 7 13 53.8
4 Colgate 5 7 11 63.6
5 Holy Cross 6 9 13 69.2
6 Bucknell 5 5 7 71.4
7 Lehigh 4 2 2 100
1 Holy Cross 6 28 243 40.5
2 Georgetown 6 33 261 43.5
3 Lafayette 5 36 266 53.2
4 Lehigh 4 22 216 54
5 Colgate 5 27 306 61.2
6 Bucknell 5 34 339 67.8
7 Fordham 6 48 503 83.8
1 Fordham 6 47 445 74.2
2 Lehigh 4 31 282 70.5
3 Georgetown 6 46 422 70.3
4 Bucknell 5 32 279 55.8
5 Holy Cross 6 35 321 53.5
6 Lafayette 5 25 250 50
7 Colgate 5 24 180 36
1 Lehigh 4 127:20:00 31:50:00
2 Lafayette 5 155:17:00 31:03:00
3 Colgate 5 154:41:00 30:56:00
4 Fordham 6 184:38:00 30:46:00
5 Bucknell 5 148:16:00 29:39:00
6 Georgetown 6 174:09:00 29:01:00
7 Holy Cross 6 165:38:00 27:36:00
Gained Lost
TURNOVER MARGIN G Fumb Int Total Fumb Int Total Margin Per/G
1 Georgetown 6 4 8 12 3 2 5 7 1.17
2 Colgate 5 1 6 7 2 2 4 3 0.6
3 Fordham 6 5 5 10 2 5 7 3 0.5
4 Lehigh 4 2 4 6 1 4 5 1 0.25
5 Bucknell 5 1 5 6 1 6 7 -1 -0.2
6 Lafayette 5 2 3 5 2 7 9 -4 -0.8
7 Holy Cross 6 2 4 6 6 6 12 -6 -1