Friday, November 4, 2011

Week 9 Thoughts

Some brief thoughts following Georgetown's 19-6 win over Holy Cross:

This was the first (and likely only) game this season I wasn't able to catch a radio or TV feed, owing that I was at the Georgetown campaign kickoff events. As a result, it would be improper to relay game day thoughts and impressions. But one cannot help but be impressed by the effort and the result.

In its last 24 games where its opponents were held under 20 points, Holy Cross was 23-1. Now it's 23-2.

Holy Cross had its opportunities, a given. But Georgetown had its opportunities to stop the Crusaders on fiurth down, to force a fumble and to make their own history, and they stepped up to do it. After a decade of grumbling by various Patriot League fans (and a few Georgetown ones) that the Hoyas were not up to to the task of being a competitive Patriot League program, you don't hear as much of that anymore.

So, as we near the Senior Day game with Fordham and a memorable finale with Lehigh, it bears repeating how much Georgetown needs to express its thanks to these seniors, the ones that lost 18 of its first 20 games, and 11 straight in 2009, when nothing was going right. These are the men that didn't quit, that didn't transfer, that found a way to keep working and keep training and keep looking forward and not back. The ones that lost six of its last seven games last season and didn't quit. The ones that took a hard loss to Bucknell a month ago and didn't give up.

Many years ago,a Prairie View A&M running back was asked what he though of that's school's monumental losing streak in the 1980's. "Nobody gets used to losing." And while Georgetown has never faced the struggles of a Prairie View, a Northwestern,  a Columbia or schools tagged with long and bleak losing streaks, the past ten years of Patriot League football have been a dark cloud around the program, that the budget and the unfinished field and the losing ways were all endemic of a program which could never succeed.

In 2009, these then-sophomores faced another challenge, one which was never proven to be more than a hoax or a sad prank. On the night of the season finale, with the 0-10 Hoyas about to face Forham on Senior Day, a phony e-mail was sent to players claiming that the University would close the program in 2010. There was nothing of the sort, but as those players trudged off Multi-Sport Field after losing 40-14, the sophomores had to be asking themselves what they had gotten themselves into. The next week, a parent responded on the football message board.

"My name is Pat Matheny. My son Daniel was a four year starter at center and two year captain. Unfortunately he missed 7 games due to injury. He played his last game against Fordham [on] 11/21. This ends 14 years of football. I am not a football coach, I am a supportive parent. We are not unique. There are a hundred other players and parents with the same story.

"This season was extremely difficult for all of us. Believe me when I say that ALL persons involved worked very hard to make this program successful from a win loss perspective. Over fours years things happen within the team you never hear of. Death in someone's family, loss of close friends, cancer, serious player injuries, the list goes on. Then add to this year an anonymous previous player/parent sending e-mails directly to the players the night before the Marist game that Georgetown is dropping football after the 2010 season and you have a recipe for disaster. Believe me no one on this blog wanted success more than me and my son. It just did not come in the form of victories.

That having been said, think about this:

There are multiple factions that occur when a team goes 0-11. Everyone involved carries some blame. That does not mean players/coaches are not GOOD. The worst player on the 2008-09 Detroit Lions was a superstar in Div-I football.

"These players are basically volunteers. There are need based grants,. Yes they are admitted to an outstanding university, but I basically pay tuition. It's very difficult for any coach to get players into this system...

"I know some of you played here. The perception of this program is very negative. The university does not offer any viable support for the team and coaches. No matter what anyone thinks the fact that recruits come to campus and see unfinished Multi Sport Field with its temporary stands and porta potties is a turn off...The athletic department told the parents that there are no plans to drop football. they are close to finishing the field. I have heard that story multiple times over the past 4-5 yrs. I talked with Daniel about that. I said it doesn't do anything for you. He responded "Yes I know, but it helps our program improve."

"My suggestion is to put pressure on the school administration to show STRONG signs of support that include facilities. Make our non Patriot games reasonable competition. Focus on the benefits of a Georgetown education. We ALL want success on the field. There are multiple problems. They can be worked out. Remember 900,000 young men play high school football. approx. 28000 play in all of Division 1. Our players have much potential.The glass is half full...Move ahead."
This is the circumstances to which the seniors endured, overcame, and in Senior Day this week, can stand above.

In 2010, the Georgetown Voice wrote: "There is no easy cure for Georgetown football’s ills. In the end, it comes down to unwavering commitment from everyone involved. The University has to back the program with its full financial and administrative support. The coaches have to always keep working, whether on the field, in the film room, or on the recruiting trail. Fans and alumni need to show up and pay up. The players need to go hard on every play in games and in practice. For those who have watched the Hoyas flounder in recent years, that may seem impossible."

There is nothing impossible when it comes to sports and if the 2011 Georgetown Hoyas have taught us anything, it's precisely that.