Monday, September 26, 2016

Week 3 Thoughts

Some thoughts following Georgetown's 17-14 win over Columbia on Saturday:

1.  Hanging On: Fully realizing that I was likely the only fan at Cooper Field that would actually compare the Columbia game to a basketball game, but watching the second half of the  game reminded me of a game in Madison Square Garden a quarter century ago.

On March 8, 1991, the Georgetown Hoyas shot 25 percent for the game in their Big east quarterfinal against Connecticut. In any reasonable scenario, that's a ticket for an early exit; instead, the Hoyas won by 21. How? defense, in the name of one Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean Jacque Wamutombo, or Dikembe Mutombo for short. Mutombo scored 13 points and carried off 27 rebounds in the game, two short of the school record.  Georgetown would be bounced from the two tournament two days later shooting 33 percent, but the defense stood tall when no one else quite did.

Such was the case against Columbia. For a Georgetown team that mustered five first downs and 125 yards over the last 55 minutes of the clock and still won is a remarkable, if troubling, accomplishment. It's not secret that Georgetown has been, and continues to be, one of the Patriot League's most resolute defenses. But let's be clear: 125 yards isn't going to beat many more teams on the 2016 schedule, least of which Harvard.

2. See No Injury, Say No Injury. In the pros, injury reports are relayed to TV and radio audiences in the same series. Thanks to some litigious college administrators,  schools are more likely to tell you their WiFi password than if a player came out of the game with an injury.

Coaches have been carpet-bombed by compliance officers who have been told to say that  that speaking the obvious--that halfback that limped off the field sprained his ankle, for example--is a federal privacy violation.

" I heard the radio group announced something [about a player injury]," said TCU coach Gary Patterson after his team's win at SMU. "Whoever [on the staff] told them, I'll fire. Let me say that to you. Because it's not our job, it's illegal to be talking about injuries. So, bottom line to it is, whoever did it is in a lot of trouble when I find out who it is."

So don't expect Rob Sgarlata talk about the condition of Alex Valles, who limped off the field Saturday. He might be on the depth chart Friday, maybe not. If he's not, Georgetown  is dead in the water offensively. Isaac Ellsworth is too small and Christian Bermudez is to slow to get past a great Harvard defensive line.

And maybe it won't be in this game, but I'd like to see lineman (and former RB) Khristian Tate get a chance in the backfield. At 260, he's built like a tank, and his bio notes that he "rushed for 2,429 yards and 32 touchdowns on 216 carries in 22 games over his final two seasons, averaging 11.2 yards per carry." A 260 pound running back flies in the face of conventional wisdom that speed beats size, but if Georgetown's got a fourth and two, 260 into the line still beats 160.

3. Unsportsmanlike Conduct.  It's au courant this fall for players to channel their inner Colin Kaepernick to express some discontent with all things that they don't disagree with. Everyone is entitled to matters of conscience, but it makes you wonder if some of these kneel-down photos are more about "look at me" than discussing issues which deserve a more serious audience.

So I was disappointed for the Georgetown Voice to stir this up in a Twitter post:

Let's be clear. That photo was taken before the anthem....but they didn't say that, did they?. The Georgetown players were standing. So were the Columbia players, including the two that knelt down on the goal line while the Superfood singers were setting up.  I say that because I was watching it. The audience stood, and so did the players.

Apparently, another Voice photo confirms this,

If the Voice has an angle here, that's their business. Perspective, however, shouldn't be ignored.

4. A Model Program. If Georgetown wants to build a football program rooted in scholars-athletes that compete in the classroom, on the field, and offer its grads the opportunity to play at the next level, it need look no further than Friday's opponent.

Yes, Harvard has lots of advantage and lots of money, but this is not a team that outspends everyone to win. It's built on coaching, recruiting, and teams that are built to win.

"Since the 1990s, [coach Tim] Murphy has had the highest winning percentage of any Harvard football coach," said the Harvard Gazette. "For 22 seasons, he has picked bright and talented football players. The most recent and notable of his veterans include Kyle Juszczyk ’13 (Baltimore Ravens), Cameron Brate ’14 (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Nick Easton ’14 (Minnesota Vikings), Zachary Hodges ’15-16 (Los Angeles Rams), and, most famously, Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05 (New York Jets)."

"Those kids who have great character seem to exceed at whatever their athletic and academic potential is perceived to be," said Murphy.

Over the past ten years, with the highest scores in the Ivy's Academic Index, the Crimson is 102-20 (.836), in its last three years, 30-2 (.937). Harvard recruits nationally, and brings in students who excel in football without a detriment to their careers after football.

It's no surprise to see a Harvard football grad on Wall Street, and no shock to see them on a Sunday afternoon in the NFL either. Maybe someday Georgetown can say the same.