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Date Posted: 07/24/15 3:22:44pm Fri
Author: The Lone Haranguer
Subject: Right on, Doc
In reply to: 'gate80 's message, "Forgive me for skipping the Silver Anniversary Gala" on 07/24/15 12:45:44pm Fri

>I agree with posters that evolution of the PL, in
>large part due to decisions forced upon Colgate by
>other members, has put Colgate athletics in a good
>position today looking forward. However this thread is
>a retrospective looking back over 25 years. The PL, AS
>unmitigated disaster for Colgate, in ways that might
>be difficult to understand for those not old enough to
>have lived through the before and after. It totally
>gutted our proud fb program, nearly (but fortunately
>not quite) irreparably damaging it. It changed the
>perception of who our peer schools were, harming our
>academic reputation for 2 decades (we thankfully are
>now recovering from this). Finally it changed forever
>Colgate's unique brand and character, something that
>had defined the school for 75 years.
>The start of the PL (actually Colonial League at the
>time) was a poorly-planned fiasco. The league became a
>laughingstock when teams kept coming and going and it
>wasn't clear they'd be enough schools for a league,
>and was forced by the CAA to change its name. W&M was
>an initial member, but bailed when they realized the
>whole point of the PL was to downgrade fb. They were
>replaced by Davidson, who was willing to have
>emasculating restrictions for fb, but when they
>realized they would also apply to bb and other sports
>said sayonara. They were replaced by Fordham, who
>bailed in all sports except fb after a few years, then
>fb as well over the schollie issue until the league
>followed suit. Towson State took advantage of the PL
>to improve its athletic and academic image, then
>discarded us like a used dishrag when it got what it
>wanted. Absolutely thrilling schedules Dunlap had
>painstakingly built up over a decade, including the
>likes of Duke, Vanderbilt, Rice, and Northwestern,
>were continuously scrambled to include lusterless
>schools who couldn't decide whether or not they wanted
>to be in the PL.
>The effect of the PL on the fb program (and the PL was
>a fb only league initially) cannot be debated. In the
>span of a few years Colgate, quite literally, went
>from being one of the very strongest I-AA programs
>(which included at the time Boise St, Marshall,
>Nevada, N Ill, Idaho, and others) to one of the very
>weakest. When the PL was conceived in the early 80s we
>had beaten HC 9 out of the prior 10 years; we would
>not beat them again until 1997. During the first
>decade of PL play we went 3-6-1 against LC, a school
>Colgate had lost to only once since 1907 prior to this.
>It was said that one of the advantages of the PL would
>be that we would be guaranteed to play 3 Ivy teams
>each year. But Colgate at the time did not have any
>problem scheduling Ivy teams. Despite our geographic
>isolation, we played Ivy teams far more than any other
>PL school. The year before PL play began we played 5
>Ivies. We then had to share our Ivy games with
>Bucknell and Fordham. Within a few years the IL backed
>out of this commitment. By this time our fb program
>and support had imploded, and we were now just another
>PL school, and Ivies found it easier to schedule
>schools closer by like HC and LC. To this day Colgate
>plays fewer Ivy teams than other PL schools, a few as
>1 a couple of years ago.
>Colgate in the late 70s had demonstrably more
>competitive admissions than Cornell and Penn, and
>(based on my NY prep school observations) I think
>Columbia as well. We were far more competitive than
>any PL school, and they were Colgate safety schools
>(they were mine). Younger alums will scoff, but many
>thought Colgate was in the IL, and even those who knew
>would say we were an unofficial member (Howard Cosell
>would say we were the 9th unofficial member). This
>changed when we joined an Ivy reject league. Cornell
>and Dartmouth were no longer our peer schools, but HC
>and LC. We dropped in admissions selectivity,
>rankings, and perception against virtually everybody
>(if you doubt this name a school we gained ground on
>the first 20 years of the PL). Ivies left us in the
>dust, as did most NESCAC members, and PL school gained
>on us (eg - Bucknell to near parity).
>Colgate in the PL was led by the nose by schools we
>had dominated athletically for a century. HC demanded
>fb schollies continue for several years, and we
>kowtowed to them, and lost to them every year for a
>decade and a half. They then announced they would give
>bb schollies, and dared us to do anything about it (we
>didn't for several years). Fordham had no business
>being in what was supposedly Ivy league Jr, and did
>what it wanted in terms of athletic policies. However
>Fordham looked like Harvard compared to some of the
>schools that have been in and out of the PL over the
>years, including Towson State, Ursinus, Loyola,
>Fairfield, Hobart, American, and others, and this
>further affected the perception of who our peer
>schools were. Of course some of the pressure from
>other schools helped our athletics (schollies, fb
>playoff participation), as many of our "leaders"
>wanted to downgrade our athletics before moving on to
>the NESCAC or a big city.
>This is not about being independent, The PL initially
>could have been a strong I-AA fb league. W&M was our
>only academic peer initially, and when they bailed it
>ought to have given people pause. If we kept W&M,
>Richmond would have followed suit, Davidson may have
>stayed, Villanova would have joined when they
>reinstituted fb, Army and Navy would have joined for
>all sports sooner (maybe even fb for a strong I-AA
>league - they were terrible at the time). We would
>have been a true east coast league with some of the
>strongest I-AA fb teams, not just a league of isolated
>northeast schools with an Ivy inferiority complex.
>Pollyannas who like to say Colgate has never done
>anything wrong will attack this, but those who have
>been around long enough know that the PL as conceived
>and implemented harmed us in many ways. We can be
>thankful we are finally recovering from the damage.

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[> [> Re: Forgive me for skipping the Silver Anniversary Gala -- Gate'83, 07/24/15 10:34:57pm Fri

Great recap! I forget context while living day to day life until a historian like '80 reminds me of it. I think the PL is a good place for us now, but agree that the history is sordid. The Lafayette point is a great one for an 83 grad, we considered that game a joke back in the day, not a meeting of equals.

However there's no going back. I'm glad we continue to invest in athletics, and think the new rink project is a huge deal as we define Colgate's athletic future... which will be largely in the Patriot League, regardless of past football glory.

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[> [> [> Re: Forgive me for skipping the Silver Anniversary Gala -- Steve, 07/25/15 10:45:18am Sat

...another way to live history- and enjoy yourself at the same time - is to attend the Hall of Honor dinner which will include inductee Dick Biddle.

I hope all the active posters make the trip to Hamilton and have a great weekend.

See you then!

Go 'gate!

[ Edit | View ]

[> [> [> [> The PL Anniversary is about more than Gate's FCS football -- Raider Archivist, 07/25/15 4:52:25pm Sat

As much as I enjoy gate '80's renditions of the cycles of Raider football, the fact remains that the reputation of the PL and the role of athletics at Gate no longer rests on the fortunes of FCS football. Without diminishing the significance of Gate and the PL's stewardship missteps of FCS football along the way, the Gate's modern athletics era is being bolstered by more than a one-legged stool. The modern era is characterized by a consistently successful women's soccer program playing a big time schedule, recent success in men's lax, the promise of the new athletic facility on its six constituent teams, the adaptation of Starr and the leadership of Vicki in promoting the student-athlete's experience and its contribution to Gate's distinctive character and niche

And one can characterize the PL's prospects for the future on so many more promising attributes beyond the fortunes of FCS football. And for this, we should be grateful.

>...another way to live history- and enjoy yourself at
>the same time - is to attend the Hall of Honor dinner
>which will include inductee Dick Biddle.
>I hope all the active posters make the trip to
>Hamilton and have a great weekend.
>See you then!
>Go 'gate!

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