Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Coach Grange Steps Down, National Search Underway

Yesterday Hobart Football announced the resignation of DC Nick Grange. This is a surprise, especially given the recent departure of former OC Kevin DeWall '00 who took the HC job at Endicott College (MA).

A national search for a replacement is underway. A link to the announcement can be read here.

The resignation ends a brief (two year) but highly successful run for the Statesmen who boasted the 11th best total defense in D3 in 2014. A lot of transition has happened this offseason but I'm confident HC Mike Cragg will be able to navigate it successfully.

Best wishes to Coach Grange and his family.

Friday, May 1, 2015

With the 61st pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select Ali Marpet

It was early on in the first set that SR OL Ali Marpet appeared on the screen at the sports bar my band "Room 2" was performing as the next selection of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

I was thrilled for him and his family first. We traded texts during my break of congratulations and pride on this awesome accomplishment. Second, Tampa's not that far from home, so it looks like I'll be attending some Bucs games this fall - hopefully with Hobart Statesmen fans and family also in attendance.

My favorite was a tweet after the selection was announced was from SR FB Dominique Ellis to my @ITHuddLLe account (in response to my saying I'm going to look into season tickets) that he and his family are already Bucs season ticket holders! Tampa's response after Ali's pick can be found here. D3football.com's reaction was equally complimentary. As usual Ali was nothing but a pro in response to the media regarding this incredible opportunity.

Words can't be written to describe how amazing this night is in the history of Hobart College and Division III football.

Good luck to Ali as he goes into rookie camp and continues his pursuit of a NFL career.

Go Bart!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Marpet Awaits NFL Draft Fate

It's hard to believe but after months (years really) of preparation and hard work for SR OL Ali Marpet, the 2015 NFL Draft is finally here. Ali will be at home in Hastings-On-Hudson, NY awaiting a life changing phone call with his family and friends.

While there has been a ton of press and projections ranking Ali across a variety of rounds and potential teams, it seems highly likely he will end up getting that call from a NFL Head Coach or GM sometime in the next 48-72 hours.

I predict the Cleveland Browns will select him based on no real data but just a hunch based on the number of visits / meetings with scouts and others from that team. Other teams that get mentioned a lot range from Seattle, New England, Atlanta and New York.

While a draft selection for a Hobart College football player will be undoubtedly historic, it's also just the beginning of yet another and even more challenging process, i.e., making a NFL roster.

I am very happy for Ali and the Statesmen Nation and all the HWS and Hastings alums, fans and friends cheering for him. I know I'll be following the draft like a hawk this weekend.

Good luck Ali and Go BART!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A "Fan"-tastic Celebration Caps 2014 Season

Last Friday night over 300+ Statesmen players, their families, administrators and friends of Hobart College arrived at Club 86 in Geneva, NY to celebrate the 2014 football season.

The venue was set up beautifully and the Class of 2015 got the red carpet treatment with framed, game worn jerseys while the entire team was provided with beautiful Championship rings. The Class of 2015 won 41 total games, four consecutive league titles, five playoff games including two Elite 8 appearances, over the past four seasons. Note to the folks that say the Empire 8 is the best conference in the East - Hobart is 4-1 against their conference champions / playoff teams in the last four years ;)

The night began with a heartfelt invocation and prayer by Chaplain Leslie Adams who's in her final weeks of service at the Colleges. Defensive Coordinator Nick Grange was the evening's MC and did a great job keeping the night moving (and cracking jokes).

I had the pleasure of making a few remarks after dinner and Connor Cough's excellent highlight reel from all the big plays of this historic season. My focus was to implore the graduating SRs and the underclassmen to "Be A Fan" of Hobart and whatever passion / calling they have during and after their college years. I'll see you all in a couple years at the Bicentennial celebration, if not sooner!

After the ring ceremony, SR OLB and Co-Captain Matt McGriff '15 spoke on behalf of the team. He was thoughtful, impressive and humble. A true Statesmen to the core.

Head Coach Mike Cragg wrapped the evening with a game by game recap of the season and a big announcement. In 2015 the Statesmen will be "dry" during the season which was received with applause at the banquet and some discussions after the fact.

While I believe Coach is right in that this will make the team better, it's a bold step in the program's evolution. The Class of 2016 has some great leadership and time will tell whether or not this commitment - which Coach will hold everyone 100% accountable to - will work for all the current players on the team.

I think the goal is a worthy one and while of course these are 18-22 year old young men, if you want to achieve the goal of making it to Salem, you have to sacrifice a lot in order to get there.

Below are a few pictures from the evening:

Class of 2015

SR jersey keepsakes

More jerseys (note #90 and #55)

Trustee Jim Caird '56 and the Class of 2015

Go Bart!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

NEWMAC Adding Football Could Spell Trouble For LL

The New England Women's & Men's Athletic Conference made a major announcement regarding the addition of football and acquisiton of several schools at noon today. The impact to Hobart was this addition included three current Liberty League FB affiliates in WPI, USMMA and Springfield. D3football.com covered the story here.

My ITH cohost and D3football.com commentator Frank Rossi summarized the implications well, stating:

"It's an interesting development that we've been predicting for a while in terms of MMA and WPI finally breaking off from the LL.  We are now left with the original UCAA.  One of two things will happen here:

1) The LL looks for two replacement teams.  Ithaca alumni have had some level of consternation with the number of state schools in the E8 for football.  There had been a level of interest in the past from Ithaca in moving to the LL, but it didn't happen at that time.  Other potential candidates would be Alfred and WNEU from the E8 and NEFC.  I doubt that the LL would go after Hartwick, Utica, or SJF, but if a seventh team is still needed in 2017, it could be reassessed.

2) The LL teams seek other conferences.  This would be very tough for SLU (probably only the ECFC would be plausible).  Rochester has always dipped into the old UAA batch and could rejoin the old UAA teams.  RPI could still be considering a D1 move with the administrative changes we've seen recently.  Union is located such that the school could be attractive to New England conferences.  I have no plausible strategy for Hobart in this scenario, however.  If one more team decides to leave, then I think the LL dissolves as a modern football conference.

It is mathematically possible for the E8, ECFC, LL, MASCAC, NEFC, and NEWMAC to all have 7 or more teams by 2019.  If that happens, then the AQ mess gets even deeper nationally (I think we reach 28 out of 32, which I believe is the most the national base would swallow since it allows an average of only one Pool C bid per region).  The only way for this to happen, though, would be to forge unlikely alliances.  That said, what was more unlikely than Salisbury and Frostburg joining the E8?  At least geography suggests no alliance here is impossible.  Yet, the LL needs to swiftly decide what they want to do here.  2017 is not that far away."

Sound complicated? There's more:

"Here's the possible scenario that could work:

NEFC (5 --> 7) -

Loses WNEU
Gains UNE, Mass-Maritime, One ECFC team

MASCAC (8 --> 7) -

Loses Mass-Maritime

LL (5 --> 7) -

Gains Ithaca, WNEU

E8 (9 --> 7) -

Loses Ithaca, Hartwick

ECFC (7 --> 7) -

Loses a team to the NEFC
Gains Hartwick

That's how AQ hell could become a reality by these conferences all trying to survive in this move."

What complicates matters is new members would likely have to become full time members in every sport.  The LL already has 11 full time members so the respective college / university Presidents would have to approve expansion to 13 full time members vs. a easier approval of affiliate members for football only.

An AD's meeting is slated for tomorrow. I'm sure more shuffling is in store.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Statesmen Name Captains for 2015 Campaign

Six days ago @HobartFootball tweeted out that five rising SR Statesmen were elected as Captains for the 2015 season.

Your captains for this fall include the following:

#98 DL Tucker Gumkowski - a presence on the interior line, Gumkowski played in 12 games last season racking up 39 tackles, seven tackles for loss (TFL), three sacks and an interception (INT). What the stats belie is how well he occupies blockers which is a key component to Hobart's 4-4 defense.

#10 RB Connor Hartigan - after struggling with injuries earlier in his career, Hartigan grew into Hobart's feature back late in the 2014 season, ultimately leading the Statesmen with 871 rushing yards. Nine rushing TDs and a team long 75 yard run shows his ability to break away and make plays.

#7 LB Jacob Stanley - graduated into a starting role at ILB in 2014 and was a force inside, tallying 92 total tackles, one shy of the team best. Stanley appeared in all 13 games and added nine TFL, four sacks, an interception and an emphatic 44 yard FR for a TD against league rival Union.

#14 QB Parker Thelander - "Parker Football" is an overall leader and has been a special teams contributor while backing up Shane Conlan '15. He appeared in relief six times last season while booming punts for an average of 34.23 net with a long of 53. Thelander will be challenged by some young guns, including a D2 transfer from Stonehill, for the starting role at QB this fall.

#43 LB Trayvon Toney - an emotional, fiery leader and heartbeat of the defense, Toney once again led the Statesmen with 93 total tackles. Toney has 193 tackles in his 35 game Hobart career. I wouldn't be surprised if he broke 100 this fall and gets some All American recognition if all goes well.

Congratulations to these fine student athletes! Go Bart!

2014 Football Banquet This Friday

The Statesmen will formally close the book on the 2014 football season, a 12-1 effort that once again featured Hobart advancing to the Elite 8, this Friday night at Club 86 in Geneva, NY.

The ceremonies will include presentation of championship rings to the team as well as recognize the Class of 2015's incredible four season mark of 41-5. This great class which includes multiple All-American and Conference players certainly deserves it.

While there has been plenty of news post-Pro Day, SR OL Ali Marpet continues to garner interest from many NFL teams, the latest per the Sun Sentinel are the Miami Dolphins. I certainly wouldn't mind and would enjoy being able to drive to a couple of hours down to see some Dolphins home games this fall to cheer on Ali if that's where he ends up. Ali has met with approximately 17 different clubs so far and remains projected anywhere from a 2nd to 4th round pick by most prognosticators.

Although no championship belt could be produced in time for this Friday's banquet, there is at least one surprise in store for the Senior Class that I'm sure they'll appreciate. No spoilers from me though. I'm looking forward to a fun night of looking back on a great season, celebrating with the players, their families, friends and fellow Hobart alumni.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!