December 19, 2003


No scholarships? No problem for Colgate ( Gary Mihoces, 12/18/03, USA TODAY)

Mark Murphy remembers when Colgate and the rest of the Patriot League faced a stigma: No football scholarships, no football credibility. The Colgate alum and former school athletics director was on the NCAA Division I-AA Football Committee in the mid-1990s. One debate topic: Should the Patriot League champ get an automatic berth in the playoffs?

"It was such a hard fight," says Murphy, who became Northwestern's athletics director in June. "There was just a sense that they don't take their football seriously. Non-scholarship?"

The Patriot League, which got the berth, still doesn't give football scholarships. But Friday night, Patriot champ Colgate (15-0) meets Delaware (14-1) in Chattanooga, Tenn., for the national title in I-AA, the second-highest rung in the NCAA ladder. [...]

Colgate, a 2,800-student school in rural Hamilton, N.Y., has a high academic reputation. Average SAT score of this year's incoming students: 1,378. But this isn't Revenge of the Nerds.

Colgate takes football seriously. It gives players aid based on financial need. If that need is grave, the aid can offset Colgate's annual tuition, room and board of about $37,500. And the school finds quality players.

Fullback Jamaal Branch ran for 2,271 yards and 29 touchdowns this season, both I-AA records. Quarterback Chris Brown threw for a school-record 22 TDs.

"People are really excited. Our phones have been ringing with alumni right and left," school President Rebecca Chopp says. "We're having lots and lots of people get tickets and make plans for Chattanooga."

Patriot League teams have won at least one playoff game in five of the last six seasons. Colgate became the first to reach the semifinals — and now the final.

It won playoff games in blizzards at home against Massachusetts and Western Illinois. It won last weekend in Fort Lauderdale against Florida Atlantic.

"We've had them in snow. We've had them in heat. We're ready for anything," Chopp says.

Go 'gate.

a-headlines-sports>Class-First Program: Despite a 15-0 record and a berth in the Division I-AA title game, Colgate football players put textbooks over playbooks. (LA Times, 12/19/03)

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 19, 2003 5:55 AM

Also, last night Jamaal Branch was awarded the Walter Payton award as the best offensive player in Division 1-AA. Congrats to him. Just another in the line of great Colgate power backs (Marv Hubbard, Mark Van Eeghan, etc.)

Posted by: Jeff at December 19, 2003 10:42 AM

Kenny Gamble, Henry White, Eddie Tryon...

Posted by: oj at December 19, 2003 11:03 AM

They called this the Howard Fineman Bowl this morning on Tony Kornheiser's ESPN radio show, since Howard apparently is the most famous grad from the school the crew knows. More inside-the-Beltway mentality...

Posted by: John at December 19, 2003 12:00 PM