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Welcome to the Wolrd–Lesson #2: Whoo-sah

September 29, 2009

Since August, I’ve always given readers the option to respond to posts, analysis, predictions–hell, I’ve all but begged to hear your thoughts. Aside from one glaring exception–particularly shattering to my ego–those opportunities have rarely been exercised.

Until today.

Following yesterday’s post–during which I reported that the Lions most recent performance had escalated the weight of the season’s performances from “surprisingly good” to “undoubtedly newsworthy”–readers seemed more inclined than ever to voice their opinions. One e-mail caught my eye in particular, the tone of which sought to undermine the team’s early accomplishments–not to mention my coverage and assessment of it.

Here’s an excerpt from, of course, one reader’s anonymous gripe:

“…c’mon bro. u can’t honestly think that this tema is any good. keans gonna dominate on friday and thats not even talking about rowna and cortland and all the other good teams in the njac. you think yourr so cool with all your stats didnt u see that TCNJs strength of schedule is all the way at the bottom of the rankings??? sorry dude but ur in for a rude awakneing ull see…”

Oh no you didn’t.

There’s no doubt about it. I am a stat-monger. Additionally, my fixation on detail–which, frankly, is sort of implicit in the job description–defiantly dances on the ever-so-thin line between diligence and obsessive-compulsive infatuation.

And don’t worry–you’re not the first to notice. While you certainly articulate a valid point–flawlessly, might I add–there’s an undisputed heavyweight champ in the arena of mocking Mr. Matty Hammond, and you’re not him.

I am. And quit while you’re ahead. I’m a hell of a lot funnier at my own expense than you or anyone else could ever be. Sorry, “bro.”

One thing’s for sure, of all the stats confidently stocked in my munitions closet, the least flattering to the Lions’ is its strength of schedule.

Sorted by past competition, the Lions currently represent one of three teams tied for the 186th slot of Division III’s strength of schedule rankings (0.167 past opponents’ win pct.). Certainly unworthy of flaunting, but no one’s been bragging. Of the multitude of pristine opportunities to blow its own horn, the program has consistently shunned the limelight, the numbers, stats, standings–all of it. I might be mistaken, but I don’t think I have either. I’ve stated fact, but I’m not a propagandist.

I could be, but I just don’t think I’d be any good. Or you’d be inclined to care.

But here’s a stat for you, John (as in John Doe, since you’ve so conveniently omitted your identity). Judged solely by your standards, Kean hasn’t exactly faced a worthy opponent all year.

And won, of course.

Under the same criteria, Kean’s strength of schedule ranks in another crowded tie, slightly higher at 81st with 25 other programs (0.500 past opponents’ win pct.). Further, Delaware Valley (2-1 overall)–the team that spoiled the Cougs’ chances of an undefeated season too early in the swing of things to warrant disappointment–represents a healthy proportion of that pedestrian stat’s weight.

Del Val aside, Kean’s early-season opposition rocks a humble 2-4 record. Admittedly, Cougars Week-Two win in the heart of upstate New York represents the reigning NJAC champs’ only tarnish on its repeat campaign (beat Cortland St. on the road 24-10).

An equivocated accomplishment, the Cougars’ triumph occurred in the glaring absence of  its starting quarterback and featured back–kind of like popping champagne after beating a Brady-less Patriots.

Kind of loses its luster, dontcha think?

Again implementing your alleged end-all-be-all barometer of legitimacy, kudos to Delaware Valley on its early conquests. At week’s end, the squad’s faced tough competition so far in ’09. Firmly planted atop the nation in toughest opposition, the Aggies haven’t competed against any team with a loss.

A few teams currently share the same slot, including FDU-Florham. And you remember what happened when the Devils rolled into Trenton, right?

The team’s most recent win, a record-smashing assault on Lions’ Stadium’s scoreboard came against a squad that hoists a difficult schedule in its own right.

After the NCAA’s most recent update, the Mustangs rank T-27th in Division III (o.778 opponent win pct.). Winless? Yes. Anemic? not quite.

There’s a reason why the BCS’s flaws prompt presidential comment, and I haven’t raised an eyebrow of skepticism regarding that figure–it doesn’t matter. If you’re going to waste your life sifting through stats, at least allocate your efforts towards the ones that make a difference.

Or don’t, but then don’t clutter my Inbox. “TCNJ Official E-mails” do plenty of that already.

Let’s set the record straight–this blog isn’t an advertisement of TCNJ football. Sure, it would be nice to hear that my work has helped inform the college community of what goes on at its core a few Saturdays in the fall. But I’m writing only what I see.

Frankly I’m flattered by the criticism that I’m manufacturing “The Pride’s” content. Sincerest of thanks, but I’m only mildly tech-savvy. Considering I have a rough time manipulating my tape recorder–a mere three months after its purchase–I can’t say I’m hacking into the NCAA’s database anytime soon. Though if you or any of your friends would like me to try, I guess I could take a stab at it.

Moving forward, let’s all hesitate before we assume–that I’m an over-glorified and ostensibly well-spoken fan, that I’ve already penciled in wins for the remainder of the team’s schedule, that 2009 hasn’t been anything short of a blessing and a priviledge.

But–above all else–that we’ve seen the best that fate and football have to offer.

Respectfully, I’d have to disagree.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. LionsFan permalink
    September 29, 2009 10:57 pm

    I don’t know if this makes sense, but the NJAC is the NJAC. Teams like Morrisville, Buffalo State and William Paterson make the Lions strength of schedule lower. Morrisville’s strength of schedule is higher because they are the 1-9 team that lowers everyone elses. Since Brockport and Morrisville were added to the conference last year, everyone in the NJAC plays the same teams except for 1 game out of the year…So tell people to stop whining about strength of schedule..this is one of the toughest conferences out there.

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