Thursday, January 28, 2010

Culture Shock Ahead?

Kent Austin on the Roughrider sidelines

I have no idea how good a coach Kent Austin will be at Cornell.

The Ivy League isn't the SEC and it sure isn't the Canadian Football League.

But even after a day to reflect on the news, I still think Austin's hiring is something of a coup for a Big Red football program that seemed to be on life support just 48 hours ago.

I think grabbing a very senior level coach from a program some pundits listed as a top 10 team in the 2009 preseason and a man who won the Grey Cup less than three years ago is a tremendous plus for the entire league.

Again, the main issue may be adjusting to a very different league. It doesn't get more mercenary than the CFL, and the Ivy League is the polar opposite of that player-for-hire, de facto NFL minor league they run up in Canada.

And the recruiting landscape Austin's faced in the SEC will look like the Garden of Eden compared to the non-scholarship. A.I.-dominated Ivies.

And there's also the rough fact that not only was Cornell a last place team in 2009, it's very hard to find even five or six players remaining on the roster who seem like they have the tools to make the Big Red a contender overnight. Just about every one of Cornell's best players on both sides of the ball in 2009 are graduating this May.

Depending on how you look at things, Austin may or may not have history on his side.

The last Ivy head coach coming from the CFL was Joe Restic at Harvard. But he was much less of a CFL legend than Austin was a player and coach. I'm also in the camp that says Restic was not at all a great coach for the Crimson and presided over a generally underachieving period in the team's history. But there are those who love Restic and say his offenses were effective, even if they were confusing. Of course, every title Tim Murphy wins now dims Restic's legacy more and more.

Overall for the league, we now have most of the teams in the league being coached by men who were not there six years ago. The three teams who have the longest consecutively serving head coaches, Penn, Harvard and Brown, have finished in the top 3 in the league the last two years in a row. Stability seems to work in the Ivies, at least these days.


At Thu Jan 28, 02:12:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, this is a serious question, so please don't just write it off as typical Cornell-bashing. Basically, why doesn't Cornell win the Ivies every year? There are only two "Ivy" Cornells, arts and sciences and engineering. The rest is a state school. The men's basketball team has almost its entire roster from the non-Ivy part of Cornell. So how can "banding" apply to agriculture, hotel admin, etc.? And how can those programs be as demanding on student athletes?

At Thu Jan 28, 04:23:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I think there are a couple of POSSIBLE answers to that question:

1) Maybe a high A.I. isn't as much of a hindrance as we think. Potential recruits may look at the tougher grade levels and simply decide that the work is going to be hard everywhere, so they might as well shoot for the toughest, but best academically-reputed places. In other words, a higher A.I. may be as much of a DRAW as a disqualifier.

2) Cornell may have all these so-called "easier" colleges, but if you're thinking of going Ivy, why wouldn't you chose a smaller school anyway? I think most Ivy students and athletes are ultimately sold on intimacy and Cornell has the hardest case to make on that score.

That said, the basketball team has done miracles lately and lacrosse is the real deal. Congrats to them.

At Thu Jan 28, 06:06:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger dabull said...

Aren't Cornell recruits still banded according to transcripts and SAT scores? Even though they may elect to go into Ag. or Hotel Admin. they still can't admit just anybody can they?

At Thu Jan 28, 08:33:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the answer is that the Ivy League has few or no banding requirements for any sport other than football. If that is the case, Cornell can admit whomever it wants in any sport other than football. And, if that is the case, that would explain of course, why Cornell is enormously successful in a number of sports other than football. As far as Cornell basketball is concerned, whatever the case is, you have to give credit to Coach Steve Donohue for building up the program from practically nothing to something very big in a relatively short period of time. Of course, Donohue used a number of community college transfers to kick-start the program, and it seems that nearly all the key players are in the business part of the agricultural school,or ILR, but local community colleges/extension courses and agriculture/home economics is what Cornell is all about.

At Thu Jan 28, 09:25:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

re: Donahue

I think this is his 10th year at Cornell... not such a short time.


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