November 14, 2000

Earning Respect

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Early November always signifies something special: Cambodian Independence Day, the Tunisian Tree Festival, and Ivy League title games, to name a few (let alone that ‘election’ thing). And by this time of year, most Cornell teams have been ousted from any Ivy title runs, having caught every conceivable bug: the injury bug, the losing–slump bug, the disillusionment bug, and the ever–lethal, we–can’t–win–without–a–decent–mascot bug.

But a new century brings new traditions, and if this season is any indication of what is to come, we will be treating ourselves to a red and white 21st century. For this was the kind of early November weekend that just makes an Ithacan want to say, Whoaaaaa Nellie.

Everything from here to Boston turned red and white on Saturday as two Big Red teams positioned themselves for runs at Ivy League titles. And while scanning the AM, CB, international, SR–12, and SR–13 waves for any news of the volleyball finals, it hit me how incredibly insane this weekend had been. Two of our own beloved athletic teams were aiming to top the Ancient Eight.

Read that again. Not one. Not even zero. A whole two! How wild is that? After not contesting fall Ivy titles in seemingly forever, just like that, we now have two? Be still my beating heart!

In a short three months, Joe Splendorio, Jennifer Borncamp and their respective companies have restored our faith in the true greatness of Cornell. Robin Moore is the next Bas van de Goor. Justin Dunleavy has supplanted our dreams of having Lee Suggs put on a Red helmet. Ricky Rahne has established himself as the new Captain Comeback. And the “Cardiac Kids” have produced enough evidence to officially call the second half, “The Big Red Half.”

The volleyball team came excruciatingly close to its first league title in eight years. As unfortunate as it was for the ladies to catch the unlucky bug and lose on the last game of the last match, after having led 2–1, they did succeed in bringing a certain realization to the Cornell population. I now can fully appreciate the value of a good dig. And not just any dig — but a Cornell dig. Digs and spikes and kills — suddenly it all takes on a deeper meaning than ninth grade gym class.

And what way to do it better? Eighth to second in one season. Romping over teams that gave it fits during the season. Displaying the heart, grit and might only true champions have. It just makes me want to be a volleyball player when I grow up.

The football team has recorded a different kind of success in positioning itself to play for the championship. And it’s a funny way the season has panned out — all starting with that ill-fated Schoellkopf Sellout. While unsuccessful, the bid gave an eerie aura to a place that simply gave opposing kickers the shakes.

The first victim was Yale. The second, Princeton. I wonder what Taylor Northrop was thinking as his ass met the turf on the most routine play in all of football.

“Damn that Shoellkopf Sellout,” he must have muttered as he was laughed off the field.

And it is the mischief of that very Sellout which has allowed the Red to own a sexy 3-1 home record. Cornell took its good fortune on the road as well, making a fool of the Harvard kicker, and then somehow managing to erase two seconds off the clock at the end of the Columbia game.

The Big Red Machine is now priming itself for a war this weekend with a head–to–head, winner–take–all, throw–out–the–pennies–and–keep–all–the–quarters showdown with the Quakers from Philadelphia. This is exactly the type of game the Ivy League needs to confirm its place in the Bowl Championship Series.

Penn brings a weak 1–3 road record to mighty Schoellkopf, which can now add its name to the list of most difficult places to play: The Swamp, The Pond, The Schoellkopf. Soon we’ll be scaring off teams from Syracuse to Nebraska. Or maybe that’s why they don’t come in the first place.

Now if this game can’t sellout the stadium, absolutely nothing can. And after we win our first–ever outright Ivy League title, there had better be two goalposts making their way to the gorges Saturday afternoon.

Football and volleyball weren’t the only ones bumping shoulders with the old guard. The field hockey team found itself only two games behind the top with two games to play. Two straight losses took them out of contention, but it was fun while it lasted.

So as the fall sports season comes to an end, our athletes deserve a hearty applause (and two goalposts) for putting the “big” back in Big Red.

Archived article by Sumeet Sarin