The screensaver on Yale football head coach Jack Siedlecki’s computer tells you everything you need to know about the Ivy League.
It lists his goals for every season. First, of course, is to win the conference title. Second, however, is to take down Harvard. As the sports editor for the Yale Daily News pointed out, the Bulldogs could go 1-9 in any given season and not even come close to an Ivy crown, but as long as their lone victory came against the Crimson, no tears would be shed in New Haven.
For better or worse the Crimson represents the Ivy League both academically and athletically.
Say what you want about those pampered, spoiled brats in Cambridge (and I think that’s what I just did) but the fact is that not only does Harvard annually find itself near the top of the U.S. News & World Report rankings, but it also grabs a monstrous share of the Ivy League’s athletic championships each year.
The Crimson hasn’t won less than five league titles in the last six years, and since the conference officially came into being in 1956, it’s won 276 total crowns.
It’s no wonder then that simply mentioning the word Harvard induces venomous spite on any other Ivy campus; it’s no wonder that whenever a Crimson team visits another school, it’s met with dirty looks and snide reactions; and it’s no wonder when the Harvard men’s hockey team steps onto the Lynah ice on Friday night, it will be welcomed with vicious taunting and (hopefully) a truckload of fish.
In the Ivy League, who needs rivalries when you have a Harvard to hate?
Well, isn’t it about time that changed?
Why can’t the other Ivy schools hate us? Why can’t every other Ivy school circle the date when Cornell teams travel to their campus, scared that we’ll destroy them but anxious to try to knock us down a peg or two? And why can’t we strike fear and repugnance in the hearts of every other Ivy school, just like Harvard does now?
The simple reason is that Cornell athletics hasn’t proven itself in recent years; the Red hasn’t given any reason to the other Ivies to be scared of us.
Just glance, for instance, at how many Ivy titles we’ve won in the last seven years — 13. And then notice that Princeton won one more than that just last year! Add the fact the we won all of zero Ivy championships last year, and you realize that the school that Ezra built, the largest school in the Ivies has by no means been able to pull its weight in sports in the ’90s.
That’s why this weekend becomes so important.
After several years of more or less languishing in the bottom half of the Ivy League standings in nearly every category, it finally looks like our year to stand in the limelight.
Sports at Cornell, apparently finally awakening after a deep slumber, seems to have been rejuvenated this fall.
The volleyball team already put its stamp on the Ivy tourney last week by nearly outdueling Princeton for the conference championship, and this weekend the football and men’s hockey teams have a chance to bring the sun back to East Hill.
Friday and Saturday nights, men’s hockey hosts Harvard and Brown. Typically the Harvard game takes on an auspicious aura on campus. This year, both contests have added significance due to Ivy League standings. Last season, though we drilled Harvard in ECAC playoffs, the Crimson won the regular season Ivy title. If the Red can sweep the Crimson and the Bears, not only will it put itself on the fast track to a league title, but it will also push Cornell up the ECAC table and pump life into a team that hasn’t yet come close to reaching its potential.
Then of course, there’s that little conference championship football game against Penn on Saturday afternoon. Isn’t it funny how Cornell is the only school in the country with a winning record against the trio of Ohio State, Michigan, and Notre Dame, but it can’t win an outright Ivy championship against the likes of Brown and Dartmouth.
Isn’t it about time that changed too?
Granted, none of the team’s wins this season have been spectacular and nearly all have been arguably miraculous, but what counts now is that it can smell those Ivy championship rings just around the corner.
Last year, it came oh-so close. But then again last year, it wasn’t ready. Beating Penn and eventual champions Brown is all well and good, buy losing to cellar-dwellers Dartmouth won’t exactly earn brownie points around the league.
This year seems different. The team’s done what it’s needed to do and it’s put itself in a position to FINALLY allow us to teardown those pesky Schoellkopf field goal posts.
This year, if Cornell can end the drought, the team won’t be just bringing back the title to Ithaca, it will also be carrying along the athletic pride that comes along with it.
We may not be able to replace Harvard as the most loathed Ivy League school any time soon, but with a football title (and maybe even a smattering of basketball, hockey, and lacrosse crowns later on this year), maybe, just maybe, all the other Ivies will finally start gunning for us.
So when you’re (hopefully) tearing down those goal posts on Saturday, just remember: it’s our turn to be hated.
Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj