August 29, 2001

Pendergast's Focus: Continually Improve

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The critics have spoken, and for the Cornell football team, the reviews are mixed. After finishing second in the Ivy League last season, the Red was chosen fourth in the conference preseason media poll that was released earlier this month.

Sixteen publications participated, awarding defending champion Penn the top spot. The Quakers received 122 total points including 11 first-place votes. Harvard was next on the totem pole with 111 points. Brown rounded out the top-three with 86 points.

The Red finished with 77 points. Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth and Columbia completed the poll’s results.

New head coach Tim Pendergast, however, does not put much stock in such polls.

“Records and standings happen on Saturday afternoons not a month before the season starts,” he said. “The battles are won on the battlefield. The warriors are the people who decide.”

Cornell, which began practice last Monday, will kick off the season against Bucknell on September 15. (Its Ivy League schedule starts against Yale the following weekend.) But Pendergast doesn’t plan on squandering the next two and a half weeks of practice obsessing over future opponents.

I haven’t given thought to a game. I know that we open up with Bucknell,” he said. “But I don’t care about that right now.”

“I care about this team and how we are progressing,” Pendergast continued. My goal is to see to it that we take care of all our own business.

“I don’t stand there every night at team meetings and start talking about Bucknell.”

In fact, Pendergast made it clear that his bottom line goals for the Red this season will be constant improvement on the field if not on the scoreboard.

“My goal is to see that we get better every week,” he said. “Now that could mean that we go 0-10, it could mean we go 10-0. But I want to see us getting better week to week to week.”

And though Pendergast’s reign on East Hill has only lasted a few months, he’s seen enough of the team to be convinced of what its capable of.

“We’re very impressed with what we see,” Pendergast said, speaking for the coaching staff. “These guys have great character.”

And the team, in turn, has apparently taken to the new coaching staff, if retention rates can be used as an accurate yardstick.

“Since we’ve been here we’ve only lost one player,” Pendergast noted. “That to me is a very positive thing.

“And we’ve gained five who have come in and walked. So we’re up four.”

Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj