September 21, 2001

Welcome to the Big Show

Print More

Life, as it were, is finally about to be normal again. Or will it?

I’m not going to try to write a social commentary on the ramifications of the return of sports to this country. I might as well try to write a doctoral thesis on the cultural history of Djibouti. The point is, you wouldn’t read either.

I will comment on the one thing I am qualified to comment on, however. Cornell football.

I’ve watched this team grow and change for three years now. I’ve seen a coach in his first year, trying something new. I’ve seen him both fail and succeed.

I’ve seen a team without stars and an offensive line struggle to move the ball anywhere. I’ve seen that same team one year later become one of the most prolific passing attacks in the country.

I’ve seen a team based on defense become a team that simply tries to outscore everyone. I’ve seen that team manage to do just that by one point about a dozen times. I consider it commonplace.

After this year though, I think I will have finally seen it all. This year, I will again watch a new coach try to lead this team, mold it in his own form. That coach is Tim Pendergast, and if nothing else, he seems to have the respect and adoration of his players. I would say that the players on this team have always respected their coach, but adored… that’s a different story.

Now we see what adoration can do for a football team. Does liking a coach translate into winning? That’s really the only relevant question here. Tomorrow Cornell will face Yale. One team will put more points on the board than the other. Whether that happens because one team’s offense shines or because one team’s defense shines doesn’t really matter. Two numbers will be written down in the long annals of Cornell football, and soon enough no one will care why one team put more points on the board, only that one team did. And that is the nature of what Pendergast is walking into.

This is a team that hasn’t won six Ivy games in a year in a long time. This is a team that has never won an outright Ivy title. This is a team that tried to do it last year and got squashed in the only game that mattered.

Make no mistake, tomorrow Yale will be looking for revenge from a game that Pendergast never saw. Yet he will have to try to match the intensity that the Bulldogs and their coach, Jack Siedlecki will most certainly bring.

This year, every team we shaved out a fourth quarter win from the year prior will have its game against us highlighted on a bulletin board somewhere. They want revenge. They’ve drawn the bull’s eye squarely on us.

So welcome back to the Ivies, coach Pendergast. You are officially a marked man coaching a marked team. You may not be following the most liked coach to ever don the carnelian and white, but you are following one of the most successful. In the end, that’s all it boils down to. Mangurian willed an often outmatched team to two straight 5-2 Ivy seasons. Can you do the same or better?

Hopefully, your philosophies on coaching, all the strategies that have been planned for your team will lead to the one thing that the people here really want. W’s. I certainly hope it all works out. Pendergast is one of the nicer people I’ve ever met (in my limited dealings with the man). He deserves success. But a lot of things happen in this league that don’t deserve to happen.

Get more points on the board than the other team. That’s all we’re asking. You task starts tomorrow. Godspeed.

Archived article by Charles Persons