The last eight days have been a lot like my first eight days at Hofstra. Every day, I race to the mailbox, hoping to get a letter.
Of course, instead of racing with my feet to the bank of mailboxes outside the Resident Director’s office on the first floor of Vander Poel Hall, I race to the virtual post office with my fingers. I do, though, get The Sporting News’ digital newspaper delivered to my inbox every day, just like my roommate and I got the magazine weekly in 1993-94.
(Side topic: Am I the only one who is a little saddened by yet also a contributor to the demise of the handwritten letter? Discuss amongst yourselves)
I’m not expecting letters from my ex-girlfriend (good thing, since they didn’t arrive 15 years ago either). But just like I did in 1993, mail is trickling in—and once again, it’s neat to get it.
Back then, the letters were from friends back home. Today, they’re coming from some of those friends, The Very Best Friends I Met At Hofstra…and Beyond and even a stranger or two. Here’s a sampling in the first-ever Defiantly Dutch Mailbag.
Loyal Reader Todd, who thinks proofreading jokes are funny, wrote in last week wondering why Hofstra played Division III football until 1990 even though it was Division I in every other sport. Economically, it made sense for Hofstra and dozens of other D-I schools to field a football team in Division III, where no scholarships are awarded. But in 1990, the NCAA did away with allowing schools to compete in multiple divisions. Not surprisingly, most schools elected to upgrade their football programs, and since that ruling, the I-AA membership has more than doubled to 124. (It's catching! Check out how ESPN.com refers to I-AA)
Loyal reader “Gonzo Hofstra Fan” was kind enough to write in twice after the Flying Dutchmen got smoked by UConn Thursday. The not-so-near miss against the Huskies reminded Gonzo of the 1995 regular season finale, when Hofstra led Marshall late before falling, 30-28, in Huntington, W.V. I have fond memories of that game: It was the first time I ever traveled to a game by plane. And I remember my stomach doing flip-flops in the press box as Hofstra threatened to beat the most powerful I-AA program ever.
And I forgot, until I dug out the story I wrote about it, that the Dutchmen came back from a two-score deficit and might have won the damn thing if Nick Johnson hadn’t been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for an overzealous celebration after he caught the go-ahead touchdown pass from Kharon Brown. Hofstra went for two and missed.
Gonzo also points out the quarterback for Marshall that day was a 19-year-old freshman named Chad Pennington, who went on to lead the Thundering Herd to the national championship game. I remember watching it Thanksgiving weekend with my dad and the two of us being shocked when Marshall, down 22-20 with time left for one play, attempted a 64-yard field goal—and missed badly—instead of trying to fire a Hail Mary. Of course, we didn’t know then what we know now.
Gonzo’s second note was about the men’s basketball team opening its season in the Charleston Classic. “At least in Clemson we’ll face a decent team to start the season.” Alas, that might be as good as Hofstra’s out-of-conference schedule gets. I’d heard the OOC would not impress anyone—especially these idiots—and some detective work by posters on Hofstra's board at CAAzone.com seems to confirm it’ll be another less-than-imposing slate.
But Gonzo is willing to give Hofstra the benefit of the doubt: “Hofstra was supposed to be in the O'Reilly Auto Parts [do they own college hoops, or something] Puerto Rico Classic from Nov. 20-23, but backed out. Seton Hall opens with USC in that tournament and I suspect nobody from Hofstra wanted to be on the same island with Bobby Gonzalez for five days. Can't say I blame them.”
On that note…I’ve got another entertaining letter unrelated to sports I’m saving for tomorrow. See you then. And thanks as always for reading and for writing in and keep those emails coming. Unless, of course, you want to write handwrite a letter. In which case I’ve got to get a P.O. Box.