According to his biography in the Hofstra media guides, athletic director Jack Hayes “…has placed a significant emphasis on fund-raising during his tenure,” which is a nice way of saying the price of our season tickets have risen dramatically under his watch and means he’s not always the easiest guy in the room for whom to feel sympathy.
But count me among those who have felt for him since last Thursday’s announcement that Hofstra was pulling the plug on the football program. Hayes’ career arc suggests Hofstra is a stop along the way, not the final destination, and I cannot imagine KILLED FOOTBALL is the type of thing one who aspires to return to a BCS school wants to have on his resume.
The task of delivering the news that would crush a coaching staff and its 80-some players was also left to Hayes, presumably because Stuart Rabinowitz had to go over his talking points and rehearse for his appearance with Mike Francesa. Eight days later, Rabinowitz is nowhere to be found while Hayes is still taking the bullets and the heat for his boss’ decision.
Hayes sat down this week with the original Hofstra blogger, Jack Styczynski, for a Q&A at The New York Times’ “Quad Blog.” Even if you’d prefer to have an audience with Rabinowitz, it’s a really good, insightful interview that is well worth your time. And, personally, it gives me reason to hope that in nine or 10 years, when Hofstra football returns, I’ll be conducting Q&As with Hayes’ successor at The New York Times or some other prestigious newspaper. Aren’t I a dreamer, thinking newspapers and their websites will still be around in 2020?
While I ponder how nobody is organizing Facebook pages to save newspapers and mass media as we know it, here are some other pre-weekend, pre-exam bits and bytes:
—Tom Pecora has not been pleased with the Dutchmen’s last two home wins, but I think the narrow victories over Fairfield and Manhattan will be pivotal ones in the Dutchmen’s development. A team that is still quite young, experience-wise, needs to win games like those—and in the fashion it did, by outlasting Fairfield in a shootout and hanging on against Manhattan in a defensive sludge fest—to hasten its maturity process.
Beating Fairfield and Manhattan doesn’t mean the Dutchmen will win the CAA, but the gritty wins over the Stags and Jaspers should build confidence and momentum and reduce the odds of a midseason skid like the one the Dutchmen endured last season, when they went 2-6 immediately after an eight-game winning streak.
I thought the most crushing defeat in that span was the 67-64 loss to Iona right before Christmas. Like against Manhattan Wednesday, the Dutchmen threatened to blow Iona out in the first half before letting the Gaels crawl back into it. The difference this time, of course, was the Dutchmen never allowed the Jaspers to come all the way back. They’re ugly wins and they made for some sleepless nights in the Pecora household, but do not underestimate how valuable those wins might look in March.
—Of course, if the Dutchmen lose tomorrow—when New Hampshire, one of the teams they beat during the 2-6 funk last year, visits the Arena—I’ll look really foolish. The America East retro rematch against the Wildcats, whose coach is ex-Drexel head man Bill Herrion, could make the Manhattan game look like the hoops version of Jennifer Aniston.
New Hampshire lost to Pitt last Friday in a game in which it trailed 15-7 at halftime. Fifteen. To. Seven. It was the lowest-scoring first half of the shot clock era. If the Dutchmen and Manhattan were throwing rocks Wednesday, what were New Hampshire and Pitt throwing? The White Mountains?
Anyway, like most teams, the Dutchmen respond better to an angry coach than a reasonably happy one, so I’d expect a sharper effort tomorrow. And if that effort doesn’t appear? Don’t be shocked if Pecora is willing to absorb a painful loss, a la Iona last year, to teach some lessons.
That said, Charles Jenkins will not go 3-of-14 from the field again and I imagine Miklos Szabo and Cornelius Vines will play more like they did last Saturday than Wednesday. And for some reason, I think we’ll see more out of David Imes, who has impressed Pecora in limited duty this far. I don’t think we’ll see Brad Kelleher, because the NCAA is trying to confirm whether or not he took two cents from the penny dish at Dunkin’ Donuts in order to pay for a coffee three years ago. But John Wall is free and clear!
Where was I? Oh yeah. New Hampshire came back from an early deficit to give the Dutchmen everything they could handle up north last year, so I’d be surprised if the Wildcats were blown out of the gym. The Dutchmen win but Litos’ prediction might be a bit too optimistic. If you’re there—and you should be there, since this is the last home game until the New Year—stop by and say hi. I’ll be the guy yelling about the Shaq of the NAC.
—Looking for a new college football team to follow? Charlotte announced today it still plans to play football beginning in 2013. The school had considered putting off its debut season for three years to allow the economy to further improve. What a concept, a school not quitting on a football team that doesn’t even exist yet. How cute of “Little Charlotte.”
—Speaking of football, sort of, I was so hoping the final of the Manhattan game would be 52-38. That would have been AWESOME. As is, the Flying Dutchmen football team never played a 44-39 game, though it did come close with a 45-38 win over Lehigh in 1997. As I wrote on Twitter late Wednesday (gratuitous plug): Damnit! Just swap FTs and we would have had that tonight.
Some other 44-39 near-misses, lifted from Twitter (gratuitous plug):
—41-40 loss to Maine, 2008
—44-41 loss to Furman, 2005
—43-37 loss to Richmond, 2005
—44-36 win over Buffalo, 1998
—Going back to newspapers for a moment: To borrow a phrase from Peter King, this may only interest me, but I was disappointed to see the New York Daily News’ coverage of the Manhattan game relegated to the web Thursday morning. I got my copy of the paper on the Island, so it’s possible that different editions had it, but I tend to doubt it.
Like most people, I long ago began reading everything on the web, but I try to support the News by buying it on the newsstand as often as possible. The News has been my favorite newspaper since I was old enough to read—my Dad used to bring home copies from the office—and it remained the same size even as Newsday, the New York Post and Times cut an inch or more of newsprint, thereby giving people even less reason to pick them up. (I’m pretty sure Newsday is a postage stamp now)
Alas, nothing good lasts forever and so the News is now much smaller than it used to be. Still better than the rest, but not as good as it was.
—I leave you with this: VCU hosts Richmond Saturday in the renewal of one of Virginia’s best hoops rivalries. Maybe next year, it’ll be a conference game again. More next week on my ideas for CAA realignment and, more importantly to us, Hofstra's new long-term athletic home.