Jump to content

UAlbany Athletics- America East-
SOCIAL MEDIA: UAlbany Facebook- UAlbany Instagram- UAlbany Twitter- UAlbany Blog-
MEDIA: Albany Student Press- America East TV- ESPN3- Schenectady Gazette- The Team 104.5 ESPN Radio- The Team 104.5 ESPN Radio Archive interviews- Times Union College Sports- Times Union Sports- WCDB- WOFX 980-
WINTER SPORTS LINKS: College Insider- Pomeroy Ratings- Real TimeRPI-
SPRING SPORTS LINKS: Inside Lacrosse- Lax Power Backup Stick-
OTHER FORUMS: America East Forum- Any Given Saturday Forum- Championship Subdivision forum(1-AA Discussion) The Hen House - Siena Forum- Stony Brook Forum- Vermont Forum

Recommended Posts

A good column on the NEC on the Sports Network:


Extra Point


Extra Point - Week Three: Yes Georgia, there's football in the Northeast


By Matt Dougherty, I-AA Football Editor


Philadelphia, PA - Central Connecticut State 17, Georgia Southern 13.


Ladies and Gentlemen, the Northeast Conference arrived on Saturday, and now people from Georgia to Montana know it. Just don’t think they are going away soon.


After years of toiling against Patriot League and Atlantic 10 foes, playing opponents below the Division I level or facing fellow non or limited- scholarship programs, Central Connecticut State came through with the conference’s first real quality win last year by taking out Colgate, 24-22. This year, Albany notched a victory against Lehigh, and Central Connecticut State opened everyone’s eyes to the potential of the Northeast Conference by taking down one of I-AA’s most-storied programs in Statesboro on Saturday.


With programs that are building and gaining support, the wins can’t be written off as flukes, either.


"We’re physical, we can run the ball and run it in the fourth quarter, and we compete," said first-year Central Connecticut State head coach Jeff McInerney, who has his team off to a 2-0 start and just outside the top 25 rankings. "One thing about the game (against Georgia Southern) is that I thought we outhit them. We played straight to the vest and just chopped wood."


A big difference in the game was the running of Justise Hairston, who carried 18 times for 106 yards against the Eagle defense. The Blue Devils were able to bring in Hairston in part because NEC teams can now offer up to 30 scholarships, which should upgrade the talent level on the rosters. McInerney believes that gives the Blue Devils a chance to tap into the talent in the populated Northeast corridor of the country, and Monmouth head coach Kevin Callahan says the limited scholarships give the conference’s teams a better opportunity overall. While the teams can recruit talent in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Callahan also notes that more teams are going out of the Northeast and recruiting throughout the east coast down to Florida.


"Scholarships have helped even the playing field a little bit," said Callahan. "It’s allowed us all to expand our recruiting base. Now when you can go out of the Northeast and offer a full or partial scholarship that increases the chance at getting those recruits from outside the region."


Northeast Conference Associate Commissioner Ron Ratner says the 30 scholarship limit was put in this season and will be evaluated periodically. Callahan said some schools would probably want to give a full allotment of scholarships, while others might not want to give any.


"There’s a possibility that the league will continue to move forward and increase the number of scholarships that schools can afford," Callahan said. "Thirty was kind of a compromise number when we went to it. It’s important that the school presidents all get on the same page and figure out what direction we want to take."


The recent success wasn’t built with one recruiting season with scholarships, however. Northeast Conference teams has progressively taken on more games and produced a greater share of wins against full-scholarship level leagues. The NEC was winless in seven such contests in 2002, and posted a 2-14 mark with a pair of Monmouth wins against Georgetown in 2003 and 2004. Ugly losses were the norm, with scores like 51-0 and 52-3 littered in the pool of losses. But the 2005 season brought Central Connecticut State’s win at Colgate and a 2-8 overall record with a few more competitive efforts, and the NEC is off to a 4-5 start with a quality effort in almost every game in 2006. More teams are getting into the act, as a league-record six teams face off with at least one full-scholarship team in 2006.


"Over the last two to three years, the league has gotten progressively more competitive. Several teams are ambitious in scheduling and will go out to play Patriot and Ivy teams, and now they’re able to do a good job in those games," Callahan said. "Once you have a history of success you can develop that in the future. CCSU and Albany are games you can point to and see that this level is playing a good brand of football. When we were just playing each other, we felt it was a good level but nobody noticed."


The NEC is locked into sending its champion to the Gridiron Classic to face the champion of the Pioneer Football League on Nov. 18. Though that game is before the postseason and does not exclude the NEC from a possible playoff berth, NEC coaches and administrators know they are fighting an uphill battle to have a chance at obtaining an automatic qualifier for the league or earning a postseason spot as an at-large.


"Seeking an automatic qualifier to the postseason is a priority and it should be," Callahan said. "The more we play out of conference opponents and win, it adds more credibility to what we’re doing."


But Callahan knows there is still a long way to go. The NEC teams are still going to be heavy underdogs against top I-AA opponents, and still have their hands full in matchups like Albany’s trip to Delaware this weekend and Monmouth’s visit to Colgate next Saturday.


"We’re gaining confidence, but we still know that it would be quite an undertaking (to win at Colgate)," Callahan said. "They are a perennial playoff team and we know that going into a place like that would be quite a feat."


While it would still be an upset, no one would be shocked to see another NEC team pull off a surprise and maker greater strides for the league’s quest for respect and, eventually, a playoff spot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...