A nationally televised audience saw a young team growing up in front of their very eyes, and I couldn’t be more proud. After having it taken to us by a very good Yale team on our field and the disappointment we all fell, we responded the way I had hoped we would – playing the defending Ivy champs even in the first half on the road and staying within a possession until late in the third.
Let me be clear – no one coaches for moral victories, and certainly our players take the field every game focused on what they can do to help us win. I certainly didn’t walk out of Harvard Stadium feeling good about the loss, but at the same time part of educating and teaching is fostering growth. There have been few Cornell teams in recent history that have gone toe-to-toe with Harvard at their stadium.
I said last weekend that progress isn’t always linear, and the effort against Harvard after the loss to Yale was a perfect example. At that time I said sometimes it’s two steps forward and a giant step back. We responded to our setback with a giant step forward, both on the field in front of our fans and in practice away from the bright lights. That is just as important as what everyone saw on the field in Cambridge.
How has Harvard been able to consistently compete for Ivy titles? Consistency – in both recruiting and the development of their players. Remember, Cornell won 11 straight over the Crimson from 1986 – 1996. Tim Murphy took over as Harvard’s head coach in 1994, and is now 13-1 against Cornell since 2001. All of those things were built slowly over many years. In his first three seasons, his teams went 4-6, 2-8 and 4-6, never winning more than two Ivy games. He was able to build a program the right way and it has sustained itself for the better part of two decades. We are doing the same thing here!
One of the things we’ve preached from day one is that “It’s All About the Ball.” We saw great examples of that this past weekend, creating five turnovers (we had two in the first three games of the season) and turning it over just once ourselves (five in the first three games). More importantly, we created those turnovers with our relentless defensive attack – separating players from the ball or reading the quarterback and stepping in front of passes. On offense, we did a great job protecting the ball, only giving it away one time. This is the result of tremendous effort, and decision making of our offensive players. Those turnovers and lack of giving the ball away allowed us to compete against the team that is the measuring stick in our conference.
The excitement around our program has caught the attention of players around the league, our coaches and recruits. There is a buzz about what we’re building. I told our players in the locker room after the game not to forget the words to Cornell Victorious, which we sing after each win. I don’t know if it will be this week against a strong Lehigh program that consistently competes for Patriot League titles, or some future week, but we know wins will come if we continue the growth we showed from last weekend to now.
Our players are excited to return home and play in front of a great Homecoming crowd. The University does an outstanding job making Homecoming a weekend long event. We hope that you’ll be in the stands, celebrating with generations of Cornellians returning to the place they love. If you can’t make it, you can watch the game live on the Ivy League Digital Network. Of our final six games, two will be on Fox College Sports and the other four will be on the Digital Network, so it will be easy to follow our continued progress. I can’t thank you enough for your support, whether you are at the games live, or with us in spirit as we take the field each week the players, coaches, and staff truly appreciate it. We salute you!
David J. Archer 05′
The Roger J. Weiss ’61
Head Coach of Football