Football Prepares for the Long-Awaited Season

Fordham+Football+looks+forward+to+setting+up+at+the+line+of+scrimmage+again+this+season.+%28Courtesy+of+Fordham+Athletics%29+

Fordham Football looks forward to setting up at the line of scrimmage again this season. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Dylan Balsamo, Managing Editor

To the casual fan of collegiate athletics, it will have seemed that college football was the only fall sport that was able to have its regularly-scheduled season go off without a hitch. But that is only some of the story; it was really only the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of Division I that was able to play this fall. Out of the general public’s attention per usual, the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) saw all of their conferences and programs either cancel their fall season or delay it enough until their only option was to play in the spring.

And the FCS includes Fordham. 

In the Rams’ case, their conference, the Patriot League, called off fall activities during mid-July, meaning they have had half a year to readjust and stay in shape. For most of the fall and winter, what that meant was light workouts a handful of days out of the week, with the squad split in half alternating between stints indoors in the weight room and outdoors doing socially distanced workouts on Jack Coffey Field. It’s the best that they could do in a time that no amount of football playing or coaching could ever prepare them for. 

But now comes what they have been waiting for: The 2020 (now spring 2021) Patriot League football season is happening, and it’s coming soon. The Rams will play their first of four regular season games in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania on March 13 at Bucknell University and their first home game on March 27, hosting Lafayette College in the Bronx. It will be a four-game regular season, with the remaining regular season games against Holy Cross and Colgate University. If all goes well for Fordham, they will play in the Patriot League Championship Game on April 17.

It’s a creative way to go about an unprecedented year and environment to try and play sports in. For the Rams, they are confident that the way they have been going about working during their time in football limbo is the best way that they can prepare for what is ahead in the next two and a half months.

“We’ve been aiming to put our guys in a position where, no matter where or when we start playing, they’ll be ready,” head coach Joe Conlin said in conversation back in early December. “There are a lot of variables and possible scenarios, and we’re preparing for all of them here.”

But apart from the unique time to have the season, the incredibly short length of the season and the expectedly odd nature through which the games will be taking place, this will be treated just like any other football season, a season where the Rams will have 21 seniors, most of them starters from last season, and will look to improve upon a 2019 that, although disappointing, showed potential for the future of the program.

At the end of a 4-8 season last year, Conlin took the team’s close efforts in a handful of their losses as reason to believe what was ahead for his team was bright.

“I think these guys are gonna leave the season with a little bit of frustration,” Conlin said, sitting in his office following a triumphant season-ending victory at home against Bucknell. “We had an opportunity to win [the game against] Lehigh … [we had a chance against] Lafayette, [for] two and a half quarters of the game against Holy Cross, we were the better team, [and the game against] Central Connecticut came down to a field goal on a last second drive. Those are four games right there where, had we done some things a little bit better, they could have gone our way.”

The Rams will be facing two of those aforementioned teams they lost to (and Bucknell) during their four-game trek this season, and will finally have the chance to square up against all of them again, after what will have been a year and half come kickoff of the late season. 

The Fordham Rams, just like the rest of the sporting world, hope that 2020-21 will be a season without subsequence of similarity any time in the near or distant future. But for now, there are four games to be played, and Fordham hopes to be in position to compete.