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Let's Go 'Gate!

Twenty-six years ago, on November 19, 1977, the undefeated Colgate Raider football team, 10-0 at the time, traveled to Newark, Delaware, to play arch-rival Delaware. Colgate was ranked 25th in the country at the time -- there was no I-A or I-AA then, just "Division I", and a win would have put my school in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana.

I was a senior at Colgate then, and running the school radio station, WRCU-FM. And we had what was going to be one of our biggest listening audiences ever, for our game in Delaware. We had two announcers there, and I was back at the station to coordinate the broadcast.

And then our line went down. And stayed down. We couldn't broadcast the game until the third quarter, when we finally were able to find a backup phone line, in those dark ages before cellphones.

It was just as well. We got blown out and lost 21-3, and never got to the bowl game.

Why is this story so relevant today? Well, after winning two Division I-AA playoff games in driving snowstorms in Hamilton, NY, today, Colgate traveled to south Florida to play Florida Atlantic University (a school which is going to I-A next year) in the semifinals, and blew them out 36-24 in a game that was, as the old cliche goes, "not as close as the score would indicate", and guess who they're going to be playing in the I-AA championship game next Friday?

That's right, the University of Delaware Fighting Blue Hens. (And if you were a college athlete, would you want to be a "Fighting Blue Hen"? I sure wouldn't.) Delaware won its semifinal over Wofford College (of South Carolina) 24-9, and so next Friday night's I-AA championship will be Colgate vs. Delaware, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Wish I could go, but that's way too far for a quick trip. So I'll be watching on TV (ESPN2, Friday, Dec. 19, 6 PM CT), as I'm sure Colgate alumni and friends all over the country will be, and rooting for my alma mater.

As I wrote here last week, I couldn't be prouder that my school, which gives no athletic scholarships, and has only 2500 students, can probably be the favorite in a championship against a state school six times its size. It shows that the term student-athlete isn't dead, even in this era of big-time college sports.

It's only the second time in Colgate history that they've been in an NCAA final -- the 1992 hockey team lost to Wisconsin in that year's final.

Seventy-one years ago, when college athletics were much different, Colgate was a national power, and that year went 9-0, winning all games by shutout. That was the famous unbeaten, untied, un-scored-upon and uninvited (to a bowl game) Raider squad. Perhaps this year's team, currently 15-0 and winners of 21 games in a row, can avenge that long-ago slight.

Let's go 'gate!