Sept. 14, 2004
Game #1: Cornell at Bucknell
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 18 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Site: Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium (13,100), Lewisburg, Pa.
2004 Records: Cornell (0-0, 0-0 Ivy); Bucknell (0-1, 0-0 Patriot)
Series Record: Cornell leads 34-9
Last Meeting: Cornell won 21-19, Sept. 20, 2003 in Ithaca, N.Y.
Radio: WHCU 870 AM, Barry Leonard (play-by-play), Buck Briggs (color)
Live Stats: Available at www.CornellBigRed.com
Tickets: Available by calling (607) 254-BEAR
Weather.com Forecast: Saturday calls for 60 percent chance of rain with a high of 72 degrees and a low of 62 degrees.
HEAD COACH JIM KNOWLES `87
The Roger J. Weiss `61 Head Coach of Football Jim Knowles is in his first season at the helm of the Big Red (0-0, .000) ... Knowles, an All-Ivy defensive end and three-year letter winner on the gridiron, was hired by his alma mater as head coach on Jan. 30, 2004.
ITHACA, N.Y. -- It's the moment he has waited for as long as he's been coaching. Now, the 25th head football coach in Cornell history and just the third to also play for the Big Red, will ready his team to take the field for the first time when Jim Knowles `87 leads his squad onto the field against Bucknell on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. in the 2004 season opener. The contest can be heard live on WHCU-AM 870 or through www.CornellBigRed.com with the purchase of the Big Red Sports pass. The game will open Cornell's 117th season of football.
Ever since Knowles became the seventh Roger J. Weiss `61 Head Coach of Football on Jan. 30, he has had Sept. 18 circled on his calendar. Now, after a session of spring practice and the two-a-days of fall, Cornell will unveil a new-look team with a different attitude.
Knowles understands success and what it will take to make the Big Red a winner, previously spending nine seasons (1988-96) as an assistant at Cornell, helping lead the team to a pair of Ivy League titles (1988 and 1990). From Cornell, he went on to spend six years as an assistant coach, including three years as defensive coordinator, at Western Michigan before serving as linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at Mississippi.
Cornell has been waiting nearly a year to try and erase the memories of last season's 1-9 campaign, and has plenty of talent to start the rebuilding process. Leading the way on offense is senior quarterback D.J. Busch and first-team All-Ivy offensive lineman Kevin Boothe. The defense has All-Ivy returnees Brad Kitlowski and Joel Sussman at safety and Ryan Lempa on the defensive line. More All-Ivy talent returns on special teams, where punter Mike Baumgartel and place-kicker Trevor MacMeekin will be available. In all, 15 starters and 40 letter winners return this season.
First up is a familiar opening day opponent in Bucknell, a school Cornell has met to begin three of the last four seasons. In 2001, the Big Red started with Yale after the events of Sept. 11 forced the cancellation of the season-opening matchup between the Bison and the Big Red. That would have been former coach Tim Pendergast's first game as head coach at Cornell. The Big Red leads the all-time series with the Bison 34-9, including 6-2 in season openers. Cornell claimed its only win of the 2003 season with a 21-19 win over Bucknell.
Bucknell has one game under its belt, falling behind early in a 20-14 loss to nationally ranked Villanova on Sept. 2. Quarterback Daris Wilson finished the afternoon 10-of-13 passing for 99 yards and a touchdown while running the triple-option offense. He also carried the ball 24 times and scored a touchdown, but gained a total of just 32 yards. Blamah Sarnor led the ground game with 43 yards on 12 carries. The defense allowed the Wildcats 341 yards of offense and forced four turnovers in the loss.
Knowles was 2-1 against Bucknell as a player and 3-2 during his time at Cornell as an assistant. Included was a 16-3 win over the Bison during his senior year, capping a five-game improvement from his junior year (3-7 to 8-2), the best turnaround in school history.
KNOWLES NOTES: Jim Knowles, a three-year letter winner and starter on the defensive line, was 2-1 against Bucknell as a player. In his 13 years as a player and assistant coach, the Big Red posted a 66-61-2 record with two Ivy League co-championships (1988, 1990).
ASSORTED BIG RED COACHING NOTES: Coaches are 19-5 in their first games as head coach at Cornell ... the only Cornell head coach to open his Big Red career against Bucknell was Jack Fouts in 1989, a 20-9 Cornell win on the road ... Cornell coaches are 7-16-1 all-time in their first road contests.
FOR OPENERS: If the Big Red continues its pattern of success in season openers, it could be big trouble for this year's opponent, Bucknell. The Big Red's sports an all-time record of 85-27-4 (.750) in season openers and is 6-2 against Bucknell when Cornell plays the Bison to open the season. Last year the Big Red claimed a 21-19 win at Schoellkopf Field in its season opener against Bucknell.
LATE START: Cornell will be one of the last four Division I-A or I-AA teams to open the season, joining three of its Ivy League brethren. The 7 p.m. kickoff on Sept. 25 is matched only by Princeton (vs. Lafayette), Columbia (vs. Fordham) and Penn (at San Diego) as the latest starts to the 2004 campaign.
2004 IVY LEAGUE MEDIA POLL: The Cornell football team has been picked to finish eighth in the Ivy League in the preseason media poll. The Big Red, which returns 17 starters under first-year head coach Jim Knowles, earned 22 points in the poll after last season's 1-9 mark. Penn is the media favorite to earn a third consecutive conference crown, earning six first-place votes and 114 points after completing an unbeaten, 10-0 slate in 2003. The Quakers were not a unanimous choice to win the conference, however, as both Harvard (107 points) and Yale (105 points) came within nine points of the top spot. The Crimson garnered four first-place votes, while the Bulldogs matched Penn with six. Brown (73 points), Dartmouth (58 points), Princeton (51 points), Columbia (46 points) and Cornell round out the poll. The poll was conducted by the Ivy League with two media members that cover each school voting. It is the second straight season Penn has been picked to win the league.
THE CORNELL BUCKNELL SERIES: (Cornell leads 34-9) Cornell and Bucknell have met 43 times on the gridiron, dating back to the first encounter in the 1888 season. The two teams have met in Ithaca 34 times, and the Big Red holds a 29-5 advantage in those contests. When Cornell has faced Bucknell on the road, it has gone 5-4 vs. the Bison. The largest margin of victory in the series was a 66-0 Cornell win on Oct. 5, 1889. Cornell won 26 of the first 27 matchups with Bucknell, but the two teams have split the last 16 meetings down the middle with Cornell taking a 21-19 win last season at Schoellkopf Field.
CORNELL VS. THE PATRIOT LEAGUE: Cornell has a 117-65-7 against the seven current members of the Patriot League football conference, including a 34-9 edge over Bucknell. The Big Red only trails one Patriot League opponent in the all-time series, as Georgetown won last year's only meeting between the two teams. Cornell has advantages over Colgate (46-37-3), Fordham (4-2-0), Holy Cross (5-0-0), Lafayette (14-8-2) and Lehigh (14-8-2).
BACK IN THE SADDLE ...: Senior quarterback D.J. Busch opens his first full season as a starter after taking over for five games last year. Busch passed for 1,320 yards and seven touchdowns, including a 312-yard effort against Columbia that ranks 13th all-time in a single game at Cornell. In all, Busch had four games of 200 yards passing or better. The former Colorado State transfer started for the Rams early in the 2001 season, passing for 337 and a pair of touchdowns. In high school, the left-handed Busch threw for 6,832 yards and 67 touchdowns at Santana HS.
AND READY TO HAND OFF TO A STABLE OF RUNNING BACKS: Busch will have plenty of options in the backfield when Cornell wants to hand off, as four runners will get opportunities in 2004. Junior Joshua Johnston, last year's leading rusher with 446 yards, looks to be the favorite to start after scoring four times in 2003. Both junior Andre Hardaway and senior Marcus Blanks, who combined for 437 yards on the ground a season ago, are also expected to see time, as is sophomore Anthony Macaluso, who did not see varsity action in 2003.
SENIORS DOMINATE THE DEPTH CHART ... : Of the 45 players listed on two-deeps for the offense and defense, 19 are seniors (including 13 starters), 15 are juniors (seven starters), nine are sophomores (two starters) and two are freshmen (0 starters). Both the place-kicker and punter are seniors as well, while the primary punt and kick returners are juniors.
PARTICULARLY ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE: Four of the five starters on the offensive line are seniors, while two juniors and two seniors are listed among the 10-player depth chart. Kevin Boothe, one of those seniors, is eligible to apply for another season of competition due to an injury as a freshman.
LOOKING TO SNAP THE SKID: Cornell enters the Bucknell game on a nine-game losing streak, the second-longest skid in the 117-year history of the program. A loss to the Bison on Saturday would match the record of 10 that spanned the final seven games of the 1975 season and the first three games of 1976, all under the tutelage of two-time Super Bowl champion coach George Seifert. The nine-game losing streak is the fifth-longest in Division I-AA, with Savannah State's 15-game slide leading the list. Cornell's last win came against Bucknell, a 21-19 win last Sept. 20 at Schoellkopf Field.
BROTHERS IN ARMS: Cornell has two sets of brothers on this year's team, as both David and Marcus Blanks and Doug and Ryan Lempa will suit up for the Big Red in 2004. The Blanks twins have made quite an impact on the Big Red program already, as the seniors have combined for five varsity letters. David is a three-year letter winner at defensive back, while Marcus has earned two letters and was an honorable mention All-Ivy pick as a sophomore. Ryan Lempa serves this season as a tri-captain and was an honorable mention All-Ivy pick in 2003 from his position on the defensive line. The senior will tutor his freshman brother, Doug, who enters Cornell as a decorated prep linebacker.
NUMBERS TO WATCH FOR: Cornell players are closing in on some milestones heading into the Bucknell contest. Below are where they stand heading into the game:
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: Cornell's 2004 schedule ranks as the 13th-toughest in Division I-AA according to the NCAA based on last year's opponents' records. The Big Red's 2004 opponents were a combined 66-44 (.600) a season ago. Included in that record was 2003 Division I-AA runner-up Colgate, which finished last year 15-1, and 2003 Ivy League champ Penn (10-0), which went unbeaten a season ago.
BOOTHE, HILL NAMED PRESEASON ALL-IVY BY I-AA.ORG: Senior offensive lineman Kevin Boothe and senior wide receiver Carlos Hill have been honored by I-AA.org in its 2004 Fall Preview as preseason All-Ivy League selections. Boothe was named to the first team, while Hill was a second-team pick. Boothe enters the season as one of the top linemen in Division I-AA. The 6-5, 300-pound right tackle was a first-team All-Ivy selection in 2003 and a second-team pick in 2002. He will anchor an offensive line that will be led by five seniors. Hill, the team's top returning pass catcher, hauled in 36 passes for 419 yards and three touchdowns in 2003 after collecting just one reception in his first two years on East Hill. The two-year letter winner averaged 11.6 yards per catch as a junior and will use his 6-3, 207-pound frame to emerge as one of senior quarterback D.J. Busch's favorite targets in 2004. I-AA.org was launched in 2001 as a news source for individuals, organizations and broadcasters who seek information about the collegiate football Division I-AA. Publishing thousands of news articles each year, I-AA.org has become the worldwide leader in I-AA news distribution.
RETURNING ALL-IVY PERFORMERS: Cornell has seven returning All-Ivy League selections on this year's roster. Safeties Joel Sussman (2nd team - 2002) and Brad Kitlowski (HM - 2002, 03), offensive lineman Kevin Boothe (1st team - 2003, 2nd team - 2002), place-kicker Trevor MacMeekin (2nd team - 2002), running back Marcus Blanks (HM - 2002), punter Mike Baumgartel (HM - 2003) and defensive lineman Ryan Lempa (HM - 2003) have all earned honors as voted by the league's eight head coaches over the last two seasons.
2004 CAPTAINS: A trio of seniors will serve as captains for the 2004 season. Fifth-year defensive lineman Ryan Lempa joins a pair of seniors, safety Brad Kitlowski and offensive lineman David Archer, as tri-captains for Cornell's 117th season of football. Lempa was an honorable mention All-Ivy selection a season ago, while Kitlowski has been named honorable mention All-Ivy twice. Archer, a three-year starter, is one of the hardest working and most respected players on the squad.
A WHOLE NEW LOOK: Cornell has a new attitude heading into the 2004 season, and first-year head coach is making sure the squad has a new look as well -- in more ways than one. Cornell is sporting new uniform jerseys in 2004 thanks to a gift from an alumnus. The red and white game jerseys are made by adidas. Each jersey has a patch with the number 77 and a emblem of the U.S. 4th infantry division in honor of George Wood `93, who was killed in Iraq last November. The team will also wear a sticker on their helmets with the number 57 on it for teammate Jaime McManamon `07, who was killed in a car accident in May.
FRESHMEN VIE FOR PLAYING TIME: There are three freshmen listed on the Big Red's two-deep: defensive back Chi Chi Ibegbu, defensive whip Michael Boyd and backup punter Logan Jonas. Both Boyd and Ibegbu should see playing time in the season opener against Bucknell.
RUNNING WITH THE BALL ... IN THE CLASSROOM: A pair of Cornell running backs have earned Academic All-District honors by the College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA), as both senior Marcus Blanks and junior Joshua Johnston have earned accolades. Johnston, the lone sophomore on the District I team a season ago, led the Big Red in rushing yards a season ago. A two-time member of the Ivy League Honor Roll, Johnston rushed for 78 yards in a near-upset of nationally ranked Colgate and totaled 170 yards in the game. Blanks was named to the all-district team in 2002 after earning honorable mention All-Ivy honors and leading the squad in rushing. To be selected to the team, the student-athlete must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or above and be a starter or key reserve. First-team all-district selections then go on to the national Academic All-America ballot. Last season Kevin Rooney `04 was named first-team Academic-All-America, one of four Cornell student-athletes to earn that honor.
CORNELL ALL-TIME: Now in its 117th season of football, Cornell has an overall record of 590-430-34 (.576). The program's 590 wins rank 10th among all Division I-AA schools. Over the years, it has taken on 86 different opponents, with its most frequent opponent being Penn (110 times).
STORIED RIVALRIES: Cornell is involved in three of the top 20 most-played rivalries. Heading into the 2004 campaign, the Big Red-Penn series ranks fifth in most games played with 110. The 91 meetings between Cornell and Columbia ranks 12th, while Cornell-Colgate stands 17th with 86 games played. Cornell is also involved in two of the three longest uninterrupted series. Cornell has played Dartmouth every season since 1919, a span of 85 years, trailing just the Lehigh-Lafayette series, which dates back to 1897. Cornell has also played Penn every year since 1919 for a total of 84 games. The Big Red's oldest active rivalry is with this week's opponent, Bucknell. Although the teams have met just 43 times, the squads first met during the 1888 season, Cornell's second season of football.
AP NO. 1: Cornell is the only Ivy League school to be ranked No. 1 in the weekly Associated Press poll, holding the top ranking for four weeks (10/15-10/29) of the 1940 season. The Big Red ended that season 6-2 with wins over Army, Syracuse and Ohio State.
SPRINT TO PRACTICE: Two members of Cornell's sprint football program worked out with the varsity team during some of its preseason practices. Sophomore quarterback Nick LiVigne and junior quarterback Alec Macaulay got prepared for the 2004 sprint campaign by taking snaps at varsity practice. Cornell is one of five schools in the country that sponsors sprint (formerly lightweight or 150-pound) football. To be eligible to play, every student-athlete must weigh 166 pounds or less 48 hours before the game. The Big Red is led by 28th-year head coach Terry Cullen, who's father, Bob, was one of the sport's great innovators. The league championship trophy is named the Robert L. Cullen Collegiate Sprint Football Championship Trophy. Cornell has won the title five times in the sport's 70-year history.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: Cornell has won five national titles in its storied football history. The Big Red claim at least a share of the 1915 (Helms Athletic Foundation, Houlgate System, National Championship Foundation and Parke Davis), 1921 (Helms, Houlgate, National Championship Foundation and Parke Davis), 1922 (Helms, Parke Davis), 1923 (Sagarin) and 1939 (Litkenhous, Sagarin) titles. All five teams went undefeated and dominated their opponents. The 1915 team was 9-0 and outscored its opponents 287-50 with four shutouts. The 1921, 1922 and 1923 squads each went 8-0 and outscored its opponents 392-21, 339-27 and 320-33, respectively. The teams allowed more than one touchdown in a game just once during that 24-game span while scoring 40 or more points 14 times. The 1939 team was 8-0 and defeated Syracuse, Penn State and Ohio State.
ASSORTED PLAYER NOTES:
HISTORIC SCHOELLKOPF FIELD: Schoellkopf Field has been an indelible mark of Cornell football since it opened in 1915. A gift from Willard Straight `01 and the family of Henry (Heinie) Schoellkopf `02 made the construction possible for the current stadium. The Big Red's first year on the field was one of its best, going 9-0 and winning the national championship. In 1915, General Electric Company completed work on a flood searchlight system for the field, and in 1924 a construction project was completed to bring capacity from 9,000 to 21,500. In 1947 that was increased to its current capacity of 25,597 and a press box was added. In 1971 a gift was made to put artificial turf on the field, and it has since been resurfaced three times, the latest in 1999. A new press box was built in 1986. Schoellkopf Memorial Hall, which will house the Big Red football offices, locker rooms and a tradition room, is currently being renovated. Work is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2005 season. Schoellkopf Field is the fourth-oldest Division I-AA Stadium, opening in 1915. Only Penn's Franklin Field (1895), Harvard Stadium (1903) and the Yale Bowl (1914) are older. Its capacity of 25,597 ranks as the eighth-largest stadium in Division I-AA. Tennessee State's Coliseum seats 67,500 to lead all stadiums.
SCHOELLKOPF SELLOUT II: Cornell will attempt to break a modern-day attendance record when the Big Red opens its 2004 home slate against Yale on Saturday, Sept. 25 at 1 p.m. at Schoellkopf Field as part of Schoellkopf Sellout II. The game will feature the debut of head coach Jim Knowles, a 1987 Cornell graduate and three-year letter winner on the gridiron. The Cornell Football Association (CFA), in celebrating its 10th anniversary, will take the opportunity to honor all former Big Red players, led by the legendary 1948-52 teams. Cornell played Yale in the original Schoellkopf Sellout during the 2000 season and drew nearly 17,000 fans for a 24-23 win over the Bulldogs.
TOUCHDOWNS FOR HOPE: Every time the Big Red scores a touchdown this season, the American Cancer Society will benefit, as the Tompkins Trust Company will donate $100 to the ACS for each Cornell TD. The money will be used to help fund colorectal research and testing here in the greater Ithaca area. Members of the Cornell and Ithaca communities are also invited to participate in the program by filling out a pledge card at the Touchdowns for Hope information table at all home games or at any Tompkins Trust Company branch.
CORNELL MOURNS THE LOSS OF TWO FORMER BIG RED FOOTBALL PLAYERS: This past year, the Cornell football family lost two important members far too early. In a different time, George Wood `93 and Jaime McManamon `07 probably would have been fast friends. A pair of linemen, there's little doubt that Wood would have spent many afternoons trying to keep McManamon from his quarterback, while the youngster would watch hours of film trying to learn how to beat Wood's tremendous technique. Their presence will be felt in the Crescent on Saturday afternoons as their beloved Big Red do what they both loved to -- play for each other on the gridiron and take care of each other off the field.
CLICK IT OR TICKET: The Cornell police and the Big Red athletic department have joined forces to bring greater awareness to seat belt safety while welcoming new head football coach Jim Knowles '87 when the C.U. Click It or Ticket program goes into effect from Sept. 20-24. During that week, the Cornell Police will be conducting random seat belt checkpoints throughout campus. Those stopped at one of these checkpoints and wearing a seat belt will be given a ticket to the Sept. 25 football game against Yale. Those who are not wearing seat belts in compliance with New York State law will be given an appearance ticket to see a local judge.
WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY?: All of the Big Red's football games in 2004 are carried live on WHCU (870 AM) in the Ithaca area and on the internet at www.CornellBigRed.com. Barry Leonard returns for his seventh season in the booth and sixth season in the play-by-play chair, while Buck Briggs '76 returns to provide the color commentary for a fourth season. Special guests will also make appearances throughout the season. You must subscribe to the "Big Red Pass" in order to hear the internet broadcast.
BIG RED ON TV: Three of Cornell's five home games in 2004 will be televised, including two as part of the Ivy League package with the YES Network. The Big Red will face Princeton on Saturday, Oct. 30 at 12 p.m., then closes out the season against defending Ivy champion and preseason favorite Penn on Nov. 20 at 12 p.m. The YES Network is available to viewers in New York, Connecticut, and large parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The YES Network is also available nationally to DIRECTV subscribers who have the "SPORTS Pack," one of the provider's premium services. The YES Network airs on DIRECTV's channel 622. The Big Red will also play local rival and 2003 Division I-AA runner-up Colgate on Sat., Oct. 16 at 1 p.m. on Time Warner Cable, which can be seen locally on channel 26.
GAME TRACKER: If you can't make it to Schoellkopf Field, you can follow the Big Red live on the internet with Game Tracker. Just follow the link on www.CornellBigRed.com for official stats updated in real-time for each of the Big Red's home games.
COACH'S CORNER: "Coach's Corner," featuring Cornell head football coach Jim Knowles '87, is held every Wednesday from 7-8 p.m. during the season, with 12 shows running from Sept. 15 until the final broadcast on Nov. 24. The live call-in show, hosted by Barry Leonard, will be sponsored by the Cornell Football Association and will originate from the Boatyard Grill. Coach Knowles will be joined by members of his staff and selected players at each show. Leonard, the voice of the Big Red football team for seven years, will talk with Knowles about the previous week's game and will give a scouting report on the upcoming opponent, as well as talking about various other topics relating to college football and running an Ivy League program.
EXTRA IVY INFO: The Ivy league office offers a complete online guide to Ancient Eight football on its website: www.IvyLeagueSports.com. The 2004 Ivy League Football e-Guide is a bigger and better look at Ivy football than ever before. It is the one-stop source for not only the 2004 Ivy League football season, but filled with information on past years. It includes:
UP NEXT: Cornell opens its 2004 home season next weekend and begins Ivy League play when it battles Yale on Saturday, Sept. 25 at 1 p.m. in the Schoellkopf Sellout II. The game will serve as the homecoming for head coach Jim Knowles `87 as Cornell will attempt to break a modern-day attendance record at Schoellkopf Field. For ticket information, contact the Big Red athletic ticket office at (607) 254-BEAR.
Cornell will open its 117th season of football on Saturday at Bucknell.