Wednesday, December 26, 2007

*OPINION PIECE* No. 5 Greatest Coach in Duquesne Athletics History

John "Red" Manning, Men's Basketball - Officially the second Duquesne University Men's Basketball coach to appear in this countdown (ahead of Father Eugene McGuigan), "Red" Manning was the last of three-straight magnificent (and nicknamed) coaches to lead the Dukes Ballers from the mid-1920s to the mid-1970s -- Charles "Chick" Davies (1924-25 to 1942-43 and 1946-47 to 1947-48), Donald "Dudey" Moore (1948-49 to 1957-58) and Manning (1958-59 to 1973-74).
  Manning's record during his time at the Dukes' reigns was an outstanding 247-138, good for a .642 winning percentage and the second-most head coaching wins in program history.
  Among Manning's accomplishments at Duquesne were four appearances in the National Invitation Tournament -- 1962, 1964, 1968 and 1970 -- and more impressively, two appearances in the NCAA Championship -- 1969 and 1971 -- when that tournament was established as the premiere college basketball event in the country.
  The 1961-62 Dukes, perhaps Manning's finest club, saw the team finish with a No. 14 ranking in the Associated Press college basketball poll and earn fourth-place honors at the NIT. Duquesne actually reached as high as No. 3 in the AP poll that season.
  The 1968-69 Dukes finished the season ranked No. 9 by the AP and advanced to the NCAA Regional Semifinals, while the 1970-71 Duquesne squad ended its campaign with a No. 15 AP ranking.

[Image (left to right): Clyde Arnold, Bill Stromple, Willie Somerset, Coach John "Red" Manning, Mike Rice, John Cegalis and Paul Benec of the 1961-62 Duquesne University Men's Basketball Team, Copyright Duquesne University]

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Getting to Know the RPI has emerged as an amazing resource for college sports fans, for the RPI, or Ratings Percentage Index, has been a determining factor in NCAA Championship Tournament selection.
  The Web site -- updated every five minutes -- ranks, men-wise for example, all 341 NCAA Division I Basketball teams based on a formula that factors a team's winning percentage (25%), its opponents' winning percentage (50%) and its opponents' opponents winning percentage (25%). (Only games against other NCAA Division I teams are factored into the equation.)
  What makes the RPI so interesting to Duquesne University Men's Basketball fans right now is that Duquesne is currently ranked 53rd in the rating. When the NCAA begins to select at-large bids to its Division I Men's Basketball Championship, an RPI this high at the end of the Dukes' 2007-08 season -- barring a large number of automatic bids to the tournament from teams with a lower RPI ranking -- would matter-of-factly garner Duquesne serious consideration for tournament selection.
  While it is certainly too early in the season to conclude that the Dukes can keep up their stellar play of the first calendar year of the campaign, it is a tremendous blessing to Duquesne so far that its three losses have come to teams with a current combined record of 25-2. And perhaps more importantly, the Dukes' upcoming Atlantic Ten Conference schedule will feature games against fellow teams from currently the sixth-highest rated conference in the nation.

A look at Duquesne's 2007-08 teams with RPI rankings in seasons still underway:
Men's Basketball: 53 of 341
Women's Basketball: 125 of 337
Football: 186 of 242 (actually higher than three NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision teams)

A look at Duquesne's 2007-08 teams with RPI rankings in seasons completed:
Women's Soccer (for some reason, only available through Nov. 4, 2007): 95 of 314
Men's Soccer (final): 151 of 202
Women's Volleyball (final): 211 of 324

(Image: Logo, Copyright

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

*OPINION PIECE* No. 6 Greatest Coach in Duquesne Athletics History

Elmer Layden, Football - Elmer Layden was the coach that introduced Duquesne University Football to the land of big-time college sports.
  As one of the University of Notre Dame's "Four Horsemen," Layden came from a school and a program used to success and large-scale popularity. He was, simply, able to effectively transfer his success as a high-profile player to that as a high-profile coach of the same sport.
  Layden was at the helm of Duquesne Football for the seasons from 1927-1933 and put together an amazing 48-16-6 record (.716 winning percentage).
  Nine of those wins came in 1929 when Duquesne went 9-0-1 in easily its best season-to-date at that point.
  Layden's final game as Duquesne head coach came in the Festival of Palms Bowl played on New Year's Day, 1934. Though not officially recognized by the NCAA as a legitimate bowl game, Duquesne's win over the University of Miami (Fla.) in this game was the program's most important victory and the school's biggest athletics moment up to that point.
  The Festival of Palms game would become the Orange Bowl game the very next season.

(Image: Elmer Layden, Copyright Pro Football Hall of Fame)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

*GUEST Opinion Piece* Duquesne University Football

DISCLAIMER: Dukes Chat is again featuring a guest opinion piece. This piece regards the state of Duquesne University Football as opined by one of the better-known names of Pittsburgh sports blogging, particularly Duquesne Football blogging -- Mark Draskovich (a.k.a. Coffee).
  Only under extreme circumstances will Dukes Chat ever censor someone's opinion on this Web log. Therefore, other than simple copy editing, this piece by Mr. Draskovich will appear as is.
  If anyone else wishes to post a guest opinion piece on Dukes Chat, please contact
  As always, feel free to comment on this story and read other people's comments by clicking on the "_ comments" link at the bottom of the post.

"Lack of Support for Duquesne Football" - Mark Draskovich

  There are mixed messages coming from the Duquesne University administration in support of the Duquesne Football program. While it's great that we are awarding scholarships and building a new stadium, we must make the effort consistent.
  Athletic Director Greg Amodio is immensely talented but comes from a school that did not have a football team. There are some basics that every NCAA Division I-A or I-AA team needs to be able to recruit and be successful:

1. A decent stadium (not a Beaver Stadium, but one that seats at least 7,500). A recruit wants to play on a field at least comparable to his high school field.

2. A radio station (not just Internet) to broadcast the game to those who can't make it every time.

3. Active public relations, including support on the department's Web site.

4. A marching band/color guard/et cetera for decent halftime shows. Football can be a family event. Some dads feel better bringing their families on the weekend rather than being away for another day. College games must add as much pageantry as possible to include students and families. Families come to see their kids play on the field whether they throw the football or play the tuba. Marching bands at halftime are part of a proven formula for football just as the pep band is right for basketball.

More thoughts:
- The upcoming new stadium is an improvement, but nine rows of stands from the 20-yard line to the other 20-yard line are not going to attract anybody. It is a statement to a recruit that we don't take the program seriously.
  There is space atop the little picnic tables for a few more rows, and the department can extend the rows from end zone-to-end zone with little added expense.
- Local media must be convinced that attracting a mostly higher-educated group once a week for 10 weeks will be a win for them too. We have our own radio station on campus that broadcast basketball when they had too.
  Greg, we respect the work that you are doing for basketball, and the results are obvious. You have a core of loyal alumni and fans, and we want to follow the athletic program year-round. Do just a bit more for football, and the returns will be enormous.

(Image: Coffee Bean, Copyright Royal Society of Chemistry)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

*OPINION PIECE* No. 7 Greatest Coach in Duquesne Athletics History

Buff Donelli, Football - Aldo Teo "Buff" Donelli coached two of Duquesne University Football's greatest teams ever and arguably its greatest. The architect of Duquesne Football's undefeated 1939 (8-0-1) and 1941 (9-0-0) teams, Donelli compiled an astounding 29-4-2 record (.857 winning percentage) as Head Coach from 1939-1942.
  Had Donelli coached longer at Duquesne, he could have landed much higher on this list. The same can be said for Donelli not winning a major bowl game, though the fact that Duquesne went uninvited to a bowl game after the '41 season -- when they were ranked No. 8 in the country and led the nation in scoring, rushing and total defense -- is still regarded as a terrible injustice.

  From the Duquesne Football Media Guide:

"The 1941 Duquesne defense surrendered just 21 points all season. Only one other team has given up 21 or fewer points in a season since. In 1941, Donelli had the distinction of coaching two teams at the same time, as he also coached the National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers. Former [Duquesne Football Head Coach Elmer] Layden, who was by then the commissioner of the NFL, made Donelli choose between the two and Donelli elected to remain at Duquesne."

(Image: Aldo Donelli, Copyright Columbia University in the City of New York)

Monday, December 3, 2007

*OPINION PIECE* Duquesne Football 2007 Year-in-Review

Sept. 1 – vs. Bucknell (L, 28-19)
  Patriot League wins have always been special for mid-major teams, including Duquesne, but the success that the Dukes have had over the last handful of years against teams like Bucknell has made them somewhat commonplace… not expected but not extraordinary either. Bucknell was anything but an extraordinary team in 2007.
  In fact, the Bison beat only three of 11 opponents this year -- Duquesne, Marist and Fordham. The Fordham win was Bucknell’s most impressive, but the game was meaningless for the already-postseason-bound Rams. This is a game that the Dukes should have won. It’s time to start beating football teams from Bucknell. 0-1 (0-0).

Sept. 15 – at Brown (L, 28-17)
  As tough as Patriot League opponents can be for mid-major teams to beat, Ivy League opponents are even tougher. If Brown had not won a game in a year, Duquesne would still not be expected to win. Duquesne was in this game, so give Schmitt and the Dukes gridders some credit here. 0-2 (0-0).

Sept. 22 – at Sacred Heart (W, 30-23 OT)
  Sacred Heart Football has been a very beatable program for the last several years. This year was no exception. The 2007 Pioneers finished 3-8. One of those eight losses came against Duquesne. Not a whole lot else to say here. It did take overtime, but the Dukes got the job done this week. 1-2 (0-0).

Sept. 29 – vs. Frostburg State (W, 37-10)
  A gimme game. Duquesne was forced to schedule this tilt when St. Peter’s College dropped varsity football after the annual Dukes-St. Peter’s game had already been scheduled.
  Given that Duquesne would only be playing nine games in 2007 if this were made into a bye week, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, this was the Dukes’ Homecoming Saturday, Frostburg State had to show up and lose. They did, and everyone was happy. The Dukes padded their stats and evened their record. A loss to Frostburg State—an NCAA Division III team—would have been the worst in university history. It didn’t happen. Thank God. 2-2 (0-0).

Oct. 6 – at Marist (W, 31-21)
  Duquesne was playing this game on the road in front of the largest crowd in Marist Football history. Make no mistake; the 2007 Red Foxes were bad (3-8), but Marist always gears up for the Duquesne game. This was certainly not a gimme, and the score made the game look closer than it actually was. Good win. Good conference win. 3-2 (1-0).

Oct. 13 – at St. Francis (Pa.) (W, 24-17)
  If the Dukes were playing for an at-large bid to the NCAA Division I Championship -- not that realistic this year -- their schedule certainly wouldn’t help them. In fact, their schedule even hurt their chances of winning their second Sports Network Cup. The 2007 St. Francis (Pa.) squad was the sixth-straight poor team that the Dukes faced this year.
  But a win is, yes, a win. It’s always good to beat another local team, especially one that Duquesne probably competes for recruits with. 4-2 (1-0).

Oct. 20 – vs. Robert Morris (W, 17-14)
  Speaking of beating local teams, it doesn’t get better for Duquesne than beating Robert Morris. The best win of 2007, especially considering that the Colonials finished 4-6 this year with a very ambitious schedule. 5-2 (1-0).

Oct. 27 – at Iona (L, 28-23)
  Ouch. Duquesne would need help again if it was to repeat as league champions/co-champions. Give credit to Iona. Have the Gaels finally caught the Dukes?
  Indeed, it will certainly be interesting to see what happens to Iona Football with the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Football League all but officially disbanded at this point. This was another tough loss to swallow. Worst of the year. Worst in a while. 5-3 (1-1).

Nov. 10 – vs. La Salle (W, 51-8)
  The season wasn’t over. Give the Dukes players and coaching staff a lot of credit here for responding to a lot of criticism by getting back to the business of demolishing fellow MAAC teams.
  Granted, La Salle –- who finished 2007 0-10 –- was the perfect medicine for Duquesne, but the Dukes could easily have unraveled after the Iona loss and a bye week to think about it. They didn’t, and for the second year in a row, fortune shined on Duquesne. Iona blew sole possession of the MAAC crown by losing to Marist this week. A tri-championship of a four-team league is certainly bittersweet, but it could have been worse.
  The championship streak stays intact, and Duquesne will look to extend it next year with a Northeast Conference championship. 6-3 (2-1).

Nov. 17 – at Monmouth (L, 31-20)
  This game shouldn’t have been meaningless for Duquesne. It had a chance to equal its win total of last season and avoid the program’s lowest win total in a season since 1994 (6-4). But, the Dukes lost.
  This game was meaningless for Monmouth, but they proved to be, frankly, the better team. 6-4 (2-1).

Looking Ahead: The streak somehow survives, but next year will bring more challenges. Recruiting, player responsibility, coaching and off-season training will all need to improve for Duquesne to survive in the NEC, let alone compete for the league title.
  With NEC Football most likely soon to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Championship for its champion, the competition for the chance to win an undisputed NCAA Division I Football championship will be fierce in the conference.
  Here’s hoping that the Dukes can handle it. Shoo shoo. Rah rah.

(Image: Bruce Hocker, Copyright Duquesne University)