Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pitarresi: Biddle a boon for Colgate

Dick Biddle will be the Colgate University football coach through at least 2012.

That’s good news.

My enduring image of Biddle is of him on the sideline during a 2003 NCAA I-AA playoff game against Massachusetts, hatless and – if I remember correctly – wearing a sweatshirt on a bitterly cold, windy, snowy day at Andy Kerr Stadium. The UMass players huddled by the heaters near the benches whenever they came off the field. The Raiders, perhaps taking a hint from their coach, ignored the weather, played football, won the game, and went all the way to the title game, losing to perennially powerful Delaware and finishing 15-1.

That was a remarkable season, but Biddle’s reputation has been built on consistent excellence. He’s 113-51 in 14 seasons, with six Patriot League championships, four league coach of the year awards, and one national coach of the year honor.

More than that, he rescued Colgate from football mediocrity, or worse. After many years of fair to good and sometimes poor teams, the Raiders enjoyed an outstanding run under Fred Dunlap from 1976 through 1987. After Dunlap retired, the Raiders went 27-60-1 in eight seasons, including 0-11 in 1995. Biddle took over, went 6-5 the next year, and the Colgate has pretty much been on a roll ever since.

An outstanding, perhaps great, college player himself, still remembered with awe by old-timers at Duke, Biddle is a big man and a tough guy. He's a pretty serious person, and some find him intimidating. Whatever he has to offer – and he gives plenty of credit to his assistants, several of whom, like offensive coordinator Dan Hunt, are long-timers – the players obviously respond to it.

So, again, Biddle at Colgate three more years? That’s good news.

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