Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Carnegie Mellon University to Join Big East in '04

With the University of Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College set to leave the Big East Conference, and Temple’s expulsion in 2005, the Big East has been looking for new teams to fill out the rapidly dwindling conference. While additional teams such as Marquette and Louisville add excitement to the conference’s basketball lineup, Big East football has taken a big hit. This week, declaring “Rutgers needs new competition,” Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese announced a storied football team to join the Big East in 2004: The Carnegie Mellon University Tartans.

Coming off a 5-5 season (2002), after 27 consecutive winning seasons, the Carnegie Mellon University Tartans football team seems poised to take on tougher competition. Carnegie Mellon, currently a member of NCAA Division III’s University Athletic Association conference, has been a perennial football powerhouse and coach Rich Lackner thinks his team is ready to win at a higher level of competition.

Lackner, who has an impressive 121-46-2 record at Carnegie Mellon since joining the team as head coach in 1986, is also the Tartan’s winningest coach.

“I played for Carnegie Tech in the ’70s, and we had some really good teams, but every year, the kids just get better and better,” says Lackner. “I think we’re ready to play some real football.”

“Carnegie Mellon has been a Division III school for a few decades,” explains Carnegie Mellon President Jared Cohen, “but boasts an impressive past with a Sugar Bowl appearance in 1939. We all decided that it was just time for us to move up. Commissioner Tranghese’s offer was just too good to pass up. Continental Tire Bowl, here come the Tartans.”

With a daunting schedule, including Syracuse, West Virginia, and neighboring University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon will have its work cut out for it in its first season as a Division I-A team.

“Yeah, we’re really psyched to play Pitt in December. That will be so cool to play at Heinz Field,” enthused Carnegie Mellon fullback Jeffrey Stolper. The Pitt-CMU game is already being touted as the “Forbes Feud.”

Junior Quarterback Robb Finkey has been working out all summer, raising his bench press “max” to 250 lbs. and improving his accuracy. “You never know what can happen,” said Finkey, “maybe we’ll mop up D-I.”

“Playing West Virginia or UConn in Gesling Stadium will be quite exciting,” enthused Coach Lackner. “All 500 seats will be packed – football is exciting at Carnegie Mellon again!”

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