Yes, I saved this post for today just so I could write that headline. Sorry.
A 4-4 start to 2012 appeared to signal that Holy Cross -- long among the tragically destitute for what feels like the entire history of history -- was finally going in the right direction under Jim Morrissey. Then, of course, the Crusaders pulled down their pants and ran down the street naked, going 1-6 the rest of the way -- the lone victory came against a Providence team that was just marking time until they fired Chris Burdick -- and looking like the road toward the middle (never mind the top) of the Patriot League was approximately star travel light years in distance.
And that's really the hardest thing for Holy Cross right now. The Crusaders, over the last five seasons, are 2-28 -- 2-28! -- in the conference, never topping two league wins in that span and only dropping Lafayette (2011) and Colgate (2010) over that time. (Going back to 2005, Holy Cross isn't much better -- and that's tough considering the Patriot League only recently has become excessively competitive -- going only 4-44 in those eight seasons. That's icky.) The Patriot League is moving away from the Crusaders right now, and Holy Cross needs to try and keep up or else they could be vaporized from existence like someone that doesn't walk in line with Big Brother.
Six Wins? May Not Compute
February 23: Hartford; March 2: @ Sacred Heart; March 5: @ Rutgers; March 19: @ Vermont; April 6: @ Lafayette; April 13: Providence; April 23: Dartmouth
Way back in 2007 -- that was a year on the calendar, wasn't it? -- Holy Cross managed to put together a six-win campaign, its best since a six-win effort in 1998 (the Crusaders haven't been at or above .500 in the overall since 1988 when Holy Cross went 8-7 (4-1 in the league)). Since then the Crusaders have flirted with that mark but haven't been able to breach it. Will 2013 be the year that Holy Cross finally gets to count wins on two hands? (Answer: Unlikely, but I need to increase the word count on this post.)
There are around seven games where the Crusaders have a sliding scale of likelihood to pull out a win (everything else is in the this-would-be-an-upset-that-breaks-faces bucket) and move toward a half-dozen wins. There aren't any no doink wins in this subset of Holy Cross' schedule -- Lafayette is probably the closest thing to a "Yup, get the Gatorade baths ready," but without the Mercers, Wagners, and Michigans of the world, it's hard to pencil anything else in as a pretty decent shot at a victory parade -- and that should create some problems for the Crusaders to get where they need to go. Otherwise, the path to six wins isn't paved with definites; the Crusaders are going to need to play above where they were in 2012 to get there, and also find a way to avoid another late-season collapse.
40-Plus Day Trail of Tears
March 9: @ Colgate; March 17: v. Navy; March 23: Lehigh; March 30: @ Bucknell; April 6: @ Lafayette; April 20: Army
Have fun crusadin', Crusaders. No matter what kind of arrangement Holy Cross got from the Patriot League there was going to be a struggle; upward mobility isn't necessarily measured by when you climb the rungs but rather if you can even stand up long enough to approach the ladder. What hurts here for the Crusaders is that their league slate starts with one of the two best teams in the conference, pivots to a Navy team that could be a handful in 2013, and then provides, in back-to-back weeks, games against one of the best defensive teams in the country and what could be a dangerous game against the Bison. There's no breathing room here for Holy Cross to try and reset itself and cure its ills; there's a relentlessness to the schedule that doesn't provide relief until an early-April date against the Leopards.
Basically, the Crusaders aren't going to have an opportunity to try and fix itself as they'll be continually playing teams in the Patriot League that will dismantle them. It's vicious, but that's life in that conference.