January 30, 2014

Cortland to join archrival in Empire 8

In the definitive response to those who would cancel the Cortaca Jug game because of its rowdy crowds, Cortland State and Ithaca's annual game will now be an Empire 8 conference game.
Photo for Cortland athletics by Darl Zehr Photography

The Cortland State football team will join the Empire 8 as an affiliate member at the start of the 2015 season.

Cortland will join Brockport, Buffalo State, Frostburg State and Salisbury as affiliate members of the E8 in the sport of football. Full members Alfred, Hartwick, Ithaca, St. John Fisher and Utica comprise the remainder of the football playing institutions in the league.

"Cortland is a strong academic institution with a rich football history with many of the Empire 8 institutions,” said Empire 8 Commissioner Chuck Mitrano. “They are a perfect fit and further enhance the competitive level of what is already the toughest conference in Division III."

Cortland has been a football-only member of the New Jersey Athletic Conference since 2000. Cortland was the first non-New Jersey school to join the NJAC for football and was later joined as affiliate members by Western Connecticut State, Buffalo State, Brockport and Morrisville. Buffalo State, however, joined the Empire 8 in 2012 and Brockport will play its first season in the Empire 8 this fall. Western Connecticut joined the newly formed Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference football league in 2013.

 “Cortland is excited to have the opportunity to play football in the Empire 8 conference,” said Cortland president Erik J. Bitterbaum. “The schools in this conference are outstanding both athletically and academically, and we look forward to this new beginning for Red Dragon football.”

Familiar foes

Cortland has faced some of its future Empire 8 opponents on a regular basis, while others haven't played the Red Dragons in some time, if at all. The last time Cortland has met each of its future conference opponents in football:
Ithaca 2013
Alfred 2013
St. John Fisher 2013
Buffalo State 2013
Brockport  2013
Utica 2003
Salisbury 1983
Hartwick 1950
Frostburg State Never

“We look forward to meeting new challenges in the Empire 8 and to creating new relationships with some of these institutions that are so close to us geographically but that we haven't had the opportunity to compete against on a regular basis in years past,” said Cortland athletic director Mike Urtz. “We hope we can bring added value to an already great and highly competitive conference.”

Cortland has finished at least tied for first in the NJAC six of the last nine years (2005-08, 2010, 2012). The Red Dragons were outright league champions in 2008 and 2012 and won a tiebreaker to earn the league's NCAA automatic bid in 2010.

In all, Cortland has qualified for the NCAA playoffs eight times – three consecutive years from 1988-90, along with appearances in 1997, 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012. The Red Dragons advanced to the national quarterfinals in 1988 and 2008. Cortland has also been selected to compete in ECAC bowl games 11 times.

“It's an exciting time for Cortland football as we embrace change,” said Red Dragons coach Dan MacNeill.  “Thanks to the Empire 8 for accepting Cortland football into their prestigious conference, where we look to build stronger relationships with familiar competitors and establish new regional rivalries.”

Empire 8 football teams finished 21-10 in non-conference play in 2013 and have a mark of 259-122 against non-conference Division III opponents since 2002 for a .680 winning percentage. There have been 33 postseason victories in the last 12 seasons with reigning conference champion Ithaca advancing to the second round and at-large selection St. John Fisher advancing to the national quarterfinals in 2013.

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at Bridgewater State 34, Fitchburg State 25
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Sep. 24: All times Eastern
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Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
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at Hobart 27, Union 23
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at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
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at Massachusetts Maritime 32, Worcester State 14
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at Endicott 37, Nichols 0
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MIT 30, at Maine Maritime 13
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at Buffalo State 40, Morrisville State 24
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at Salve Regina 48, Coast Guard 10
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St. Lawrence 20, at RPI 14
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at Framingham State 23, Western Connecticut 17
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at Montclair State 21, Rowan 14
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at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
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at Trinity (Conn.) 38, Bates 7
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at Western New England 59, Curry 28
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at Utica 24, Cortland 13
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Colby 9, at Williams 7
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at Middlebury 40, Bowdoin 3
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at Amherst 34, Hamilton 0
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Kean 24, at William Paterson 13
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at DePauw 66, Hiram 17
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Franklin and Marshall 45, at Juniata 22
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at Kenyon 31, Allegheny 7
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Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
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Lycoming 28, at Misericordia 24
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at Plymouth State 30, Mass-Dartmouth 14
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at Husson 35, Alfred State 0
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at Springfield 28, WPI 23
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at Moravian 24, Dickinson 10
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at Denison 45, Wooster 7
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at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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at St. Vincent 57, Grove City 32
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at Susquehanna 55, Gettysburg 40
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at King's 21, Lebanon Valley 17
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at Alfred 20, Ithaca 6
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at Widener 25, Wilkes 23
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at McDaniel 30, Ursinus 27
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at Muskingum 28, Marietta 10
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at Minnesota-Morris 28, Iowa Wesleyan 27
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at John Carroll 42, Heidelberg 14
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Ohio Northern 16, at Otterbein 10
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Case Western Reserve 35, at Waynesburg 7
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at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
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Rose-Hulman 23, at Defiance 15
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Hanover 49, at Anderson 25
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at Merchant Marine 55, Rochester 7
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Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
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Concordia-Chicago 42, at Maranatha Baptist 10
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Washington U. 36, at Birmingham-Southern 21
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UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 38, Martin Luther 20
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at Eureka 28, MacMurray 13
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at Westminster (Mo.) 35, Greenville 14
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Dubuque 30, at Luther 17
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Monmouth 52, at Lake Forest 6
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St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
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at Augsburg 49, Carleton 17
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Bethel 44, at St. Olaf 7
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at Hamline 42, Gustavus Adolphus 40
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at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
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Simpson 17, at Buena Vista 9
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Cornell 46, at Beloit 41
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at Carthage 27, Augustana 24
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Coe 48, at Nebraska Wesleyan 17
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at Wartburg 56, Finlandia 0
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
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Hendrix 42, at Millsaps 14
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Illinois Wesleyan 45, at North Park 10
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at Macalester 34, Grinnell 0
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at Ripon 33, Knox 19
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Illinois College 40, at Lawrence 15
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UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Central 42, at Loras 34
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at Geneva 35, Thiel 27
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UW-Eau Claire 40, at Wisconsin Lutheran 14
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St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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UW-Stevens Point 44, at Adrian 19
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UW-La Crosse 41, at Carroll 7
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at Berry 41, Sewanee 3
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Westminster (Pa.) 38, at Bethany 9
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Ohio Wesleyan 29, at Oberlin 16
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at Tufts 17, Wesleyan 14
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Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
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Sep. 24: All times Eastern
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at Hobart 27, Union 23
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Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
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at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
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at Utica 24, Cortland 13
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at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
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at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
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Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
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St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
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at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
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at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
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UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
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UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Central 42, at Loras 34
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St. John Fisher 42, at Brockport 38
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Mount Union 49, at Baldwin Wallace 7
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at North Central (Ill.) 42, Millikin 7
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