By Alex H. Nagler
All men have their hobbies. Some collect stamps, some hunt, some fix up old cars. Steve Koreivo attends college football games. Mr. Koreivo boasts the impressive record of having seen all 119 NCAA Division 1-A Bowl Teams compete. He holds season tickets to the home stadium of the Nittany Lions at Penn State and has sat at the 50-yard line for the Rose Bowl. But those aren’t the reasons he’s being written about here, even though both are interesting stories.
Steve Koreivo also wants to see as many D 1-AA Bowl Teams play as he can. And with Stony Brook’s move to the Big South for football, that is just what the school has become. So, with that in mind, Mr. Koreivo crossed the George Washington Bridge and took the Long Island Expressway out to Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on August 30th to see the Seawolves take on Colgate University.
To those who were unaware, Stony Brook took the geographically puzzling move of joining the Big South conference this year in order to play better-quality teams and, should the season be good enough, go for a title or two. If this doesn’t make any sense to you, don’t worry. It didn’t make any sense to Mr. Koreivo either. After seeing Stony play, he hopes that they can make their way into something more local, like the Colonial Athletic Association or the Patriot League, but this is a good start.
Thanks to the efforts of The Press, Mr. Koreivo and his son, Eric, were able to see the game from above the stands in the press box. Mr. Koreivo is a lifelong football fan who grew up listening to Notre Dame on the radio. The first team he saw play in 1966 was, ironically, Colgate, who won that game. After that, he had never physically seen them win another game, making them 1-4 in his book. Though it was fun, this was not his first big game. That title would go to an Army-Navy game he attended in 1972. He would later practice with the lightweight football team at the Naval Academy. His football career ended at Juniata College, where he played lacrosse, a move he still regrets.
The year Mr. Koreivo finished school was the year the Meadowlands opened, and as a native of New Jersey, that meant not only professional games, but bigger college games as well. His thirst grew out of a URI game and he started attending more games. He saw the penultimate Rutgers-Princeton game in 1979, before Princeton decided it was too good to play against the team with which it invented college football with.
To Mr. Koreivo, college football represents a sort of diversity that isn’t present in professional football. There are set strategies and plays that professional coaches wouldn’t run, as their jobs depend on their not doing so. In college, a coach isn’t afraid of running a play that could backfire. There’s simply more variety in college ball then there is in professional ball.
So in 2000, Mr. Koreivo decided to sit down with the entire season’s schedule and a spreadsheet. Through investigating the options, he realized that with a little work, he could see all the D I-A teams play. And so his unlikely odyssey began. In October 2007, he crossed the finish line, watching Idaho play Nevada. That was 119 until Western Kentucky becomes 120 in 2009, that’s every one. So with college football season starting, he received a lot of media interest, including from the New York Times, which is how The Press found out about him.
Mr. Koreivo coming to Stony Brook had nothing to do with us, it was a simply matter of seeing a new team play. To quote his website, www.collegefootballfan.com, “The Stony Brook football program and Stadium exceeded my original expectations. As demonstrated on the field tonight and in the past, they can already compete with the Patriot League after only two years in the Football Championship Division. Last year, they beat Maine and came up short against another Colonial Athletic Association team, Hofstra, 33-28. Their size and speed already put them on par with what’s already considered the strongest conference at this level, the CAA. They’ll get to prove it on the field this season prior to Big South competition when they play Elon, visit Maine, and host local rival Hofstra once again.” The fact that Stony Brook can compete with programs like Maine and Hofstra is a testament to the ability of the team and a credit to how far they’ve come in such a short period of time.
To close, we leave you with Mr. Koreivo’s words on Stony Brook’s chances in the Big South this year: “Liberty is the favorite to win the Big South. If the Seawolves surprise, we wouldn’t hesitate to try to get out to LI again to see a playoff game.” Steve, we’d love to have you back.