A Zen Take on Towson-LSU
Courtesy: Milton Kent, TowsonTigers.com  
Release: 10/03/2012
Here's a Zen-like riddle: When does a 16-point loss become two wins?

The answer: When what you're playing for is bigger than numbers on a scoreboard.

Let's not kid ourselves: The Towson football team exited Baton Rouge Saturday with a 38-22 loss to LSU. In this election season, no attempt at political-style spin will change the cold, hard fact that the mighty Bayou Bengals turned back the upset efforts of the upstart Tigers from Maryland.

Afterwards, Towson coach Rob Ambrose said precisely the right things.

"I hate losing," said Ambrose. "I know everybody who watches this or sees the score will think I'm insane, considering who we played. I don't care. You don't line up to lose."

That's not insane, at all. Sure, LSU came into the contest ranked third in national polls in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), while Towson was ranked 12th in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), a not-so insignificant distinction, given that FBS teams can offer 85 full-ride scholarships, while FCS schools offer 65 scholarships, which can be broken up among players.

The bottom line is that true competitors, like Ambrose and his players, expect to win every time they step on the field, whether they're playing the local high school team, an FBS behemoth or the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

That said, it's not putting a good face on the situation to say that the second part of Ambrose's quote -- "With that being said, as a head coach, as an alum, as a father, I don't think it's humanly possible for me to be more proud of these players." - is accurate.

In years to come, heck, perhaps even this week, Ambrose's players may be angry with themselves that they didn't get the win on the scoreboard, given that they won the time of possession race, outgained LSU on the ground and had more first downs.

Indeed, Towson's early fourth quarter scoring drive to pull to within 15 may be the most impressive march LSU sees all season, given the circumstances.

"We were looked at as like nobody," said Towson defensive end Frank Beltre, in Monday's USA Today. "They called us Towsen, Towson State. They called us everything but what we are, Towson University. That's why when we came out, we punched them in the mouth, because they weren't ready for what we had."

And there's where the biggest "win" from Saturday comes into play. As Towson's Tigers head into the meat of Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) competition, starting with Saturday's nationally televised meeting with James Madison, they go knowing they can play on the big stage with anyone.

The Tigers went into a sold out 90,000-seat stadium against a team with superior numbers, more highly touted talent and national championship aspirations.

Towson not only stood its ground but earned respect. With all due respect to their conference foes, that has to augur well the first time they fall behind a CAA opponent.

The second big win for Towson from Saturday is a more intangible one and may not reveal itself until further down the road. Still, it may be the one with the longest lasting positive effect.

Alhough the concentration of the ESPNU telecast was overwhelmingly tilted toward LSU, the fact that viewers (read: prospective recruits and donors) could see Towson on such a major platform with a school that carries a decidedly higher profile can only be a bonus.

A win-win situation can not only be very Zen but very profitable.

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