"I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."
"Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."
Repeating won't be an easy task for Towson head football coach Rob Ambrose. His team is coming off their first Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship in 2011, and the Tigers are picked to repeat as selected by the conference's coaches and sports information directors.
Now they are about to face their toughest schedule ever, which includes playing two FBS schools in the same season for the very first time. They open the season against Kent State out of the MAC on August 30 and, on Sept. 29, will face LSU in Baton Rouge, a team that is considered one of the favorites to take the BCS title in the FBS.
Is there still a lack of respect? Do people wonder if everything just fell into place in one season?
Despite being selected first out of 11 teams, Towson had just three players selected to the pre-season all-conference team, which included sophomore Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Terrance West.
Senior defensive end Frank Beltre also heard the rumblings. He heard it last season when the Tigers were making their run through the CAA, winning seven of eight games. The senior made his second straight appearance at Media Day at M&T Bank Stadium last Wednesday in Baltimore.
Last July at the same exact spot, Beltre made a prophetic statement. "We're ready," he said. "We've been waiting for this moment to be at this stage. Everybody expects us to have the same season, which is good. We're right we're we need to be."
This year, Beltre, who was named to the first team All-CAA for the second straight season, still wonders if his team is getting respect.
"I'm not sure [if we are getting respect]," he said. "We really don't care if any team respects us. Every time we beat a team last year, they were making excuses. When we beat Villanova, [we heard] it's a down year. When we beat Richmond, [they said] it's a down year. I still don't think the CAA respects us. I like earning respect. Coach Ambrose taught us that you have to earn everything you get."
For Ambrose, it's all about keeping the team focused on the task at hand, which is Kent State. He has moved on from the euphoria of last year's incredible season which brought him the Eddie Robinson Award for the FCS Coach of the Year and delivered his team numerous postseason awards from 2011 and preseason honors for 2012.
"The first thing you have to do is when are you not winning, and all the people say you [stink], is you have to tune them out," said Ambrose at least week's CAA Media Day. "That's so you can focus on what's really important, and the people that it's really important to, which is each other. The same can be said about success. All of a sudden, people start telling you how good you are and you can get distracted from the goal. The spring was about breaking that barrier and understanding what we're good at and what we're not good at in terms of dealing with success. The summer has been a clean slate. We made great strides in the last year but it hasn't been easy."
Towson didn't lose a lot of talent from last year's team, which is why the Tigers are picked to win the CAA and are in the top ten in many of pre-season national polls. But on defense, they have to replace one of the true leaders of their 2011 CAA Championship team.
"Marcus [Valentine] was a great leader," said Beltre. "He left a foundation. He left a young guy [redshirt freshman] Jon Desir and [junior] Arnold Farmer. He left them ready. He left every single guy on that D-line ready to play."
Farmer and Desir add great size and talent to the defensive line. Valentine also passes along a philosophy that Beltre along with seniors Romale Tucker, Jordan Dangerfield, Matt Morgan, Alexander DiSanzo and Danzel White can share with the younger Tigers.
"Being a Tiger is something special," said Beltre. "You will not see any Tiger wearing a hat in a building or earrings in our facility. You will not see us with our pants down to our knees. Being a Tiger is a way of life. Once you're a Tiger, you are a Tiger for life. Once you get that in your head, as a young guy, you are a Tiger for life."
Towson didn't win the CAA championship last season because they were lucky. While there were some fluky plays and some good fortune last season, the team didn't pile up 34.8 points per game by accident.
They didn't improve from 3.6 yards per carry to 5.3 yards per carry because of just one player. They didn't force 25 turnovers because opponents decided to hand them the ball.
But this year's Towson Tigers want more than a CAA championship. Towson's post-season run ended with a 40-38 loss at home to Lehigh in the FCS Playoffs in front of a sellout crowd at Unitas Stadium. Earning a trip to the playoffs would be a great accomplishment considering the difficult schedule, but Beltre wants to do more than just make the playoffs.
"[The Lehigh loss] left a terrible taste in our mouth," said Beltre. "And we'll do anything in our power not to have that taste in our mouth again."