Recently rebranded as the Sharks with a color scheme of light blue and gold, the Long Island University football team has a message for its new Division I opponents in the Northeast Conference.
Don’t go into the water.
At Wednesday’s NEC Media Day at MetLife Stadium, the LIU contingent of head coach Bryan Collins, wide receiver Derick Eugene and running back Jonathan DeBique repeatedly expressed their excitement for what lies ahead as the Sharks embark on their maiden voyage into the FCS and Division I athletics.
“We’ve got the team name. We’ve got the logo,” Eugene said. “When we’re in the Pratt Center, we see everything’s being painted. Then when we come here, we see the competition. You really start to really think about that it’s here now.”
DeBique and Eugene still don’t know the full scope of the team’s look. On Wednesday, they saw their helmets for the first time — yellow with a blue facemask and blue “LIU” written across the side. The players still don’t know what the jerseys will look like or what the general aesthetic will even be.
“It’s a little weird sometimes, but it’s fun to experience,” Eugene said. “Everything’s changing right before your eyes, and you’re so ready to just go out there and have fun."
Collins said he needs to keep the program’s foundation intact as it moves up from the Northeast-10 Conference of Division II to the NEC. He said his coaching staff is finalized but an official announcement isn’t ready to be made.
“We can’t forget who we are through this all,” Collins said. “Our expectation is to come in and compete for a championship. That’s important to us.
“I think it’s important, especially at this camp with a lot of new players, it’s important to bring in some old players to talk to them about the tradition. They might not have worn the same colors as them and they had a different mascot, but they know what it’s like to be on that field.”
The new mascot is fitting, in DeBique’s opinion. “Sharks are aggressive and fierce animals,” he said, adding that he thinks that embodies the team.
The Sharks need to be fierce in the season opener against non-conference foe South Dakota State, an FCS semifinalist last fall.
“The way I think about it, it’s still football,” DeBique said. “Most of us have been playing football our whole lives, so you just have to do what you do.”
Despite the odds, expectations are high. Maybe the Sharks don’t need a bigger boat after all.