Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Diamonds in the Rough

Jeff Otis in his 1st Collegiate start, at Fordham, 2003 (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics Department)

Former Lions quarterback Jeff Otis '05, had a tremendous 2003 season and established himself as the best passer at Columbia since John Witkowski. Columbia finished 4-6 that year and looked primed for a great 2004 season.

It didn't happen. Otis' best target, Wade Fletcher injured himself in the pre-season. missed a few early season games, and Columbia never really recovered. The result was a 1-9 season that left a lot of us scratching our heads.

But the top players from that '04 team have distinguished themselves as NFL prospects. Otis, who has spent his post-Columbia years in the Arena League and NFL Europe, has just been signed by the Oakland Raiders. He'll join his former Lion teammate Michael Quarshie and QB coach John DeFillipo, who I assume had a lot to do with this signing decision. Wade Fletcher made a gallant attempt to make the New York Giants last pre-season and fell just short.

Of course the obvious question is: how could a team with so much NFL talent and near-NFL talent do so poorly in Ivy League competition? A big part of me would just like to blame all of this on former Head Coach Bob Shoop and leave it at that. But I think the biggest culprit was, and is lack of depth.

No one can deny that Columbia has had its share of superstar players over the last 35 years. They include people like Witkowski, Des Werthman, Jonathan Reese, Marcellus Wiley, etc. But Columbia only has two winning seasons to show for themselves in this period. And that's mostly because the Lion roster is routinely too small to really compete or make the mosts of its top assets. Actually, roster size has been an issue for Columbia since the 1920's.

And this should all act as a reminder as to why CU absolutely needs to make keeping the roster at or above 90 players a priority this year and in the future. I don't envy the coaches this added job of team continuity. But it must be done.

Point Counterpoint

I've been travelling across the country a lot these last few days, so I've avoided commenting on a terrible opinion piece in the Columbia Spectator that bashed the athletic department and the recruiting/admissions process. I'm glad I didn't get a chance because I'd rather spend my time publicizing the great rebuttal by Jon Kamran, also of the Spectator, that came out today. Kamran really tears the original screed apart journalistically. In fact, I'd like to invite him to come to speak to my journalism students at NYU! My congratulations to him.

Movie Time

And finally, check out the faster-loading trailer for THE LEAGUE, a new movie about Ivy football written, directed and produced by Columbia football alum George GianFrancisco '88.


At Thu Mar 29, 02:47:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great piece in Spec; can you get it on the voyforums board? It's beyond my technical ability to do so. As for depth, I think we are poised to turn that around starting now. Great buzz about a bumper recruiting class. At least 30 quality recruits.

At Thu Mar 29, 04:11:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous literary lion said...

Jake, you're linking to the second page of the Spectator article. The link to the first page is:

At Thu Mar 29, 04:12:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous literary lion said...

Blogger sliced up the link. You'll have to re-assemble the lines below.

At Thu Mar 29, 04:31:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For all of us starved for info re the recruiting class, particularly since about a third of it is a mystery, can you give us any info in terms of positions or size?

At Thu Mar 29, 04:49:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The coach is playing it very close to the vest. Supporters of the program are on an email list. We were told about raw numbers back in February. We will not see anything more until mid-April. this is a precaution because there are no depths to which Penn will not plunge in trying to unhook players who had previously committed to us.

At Thu Mar 29, 04:56:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Literary Lion:

The link is now fixed. Thanks for the heads up.


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