The Great White North
It's been two good days in a row for the Columbia Spectator, which has a nice piece on a few of the graduating football seniors trying to make a go of it in the European pro football leagues. The article also mentions the fact that Ontario native Tad Crawford is a likely first-round draft pick for the Canadian Football League.
This is a good choice for these guys, who will not only learn a lot by living abroad, but they'll also get a chance to delay the inevitable "life behind a desk" most of us have been sentenced to since graduation.
But I find Crawford's future to be the most compelling. Hopefully, he will emerge as a legitimate CFL star and that could really help Columbia's recruiting fortunes in Canada. Recent big Ivy stars like Harvard's Clifton Dawson came from up north, so the talent pool is there.
Canada's "grade 13" system for high schools was relaxed about 10 years ago, allowing young athletes to explore the U.S. postgrad prep scene and raise their stock as collegiate prospects. Seeing someone like Crawford playing well in the CFL could encourage more kids to give the Ivies, (and hopefully Columbia), a try.
And some of Columbia's best stars have come from the oddest of places. Guys like Michael Quarshie who grew up in Finland, for example. In the fiercely competitive world of Ivy League recruiting, where the pool of talented players with academic chops is shallow indeed, you have to exploit any advantage when and where you can.
In the 1990's, then Head Coach Ray Tellier was the first Ivy coach to really focus on California before the rest of the league caught on. That short-lived edge produced stars like Marcellus Wiley. I wrote a little more about this in my "Open Letter to Coach Norries Wilson" post before the beginning of last season.
While most of metropolitan Canada is well-known to most Ivy recruiters, I wonder if the same is true of the so-called "prarie provinces" where you often have to drive for hours before you see more than one telephone pole. Maybe Columbia's next big star will come from one of these remote areas, where a kid watching a CFL game on TV hears the name "Columbia" for the first time.