Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Coach for All Seasons

I don't know how I missed this little blog piece by New York Daily News sportswriter Flip Bondy. Back on March 20th, he wrote about a recent meeting he had with Head Coach Norries Wilson.

Now this story might seem like it's not much, but I guarantee you it is. I have no idea how much previous Columbia head coaches have done to get the local media interested in the team, but I have a strong feeling Wilson is already light years ahead of most of his predecessors. And this is exactly what we need. We already saw the effect Wilson had on his players on the field last season. And now he's working as a PR advocate for the team as well! I wonder if people realize just what a gem we have in this guy. Every week, I get more and more convinced that Columbia somehow lucked out in getting him. I only hope we can hold on to Wilson long enough before some Big 10 or Pac 10 school comes to grab him.

Now, it's true that winning seasons will be the best draw for the media, but as the Mets in the early 80's proved, the marketing infrastructure MUST be there first if anyone is going to notice.

In Bondy and his cohorts' defense, you can understand how Columbia's regular diet of losing records could be less than interesting fodder for your average reporter. Plus, when I worked in local news in NYC in the late 90's, my colleagues often complained to me about how difficult previous Columbia athletic department officials made it for them to get media credentials and other access. But the new regime is apparently much more accommodating. So it looks like both of those excuses are fading away.

Take it from me, even in the "city that never sleeps," Saturday's can be a challenge for a local news producer. Sometimes I would be downright hurting for stories to fill the half hour. The idea of sending a general assignment reporter to a well-attended Columbia game to get some color from the crowd, etc., is one of the better "time-killer" options most weekend producers get. This is especially true once the baseball season is over and Saturday's in local New York sports get pretty quiet.

And while last season's 5-5 team deserved more attention, the media coverage of the Lions during the strong period of 1994-96 was good, at least locally. And there were a lot of national stories on the team when it started 6-0 in 1996. At the Princeton game in particular that year, I remember lots of local reporters covering the game, (unfortunately, that game turned out to be the Lions' first loss of the season, but it sure was beautiful day).

So thank you Coach Wilson for your efforts. And rest assured, if you keep building it... they will come.


At Wed Apr 11, 10:03:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous internetter said...

The AD has to make frequent contact with sports editors and writers all over the Met area. A friend who lives in Yonkers tells me that the Journal News, the Westchester paper, has almost no stories on the Lions. Of course, a winning team will also help.

At Wed Apr 11, 10:07:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Well, we should realize that the department doesn't have enough bodies to cover the whole region, but with emails and blackberry's, getting a hold of people is getting easier. And papers like the Journal News in Westchester and Newsday on Long Island should be easier to reach because they're smaller. I've given up on the Times, which seems intent on writing morbid stories about Columbia athletics, that is when it feels compelled to write anything at all.

At Wed Apr 11, 10:30:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even the Kluge gift only made the B section of the Times. If it were Harvard or Yale it would have been on the front page, above the fold. The Times has been hijacked by alumni of the Crimson.

At Wed Apr 11, 10:33:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

... and by people who think Maureen Dowd is worth reading.

At Wed Apr 11, 11:58:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, this is a very complicated issue with all sorts of ramifications. Basically, the Times' coverage of all New York City college sports programs sucks--not just Columbia. There are many reasons why the Times' local college sports coverage is so bad, but the fundemental one is that the name "New York Times" is clearly a misnomer as the newspaper considers itself to be a national newspaper that relegates all local New York Area news to its Metro section which is aptly titled Section "B". The Times has many different editions that are geared for the geographic markets outside New York as the New York market is taken for granted. Over the years, Columbia has received terrrible coverage in the Times in all respects, not just sports. This is not going to change in any significant manner regardless what happens at Columbia--unless something bad happens at Columbia in which case you can count on the Times for a page "A1" story.

At Thu Apr 12, 12:03:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Exactly right.

At Thu Apr 12, 12:17:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Wall Street Journal had a sports page I'd never read the NYT. PS, how about our man Kluge peeling off another 25 big ones for a fieldhouse.

At Thu Apr 12, 12:38:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I have a bad feeling Kluge is not a big sports supporter. I also worry that maybe the big shots in the administration don't even let the athletic department pitch him once in a while.

But that brings up a point: what would be our top 5 requests from a big donor for the sports programs?

Mine would be:

1) Local practice facility

2) Parking garage at Baker Field (perhaps on the site of the old Twin Donut. Raze that thing and build a multi-story parking garage with 500+ spots).

3) Improved/enlarged facilities at Levien Gym - Fieldhouse

4) Bigger/Newer gym/weightlifting center open to all Columbia students and alumni.

5) New series of need and merit-based scholarships for already-matriculated Columbia athletes.

At Thu Apr 12, 02:11:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Local Practice Facility-You're absolutely right.
2. Parking garage at Baker Field--At last year's Football Homecoming Dinner, Dr. Murphy said that Columbia was considering building a garage under the Baker Field practice field. However, in my opinion, it might be more feasible for Columbia to purchase one of the few remaining commercial buildings,garages on Broadway.
3. Improved/enlarged facilities at Levien Gym/Fieldhouse. Absolutely, although it is more likely that Columbia eventually will build a state of the art fieldhouse or at least a new recreational facility/swimming pool in Manhattanville.
4&5 You're absolutely correct.

At Thu Apr 12, 02:21:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

When I go to the spring game, I will be looking to see if the old Twin Donut building is still unused as it was all last season. That would be a good logical spot, but I realize it would probably be a very expensive transaction unless Columbia was already the landlord. But parking garages are like ATM's in Manhattan, even all the way uptown they're pretty sure to make money. Visitors to the Allen Pavillion hospital site would probably keep it reasonably full most of the offseason, and I think some kind of very cheap cost to ticketholders on gamedays, (like $5), would work nicely.

At Thu Apr 12, 03:00:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous internetter said...

Jake may be right about the lack of AD personnel. But, a new position (marketing) was created and what better way to market the product than get free publicity for it.
The League site lists the NYT as one of the local media, and, as others have pointed out, that's fallacious. So, the AD has to make extra efforts to encourage Met papers to print stories about the Lions. If I'm not mistaken, the Westchester paper runs pieces on Fordham, so is not totally resistant to covering NYC colleges.

At Thu Apr 12, 06:20:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Internetter states, you may be right about the lack of Columbia AD peronnel, but if you compare the number of people working in the Sports Information Office at Columbia to other Ivy League schools, as set forth on their various websites, the numbers are about the same. I understand that you may not wish to alienate the Columbia Sports Information Department, but your notion that the CSID is understaffed and thereofore unable to provide current football stats,or stories, or make meanignful contact with local newspaper sports editors, does not seem to be supported by the facts. We really need more and better publicity for the Columbia sports teams. For example, your terrific interviews in "Roar Lion Roar" should be reprinted (but only with your permission, of course) on the Columbia Athletics website.

At Thu Apr 12, 07:09:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Well, let's be honest... it's a lot better than it used to be. Some other Ivy football writers, including Bruce Wood of, pointed out last off-season that was the most-updated site in the league.

But yes, more can and should be done. And I think it will in the coming months,

At Thu Apr 12, 09:51:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Kluge gift will help athletics by permitting us to make Princeton type aid offers (no loan, all grant).

At Thu Apr 12, 09:21:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

No doubt it will help, at least indirectly. But it's time for a Kluge-like donor to single out athletics and athletes with a huge gift. Larry Wien's decision to totally back a new stadium was something along the lines of what I'd like to see repeated.

At Fri Apr 13, 06:22:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, how does Asia Sunset turn a story about Tommy Amaker into another obnoxious Penn screed. It's agood year fro a new coach at Harvard because Penn can only recruit two players next year.

At Fri Apr 13, 07:31:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Asia Sunset provides a lot of good inside info on Penn and some other schools, so overall I'm glad he's there.

But I too find it disturbing that he never has anything critical to say about Penn and he never sees any merit in anyone else's criticisms. I love Columbia sports and the University as you all know, but I never try to cover up our faults and I rarely if ever, blame our teams' losses on anyone other than ourselves.

To be sure non self-aware and non introspective he MUST be either a lawyer or a political staffer.

At Fri Apr 13, 07:37:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asia Sunset must be a retired investemnt banker or private equity guy. He spends an inordinate amount of time as an unpaid flak for Penn. Even the Amaker story is turned into a Penn story line. And I still think that it was a new low when Penn raided Brown for its coach.

At Tue May 22, 03:22:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Ryan said...

Penn sucks. They are a joke of a school. Hence, why they are so insecure and constantly try to puff themselves up.



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