Penn Coach Al Bagnoli
Columbia isn't the only Ivy school with a nice-sized bunch of impressive late-addition walk-ons. Penn just put eleven new players on its roster and one is a defensive lineman transfer from Boston College and another is fullback transfer from the University of Iowa.
These developments simply add strength to two existing areas of strength for Penn: the defensive line and the running game. But they do make the Quakers stronger overall, and I daresay that two straight losing seasons in Ivy play have raised the sense of urgency at Franklin Field.
One thing that has characterized Bagnoli's years at Penn is his unwillingness to let weaker younger players just "grow into" the key jobs and roll the dice. The transfer route was the way the Quakers picked up QB greats Gavin Hoffman and Dough Rader in the past. Getting transfer defensive end Josh Neubert from Boston College, (where he redshirted last season), says one thing and one thing only to me: Bagnoli wants to stop Mike McLeod. Penn already has a great defense against the run, but it will need to be better than great to stuff Yale's McLeod on October 20th when the Elis come to Franklin Field. If you stuff McLeod, you beat Yale. And Bagnoli has good reason to believe that if the Quakers beat Yale, they will win the Ivy title.
Last year, McLeod rushed for 122 yards on 29 carries against Penn at Yale Bowl. That's a good, but not world-shattering, day... against most teams. That was the best rushing day anyone had against the Quakers in 2006.
The move makes sense, but frankly I think Penn would have been wiser to address its apparent weaknesses at wide receiver and perhaps even at quarterback. Bradon Lepisto is a top receiver, but he's all alone as a prime passing target. Junior QB Robert Irvin is a very good passer by Ivy League standards, but not good enough for championship caliber play at Penn in my estimation. Unless he eliminates his propensity to throw very costly interceptions, the Quakers will lose more heartbreakers in 2007. There's a decent chance Irvin will improve... but Bagnoli hasn't been one to take chances in the past.
I'm still a few weeks away from releasing my preseason Ivy football picks, but I don't think these roster moves will drive me to change where I've positioned Penn, especially since I've already place them very high and certainly believed they could win the championship even before all of this was announced.
It's important to face the fact that the power teams in this league, and no team has been more consistently powerful since 1980 than Penn, will not relinquish that power easily. If Columbia works its way to the top of this league over the next few years, it will require a serious amount of hard work. No one is going to make it easy for us.
Because Penn recruits so heavily from the New Jersey/New York area, the Quakers' 27-year record of almost constant success has often come at Columbia's expense. But with true national, (and international), recruiting going on these days at all the schools, I don't think this is as true as it was years ago.
And remember the law of diminishing returns. With Penn, the upside is really limited. With the current regime in the athletic department at Columbia, we will
continue to get better at a rate no other Ivy school can hope to match.
Sid Luckman as Chicago Bear
Here's a good story about how Columbia great Sid Luckman fit into George Halas' master plan for the Chicago Bears. Imagine a Columbia football player nowadays graduating to become a Super Bowl MVP.... 2-3 times! Then you'd get the idea of how big a star Luckman was.
In Case You Were Wondering...
Starting salaries for college grads, even useless liberal arts majors like me, jumped across the board this year. Of course, the key word is "graduate." You need your degree first, and Ivy athletes, (something like 95-99% of them), get their degrees.
Prime Real Estate
A condo in New York City is charging $225,000 for a parking space... and there's a waiting list of seven or eight people to get it! I think I heard that the average American moves every four years, so if you take that $225,000 and divide it by four years, you get a parking price of $154 a day! This is why paying $10 to park up by Baker Field at one of the garages is really a good deal!
Waving the B.C. Lion Flag
Tad Back in Action!
Tad Crawford '07, and the 2-0 B.C. Lions are back in action tonight at 7PM Eastern Time to take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who are also 2-0, at Mosaic Stadium. Again, you can catch the game audio for free at Team Radio 1040.