Saturday, July 07, 2007

Rough Road

Some roads are tougher than others

Our schedule at Columbia is much tougher than last year's and I would even put it in the top three toughest slates in the league. While the season starts out soft with a "road" trip just up the street to rebuilding Fordham and the home opener against a MAAC team in Marist, things gets really messy after that. The Lions then have to travel to Princeton and then stay on the road for a matchup with Patriot League power Lafayette. Homecoming is against Penn, followed by the road trip to Dartmouth. Then Columbia gets two straight home games, but they are against Yale and Harvard. Next up is the trek to Ithaca, where the Big Red has been very strong lately. The final game is at home against Brown.

Here's how I would rate each Ivy team's strength of schedule for 2007, going from toughest to easiest:

1. Dartmouth 39

2. Harvard 36

3t. Columbia 35

3t. Princeton 35

5t. Brown 34

5t. Yale 34

7. Penn 33

8. Cornell 32

METHODOLOGY: I used a points system, giving the tougher games more points than easier games. 5 points went to games on the road against "tough" or predicted top tier Ivies, with 4 points going to games played against those teams at home. 3 points went to games on the road against "easier" Ivies and 2 points went to those games played at home.

Patriot League and other out-of-league games were catagorized the same way, but with one fewer point awarded in each of the above catagories. Special rules for Colonial League games, (like the Dartmouth game at UNH, which I scored as a very rough 6-pointer), were used. No games, no matter how "easy" they looked, were given zero points.

Could anyone have a tougher slate than Dartmouth? They open the season at home against the usually strong Colgate Raiders, then have to face the U. of New Hampshire and superstar QB Ricky Santos on the road in week 2. Next up, the Penn Quakers at home followed by a trip to Ivy favorite Yale. Then they remain on the road to face Patriot League favorite Holy Cross.

In week 6 they come back to Hanover for homecoming against our Lions. There's a chance the Big Green will be 0-5 and very hungry for a win by then. That's how it was last year when winless Dartmouth came into Wien Stadium and played their best defensive game of the year for a 20-7 victory. (Both teams were 0-5 going into their matchup at Wien in 2004, which Columbia won by a 9-6 score).

The season gets no easier for the Big Green after that with a road trip to Harvard, a home contest against Cornell, a road game at Brown and the season finale at home against Princeton.

I'm all for raising the level of competition, but I think Dartmouth is killing itself with its front-loaded killer of a schedule. I don't think they should eliminate the traditional game with UNH, but perhaps the Ivy and Patriot leagues can work out an NFL-type scheduling deal where the Ivy teams play the teams who finished in the same tier in the final standings from the year before. The traditional regional rivalry games like Dartmouth/UNH, Columbia/Fordham, and Harvard/Holy Cross can be exempted.

Based on Dartmouth's finish last season, they should try to play Georgetown in week one instead of Colgate, and then Fordham instead of Holy Cross.

On the other edge of the spectrum is Cornell, with a home opener against the improved, but not ready for primetime Bucknell, and a road trip to Patriot League weakling Georgetown. They do have to face a stronger Colgate team, but that will be at Schoelkopf for homecoming.

Cornell was such a better team at home last season, that it's really hard to get a handle on how good or bad they really were. I expect them to remain just as tough at home in 2007 with some improvement on the road.

Penn has a surprisingly easier schedule than usual, with Villanova playing weaker ball these days and a home tilt against Georgetown. The Quakers also get Yale and Princeton at home.

Of course, all of this is just about as hard as picking the final standings in the pre season. Some of the games that look really tough now are an injury or some other event from becoming a lot easier. Some of the "weaker" teams can always surprise.

Tad Back on the Field

Tad Crawford plays in front of his new home crowd for the first time in regular season play as his B.C. Lions take on the Edmonton Eskimos at BC Place Stadium. The Lions are 1-0 after squeaking by the Toronto Argonauts in Toronto last week. Tad had one special teams tackle. Again, you can catch the game audio for free at Team Radio 1040.

World Cup Team

Three former Ivy Leaguers are on the U.S. team in something called the American Football World Cup. They are: Brig Walker LB Princeton, Taylor Craig FB Yale, and Ryan Tully LB Harvard. As the man says in the article, this is one World Cup we should be able to win!


At Sat Jul 07, 04:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, I continue to be amazed that Cornell is permitted to park players in hotel administration, the ag school, the school of labor relations, etc. Cornell players should be in arts and sciences or engineering, the non "state school" parts of Columbia.

At Sat Jul 07, 05:14:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good analysis, Jake. It's precisely this tough schedule that makes me say we should count our lucky stars if we go 5-5 again. I know I will conisder a 4-6 season a success this year with the young team we have. Only if we get lucky/fortunate do we better last year's record.

At Sat Jul 07, 07:49:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I'm sure no one will listen to me, but I really wish we would all stop disparaging the academic abilities of our opponents. No matter how you slice it, we're dealing with very hard-working and smart kids who are sacrificing to play ball, and yet they're still not good enough for a lot of us. I'm sure there is a little cheating from time to time, but that's the administration's doing, the kids still have to produce in the classroom.

At Sat Jul 07, 07:50:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I won't be satisifed with 4-6, and 5-5 would only be acceptable if it came with at least 3 Ivy wins. This team has a great shot at 6-4 if key players stay healthy.

At Sat Jul 07, 08:12:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Stephen said...

I was looking at the league wide schedules today and I tend to place more importance on the sequence of the games.

We would both rate Penn's schedule as easy- front loaded with non-league and bottom Ivies.

Harvard's final 2- Penn and at Yale is brutal

Brown has a miserable 4 team gauntlet towards the end.

Excepting the early game at Yale, Cornell is sitting pretty.

Dartmouth gets crushed in non-league games and faces Penn and Yale early.

I look forward to comparing your season preview w/ mine, Jake.

At Sat Jul 07, 09:36:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But injuries are part of the game. If we don't produce the wins you can't blame the record on injuries.

I don't feel we're deep enough and talented enough to assure we will overcome the injuries and bad calls and freak plays and come out with a 6-4 record--we are going to need some luck.

I think if NW produces a 4-6 record with this schedule and the team makes progress, the season is a success--remember where it was on 11/30/05. I give him at least another season before I expect a .500 or better team.

At Sat Jul 07, 05:20:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to agree with Jake that nothing but a winning season would be acceptable for the Lions, and if our running game improves enough, which it should do with a stronger O-line, there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to do it. Our passing game, with Hormann and many talented receivers, plus, of course, our stalwart and opportunistic defense, will make us a threat at all times. Add good coaching and the intangibles and it's a go.
The guns of Foehi, Bulldog and others will soon be silenced.

At Sat Jul 07, 09:55:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, you are much too defeatist. We have the talent to beat anybody on our schedule. I think we can have a winning year.

At Tue Jul 10, 03:27:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

I think that the order of schedule makes a difference too. For years the Ivies seemed to always have everyone play the teams in the same order. This makes little sense to me in that, weaker teams that drew a harder early schedule would appear to be at a disadvantage. Columbia always seemed to get Princeton and Penn early, Cornell and Brown late. I think there should be random opponents except for a Classic rivalry like Yale-Harvard. Any thoughts?

At Tue Jul 10, 07:26:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...


I agree that it would be great to shuffle the schedules more often. I'm sure there is a good reason for keeping things the same, but it's beyond me.


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