Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Last season's excellent color commentator, Rick Mantz, has just announced he is returning to coaching. It should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog that I would very much like to replace him.

No doubt my credentials as an avid and informed Columbia football fan have been established. But please also remember that I am a seasoned broadcast journalist with 13 years experience, the last seven at CNN. I have also been teaching radio journalism to undergrads at NYU every semester since September, 2001.

I'm asking all the readers here to help me in my campaign to replace Coach Mantz as the color commentator on WSNR and GoColumbiaLions.com. Please email the athletic department, or better yet, (especially if you are a long time Columbia supporter with personal connections to the dept.), please make a phone call or two.

Columbia football fans are a rare and tough breed, and we deserve someone who knows the team's history and has its best interests at heart to broadcast the games.

I humbly ask you for your support.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Possible Recruit

We're in the running to snag this good offensive lineman prospect from upstate New York. Read about Brian Murray here: Ithaca Journal

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sobering Story

Well, no one ever said the life of an Ivy League football recruit was all perfume and roses.

Here's a very sad story of one former high school football star who was recruited by Brown and Columbia who is now in prison and probably won't be getting out for a long time:

Gross Injustice

One Who Got Away

Columbia, Harvard, Yale and Army all lost out to Cal Poly in the battle for this recruit.

Another Commit

An anonymous commenter on the previous post informs me that Joe Stormont from Stillwater, Minnesota, (pictured above with his mom. He is #5, second from the right), will be a Columbia Lion next fall. Stormont was a safety/kicker for his high school team and the captain. Here is more info on young Joe from his team website:

"The Stillwater football team set numerous individual school records this season while earning their 19th trip to the state tournament, which is the most ever among large schools. The Ponies celebrated this and other achievements during their postseason awards banquet on Sunday evening at Our Savior's Lutheran Church. Senior Joe Stormont, an all-state kicker and safety who set numerous several records this season, was named the Most Valuable Player for the Ponies, who finished 8-4 after getting knocked out of the state quarterfinals by Rosemount.

Stormont, who is tied for sixth on Stillwater's all-time list with nine career interceptions, was also selected the team's Most Valuable Defensive Player.

There were a total of 20 records broken or all-time lists joined by members of this year's senior class. Stormont was responsible for many as he ends his career as the most decorated kicker in team history. Stormont, who received Associated Press All-State honors as a kicker and honorable mention recognition as a defensive back, tied the record for kicking points in a game with 10 - which he achieved twice this season - and set records for most field goals in a game (3), season (15) and career (20). His 71 kicking points in a season and 122 in a career are also team records. As if that wasn't enough, Stormont also set the record for most consecutive extra-point kicks (45) and field goals (12). His 47-yard field against Woodbury is also a new team standard. Stormont also ranks ninth on the career scoring list with 142 points.

Football All-Conference: Joe Stormont, Collin McGarry, Mark Kubacki, Nick Branjord, Andrew Warren, Danny Johnson and David Butler; All-Conference Honorable Mention: Colin Goulette, Travis Miller, Travis Einertson, Joe Hakala, Matt Briol, Dan Houle, Andrew O'Keefe and Kyle Peterson;

Associated Press All-State Team: Joe Stormont (K); Associated Press All-State Honorable Mention: Collin McGarry (DL and TE) and Joe Stormont (DB); Most Improved Player: Colin Goulette; Mr. Weight Room: Collin McGarry; Mr. Football: David Butler; Coaches Award: Andrew O'Keefe; Big Red Hitter Award: Mark Kubacki; Scout Offensive Player of the Year: Tyler Severson; Scout Defensive Player of the Year: Brian Reier; Kearney Memorial Award: Collin McGarry; Pete Miller Jr. Memorial Award: Joe Hakala; Most Valuable Defensive Player: Joe Stormont; Most Valuable Player: Joe Stormont; Captains elect: Dan Houle, Andrew O'Keefe and Brian Arnfelt."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More Recruiting Updates

The recruiting news keeps trickling in, and the mavens over at the VOY Ivy Sports Board continue to beat me to the punch.

It looks like Penn has the inside track on Bradford Blackmon of St. Andrew's in Mississippi. You can read about him here: Clarion Ledger

However, at least I can offer a few more details about new commit Zack Kourouma from Massachusetts. Here's an article about him and a teammate from "The Republican" newspaper from Springfield, MA.

Minnechaug doubles up // Kourouma, Jolicoeur fly alike for Falcons
672 words
28 November 2006
The Republican
Copyright (c) 2006. The Republican All Rights Reserved. Used by Factiva with Permission.


Zack Kourouma and Dave Jolicoeur are not the same person.

But according to coaches and teammates, when they step onto the football field, they aren't far from it. And that's just how the Minnechaug Regional High School likes it.

Kourouma and Jolicoeur lead a balanced rushing attack that will take on St. John's of Shrewsbury Saturday in the Division IAA Super Bowl at Worcester State College at 5:30 p.m.

Minnechaug enters at 9-1, while St. John's is 8-3.

The senior duo comes as advertised. They lack flash, but that has proven irrelevant as the Falcons have taken the pair's straightforward attack and fit it with a strong aerial game to create what can be a potent offense. Quarterback Ed Burnham said the presence of Kourouma and Jolicoeur makes his job a lot easier.

"It's a huge deal for us. We try to keep everything balanced," Burnham said. "With two guys like Zack and Dave running the ball, it makes it easier for me and the wideouts, and it kind of opens everything up."

Minnechaug coach Dan Donovan struggles to find a difference in the style of play between the two running backs.

"I don't know that there is a difference between the two. They're both skill athletes," he said. "You're really splitting hairs if you're going to find a difference in these guys."

Kourouma (14 touchdowns) was not a big part of last year's offense, but he played an important role in the Falcons' defense. However, this year, the senior began to get more carries, which he said has been an obvious key to his success.

"Last year I didn't really get as many reps as I have this year, so just being able to get the ball a few more times has really helped me develop."

Along with the extra carries, Donovan says Kourouma's attitude had been important as well.

"The key to his development is simple. He works incredibly hard, he's coachable, he listens," Donovan said. "He works his tail off and has since the day he got here, and he's really unselfish."

Kourouma is also an important member of the Minnechaug defense, which he says helps him when he gets the handoffs.

"I take kind of the same mentality onto both sides of the ball. I love to tackle, so on offense I like to break tackles, run over people and keep running."

The football field is not the only place that Kourouma has had success, as one of his post-graduation aspirations is to attend an Ivy League college. Kourouma says his hard-hitting nature in between the white lines is evident in his classes as well.

"There is definitely a similarity between football and school. The discipline that I've learned on the field carries over to the classroom."

On the field, Donovan said the biggest key to the team's balanced ground game is selflessness.

"We told them, if you want to carry the ball you're going to have to block. The first time I see you aren't blocking for the other guys, you're not playing," said Donovan. "That was not a tough sell at all because they are both really unselfish guys."

Jolicoeur (11 touchdowns) takes as much pride in opening a hole as he does running through it.

"Throwing a good block for Zack feels just as good as scoring a touchdown," he said.

Kourouma knows why Jolicoeur has been so successful running the ball, and on the other side of the ball at defensive end.

"Dave works really hard. He is really a workaholic, and it really shows on the field," he said.

Pic of the Day

Former Columbia footballer Edward Botwinick sent me this picture of the 1953 varsity team. You can click here for a larger-sized version:
'53 Varsity

Notice the squad has just 36 players. My have times have changed.

Recruiting Info

I found this article about incoming freshman linebacker Matt Moretto on my own, but the folks over at the VOY Ivy Sports Board caught the news about him first. It looks like defensive coordinator Lou Ferrari is continuing to favor faster types for linebacker who also play fullback. That's what he got in Justin Masorti last season, and who can argue with that kind of success?

We have a possible football and baseball recruit in Cecilia, Louisiana's Trent Hebert , (pictured above). No matter what he does, young Mr. Hebert sounds like a kid with a good head on his shoulders.

Star Sighting

I was bummed to see the Columbia mens and womens teams get swept at home on Saturday by Cornell. But there was one pleasingly familiar face in the crowd, and it was none other than Columbia's all-time leading rusher Johnathan Reese. I didn't get a chance to talk to him, but it appeared he was enjoying himself. With Reese's attempts to hook up with an NFL team now apparently over, I wonder what he'd doing with himself nowadays.

Here Come the Pictures!

The first round of pictures of Baker Field have been coming in and some of them are just breathtaking! I want to say a special thanks to everyone's who's participated so far and remind all the readers that we're still looking for A LOT more pictures.

The first shot below comes from Edward Botwinick, (class of 1956), and it is a bit of mystery.

But we can see the big "C" painted on the rocks along the train tracks, (first appeared in 1952), and the west wing addition to the Chrystie Field House, (built in 1955), so we can assume this is probably 1956 or a little later. Anyone who can see anymore clues please chime in. TOO SEE THIS WONDERFUL PHOTO IN ITS INCREDIBLE PANORAMIC FULL SIZE CLICK HERE: old photo

Inwood resident and talented photgrapher Jarid Maged has several shots of the parts of that neighborhood from which you can see Baker Field and Wien Stadium here: Jarid's Photos

Go to the second page notice how a good portion of the playing field is visible from the northbound approach on Seaman Avenue. This is something Wien Stadium offers that the old Baker Field did not as the south end zone was the enclosed part of the horseshoe. Another thing to notice is the fact that there are no parking spots on Seaman in this photo... and that's pretty much what it's like every gameday.

And then there are these great shots from Columbia punter/kicker Jon Rocholl's mom, Sue Rocholl. Enjoy and keep them coming!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Grasping at Straws

For some this is old news, but I have learned that a player Bruce Wood over at Big Green Alert Blog mentioned as a possible recruit for Dartmouth is also considering Columbia. More about him here:
Bobby Christopher.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

We Have a Recruit!

Special thanks go to the folks over at Ivy Sports Board, particularly the splendid poster "Asia Sunset" who has alerted us all to the following recruit. (He sounds promising, but of course recruits always sound promising):

Columbia is the right place for West Catholic's Holloway


It's luck if no true work is involved.

It's achievement when the reasons for success are nonstop dedication and total focus.

Last month, Marc Holloway's sterling play at linebacker helped West Catholic end years of frustration and capture the Catholic Blue football championship. This month, he has finalized plans to attend Columbia.

Does it get any better for a young man with hopes and dreams and, more importantly, the drive and family/school support to make them come true?

The 6-1, 220-pound Holloway, a first-team Daily News All-City selection, also gave heavy consideration to Penn, Brown, Cornell and Georgetown.

"On my visit to Columbia," he said, "I felt like the atmosphere was not too far different from what I'm experiencing at West Catholic. I realize I probably won't be playing football [beyond college] and the opportunities for people attending a college like Columbia in a city like New York are second to none. They don't come around too often. I felt it was where I needed to be.

"I did visit Penn and I liked it. But I want to grow up some more and experience life outside of this city."

As much as his visit meant, the immediate aftermath impressed Holloway even more. A few days later he had surgery to correct a shoulder injury he had suffered at the start of his season.

"I just played through it all this time," he said simply.

"The Columbia people were in steady contact. They showed they were really concerned with how I was feeling. I'm not just a football recruit. They have an interest in my character and the person I am."

That person plans to major in economics, with an eye on law.

"They have people whose job is to help the students get jobs and internships," Holloway said. "I also met with faculty members. I didn't sense any of the stereotypical, nose-in-the-air Ivy thing. They're accepting of everyone. All they care about is helping everyone do better."

On a sadder note, one of the members of Columbia's sterling 1945 team that went 8-1 has died. Bob Bowers served in the Navy in World War II before becoming a letter-winner for the Lions. His obituary is here: Bowers Obit

Sole Success

Head Coach Norries Wilson is featured in a piece the Minneapolis Star-Tribune published earlier this week on the lack of success for a NCAA program launched three years ago to help black assistant coaches get head coaching jobs. Of the ten minority assistants who started in the program in 2004, only Wilson is now a head coach. You can read the entire article here: Minority Coaches

One That Got Away

Colorado's freshman All-America punter Matt DiLallo is featured in his hometown Florida newspaper this week. In the article, we learn that he was heavily recruited by Columbia before choosing the Buffalo's. I have a feeling the presence of Jon Rocholl may have discouraged him from signing with the Lions. We'll see whether it's Rocholl or DiLallo, (or neither), who makes the NFL. Here's his story: Lost Recruit

Garrett Watch

One of Columbia's most famous turncoats, Jason Garrett, might get a job on Nick Saban's staff at the University of Alabama. Here's a tip for you Jason: when going out to lunch with your possible new boss, DON'T even THINK of picking up the check; he can afford it, believe me. Here's the story: Garrett to 'Bama?

Right Turns

"Lost" and "We are Marshall" co-star Matt Fox was featured in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and we talked a little about his experience as a Columbia football player and how he spurned a career in finance:

"We Are Marshall" afforded Fox the opportunity to get back on the football field. He was a wide receiver in college, first with the junior varsity (because freshmen were not then allowed on the varsity team) and then with the varsity. It was not a happy time for Columbia football.

You can read the whole article here: Matt Fox

AND THE COLUMBIA MVP'S OF THE DECADE nomination process has begun! Thanks to those of you who have made your picks. Let's keep it up!

And I still want your Baker Field pictures. Send 'em to novak.jake@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Passing the Time

So I'm looking at the calendar and I see we still have a whopping 241 days until the 2007 Ivy football season kicks off. We Ivy fans truly endure an epic offseason every year.

So, let's pass the time constructively by continuing the process of building the online community of Lions fans! I'd like to start that out with two different calls for the readers' input:

1) Show Us Your Baker Field Shots!

I love looking at pics of Baker Field and people enjoying their time at CU football games. I'd love to start a collection of these pictures and post them here. And of course this is another excuse for me to post the picture of my daughter Jordan with the cheerleaders.

I'd be especially grateful for pictures of the old Baker Field, which seem to be so scarce. Email your pictures to me novak.jake@gmail.com

2) Taking Nominations for Columbia Football's Player of the 70's, 80's, 90's and 00's (so far).

I'd like to single out the best Lion football players of the past 40 years with a nomination process and then an on-line discussion/poll for the best players of the last few decades. This is a great way to honor the players who may or may not have been properly credited by the Columbia Athletics Department's Hall of Fame.

I'll have my own nominations soon for each decade and post them here, but I want to hear from all of you. Spammers be damned, I've turned off the comment restrictions, so everyone can chime in anonymously.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Weekend Must-Do List

First off, I hope I'll be seeing quite a few of you at tonight's basketball game against Princeton and again tomorrow night versus Penn. As I have said before, I may not be such a basketball maven, but I really love the sport and go to as many games as possible. Maybe one day, I'll be smart enough about hoops to blog about it.

Secondly, please indulge me as I shamelessly plug a new gig of mine from my comedy writing life:


Starting tomorrow, my material will be featured in the "News in English" segment on "Workin' It with Jackie Guerra" heard on XM and dozens of ground radio stations across the country.

Jackie is a comedian and a movie and sit-com actress, so this could be a very good thing for me.

To find out when the show airs in your town click here:

Workin' It with Jackie Guerra

And to hear the show online at your leisure, you can click on that same link above, go to the "ARCHIVES" section, and hear it on Wednesday or so once they get the most recent show into the archives.

DISCLAIMER: If you absolutely hate the labor movement, the good news is my written segment is usually right off the top of the show, about 2-3 minutes in. If you're a supporter of the labor movement, I suggest you sit back and listen to the whole show. If you're a hired union-busting goon, I have some baseball bats and lead pipes to sell you... cheap!


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

And We Don't Have Playoffs Because...

This is the first time I've ever published my photo on this site, but somehow people have begun to recognize me as the "Columbia football blogger" when I attend basketball games on campus. It's a nice feeling, as absolutely everyone has been complimentary. But now I feel like I have a lot of people that I can't let down. All in all, I'll take the added responsibility.

One person who recognizes me is a highly-placed official in the athletics dept. who has asked me to keep his name a secret. He is always very nice, so I'm happy to comply. He came up to me at the basketball game last Saturday to tell me his take on why the Ivies don't participate in the I-AA football playoffs. He said someone from the Ivy presidents office told him that while the Ivies are willing to allow more games for big-time playoff tournaments like basketball and soccer, they feel the lower-tier level of the I-AA playoffs isn't worth the compromise. I thanked him for the info, (and by the way, he did not endorse or denounce that opinion), but didn't bother to point out the incredible "Catch-22" nature of that position. The Ivy presidents are the ones who decided to make football "lower tier" as they say, and now they're punishing their own programs for being "lower tier." It's like a person who breaks a guy's leg and then goes on to make fun of his victim for having a broken leg.

Needless to say, I don't think the "lower tier" nature of the I-AA playoffs is the real reason. Once we find out what it really is, maybe we'll have a chance to craft a real rebuttal... but maybe that's what they're trying to avoid in the first place.

Spammers Aren't Welcome

I've been allowing anyone to anonymously post comments on this blog since I started, but the spammers are getting in and I've been wasting too much time deleting their comments. So, from now on everyone will have to register first. Of course, you can remain anonymous by choosing your own special user name, etc. And I'm not going to make you give out any personal info. I hope the added security doesn't scare anyone away.

Now on to our regular business. This is the second installment of a continuing series looking at the 2006 seasons of some of Columbia's key returning players. On November 28th, I focused on QB Craig Hormann. Today, let's look at starting tailback Jordan Davis and his up-and-down sophomore year.

Davis' stats, even for a sophomore thrust into a full-time starting job behind a weak line, are pretty ugly. In the preseason, I had said that Davis needed to gain 600 yards in 2006 to have an effective year, but he finished with just 507 yards and 3.3 yards per carry. More disturbingly, he had no rushing touchdowns at all.

In many ways, as Davis went, so went the Lions. That 600-yards- for-the-season goal I set for Davis would have translated to 60 yards per game. And in the games where Davis ran for 60 yards or more, Columbia was 4-1. The one loss came at Yale, where Davis ran for exactly 60 yards. The one win where Davis didn't get 60 yards was at Brown, where he had 59 yards rushing. So, it's clear that the 60 yard mark is truly a watershed for him.

It's also clear that Columbia does not necessarily need a 1,000-yard rusher to succeed. Offensive coordinator Vinny Marino has crafted a complex playbook that relies mostly on the pass. When the Lions running game was at least competent, those schemes worked.

As a receiver, Davis was a decent weapon with 29 catches for 199 yards and one touchdown. But this is not the area where Columbia really needs Davis to improve.

And stats don't tell the whole story, because Davis played key roles in a number of games. Three of the Lions five wins were close games that very much relied on clutch Davis runs.

1) In Columbia's 23-21 win over Georgetown in week 2, Davis put together his best performance of the season with 95 yards on 27 carries. More importantly, his longest run of 17 yards came during the Lions final scoring drive of the day which resulted in the field goal that iced the game.

2) In the 21-14 win over Cornell in week 9, Davis had a season-best 4.7 yards per carry. Many of his best runs came in the second half when the Big Red was making a comeback and desperately needed to stop Davis to get control of the clock.

3) In the 22-21 season-ending win at Brown. Davis had only 59 yards, but averaged 4.2 yards per carry. His 9-yard scamper on 4th and 1 at the Brown 21 clinched an easy field goal attempt and played a huge role in the exciting win. Davis also caught a TD pass in that game for his only score of 2006.

On the down side, two of Davis' fumbles were key components of the losses at Penn and at home against Dartmouth. His fumble deep in CU territory at Penn took the air out of the Lions sails, and he coughed up the ball on the very first play from scrimmage against the Big Green and Columbia never recovered.

Getting Some Help

Most Columbia-watchers believe the decision to move freshman Pete Stoll into the starting lineup at fullback for the last two games was the biggest reason why Davis was so effective versus Cornell and Brown. And there's certainly a lot of reasons to believe that. But another reason was Cornell and Brown just weren't that good against the run all year, and Davis was able to capitalize on that. Either way, the Lions need a more consistent running attack next season no matter how strong the passing game is.

But it's hard to say we need a new tailback when it's clear Davis hasn't had the chance to play a full season behind an effective run-blocking offensive line. And so we come again to the absolute necessity of improvement on the O-line. If Columbia has another season where the pass is its only real offensive weapon, 2007 will be a disaster.

If nothing else, Jordan Davis has proven himself to be a fierce competitor in his first two seasons at Baker Field. It's clear we'll need more from him in his last two seasons if the Lions want to improve overall. Whether he'll face any real competition for his starting slot won't be clear until we get some more recruiting info. His current back-up, Ray Rangel, showed some promise as a freshman in 2006, but not enough to get excited about. What should get Columbia fans excited is thinking about how good this team could be with a real running attack.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Wish List for 2007

Okay, we're back after a long holiday break that I hope everyone enjoyed. I admit I went onto SideLion Pass a few times to re-watch some of the Columbia football wins and listen to that final drive against Brown. I still get nervous when Rocholl lines up for the winning kick. I know there have been some technical problems with the service, but I'm really glad we have those audio and video archives to help us through the long off-season, (kickoff is still 255 days away).

(Of course, we also have basketball and I am a big fan of college hoops. I have been to 3 games already and will be at both the Princeton and Penn games later this month. But I will leave the commentary on our round ball team to the real experts; I don't pretend to know enough about bball to write about it here).

A lot of readers have rightfully started to focus on recruiting. We're still a few months away from getting that full list of incoming freshmen players, (last year the official release came out on May 5th), but we certainly already know what our needs are... or do we?

The conventional wisdom is that the Lions need the most help on offense. There's no doubt the offense was the weaker of the two units last season, and the running game in particular was almost totally ineffective all year long.

But the good news is the offense definitely improved as the season went on. Using freshman Pete Stoll as a blocking fullback freed up tailback Jordan Davis for some nice runs in the Cornell and Brown games. And who can deny the turnaround QB Craig Hormann enjoyed at the end of the year?

The Lions biggest skill position loss is at wide receiver where Nick DeGasperis departs due to graduation. But the wide receiver corps looks good overall with Ivy League Rookie of the Year Austin Knowlin, rising sophomore Taylor Joseph, and rising senior Tim Paulin all coming back.

The biggest weakness remains the offensive line, and now Columbia will have to contend with the graduations of All-Ivy Matt Barsamian and guys like Daniel Palmer and Usche Osadebe. The problem with the offensive line is that it usually takes about 2 years for a high school player to really learn how to play that position at the collegiate level. So the Lions still have to grab as many offensive line prospects as they can, but we can't expect any of them to make an impact in 2007. Any O-line improvement this year will be on the shoulders of last year's starters. Center Mike Partain will be a senior this coming season, and I think he has a chance to be a team captain. Rising junior Mike Brune could also have a break-out year. And a lot of us would like to see last season's freshman, big Moose Veldman, get into the lineup as a sophomore.

On special teams, Columbia desperately needs someone who can return the ball effectively. Good field position is a huge part of the game in Ivy League football, and the Lions offense needs as much help as it can get. Otherwise, the kicking duties seem safe with the feet of Jon Rocholl.

But my biggest concern for 2007 and a recruting priority for me is the defense. The 2006 Lion defense was outstanding in every way. Even better, the unit featured a bevy of top-flight freshmen and sophomore stars like Andy Shalbrack, Justin Masorti, Drew Quinn, and Phil Mitchell. There was also some great contributions from more part-time players, especially freshmen Lou Miller and Matt Bashaw.

But Columbia's defense is losing five senior starters who were so effective on and off the field, that I am truly dreading their graduations. The Lions were particularly strong up the middle with nose tackle Todd Abrams, mlb Adam Brekke, and free safety Tad Crawford. They're all gone in 2007 as is senior breakout star Darren Schmidt and sparkplug Justin Nunez.

Columbia won't be able to repeat last year's stellar defensive performance unless:

1. 2006's key nucleus of freshmen and sophomores, Shalbrack, Masorti, Quinn, and Mitchell, step up and play even better.

2. Defensive coordinator Lou Ferrari pulls out another Darren Schmidt or two from the current sophomore and junior class and turns them into an immediate impact player.

3. Eugene Edwards and JoJo Smith improve in the secondary. They both showed promise as juniors in 2007, but we'll need a lot more from them in '07 even if Chad Musgrove comes back, and that looks like a long shot.

4. We recruit 1-2 freshman stars at the level of a Shalbrack and Masorti, especially on the defensive line.

As you can see, it's going to be a tough list to follow. But if the Columbia coaches are able to do better than expected with item #4 and bring in a slew of freshmen defensive stars, then it'll be that much easier to achieve numbers 1-3.

You've heard the cliche: "defense wins championships," and I'm a big believer in that. I'm hoping the Lions amazing 2006 season on defense will go a long way toward convincing some of the on-the-fence recruits to sign on.

Will this be a 1996 or a 2000 kind of Recruiting Class?

Columbia won its last two games of the season in 2006, something it did in 1992 and 1996 as well. The recruiting class that came in after those two emotional season-ending wins in 1992 made up the core of the 8-2 1996 team, (although it should be noted that the 1996 team's best player, Marcellus Wiley, was recruited a year earlier and only ended up playing with the '96 team because he sat out the '95 season). Those two wins in 1992 over Cornell and Brown were very memorable for anyone who was sitting in the stands and I think that really helped push guys like Rory Wilfork to come to Columbia.

The 1996 team won its last two games also in dramatic fashion at home against the Big Red and Bears. But four years later, the seniors on the 2000 found themselves at the end of disappointing 3-7 season despite the record-breaking year from junior running back Jonathan Reese.

So, here's hoping the final two wins of 2006 will produce a group of players that by 2010 will bring Columbia a championship or two.