Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Me, Myself & I

Maybe this study about the growing self-centered nature of American college students is the best explanation for why attendance is down at so many Ivy League sports venues.

After all, if you're self-centered to the point of narcissism, why would you bother to root for a team? Maybe you don't even GET the idea of being on a team. Maybe they need to start selling personalized bongs at the games. I'm just not sure.

Look, I don't even know if the study is really accurate. But I do know that getting people of all ages to get off their couches, out of their houses, and do things together in even a somewhat crowded setting is getting harder and harder these days. Seriously, if you don't live in New York City, is there any place in America you can go other than a major sporting event or a concert where you'll see more than a few dozen people milling about outdoors? I find it depressing that people are more willing to "chat" on the Internet about sports than actually play them or go to the games. And I obviously like chatting on the Internet!

Getting back to the self-centered study linked to above... truth be told, I'm one of those parents who lavishes praise on my kid whenever she does something good. But I also teach her common courtesy and the fact that when things turn out well, usually more than one person is responsible.

So when it comes to boosting Ivy League football, maybe what our schools should be doing is not begging the kids to go to the stadium, but showing them the values of getting out of their dorm room in the first place. Seriously kids, put the laptop and the cell phone down for one second and pay attention to the people and life in general around you!

And speaking of getting outdoors...

Bruce Wood has a poll up at his Big Green Alert Blog asking fans to name their favorite Ivy football stadium. Obviously, Baker Field/Wien Stadium is my favorite, but the true test is to ask which stadium other than your home team's field is the one you like best. Bruce understands this and so he asks people to exclude Dartmouth's Memorial Field from consideration, since most of his readers are Big Green fans.

Choosing my favorite non-Columbia venue was a tough job. But I narrowed it down to two places. 1) Harvard Stadium and 2) Princeton Stadium.

The new Princeton Stadium is easily the NICEST venue in the league as it is the newest structure and it has amenities up the wazoo. The free programs and attractions for tots, (like a moonwalk cage), put it over the top. But it's just not classic enough to get my number one spot. Plus, it's general setting is too suburban and cookie-cutter for my taste.

Harvard Stadium, with its Greco-Roman architecture and perfect setting right on the Charles River, is my winner. They built a new fieldhouse about 10 years ago facing the open part of the horseshoe, and that blocks a lot of the view of the river, but it's still tops. Now if we could only get Columbia to win more games there, it would be perfect.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Radio Campaign Continues!!

I'm still hoping I get the chance to be the color commentator/2nd announcer for Columbia football games this coming fall.

Special thanks to Bruce Wood of the Big Green Alert blog for joining the campaign and explaining that getting an annoncer with an institutional memory is very important when it comes to sports broadcasting. You can see his entire take here: Radio Days

Imagine if your favorite pro team got a new broadcasting team every year or two and those broadcasters had never really followed your team before that year. It would be frustrating, and that's what Columbia fans have had to endure for many decades now.

In order to make this happen, I'm hoping to show my broadcasting chops with a few podcast interviews that I'll make available on this blog as soon as possible. I think I've established my knowledge and interest in Columbia football, now "the powers that be" have to hear my voice and realize that I am coherent and interesting to listen to.

Jerry Recco and Rick Mantz did an excellent job for WSNR and last season. But it took them awhile to get used to some of the ins and outs of Ivy and Columbia football. It would be great to avoid that "learning curve" process again next season.

BUT I NEED YOUR HELP! Please email, call, or find any other way to gently contact the athletics department and send along your endorsement. I think my best chance is a grass roots campaign. And if you have any questions you'd like to ask me about any of this, you can always email me at

FULL DISCLOSURE: A few years back I offered my services, in an advisory role only, to the student football broadcasters at WKCR. At that time, I supported the station's policy of using students only on the air. I still do, but now that Columbia has decided to use a commercial station on AM radio in addition to WKCR, I feel this is not a conflict. (I certainly don't want the 1-2 young men I advised briefly to think I was after their job).

Right now, I think having two stations covering CU football is better than one. Hopefully some healthy competition will come out of all of this and Lions fans will get an embarrassment of riches.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Pictured above: The Rocholl family visits with Jon at the Harvard game, 2006

When I was a student, I was only curious about Columbia sports from the perspectives of the actual Columbia athlete. But now that I'm older, and a parent myself, the thoughts of the athletes' parents are beginning to enthrall me.

To that end, I present below a short interview with the parents of Columbia Kicker/Punter Jon Rocholl. Rocholl is finishing up his sophomore year at Columbia and has already impressed many Lion fans with his long field goals and excellent punting. He's been about as consistent as you can expect a young player to be in his position, and he capped off an up-and-down final game of 2006 with a clutch 27-yard FG to seal a 22-21 win over Brown.

His parents, Sue and Rocky, were kind enough to send this blog some of their Baker Field photos earlier this year and I took a shot at asking them for an interview. They agreed and even answered my questions very quickly. I'd like to thank them very much for their cooperation and I hope CU fans, players and everyone else finds this short Q &A informative:

JAKE: How involved were you in Jon's recruitment process? Did you take the lead or were you in more of an advisory role?

SUE & ROCKY: We were very involved in helping with the recruitment process, as were Jon's high school coaches. Initially, we took the lead, in encouraging him to contact schools and attend their kicking camps. Snider HS athletic department provided information on procedures, and gave Jon guidance. When decision day was approaching, we gave Jon the freedom to choose whichever school he felt fit him the best.

J: Obviously they did something right because Jon chose Columbia, but what was your impression of the way you and Jon were treated by the Columbia recruiters? Was there anything that gave you pause or rubbed you the wrong way?

S & R: We felt they did a great job of recruiting. The recruiter, (John DeFilippo), was very informative, positive and affirming. The head coach came to our home, which impressed us. Unfortunately, (DeFilippo, whom Jon had built a relationship with), was no longer a coach by the time Jon arrived at school.

J: We've read that Jon received a scholarship offer to play at Ball State. How hard was it for you to approve his decision to go to a very expensive school like Columbia instead?

S & R: The financial decision was a difficult one. Ball State would have been free, with very small traveling expenses for our family. So, going to Columbia became a family decision. We all had to decide if we were willing to make the sacrifices to participate in Jon's college life. It is a burden for our family for him to be there. We spend hundreds of hours and dollars driving to and from NYC. But, we are willing to do this because we believe in Jon and his abilities.

J: Had anybody in your family been to New York City before? What were your impressions of the city and did the school's location concern you?

S & R: None of us had been to NYC before the recruiting trip that Jon and I (mom) took in January of 2005. We enjoyed the city, although it is very different from Fort Wayne or Omaha, where we've lived. NYC is a very busy, noisy place and yet has so much to offer.

The inconvenience of the distance was the only major concern we had about NYC.

J: Now that you've seen more of the city after two years, have your impressions changed?

S & R: Well, the distance hasn't changed! But, we have enjoyed the adventure of experiencing NYC. We've learned ways to keep it affordable and safe.

J: Did you have any reservations about Jon starting as a freshman in 2005 at the same time as he was trying to adjust to college work?

S & R: No, from his past history, we knew that he was more disciplined while in season, then when out of season, without as much structure. Of course, we also knew that college football was going to be taxing and time consuming.

J: Speaking of the work. What have been Jon's academic interests at Columbia and his non-football interests for after graduation? Does he have a preferred career?

S& R: He has many and varied interests. (He 's even enjoyed his Art Humanities class much more than we ever thought he would!) However, he is having a difficult time pinpointing a career.

J: As parents, what has been the most positive and negative things you've experienced in connection to Columbia football and Columbia overall?

S& R: Positives: the chance for Jon to be competitive on the team from the first day of practice, the chance to play as both a punter and a kicker, the relationships he's made with coaches & teammates, and the independence and maturity he's gained. Negatives: that athletics in general, and football in particular, are not an esteemed part of college life, the school doesn't seem very parent friendly, and the co-ed floors & suites have given us some concern.

(Credit: Columbia University Athletics)

J: I see that a lot of visitors to my Columbia blog are coming from Jon's facebook page. In case you didn't know, he has a gazillion friends on that page from all around the country. Coach Wilson has described Jon as a very funny guy. This is all a long way to ask whether you think Jon is doing well socially at Columbia and whether he was like that in high school too. My memory of the athletes when I was at CU (1988-1992), was they were very introverted and not too outgoing socially.

S & R: We think Jon is doing well socially, as the football guys are family. Unfortunately, the (rest of the campus world) is not as open to friendships with athletes. Jon is an extrovert, always has been, and is the most easy-going, fun loving guy around. Probably one reason he stays in on-line contact with so many is that it has been difficult to connect with a lot of like-minded friends on campus.

J: Has Jon ever felt uncomfortable at Columbia because of non-athlete students or professors treating him poorly simply because he is an athlete? Or has he been treated better than expected?

S& R: Jon has been uncomfortable at times. There seems to be a perception that athletes didn't have to meet all the same requirements that non-athletes must meet, to enter Columbia. Which is NOT true! Some profs are very understanding of the demands that athletes face. Others, which probably don't get personally involved with the students any way, don't seem to care. Jon hasn't been treated better than expected.

J: Jon seems like he could be a legitimate NFL prospect at kicker/punter. Is this something you've considered, or is that something that isn't on the agenda right now?

S & R: We would all like to think that the NFL is an option for Jon. We are not naively banking on him being chosen to play. Jon has not had enough interaction with those who truly know what it would take to be in that position. Until that day comes, who knows?!

J: What advice would you have for parents of prospective freshmen or the parents of kids who have just agreed to come to Columbia?

S & R: Enjoy the opportunity that has been given to your child!

Make sure that the student is going because that's what THEY want to do. Ask the question, "Would I want to go to school there even if football for some reason doesn't work out?"

Going to CU is an honor that does come with challenges and costs.

We would encourage you to support the student with your love and prayers.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

We Could Have Been Rutgers... Rutgers Could Have Been US

There's an interesting editorial in the Asbury Park Press, (NJ), today coming out against the big new contract for Rutgers coach Greg Schiano and the school's big football push of late.

Here's the key paragraph: "What was wrong with a football schedule that included Princeton, Penn, Columbia, Colgate and Lehigh? What is to be gained, other than satisfying the adolescent craving of some alumni for gridiron supremacy, by vanquishing the likes of Louisville, South Florida and Cincinnati on autumn afternoons? Every Rutgers student and every New Jersey taxpayer deserves an honest, intelligent answer."

You can read the whole article here: Asbury Park Press.

The question of what big football success brings to an individual college has cropped up in the news media over the last few years. I've always felt the Ivy League has it about right. While I think almost every school takes a financial loss on football, the ability to bring together a few thousand students and alumni, (and sometimes tens of thousands), is invaluable for a number of reasons, not the least of which the findraising opportunity.

And as long as the athletes are REAL STUDENTS, which they almost always are in the Ivy League, we should not forget the value to body and mind that competing in athletics brings to the individual. We've known this to be true since the days of ancient Greece, and frankly I think more physical education should be reintroduced to our colleges. Our nation's growing problem with obesity is just one result of a lack of physical activity in the daily lives of people of all ages.

That's the end of my rant for today.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

2007 Schedule Released

The Columbia Website has the actual dates for the 2007 schedule posted on the website. All the times are still TBA.

Sat, Sep 15 Fordham at Bronx, N.Y. TBA
Sat, Sep 22 MARIST Lawrence A. Wien Stadium TBA
Thu, Sep 27 Princeton * at Princeton, N.J. TBA
Sat, Oct 06 Lafayette at Easton, Pa. TBA
Sat, Oct 13 PENN * Lawrence A. Wien Stadium TBA
Sat, Oct 20 Dartmouth * at Hanover, N.H. TBA
Sat, Oct 27 YALE * Lawrence A. Wien Stadium TBA
Sat, Nov 03 HARVARD * Lawrence A. Wien Stadium TBA
Sat, Nov 10 Cornell * at Ithaca, N.Y. TBA
Sat, Nov 17 BROWN * Lawrence A. Wien Stadium TBA

Here's hoping they will make the 9/22 game against Marist a NIGHT GAME as it is Yom Kippur. Most of the Jewish Columbia football fans won't be able to make a day game, but probably will want to come after religious services are over in the evening. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur games in the past have been among the worst-attended in CU history... so switching this to a night game makes sense.

Marist is a new opponent from the MAAC, just like Iona. Iona was, by far, the weakest opponent we faced last season, but Marist is probably a better team. The Red Foxes actually beat Iona, 24-17, in their season finale.

The only other question I have about the schedule is why we're playing AT Lafayette. We did not play the Leopards in 2006, but when we faced them in 2005 it was also an away game. I suppose we may owe Lafayette a home game from years ago.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Je ne sais QB

With all the interest in rising sophomore quarterback Shane Kelly's decision to transfer from Temple to Columbia, I realize I haven't posted much at all about another QB recruit the Lions sewed up back in December.

His name is Paul Havas, (pictured above), and he's a Montreal native coming out of New Hampshire's St. Paul's School. I've also just been informed that today is his birthday. Anyway, his mom Amira was good enough to email me yesterday and provide me with some interesting links.

The first comes from St. Paul's and it lavishes praise on the young Canadian here: St. Paul's School.

And here is Paul's highlight video from YouTube: YouTube.

Did I get Someone in Trouble?

Let me make something clear: every recruit I've named here has been written about in another media publication or web site that I consider to be credible. I've also adequately SOURCED each of those publications by posting their links.

I see that today's Columbia Spectator is apologizing for the article it published about the recruits yesterday that I thought bore a striking resemblance to my own writings on this site. My "complaint" was meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek because I rely on the Spec for a lot of info too, and there just isn't that much info out there about the recruits to get too greedy. But the Spec editors are rightfully apologizing for not sourcing their info... which you just have to do at any level. In any event, I hope the editors came to this realization on their own and not after reading this blog.


A Spec editor has just contacted me to say my blog post yesterday was not the "tip" that prompted the correction/apology. I am relieved.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Should I Be Flattered?

Today's Columbia Spectator has a nice round up of the recruiting class so far. I say it's nice because a lot of it sounds exactly like the stuff I've written here over the last few weeks. You can check out the article here and decide for yourself:
Columbia Spectator

Hey, it's not like there's a whole bunch of things to say about these new guys right now -- we just don't know enough. So, it's possible that great minds just think alike. Hey. I wrote for the Spec too as a student and want nothing less than the best for the paper.


I rely on the Spectator plenty for information too, and today the Spec has the scoop on the departure of offensive line coach Kris Sweet who is headed for the CFL's Calgary Stampeders. Sweet had a very tough job in his one and only season, and the OL did make some strides. But he just wasn't around long enough to know just how effective he really was.

There's not much else new for today, except there is one more committed recruit to add to our list thanks to the folks at South Florida's Sun Sentinnel Newspaper. His name is Corey Claire, and he's a quarterback from South Plantation High School.

Monday, February 12, 2007

It's Shane Kelly

We're now hearing the transfer QB from Temple is actually Shane Kelly, formerly of the Hill School in Pottstown, PA. He's 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds and showed academic as well as athletic prowess in his brief time with the Owls.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

We Got Him!

The Hartford Courant reports that outstanding defensive lineman Andrew Kennedy, (see the post below for February 7th), has chosen Columbia over Holy Cross.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Catching Up

It's been a brutal week for me at work and at home, so I have a few more Columbia commits I have to update you on.

First comes Bryan Kipp, and offensive lineman from Boston's Xaverian Brothers High School. By all accounts, Kipp was a major force up front for the Hawks, a top-level squad that's sent a few players to the NFL over the years, including Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck. He may be one of the top 2 or 3 recruits for a Columbia team that still has a lot of work to do to improve it's offensive line.

Next is Michael Murphy of St. Joseph by-the-Sea on Staten Island. Murphy is a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder who will make the switch from TE/running back, (he was, for some reason, listed as a WR when he made the CHSFL all-league team this season), to strong safety in Lou Ferrari's 3-5-3 defense.

Columbia hasn't had much production out of the Tight End positin since Wade Fletcher graduated after the 2004 season, but now we have a new recruit to help motivate upperclassmen Troy Evangelist and starter Jamal Russell. His name is Clifton Pope, and he's a 6-foot-5, 225-pound TE from Iona Prep just north of Manhattan. Pope too was an all-league selection for the CHSFL. Pope and Murphy were opponents in the New York Catholic High School Football League, and now they get to join forces.

Other new commits I've been late to announce are Augie Williams, a 6-foot 190-pounder from Grossmont H.S. in the San Diego area and Paul Havas, a QB from New Hampshire's St. Paul's High School.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The YouTube Revolution

One of Columbia's new commits is a DE/TE named Matt Stotler from Yorktown High School in Northern Virginia. It looks like his brother, or maybe dad, (it's someone named Brian Stotler), has posted several Yorktown game highlights on YouTube.

I realize this has become old hat for a lot of people out there, but the fact that I can see several Columbia recruits in action at my own leisure is just a fantastic new experience for me.

Anyway, you can catch a few of Matt Stotler's nice plays in several games here: Yorktown on YouTube. And check the other game highlights on the right to see more.

And there's more on yesterday's OL commitment Ian Quirk here: Quirk Article

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

New Defensive End Recruit (recruits)?

Brian England of Raritan High School, (NJ) could also be a tight end. There's more info about him here from

And we may have another good prospect at DE in Andrew Kennedy from Staples High School in Westport, CT. It's not clear whether he's coming to Columbia or not right now, but we should learn the answer soon enough. His impressive senior season stats, which include 15 sacks in 9 games are available on

And here's a pic of #15 Kennedy in action from his team website.

Whether we get Kennedy or not, it appears Coach Wilson is making his presence felt in Connecticut, where we found rising sophomore and 2006 Ivy League Rookie of the Year Austin Knowlin and a few other nice recruits already. Of course, Wilson was an assistant coach and then the offensive coordinator at UConn for many years. Obviously, he's not forgetting his former backyard.

... and this just in:

Offensive lineman Ian Quirk of Fredrick, MD's Tuscarora HS is on his way to CU. He's #71 in the picture below and there's more info about him here: Tuscarora HS

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

New Commit: Calvin Otis

Thanks to "Asia Sunset" of the VOY Sports Board for bringing young Mr. Otis to our attention. Here are two short pieces about him below:

I've been holding off on commenting too much on these recruits and "commits" at this early stage, but I will say that I like this kid's size and speed, and it's REALLY nice to pluck someone right out of Princeton's backyard. (Of course, a cynic would say that the Princeton scouts may have had a better look at him and passed, but with the interest he had from James Madison U. and Duke, I tend to doubt that).

Welcome Calvin!

Friday, February 02, 2007

More Recruiting News

We're starting to get a steady stream of recruiting info now, and I know I speak for all Columbia fans when I say: "It's about time!"

First up today we have wide receiver Nico Gutierrez from Connecticut. Gutierrez is coming off a missed senior season because of an ACL injury, but his H.S. school coach calls him "a steal." Gutierrez himself says he's running at about 70% right now and should be all the way back by spring.

Then, we have defensive end Mike Egley from the Pittsburgh area. Mike also plays tight end, and says he likes playing both positions.

One Who Got Away...

From the Delco Times, (PA)

"A pair of Malvern Prep football players have also made commitments to Division I-AA schools. Paul Ostick, an offensive lineman, is headed for Cornell while Rob Bates will play on the defensive line for Georgetown.

Ostick, a Havertown resident, and Bates, formerly of Broomall, led Malvern to an 8-2 record during their senior years. Ostick also received interest from Villanova and Bates was recruited by the likes of Columbia, Colgate and Dartmouth."

More on Rick Mantz

And here's a piece from the South Brunswick Post about Rick Mantz and his decision to go back to coaching. Remember, I'm just beginning my campaign to replace Coach Mantz as the Columbia football color commentator.