Tuesday, July 31, 2007

End of an Era


Marcellus Wiley is hanging out in his hometown of Santa Monica

It looks like Marcellus Wiley's impressive NFL career is coming to an end. Lions fans could hardly contain their pride when Wiley was drafted in the second round of the 1997 draft by the Bills and then went on to two All-Pro seasons.

While it doesn't look like Wiley is expressing any interest in coaching, I always thought he had potential as a coach even when he was still playing for Columbia. I remember seeing him regularly trying to fire up his teammates on the sidelines, yelling at them to get off the bench, take their warming jackets off and generally toughen up. He was clearly not a man his teammates wanted to let down. I'm not sure if that would translate into making Wiley a good coach, but I'd love to see him get a shot if he's interested.


Steve Cargile has to prove himself in Bronco training camp


There still should be a talented Lion or two on NFL playing fields this season. The best prospect for actual regular playing time is probably Steve Cargile '04, who's now with the Denver Broncos. Michael Quarshie '05, ("the Finnish Phenom" as I used to call him), is apparently still on the injured reserve, but he should get a shot to get into some games for the Oakland Raiders if he is healthy. Jeff Otis '05, is a backup QB for the Raiders, but may not see much playing time.

It's always great to see former Lions playing in the toughest league in all of pro sports, but when I see 3-4 Columbians who all played together in the NFL I always feel a little disappointed. You'd think with NFL-quality players, the Lions could have won some championships. But as I opined in a previous post, lack of depth can make teams with lots of "stars" weaker than they appear on paper. For every star QB, defensive lineman, and safety, you need backups and other players who can take the enormous pressure off the "big guys." For the most part, Quarshie, Otis and Cargile didn't have that, and that's why they never played for Columbia teams with better records than 4-6.

The Tipping Point

The current Lions and their coaches seem to have taken this fact to heart, and we're already seeing promising signs of improvement when it comes to depth at a number of positions. The roster size now stands at 102, and if we can keep it at 90 or above through the season, that would be a huge improvement over 2005 and 2006, when the roster size was in the mid-70's. It's really impossible to describe how behind the 8-ball Columbia is by routinely having such a small roster. Injuries become that much more devastating, practices are more grueling and less productive, and the proper development of underclassmen becomes a pipe dream.

In just a little over a year and a half, Coach Wilson and his staff have made major strides in player retention, and that is truly half the battle in Morningside Heights.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Radio Days


As many of you have probably already heard via this announcement, I have indeed been chosen as the color commentator for Columbia Football for the audio/video feed on www.gocolumbialions.com and on an as-yet-to-be-named AM station in New York. I will be joining the skilled play-by-play man Jerry Recco of WFAN, who proved his talents last season while doing CU football and basketball games.

First, let me not make the same mistake Jay Leno made when he finally got the Tonight Show. I want to acknowledge the top-notch work Rick Mantz did as the color commentator last season. I am only replacing him because he is going back to coaching high school football; he will be the head coach at South Brunswick High. South Brunswick's gain is Columbia's loss, but I hope to be able to fill his shoes and give long-time Lions fans a voice of their own in the broadcast booth.

I also want to thank the many readers of this blog who openly campaigned for me to get this job, and the ones who supported me in other ways. I am forever grateful to you and I hope I don't let you down.

Pick Six


The hard-working folks at the new SME Network website, (and they do seem to be trying hard to capture the attention of all the I-AA/FCS college football fans), have come out with their own http://www.smebroadcasting.com/footballTop25.html?DB_OEM_ID=2400 prediction for the 2007 Ivy League final football standings, (and thanks to Bruce Wood of Big Green Alert for finding this first):

SME Network Predictions

1. Princeton
2. Harvard
3. Yale
4. Cornell
5. Pennsylvania
6. Columbia
7. Dartmouth
8. Brown


Jake's Take: Three predictions, and three votes for Columbia in sixth. For those of you not familiar with the way the Lions are regarded by the media, this is actually a major step up. For published prognosticators not to pick Columbia last in any given year means they see a much improved team that can probably make a good run at a winning season. For them to pick us for sixth, instead of the somewhat cop-out-like seventh place, is an even rarer vote of confidence.

As for the rest of the picks, they're pretty solid. But I really think putting Penn at fifth is a shaky call. The Quakers will contend for the title this season, I'm pretty sure of that.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Still Perfect


Tad Crawford (CREDIT: BCLIONS.com)

Tad Crawford '07 and the B.C. Lions are now 5-0 after beating the Calgary Stampeders 32-27 last night.

I don't know if Crawford or Calgary's Anthony Gargiulo, Dartmouth '05, made a huge impact. But Gargiulo did get four tackes and this article refers to Tad peforming well last night despite being tested a number of times.

Still, it's nice to see Tad has hooked up with what looks like the CFL's best team, (the Lions won the Grey Cup last season).

Interesting Perspective

Sorry if this brings things down a bit, but check out this essay by the sister of a top New Jersey high school football player who's being recruited by a lot of Ivies. Definitely a tear-jerker at some points, but I suppose we all had our teenage angst.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT


Please watch this space on Monday for a VERY BIG ANNOUNCEMENT, one that I hope will delight, (if not surprise), most of you.

If Only...


Here's an interesting article about the up-and-coming Big South Conference, a league that sends its champions to the FCS, (formerly I-AA), playoffs. We Ivy fans can only dream, but it's no longer even close to doubtful that most of the Ivy champs of the last 10 years would have had an excellent shot to win a game or two in the playoffs. Teams like the '03 Penn Quakers and the '04 Harvard Crimson were especially strong.

... and then there's the 2002 Columbia Lions. A team that went 1-9, but who's only win that season was against Fordham; and Fordham eventually advanced to the I-AA quarterfinals that season. Hmmm...

More NFL Love
For a league that doesn't get much respect from the big-time college football media types, the Ivies sure seem to be respected by the NFL. This article is just the latest piece about new Pittsburgh Steeler Head Coach Mike Tomlin that cites the fact that he was accepted to lots of Ivy schools before choosing to go to another I-AA, William & Mary.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Good Leg, Better Mind


Joe Stormont and friend Maggie Lopac (CREDIT: Stillwater Gazette)

Incoming frosh kicker Joe Stormont has won the McLaughlin Scholarship along with his friend Maggie Lopac.

Get Under the Tent!


It all happens under the tent (CREDIT: Columbia College Alumni)


The Columbia College Alumni office is already working on all the Homecoming festivities for the game against Penn on October 13th.

Once again, they're setting up the pre-game carnival for kids, and it gets better and more elaborate every year. Please think about bringing your family, and if you don't have any kids, consider renting some for the day, (nothing illegal, please).




Calgary's Anthony Gargiulo when he was a Big Green... player (CREDIT: Dartmouth Sports)


Tad Crawford '07 and the 4-0 B.C. Lions will take on the Calgary Stampeders and Dartmouth grad Anthony Gargiulo '05 this Saturday at 7pm Eastern Time. The game is at Calgary, who is 2-2.

Gargiulo is having a bang-up season on the defensive line and has a legitimate shot at the NFL down the road. Meanwhile, Tad has been impressive for B.C. playing as a sub most of the time. For some excellent coverage on Gargiulo's season, check out the excellent Big Green Alert blog, and make sure you comb through the archives.

As usual, you can catch the action online on the Team 1040 radio stream.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Interview with Ed Quinn


Dad Ed, mom Jean, and Drew Quinn at his final high school game (CREDIT: Quinn family)

During the season, it's all about the players. But I've been lucky enough to establish some relationships with a number of the players' parents via the magic of email this summer.

One parent I was especially happy to hear from was Edward Quinn, father of rising junior co-captain Drew Quinn. In addition to raising a number of very athletic kids, Ed was once a Major League Baseball umpire. I had a number of different topics I wanted to discuss with Ed and he obliged me at every turn.


Jake: You live in the Cincinnati area now, are you from there originally?

Ed Quinn: I was born in Philadelphia, PA. My father was offered a job with what is now Macy's in Cincinnati in 1950 and we moved here when I was three years old, so I am a Cincy native at heart. However, my father insisted on vacationing at the family cottage in Sea Isle City on the Jersey shore every year for 15 straight years and I have forced my children to spend a couple of summer vacations there and in Philly just to introduce them to their relatives.

J: Tell us a little about the Quinn family. How many children do you have and what kind of work do you and your wife do?

EQ: My wife Jean and I live about 24 miles northeast of downtown Cincinnati near Kings Island amusement park. Our two youngest children Sean and Drew are both in college. Three other siblings, (who arrived much earlier), Tracey age 37, Scott age 35, and Christine age 30 are all married and each have two children. Jean works for a national upscale restaurant chain and I am the business manager for a Nissan auto dealership near our home. Jean and I have been fortunate enough to have remained in our respective professions for over thirty years.


J: Did any of your other children play sports?

EQ: Our oldest three children were excellent athletes growing up. The two girls excelled in softball and soccer and my oldest son Scott was a three sport athlete in high school and was recruited to play football and baseball in college. He attended the University of Cincinnati but elected not to play sports in college. Year-round sports got the family on a first name basis with everyone at our local hospital emergency room while the oldest three were growing up. Sean, until his sophomore year and Drew, until his junior year were three sport athletes at St. Xavier High. Sean was a starting pitcher for the varsity all four years and played Division I baseball for Longwood University in Virginia until 2006.



Aerial view of the impressive St. Xavier campus


J: Tell us a little about high school football in Cincinnati, how competitive is it and would you say it's better than the rest of Ohio?

EQ: The word that best describes the Cincinnati football scene is “fanatical”. Drew was invited to join the St.X varsity near the end of his freshman season and here are the attendance records and the venues of the five playoff games that ended with a state runner-up title for the team:

At St X, 8,800; at Paul Brown Stadium, 47,700; at Univ. of Cincinnati, 40,000 (they couldn’t announce the 45,000 really there because of a fire law that said they can only seat 40,000); at Columbus Crew Stadium, 15, 600; and at Canton Stadium 18,900.

The Cleveland and Cincinnati areas have high school football legacies that go back sixty years involving teams like Massilon, Canton McKinley, Roger Bacon, Princeton, and Moeller. These national powerhouses forced the rest of the high schools in their communities with the enrollment and the financial means to do so, to step up their football programs to the point that teams like St. X, Moeller, Elder, Colerain and LaSalle in Cincinnati and Lakewood St. Eds and St. Ignatius in northern Ohio have to go to out of state and play nationally ranked teams to fill their schedules.

Ohio uses a point system based on wins and losses to determine its playoff contenders so the above teams can’t find any local takers. They end up playing each other and big name schools from across the country. DeLasalle Ca. has verbally committed to play in two big “classics” over the last four years and has backed out of both after finding out their opponent was one of the above teams. So yes Jake, forget Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, or California. Ohio is the place for high school football and southwestern Ohio is the most competitive with the Northern Ohio area a close second! So when Coach Shoop mentioned to the freshmen in 2005 not to be nervous about playing in big Wien Stadium in front of four to five thousand fans, Drew just smiled.



Drew in the 4th grade... you have to start early! (CREDIT: Quinn family)


J: There's been some talk in the media recently about the "wussification of America," with kids being barred from playing all kinds of games from dodge ball to baseball because of safety concerns. Were there ever any worries in your household about Drew playing football and the chances of him getting a serious injury?

EQ: Based on the media reports and what I am hearing from my oldest daughter in Colorado, whose two children both play high school sports and have witnessed the “wussification program” first hand, that trend is currently a factor west of the Mississippi and in the northern East Coast.

Jean and I have the same concerns as all other parents every time our kids walk on the field or into the weight room. I guess we have learned to live with the broken bones and sprains that have come with Drew's 12 years of “reckless abandon” style football, but the concerns grow deeper as the competition gets bigger and tougher. Drew has stinger and concussion problems occasionally, as do most D1 linebackers and the recent hype about concussion problems in the NFL and NCAA brought about by HBO and ESPN don’t help parents sleep any better. You learn to put your faith in God and the school’s coaching and training staff and then you go out and root for your kid to kick the snot out of somebody!


J: You were a Major League Baseball umpire in the late 1960's, what was that experience like and how do you think umpiring has changed since then?

EQ: Let’s not make more out of my umpiring career than it was. I was fortunate that my family had contacts at the National League office, which was located in Cincinnati at the time and I went to umpire school in 1967 with the help of Warren Giles and others in his office.

I moved through the minors quickly, and what I learned about surviving during those years has served me well to this day. While I worked some major league spring training games and a few regular games as a fill-in, my career was cut short when the National League discovered I had hidden my medical problems from them, (two degenerative discs). I still umpire amateur ball and teach umpiring every spring.

Big league umpiring today has mirrored the metamorphosis that has affected all of pro Baseball. TOO MANY TEAMS-NOT ENOUGH TALENT! The biggest issue is finding good ball and strike umpires. Calling the plate is like hitting. Good mechanics and a rhythm are required and more games are decided by inconsistent ball and strike umpiring than by errors in the field.



One of the postcards sent to Drew by former CU coach John DeFilippo... if only he had sent some of those to Randy Moss! (CREDIT: Quinn family)


J: Walk us through Drew's recruitment process. How involved were you and did the prospect of having to pay Ivy League tuition make a lump in your throat?

EQ: One aspect of Drew’s whole recruiting process that, in retrospect, turned out to be a blessing was that we kept him out of the spotlight until the end of his junior year. Once we allowed him and his coach to send out tapes and once he attended the big summer camps all heck broke loose. The phone calls, visits, and letters became a bit overwhelming, especially after Drew was listed 33rd on the Scouts.com linebacker list.

But the fact that we had only six months to visit schools forced Drew to focus on a smaller number of colleges that offered the excellent engineering college experience he was looking for. That number included: Univ. of Cincinnati, Purdue, Navy, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt, Northwestern and several Ivies including Columbia. We were fortunate that the recruiter from Columbia was a guy named John DeFilippo.

My first impression of John came from the two post cards a day he was sending Drew. Even our mail lady, who knew something was going on based on the excess mail we were receiving, commented on the “words to live by” that were on those post cards. When I asked John, on his first visit to our home, why Drew should consider a 1AA school with big tuition rather than a 1A school with a full ride, he didn’t start promoting CU right away but offered us some insight into how to work the process to Drew’s benefit regardless of what school he attended. This concern for Drew’s well being made us Coach Flip fans.

The tuition at the Ivies, it turns out, is not the monster you made it out to be in a few of your past blogs. While the “need based” grant program is as hypocritical as the D1 scholarship programs (a subject for future blogs), it provided Drew the opportunity he is currently enjoying while keeping the out-of-pocket expense for our family at a level close to what it was for his high school tuition.

We waited until Drew had narrowed down his choices to Navy or the best Ivy school before scheduling Ivy visits. We visited Columbia with only two weeks left in the recruiting period. It appeared that Navy was going to be the choice until we encountered two remarkable spokeswomen for CU. An Associate Athletic Director named Jackie Blackett spoke with us in a classroom setting. Her passion for Columbia and NYC in general was mesmerizing and her ability to remember names and involve you in the conversation was equally astounding. She made you believe “this is the place”. After listening to her and a few others we had lunch and spent some time talking with Dr. Diane Murphy the A. D. Seeing her straightforward, no-nonsense approach in dealing with administrators and coaches now makes me understand what I liked about her at that first meeting. These women and the positive impressions made by Dennis Polian, and Coach DeFilippo, in conjunction with the promise of what the future might hold for an Engineering Grad/footballer from Columbia led Drew to commit to Coach Shoop before we left Columbia that weekend. I think Drew received five calls from the Navy recruiter while we were on the Columbia campus. He didn’t want to tell him the bad news so he kept telling him to call him back on Tuesday.

J: What did you know about Columbia before the recruitment process began?

EQ: Only it was an Ivy school of some prominence and offered no athletic scholarships.


J: Drew has won a rare honor by being named a team captain as a junior. I'm sure you're a very proud dad, but was this a surprise to you at all?

EQ: The only discussions between Drew and I concerned his desire to fill the leadership shoes of departing Adam Brekke and whether being captain was even required to fulfill that goal. I know Drew did seek input from his coaches on that subject. Jean and I were very surprised when some parents came up to us at the spring game and said, “congratulations!” We said, “for what?” Our son had forgotten to mention that he had received this honor!!!



Captain Drew rallies his high school team (CREDIT: Quinn family)

J: Drew really made a jump as an impact player as a sophomore, and he played in all 10 games as a freshmen, but do you think Coach Wilson's staff put more faith in Drew than the previous staff did or would have?

EQ: No, unless it was just recruitment hype, Drew was told he was #1 on their linebacker prospect board and he would have been very disappointed had he not made the two deep list his freshman year. Drew and Lou Miller have had the advantage of playing for a defensive genius in high school who runs the same West Virginia defense currently being run by the Lions. I believe the weekly changes in their playbooks were even more extensive in high school than they are now. I’m sure this has helped them both look good in the coaches’ eyes.

J: How many of Drew's games to you typically get to and is coming to New York from Cincinnati difficult?

EQ: My business requires me to work most Saturdays but we do manage to make four or five games per year. Jean and I usually fly to three games and drive to two games and try to see some Philadelphia relatives on at least one of those trips. We can drive out in about nine and one-half hours from Cincinnati.

J: Is there something that you think the University or alumni could do to make the "Columbia parenting process" easier or better?

EQ: The biggest problems encountered so far revolve around class scheduling and notification of out-of-the-ordinary expenses required by athletes. If you read the online explanation of what summer housing will cost, (including the one week needed before and after the summer housing period), and when the bills are due, you won’t ever come close to the actual amount billed. Then you are only given three weeks notice about that amount before late fees are imposed.

The bigger issue is the refusal of the administration to allow “ghost seats” to be set aside in each class so that athletes can have a schedule that suits their training without sticking them with all the tough, grouchy professors or meaningless courses that no one wants. While the overall attitude by both administrators and students toward athletics at CU is still in need of a big change for the program to be listed as successful, let’s give kudos to Coach Wilson, Dr. Murphy, and the administration for finding ways to raise the money needed to make both the evident changes and the not-so-evident changes we have seen in the last two years. Just the addition of team lockers at Dodge and laundry service for their practice clothing means so much to the athletes. Small things like those not only save time in their very hectic schedules but they say to the boys “we care”.

J: What have been the best experiences you've had since Drew came to Columbia and what have been the worst?

EQ: Our best experiences have revolved around the people we have met through Lions Football. Freshman year I contacted most of the freshman and sophomore parents from the Ohio and Indiana area and we coordinated a few get- togethers in NYC. Sharing the successes and failures of your son’s college career with others going through the same process is a great experience. Everyone we have met from parents to coaches make the trip worthwhile.

Our worst experience was our very first regular season trip to Fordham in 2005. I am driving a vehicle equipped with navigation and have a map and a copy of Mapquest directions to Fordham University in the Bronx. It still took numerous stops and over an hour to get from Columbia to Fordham arriving just at game time. Game is delayed two hours due to lightning and then we got lost getting out of the Bronx after telling our son we would meet him back at Wien Stadium. Waited at the field for over an hour for the team bus which never showed because the coaches thought the late finish required them to get the guys right back to campus. Son falls asleep on bus and doesn’t call his parents to let them know! Arrive back at hotel at 2am not happy. So please place detailed Fordham directions on the blog this season!

J: What's a typical day in the Quinn household like now and what was it like when Drew was in high school?

EQ: The car business and the restaurant business require some strange schedules so Jean and I have fluctuating work schedules that don't adhere to the normal Monday through Friday routine. Our biggest lifestyle change involves not being able to go watch our two youngest play sports on a year round basis any more. After watching five children play sports for more than 30 years, we now find ourselves going to Reds, Bengals and St. Xavier sporting events just to placate our desire to go watch our kids play. So we look at the countdown clock on-line every day!!


J: What would you think if Drew decided to stay in New York City after graduation and pursue a career and a life here?

EQ: It looks like that may happen and I think it would be great. During last year's fall semester, Drew heard about the degree in Engineering Management Systems offered by Columbia. This degree includes studies in the engineering, computer, and finance fields and can lead to a career on Wall Street in the field of risk management. Drew is now on that degree path and is spending the summer in New York working as an intern with the William D. Whitter investment firm. He seems to love the work but not the schedule. He runs and lifts with his teammates from 6 until 8am and then works from 9am until as late as 9 pm some days. I can tell you that his reports from the weight room indicate that some of you will be surprised at the team that takes the field on September 15th.


J: Anything you'd like to add?

EQ: Jake, the snowball that is Columbia Athletics is waiting for that one big push that gets it rolling down the hill fed by its own momentum. Football and basketball especially, have supporters just waiting to help in a big way if they see that ball start to roll. So whether or not the Ivy League ever smartens up enough to remove the obstacles that keep some top notch athletes from attending its schools, let's hope that Columbia University continues its quest to be a first class institution in all areas of the "University Experience".

Jake, Jean and I would like to use this venue to thank you and Columbia University administration, staff, coaches and supporters for what they do for families like ours on a daily basis. I dare say that very few of our students could have told you while in high school that they would walk the path they are currently walking or have the advantages they will soon encounter accorded them by a Columbia University degree.

GO LIONS!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

2007 Preseason All-Ivy Picks

Usually, choosing a preseason all-star team at the collegiate level is a lot harder than making your picks for an individual conference's final standings. With the huge turnover in the Ivy League, there are rarely more than four or five returning players from the previous season's All-Ivy offensive and defensive teams.

This season, thanks to a few fifth-year seniors, the guesswork is a little easier, while still not exactly easy. But yesterday's release of a preseason All-Ivy team by the hard-working guys at Draftdaddy.com has inspired me to come out with my own list today.


JAKE NOVAK'S PRESEASON ALL-IVY TEAM

OFFENSE



Princeton's Brendan Circle is the most clutch receiver in the league (CREDIT: Daily Princetonian)


WR-Brendan Circle, Princeton

Circle may not gain as many yards this year as he did in 2006, because the scrambling Bill Foran is taking over at QB for the Tigers. But I still expect him to make big plays like he did so many times last year. Circle has a knack for getting open at key moments, even if he's quiet at other times in the game. When you consider how shaky Princeton's running game was at times last year, Circle's numbers and overall play are even more impressive.

WR-Corey Mazza, Harvard

Coming back for a 5th year after missing just about all of 2005 with an injury. His size, 6"4 and 210 lbs., makes him a nightmare to cover.

Runners Up

Braden Lepisto of Penn, Paul Raymond of Brown, and Austin Knowlin of Columbia will be in the hunt for the more important postseason All-Ivy honors as well. All three are the key targets for the their teams' passing games. Lepisto is going to get a lot of catches because opposing defenses won't be able to cheat against the Quaker run. Knowlin is a gamebreaker and is coming off a Rookie of the Year season. Raymond had a breakout year in 2006, but will have to deal with a new QB at Brown.

TE-(Your Name Here)

With the graduations of Matt Farbotko at Harvard and some other prominent names, the premier ranks of tight ends in the Ivies have thinned drastically. I'm not surprised that the folks at Draft Daddy decided to leave tight end off their list entirely.

But there are some good contenders for the top spot this season. First, you have last year's second team All-Ivy tight end in Yale's Langston Johnson. Johnson is noted mostly for his blocking abilities as he didn't catch too many passes this season. I also liked what I saw of Brown's Colin Cloherty in 2006, and he could be the beneficiary of the new QB at Brown leaning on the tight end as a primary receiver as new QB's often do. Josh Koontz had some good games for Penn last season and he could definitely become a top player this year. And of course, I love Columbia's Troy Evangelist's chances to dominate at the tight end position in 2007. He has the best size of any starting tight end in the league and his coaches are showing tremendous confidence in him.




OL-Jeff Monaco, Yale

Monaco was the only junior offensive lineman named to either the first or second or All-Ivy team last year. He's a big reason for Mike McCleod's success at Yale.


OL-Nick Wachtler, Yale

Great height for a center. Has all the tools.


OL-David Paine, Harvard

Helped the now-graduated Clifton Dawson go last year and in 2005. Has his work cut out for him this year with a new cast in the backfield.


OL-Jimmy Tull, Brown

Brown had a viable running game despite losing Nick Hartigan to graduation last year. Tull was a big reason why.


OL-Ralph DeBernardo, Columbia

Big reason why Columbia halved its sacks allowed stats from 2005 to 2006. Getting bigger and stronger in the offseason. Ralph was very effective last season as a sophomore and I expect him to improve. My interview with him from April is here.


Runners Up???

I am in total agreement with the Draft Daddy guys on the offensive line picks. It's almost impossible to assess offensive line play from the press box. The coaches and the opposing defensive players are really the only ones who truly know. So, you have to go with the returning players the coaches thought were the best last season.



Craig Hormann seems to be recovering well (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics Dept.)


QB-Craig Hormann, Columbia

My sources tell me Craig is working out regularly in the weight room and should be ready for training camp. I've gone back and forth on Craig over the years, but no one should ever question his commitment. And no one should question his potential after what he did in the final three games of last season.

But the truth is, the Ivy League is strangely thin at the QB position for the second straight year. Hormann is almost my choice by default because of his experience and his potential.

Runners Up

I'm impressed by Princeton's Bill Foran and he performed well in limited duty last season. Penn's Robert Irvin has a lot of experience and should get better, but that's what everyone said about Brown's Joe DiGiacomo before his senior year last season, and he made some of the worst mistakes of his career. Irvin must overcome his knack for throwing interceptions at the worst possible times. If he does, he could easily be the top QB in the league. Harvard's Liam O'Hagan is a wildcard, but I just don't think he's going to put up enough numbers to overcome the loss of Dawson at tailback. I expect Yale's Matt Polhemus to have a decent season, but his wide receiving crew is thin.


RB-Mike McLeod, Yale

He'll make a serious run at 1,500 yards or more this season. McCleod's offensive line will be weaker than it was in 2006, but McCleod will only get better. It's almost impossible to shut him down for four quarters.


RB-Joe Sandberg, Penn

For some reason, this enormously talented and hard-working player is underrated in the league. He's a great runner and receiver, and I expect him to get even more yards and receptions this year. Sandberg is back on the field this season for a 5th year.

Runners Up

Cornell's Luke Siwula is a talented player, but last year's dropoff compared to 2005 was eye-opening. Princeton's R.C. Lagomarsino will improve this year as a junior.


K-Jon Rocholl, Columbia

I'll admit that personal bias may have led me to choose Rocholl over Brown's Steve Morgan, but it's not all emotion. Morgan is automatic from inside the 30, but he was just three for seven from the 30 and beyond last year, while Rocholl was seven of 12 from the 30 and further. Morgan had better consistency, but he missed a 45-yarder that would have almost iced the Brown game against Columbia last season, and a few minutes later Rocholl hit the game-winner. If Rocholl were just a little more consistent over the course of the season, no one would doubt this choice.



DEFENSE

DL-Matt Curtis, Harvard

No one had a better defensive line than Harvard last year, and only one starter, Mike Berg, has graduated. Curtis made a major impact as a sophomore in 2006, and he will get better.

DL-Brad Bagdis, Harvard

Bagdis is coming off a season where he had six sacks and 16 tackles for a loss.


DL-Naheem Harris, Penn

Harris anchored the Ivy League's second best defensive line last season and he has been a top player since he first stepped on the field as a freshman.


DL-Brandt Hollander, Yale

Yale will make a run at Harvard for the title of best defensive line in the Ivies this year, and Hollander is the best the reason why. He's 6"3 and 280 lbs., but plays faster than that.


Runners Up


I also like Kyle Hawari and Stephen Schmalhofer at Yale, Pete Buchignani from Princeton, and Brown's Kai Brown. Columbia's Phil Mitchell is a force against the run.


LB-Bobby Abare, Yale

Abare is the kind of player who can change games on his own. He will continue to do that this season.


LB-Joe Anastasio, Penn

Makes tons of tackles in big games. The best player on a great defense.


LB-Drew Quinn, Columbia

Makes great plays against the run and the pass. Named captain as a junior this year despite playing on a team with a lot of up and coming stars on defense.


LB-Justin Cottrell, Dartmouth

Big leader of an underrated Big Green defense. Led the team in tackles last year.


Runners Up

The Ivy League is more linebacker-rich than I can ever remember. In many other years, guys like Tim Boardman of Princeton, Eric Schultz of Harvard, Ryan Blessing of Cornell, and Brown's Eric Brewer would be preseason favorites. I also really liked the way Columbia's Justin Masorti played last season as a freshman. The list goes on and on, but a big wildcard is Yale's Lee Driftmier who is coming back after missing 2006 with an injury.


DB-Andrew Berry, Harvard

Tremendous potential to make the NFL one day as he enters his junior season in Cambridge.


DB-Andy Shalbrack, Columbia

No freshman made a bigger impact on his team last season. Should have been the Ivy Rookie of the Year. Moves to a more traditional defensive back slot after starting last season as the "spur" linebacker. Plays like a veteran.


DB-Tim Bax, Cornell

Great size for a DB at 6"2 and 180 pounds. Will have to shoulder a big load for the Big Red defense as a junior.


DB-Ian Wilson, Dartmouth

Reminds me of recent Columbia grad Tad Crawford with the huge number of tackles he racks up from the defensive backfield.


Runners Up

Penn's Tyson Maugle was tough to leave off the top of this list, but I want to see him play more. His Quaker teammate Greg Ambrogi is another star. Yale's Steve Santoro has a shot to be one of the top players in the league by the time he's a senior in 2008.


P-John Rocholl, Columbia

John is a great punter and is more consistent as a punter than he is a place kicker. Steve Morgan is also very solid.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Metamorphoses


Coach Wilson helped the Lions avoid some familiar mistakes (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics Dept.)


I suspect that most long-time Lions fans do just what I do during the course of every season. I look for signs beyond the won-lost record to see if the current Columbia football team is shedding some of the long-time bad habits, and bad luck from the past.

Forgive me for getting all archaic here, but the Talmud teaches that one is only truly repentant when he faces the same evil temptation he succumbed to earlier, but this time has the strength to overcome it. Faced with a number of familiar challenges of the past, the 2006 Lions, and the football gods who have punished Columbia for decades, showed strong signs of "repentance."


Andy Shalbrack made an early impression in the Fordham game (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics Dept.)


Metamorphosis #1: Lady Luck Shines on the Hudson

The situation: In the week 1 meeting against Fordham, the Lions have a 13-7 lead early in the third quarter. Facing a 3rd and one from his one 29, Columbia quarterback Craig Hormann throws a pass that is intercepted by Earl Hudnell and returned for a touchdown that seeming ties the game. But a little yellow flag is lying on the turf at the CU 20 yard line. Fordham is called for roughing the passer. No touchdown. No interception. Columbia gets a first down and eventually increases their lead at the end of the possession with a 42-yard Jon Rocholl field goal. Instead of 14-13 Fordham, it's 16-7 Lions.

Obviously the roughing the passer call wasn't the result of anything Columbia did well. But anyone who's watched the Lions over the years knows we very rarely get that call. When Hudnell went into the end zone, I had visions of the 1991 game at Baker Field when the Lions blew a 16-6 lead and lost to the Rams, 20-16 in part because of an interception returned for a TD. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.



Metamorphosis #2: Waking Up Just in Time

The situation: After taking a third quarter 20-0 lead on Georgetown, Columbia is in trouble. Back-up Hoya QB Matt Bassauner has led his team to two touchdowns and late in the fourth quarter Georgetown is knocking on the door with a first and goal at the Lion two. Suddenly, the defense regains its composure and stops the Hoyas on first and second down before sacking Bassauner for a six-yard loss on 3rd down. Then the Hoyas botch their field goal attempt giving Columbia the ball back at their own 12. The the offense also wakes up and puts together an impressive drive all the way to the Georgetown seven. Jon Rocholl's 23-yard field goal ices the game.

Columbia has lost many big leads in the recent past, and this game was following a familiar horrific script. For the offense and the defense to step up at the same crucial point in the game was more than a little encouraging, even against a relatively weak opponent like Georgetown. This game was a clear sign that the coaching staff was motivating the team well.



Austin Knowlin's TD against Princeton was courtesy of the defense (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics Dept.)


Metamorphosis #3: No Let Down

The situation: Falling behind early against Princeton in the homecoming game at Baker Field, Columbia's offense just can't get anything going against the Tigers. The lone Lion score is gift wrapped by the defense after an interception inside the Princeton 10-yard line. But unlike so many Columbia teams of the past, the defense never lets up despite the lack of help from the other side of the ball. In the kind of tight game that stereotypically turns into a blowout by the fourth quarter, the Lions stay close and fall to the eventual league champs by a non-embarrassing 19-6 final score.

Losses aren't anything to be proud of, but it was very encouraging to see Columbia's defense avoid the physical and mental fatigue that has plagued so many teams in the past, (including the great 1996 team, which collapsed defensively against Princeton in the early going and all day against Dartmouth the week later). Losing is one thing, but getting pounded in the final minutes after playing respectfully for the rest of the game is something that's happened too often to the Lions. Columbia wasn't really routed in any of its five losses in 2006, and this loss set that tone.


Masorti's sack against Cornell was huge, but the Lions needed more (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics Dept.)


Metamorphosis #4: Refusing to Lose

The situation: Leading Cornell 21-14 in the fourth quarter, Columbia is facing what seems like the Big Red's last gasp of the game. With a 3rd and two at the Columbia 19, Phillip Mitchell and Darren Schmidt stuff Cornell back Luke Siwula for no gain. On the ensuing 4th and two, Justin Masorti makes one of the most dramatic plays of the year, sacking Big Red QB Nathan Ford to give the Lions the ball at their own 30. But Columbia's offense is unable to ice the game, losing five yards on three running plays and then being forced to punt the ball back to Cornell with 1:51 left. Bryan Walters makes a spectacular 27-yard return to put the Big Red right back in it with a 1st and 10 at the Columbia 32 with 1:38 left. But after an illegal motion penalty on Cornell, Lion linebacker Drew Quinn makes a big interception and returns the ball all the way back to the Big Red 32. The game is finally over.

When Walters made the big punt return, I was reminded of the 2000 game against Cornell, when a short kickoff led to a late Big Red touchdown and dashed Columbia's hope for a win. Once again, these Lions met a similar situation and responded with a different and better result.


Nick DeGasperis had a key catch in the dramatic final drive at Brown (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics Dept.)


Metamorphosis #5: The Drive for Five

The situation: After overcoming deficits of 14-0 and 21-12 to Brown, Columbia gets back into the game early in the fourth quarter with a long TD drive that cuts the Bears lead to 21-19. But a lateral on the ensuing kickoff leads to a big return putting Brown at their own 45 with 9:42 to go. The Bears then take nearly six minutes to get to the Lion 27, where All-Ivy kicker Steve Morgan's 45-yard field goal attempt goes wide. With 3:49 left, Columbia begins its most crucial drive in eight years. The Lions convert their initial 3rd down with a six-yard pass to Austin Knowlin on 3rd and two from their own 35. On the ensuing play, Hormann finds Nick DeGasperis for a big 17-yard gain to the Brown 42. Four plays later the Lions are in trouble, facing a 3rd and nine from the Brown 29. A pass to Jamal Russell nets just eight yards and Columbia has to decide whether to go for it on 4th and one or try a 38-yard field goal. The Lions go for it, and Jordan Davis responds with a huge nine-yard dash to the Brown 12. Three plays later, Rocholl hits the game winning filed goal from 27 yards out, and Columbia has its first non-losing season in 10 years.

The end of this game was really reminiscent of the final minutes of the 1998 Columbia-Brown game at Wien Stadium. But instead of the Lions throwing an interception in the end zone on a crucial 4th down play, they held on to the ball and even converted a high-pressure 4th down and 1 to set up the winning kick. A win in that 1998 game would also have produced a 5-5 overall record for Columbia, but it wasn't to be. This time things turned out much better.


Has Columbia exorcised all the ghosts of the past 25-30 years? Of course not. There is a lot of work to do. But for one team to show so much poise where others have faltered is more than a little encouraging. And when you're blessed, (and cursed), with as good a memory as I am, there's a lot to be said for adding some sweet images to the list.


Draft Daddy's Pre Season All-Ivy

I missed this today, but the Eagle-eyed Bruce Wood, (I'll see you in 7 days), found the link to DraftDaddy.com's pre season picks for the best Ivy football players.

Columbia does very nicely with three picks, Craig Hormann at QB, Ralph DeBernardo on the offensive line, and Drew Quinn at linebacker.

Some of the choices were questionable, especially picking Luke Siwula ahead of Penn's Joe Sandberg, despite Siwula's fading star in Ithaca. But it's a decent list overall and clearly the knee-jerk disrespect for Columbia players is not as much of a factor right now.

The Good Doctors


Dr. Trowbridge works on a patient (CREDIT: Danbury News Times)

Three-time letterwinner and former assistant coach Randy Trowbridge '76 is featured in this article about his late entry into the world of medicine and all the hard work and waiting he endured to get there.



Columbia's players, and their parents, trust Dr. Levine (CREDIT: Columbia Orthopaedics)

Speaking of doctors and Columbia football, I keep hearing great things about Columbia football's chief team physician, William Levine.

It can't be easy to serve all the different masters a collegiate sports team doctor must face. At least in the pros, the subjects are older and are usually getting paid so much that most bad situations aren't the worst of cases. Dr. Levine is beginning his tenth year in this most demanding of jobs.

BBQ Roundup

I didn't end up recoginizing any alumni at yesterday's alumni association barbeque on South Field. But it was really a blast, as the organizers really made it a great event for children. My daughter really, really, really did not want to leave when it was over. And I was overjoyed to have been fed and given three-and-a-half hours of entertainment for my four-year-old for $10. I got a nifty baseball cap too!

I did see a good number of current members of the basketball team helping out at the event, including Kevin Bulger, Patrick Foley, and Michael Gately. They were all very nice.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Time to Grill!


I have to get some things done before I head out to the Columbia Alumni Association BBQ on South Field today, but here are some quick hits:

SEC Sour Grapes?

Here is an interesting lament on behalf of SEC fans from a writer who notes that the Ivy League has a winning record against the SEC, and that is never likely to change!


Farbotko's Chances

Former Harvard tight end Matt Farbotko is being given a good shot to make the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts' roster.


If You Must...

And here's an interview with a guy who wrote a book about Yale football.

BBQ Tomorrow!



Remember that the Columbia alumni BBQ on campus is tomorrow! I'd really love to meet anyone who wants to talk football, or most anything else that day. I should be easy to find as I will be the one with the crazy curly-haired 4-year-old having a ball! Please join us! You can still register for the BBQ online here.

Tad's 4-0!


Tad Crawford and the BC Lions earned a tough 22-18 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at home to stay undefeated at 4-0. It doesn't appear that Tad made any key plays, but the Lions are looking like the best team in the CFL once again.



For those of you hoping to plan a trip to lovely Hanover, New Hampshire to see Columbia play Dartmouth on October 20th, the
Dartmouth: ticket prices and ordering form are available now. I hope to see you there.


I wonder who this letter-writer to the Minneapolis Star Tribune is talking about in his missive. It could be a number of players we know... but it's most likely Columbia offensive lineman Evan Sanford.

There is yet ANOTHER newspaper story about incoming frosh Tim Skalak. It sounds like he's very articulate and willing to talk, so maybe that's why he gets so much ink. Hey, more power to him. I hope he's willing to do as much talking when he gets to Columbia, on and off the field.



CREDIT: Columbia Athletics Dept.

This has already been mentioned in the comments section, but don't miss out on getting the TRUE BLUE package for all the home football and men's and women's basketball games. It's a really good deal.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Yeah it's small, but it's fast and strong!


Maybe this has happened to you: You're driving along in the left lane of the highway at what you think is a very fast pace, and then you notice that someone is tailgating you big time. You move over to the right, only to see that the speed demon who overtook you was an elderly lady in a mini Cooper!

That's what it must have felt like for a lot of Columbia's opponents last season as the Lion employed speed in places where you just don't expect to see it on a football field.

Finding quicker and more aggressive interior linebackers than Justin Masorti, Drew Quinn, and Lou Millerk would be a difficult task, but team speed at the linebacker position is nothing new in college football or the Ivy League.

What was so surprising was the speed Columbia's defensive linemen exhibited last season, and even though starters Darren Schmidt and Todd Abrams have graduated, the coaches are clearly favoring speed over size when it comes to the leading candidates to replace them.

Schmidt and Abrams were both converted linebackers, and while Abrams bulked up to fit his new position, Schmidt really didn't. Both had outstanding seasons in 2006, although a lot of their success was due to then-sophomore Phil Mitchell doing more than his share of the work on the left end of the line.

Most anyone who watches Ivy League football and major D-1 college football regularly will tell you that the Ivy games are just as competitive and exciting, (if not more), but that the main difference between the Ivies and the Big 10 is size and speed. Most star players in the Ivies are smaller and just a bit slower than their counterparts at the big programs. And overall team speed in the Ivies is usually lacking as well.

The coaches can't exactly make their players grow taller, but they can encourage them to get leaner and quicker. This is the summer assignment a lot of returning Columbia players are working hard to complete by training camp. (Is their a Jenny Craig for linemen?)

The leading candidates to fill the slots left open by Schmidt and Abrams are all much lighter than you would expect, even in the Ivy League:

Matt Bashaw So. 248 lbs.

Conor Joyce Jr. 250 lbs.

Mack Loughrey So. 220 lbs.

Eli Waltz Jr. 244 lbs.


Lou Ferrari's 3-5-3 defense is based on speed and everyone on the team being able to pursue the ball carrier no matter where they are on the field. With very few Ivy opponents able to simply run the ball up the gut with a powerful back, this strategy has worked well against most rushing schemes and short passes. Only equally quick players at somewhat unexpected positions, like the speedy scrambling former Dartmouth QB Mike Fritz, really hurt Columbia's defense last season. I expect that trend to continue in 2007, as speedy offensive skill players remain rare in the league.

On offense, Columbia seems to be a little more interested in creating speed and size mismatches. Jamal Russell is much faster than your average tight end, and the coaches expect to see him and more the traditionally-sized tight end Troy Evangelist terrorize opposing defenses this year.

And now the coaches seem very high on sophomore Derek Jancisin at wide receiver. Derek could use his 6"3, 195 pound frame to dominate opposing defensive backs. Jancisin was known as a physical player in his high school days at Mount Lebanon HS in Pittsburgh, and he could help out considerably as a blocker on running plays and when the Lions choose to use one of their tight ends as a receiver.

Jancisin has an interesting pedigree. His father David was a player on the top-notch Pitt teams of the early 70's, (the Tony Dorsett years), and one of his teammates who would become his best friend was none other than current Pitt Head Coach Dave Wannstedt. Wannstedt even bought a house near the Jancisins in the Mount Lebanon neighborhood.

Jancisin has something in common with Masorti and incoming freshmen Bruce Fleming, as their fathers also played for big-time college football powerhouses. And the Ivy League has a great tradition of attracting the sons of great pro athletes and coaches like Jack Kemp's son Jef, Steve DeOssie's son Zak, John Madden's son Joe, and the list goes on.


South Field

We're just two days away, (it's on Saturday), from the Columbia Alumni Association BBQ right on South Field on campus beginning at 11:30am and running through 4pm. The latest weather forecast says it's going to be a beautiful day, so I'm looking forward to going and talking football or almost anything else with interested alums. My four-year-old daughter Jordan is coming too, but she just wants to do the face painting. You can register for the barbeque here.


Tad Crawford and the 3-0 B.C. Lions defend their undefeated record at home tonight against the 0-3 Hamilton Tiger-Cats at 7:30pm, (that's 10:30pm Eastern Time). B.C.'s starting QB Dave Dickenson is out with a concussion, so the game may not be such a blowout after all. You can catch the action online on the Team 1040 radio stream.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Training Camp for Fans


Buy Your Tickets Now!



This is your mission, should you choose to accept it:

The Columbia football Lions are just about a month away from reporting to training camp, and it seems like all of them have been busy working out as much as possible since the end of spring practice back in late April.

Now it's time to do your part. Season tickets for all five Columbia home games have been available online for about two weeks now. You can buy them online here, or you can just call 1-888-LIONS-11 and talk to a live person, (they are very helpful).



Fordham has a nice campus

But there's MORE you can do. Remember, the season opener is on the "road," at Fordham on September 15th. Fordham is a little tough to get to I admit, but just give yourself some extra time and you'll be fine. You can order tickets for the Fordham game online right now or you can call (718) 817-4300. Jack Coffey Field is actually pretty nice, but the stands are only on one side of the field, and that bothers some folks. You might also want to bring along a seat cushion as the aluminum bleachers can be a little hard on the tuchus.

(That aside, the Rose Hill campus is just beautiful and a true diamond in the rough for The Bronx. I don't know is this is allowed, but it might be nice to come really early and have a picnic on the campus sometime before the game).

The point is, most Columbia fans and alums should have no trouble getting to the Fordham game, and it would be great to show some support for the team right out of the gate. Remember, the games against Fordham are for the Liberty Cup and that makes these games more meaningful.


Princeton Stadium... all that's missing here is YOU


The next road game is at Princeton, another easy jaunt for most Lion supporters. Princeton Stadium is a true palace and you don't have to be a Tiger fan to enjoy it. Columbia plays the Tigers on September 29th, but it does not look like you can buy tickets for any Princeton games yet. You can find out about ticket prices and some other details here. And keep that 9/29 date saved on your calendars. Please note that the start of that game is the unusual time of 3:30pm.



Lafayette's new showplace

After that, Columbia travels to Lafayette on 10/6. Getting to Lafayette is a shorter trip than I thought from New York City. Lafayette has just finished a series of fantastic rennovations to its Fisher Stadium home and the school has also now built a fantastic new field house and sports museum as well. Fisher Field has chairback seats too, (although I'm not sure they are available on the visitors' side), but tickets to the game with Columbia are on sale online now.

The remaining two road games are challenging trips. Getting to Dartmouth and Cornell from the New York City area is a haul. But both Hanover, NH and Ithaca, NY are beautiful spots and worth visiting, especially if you are going to support the Lions. Neither of those schools have football tickets available for sale yet, but I will alert everyone when they are.

Buying tickets isn't all you need to do. Now is the time to start planning your Columbia football trips. Find out about hotels, restaurants, other attractions, (and tell us what you learn in the comments section). Travelling to the Ivy League schools and their surrounding areas in the fall is really a nice experience and relatively cheap as travel goes if you happen to be living on the East Coast. I will try to offer some tips and other little tidbits on the away venues as the season draws closer.

Oh, and this is also a good time to let Uncle Joe and Aunt Frieda know that you're booked up on Saturdays from mid-September to mid-November and they should plan those annoying family events for another time. Better yet, invite them to come along with you!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

On Polls and Picks


That's a scary Tiger... but #23?


A new outfit called "Sports Media Entertainment" has just released a preseason poll putting Princeton in the top 25 at #23. No other Ivies made the top 25, but Yale, Harvard and Cornell received votes.

I have no idea who voted in this poll, but it does yield some highly surprising results. I expect Princeton to be a good team this season, but I certainly don't expect the Tigers to repeat as Ivy champs. It's possible, but not probable. And while most everyone's preseason favorite Yale got some votes, the powerful Penn Quakers were left out.

Tough Nuts to Crack

Of course the Ivies are a tough conference to call, so it's wise not to poke fun of others predictions. I will say that this poll has me scratching my head a bit.

I intend to release my own extensive Ivy League Football predictions in late August, after training camps open and everyone gets a chance to check reliable roster data.

The fact is that I am pretty confident in my choices for the top two and bottom two spots in the league, but the middle four slots are driving me crazy. I'm basically trying to buy more time until some clarity hits me.

But I do have some general thoughts about the league overall:

1) This has become a defense-dominated league. Each of the eight teams has a strong argument when it claims to have a good defense. Brown has the weakest defense, but it has reason to believe it will be improved in 2007, and it wasn't terrible last year anyway.

2) The reason so many defenses are good is because the Ivies are exceedingly rich in linebackers these days. Most teams have more than one linebacker with a real shot at making all-Ivy.

3) On the other hand, the cupboards are looking bare for a lot of teams at the offensive skill positions. Only two running backs, Yale's Mike McLeod and Penn's Joe Sandberg, have exhibited consistent gamebreaking talent. None of the returning quarterbacks has thrown for more than 10 TD's in a season, and only one returning starter threw for more TD's than interceptions. Truly gamebreaking wide receivers are even harder to find, with only four or five really reliable weapons coming back league-wide this season.

4) None of the Ivy coaches is realistically on the hot seat this season, which means the kind of coaching pressure that I think helped Princeton improve in 2005 and 2006, and Yale last year will not be evident.

5) Because of the existing dearth of offensive skill players, there's an excellent chance many freshmen and other newcomers will break into the starting lineups this year and make an impact. That alone should make it a very exciting year for the Ivies.

A Return to Decency


Tad Crawford... fully clothed (CREDIT: BCLIONS.com)

Thank goodness the B.C. Lions have updated the picture of Tad Crawford on the team web site! He now is wearing a jersey and looks bigger. The original picture looked like something out of the evidence box in a child porn bust.

Tad's stats have been updated as well. He has three special teams tackles in three games and that big fumble recovery in the last game. The B.C. Lions are 3-0 and take on the Hamilton Tiger Cats at home on Thursday night. Hamilton is 0-3.


Hanover, New Hampshire... a nice place to visit, and you might want to live there (CREDIT: Money Magazine)

Some of my friends at Money Magazine have voted Dartmouth's home of Hanover, NH as the #2 best place to live in America. Hanover is beautiful from what I remember from my only visit there in 1990, but I look forward to checking it out more thoroughly as an adult this coming October 20th when the Lions play the Big Green at the newly down-sized and refurbished Memorial Field. You can see some pictures of what the field looks like on Bruce Wood's Big Green Alert website and blog.

College towns are often a mixed bag. Sometimes, they create fantastic living conditions, great facilities and hospitals, and trickle good teachers down into the high schools and elementary schools.

But they can also create economic problems. Many of the full-time employees are paid next to nothing, and those employees often live in neighborhoods that can hardly be considered decent, (see the shanty-town like situation near Cornell's campus in Ithaca if you don't believe me).

In my experience, Charlottesville, Virginia, Ann Arbor, Michigan and Pasedena, CA, (near Cal Tech), were the best college towns for both "town and gown." But I'd love to hear the readers chime in with their thoughts.

Parting Bite

Oh, and just in case you didn't already know... rugby is a tough sport.

BBQ Countdown: 5 Days to Go!


Just a reminder that my daughter Jordan and I will be at the Columbia alumni BBQ on campus on Saturday July 21st. I'd really love to meet anyone who wants to talk football, or most anything else that day. I should be easy to find as I will be the one with the crazy curly-haired 4-year-old having a ball! Please join us! You can register for the BBQ online here.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Jamal Russel (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/Gene Boyars)

Columbia tight end Jamal Russell is the subject of the latest "On the Prowl" mini-interview on the Columbia web site. Looks like Jamal has a nice sense of humor. It would be wondeful this coming season if he and rising junior Troy Evengelist team up to form the best tight end combination in the Ivies. They certainly have a chance to do that.

Speaking of interviews, the piece Columbia football administrator Todd Kennedy did about me back in April for the Lions Den is now available online. Remember, you can get the hard copies of the Lions Den well before they appear online by making even a small donation to Columbia athletics, which I highly recommend.

More on the Rules Changes

This year's NCAA football rules changes are not limited to kickoffs being moved back to the 30 yard line and the return to the old time rules during kicks and changes of possession. Click here for a look at the rules changes and rationales behind them. Wouldn't it be nice if every organization admitted its mistakes so quickly and publicized the reasons for its big decisions? Sure the NCAA has a lot of problems, but it would appear the football rules committee is not one of them.

Back it Up!


Goodbye 35-yard line


The NCAA rules committee has made two significant changes for the 2007 season, that will of course affect Ivy football games as well.

First, the new timing rules that went into effect last year that ran the clock as soon as the ball was kicked off and even after changes of possession are now null and void. Too many coaches complained about the significant drop in the average number of total plays per college game.

Second, kickoffs will now be from the 30 yard line, not the 35, mirroring a decision the NFL made about 16 years ago. I'm not sure if the reasoning behind this decision -- to encourage more exciting kickoff returns -- holds water in most NCAA conferences, where touchbacks are pretty rare anyway. I usually only see one or two touchbacks in entire Ivy seasons season as it is, so I expect a lot of Ivy teams to either recruit some serious "boomer-types" or kickoff-only specialists, or simply get their kickers to work on hang time a lot more in order to let the coverage teams get ready.

Part of me thinks this change will help mostly Cornell greatly this season, as they have the best kick returner in the league with rising sophomore Bryan Walters. Walters darn near pulled victory out of the jaws of defeat for the Big Red against Columbia last year with a super punt return inside Lion territory late in the game.

Of course,these kinds of rules changes often have very unexpected consequences, so it's not a sure thing that kicking from further away will create more spectacular returns.

But I do expect most teams to enjoy better starting field position, which may not be a bad thing in a league that's becoming a dominated by defense.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tad's Big Play


An Acrobatic Play (CREDIT: Metro News)

Tad Crawford '07, recovered a fumbled punt and that led to a key touchdown in the B.C. Lions' 42-12 win at Saskatchewan last night. The Lions are now 3-0.

One question: If the Canadian spelling for "defense" is "defence," then why isn't "defensive" spelled "defencive." My parents live in Toronto, (since 1996), and they SHOULD be able to answer that question, but alas they have never been sports fans.

Power Shift?


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

El Sid!

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.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Interview with Bob Kent '92


Bob Kent anchored the Columbia defensive line in the very early 1990's (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics Dept.)

Bob Kent was a force at defensive tackle and a bright spot during the lean early years of Coach Ray Tellier's tenure at Columbia. Kent burst on the scene as a sophomore in the 1989 season, recording two sacks in the Lions lone win that year, a big 25-19 upset of the Cornell Big Red in Ithaca. It was Columbia's first road win in more than six years.

During his three varsity years, Kent was always one of the team leaders in tackles and sacks, and in his senior season he was named second team All-Ivy, a remarkable achievement on a team that gave up about 25 points a game, (note that NONE of Columbia's defensive linemen made first or second team All-Ivy last season despite never giving up more than 24 points in ANY GAME).

Bob Kent was a classmate of mine, and while I only had rare occasion to even say "hi" to him on campus, I followed his progress closely as a football fan. While taking classes at CU during the summer of 1991, I frequently would notice Kent practicing his stance and other footwork all by his lonesome on South Field. I was particularly glad to see how his hard work paid off during the season the following fall.

Bob Kent was not your typical Columbia student. He came to CU after completing two postgraduate years at Milford Academy in New Berlin, NY. Prior to that he graduated Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta Township, New Jersey. Bob's background was more working class he often worked as an ironworker during breaks and was a fourth-generation member of the iron workers union.

Kent's three-year varsity won-loss record was a stark 3-27, but he was a lot more successful in love than he may have been on the field. He married his classmate, the lovely CU cheerleader Clare Deegan just two months after graduation. Clare got her MBA from the University of California only four weeks after giving birth to her first child in 1998. They currently have three daughters ages nine, seven and five.

Kent eventually went to law school in San Francisco and earned his J.D. in 1998.

And then one day, Bob Kent decided he wanted to join the Air Force. He felt the time was right in April 2000 and finished training in August 2001... just one month BEFORE... well, I think we all know what happened one month later that made being in the military much different than it had been before.

Bob's first assignment was in Germany, but when the war in Iraq began, his entire 4th expeditionary air support operations squadron moved to Kuwait. There he successfully led a ten soldier unit charged with finding, tracking and targeting mobile targets.

Since 2004, Captain Kent has been at Hurlburt Field, FL, first working as the chief of intelligence before switching to special operations in 2005. He plans to leave the military in the coming weeks.

Needless to say, I was delighted when Bob contacted me via email earlier this week to say he is a fan of this site and I was even more happy when he agreed to do this interview:

JAKE: Your career path has taken some unique twists and turns. Why did you first turn to the law and then join the military?

Bob Kent: The short version is that I wanted to work for the Justice Department and did all the things that you were supposed to do: law school, internship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, etc. After graduation I went through the hiring process but when I made it up to the final round, the government announced a hiring freeze. The prospect of working in a law firm for a few years did not really appeal to me and I was able to convince Clare that I should join the military for one four-year tour. However, after I graduated from intelligence training the September 11th attacks happened and we decided I would stay in for a while.

J: How would you describe your experience in the Air Force? Was it what you expected?

BK: Overall, I would describe my Air Force experience as great. But, like playing college football, it was over before I was ready. With regards to my expectations, all of my preconceived notions and stereotypes about the military were shattered. Where I grew up, kids who got in trouble were often given a choice between the military and jail, and I thought that many of the people in the military would be troublemakers or kids who couldn’t get another job, get into college, etc. Needless to say I was wrong. Ninety percent of the people I encountered were amazing. They were hardworking and patriotic and joined the military to make a difference.


Bob Kent and Family (Credit: Kent family)


J: You qualified for some highly specialized duty, did your experience as a sports competitor help you get an edge in the tough selection process?

BK: I went through Air Force Special Tactics/Combat Control training and my sports background helped me in two ways. First, I was used to functioning as part of a team and was very comfortable with the teamwork aspect and second, I knew that I was not going to die from physical stress and exertion. This gave me a slight edge, (Combat Control has about a 95% washout rate in the first six months), because I was used to being in a team environment and working in close physical proximity with other men. Also I was used to stressing my body. A lot of the trainees that I worked with were young men right out of high school or college without a sports background who had to learn how to function as part of a team in addition to everything else.

J: Have you come in contact with any other Ivy athletes in the military?

BK: I’ve met two, both from Princeton and both in special operations. The first is a female intelligence officer who rowed crew and the other is an enlisted combat controller who was on the swim team.

J: Has your military career been tough on your family, or is watching that new show "Army Wives" on Lifetime actually harder to endure, (I know it is for me, but my wife controls the remote)?

BK: While there are positives and negatives, a military career is tough on your family and mine was no different. There is a huge cultural adjustment. Prolonged absences and uncertainties put a ton of stress on your spouse. Clare has been amazing through my entire career but I know it was hard for her. For instance, last year I was away for seven months and she had to deal the kids, the finances and everyday life by herself. We haven’t watched “Army wives”, but Clare will not watch other shows that portray military family life such as “The Unit” because it hits too close to home. The career field that I cross-trained into has about 300 men in it and while I was away at training they held funeral services for five of them at our base.

The kids were also affected by my career. Clare tried to keep things as normal for them as possible while I was away but they still missed me. Also, no matter how much you try to insulate them, (we never let them watch the news), they pick up on everything. We were living in Germany when I deployed to Kuwait prior to the invasion of Iraq. My oldest daughter Audrey was five and a few weeks after I left, Clare found a box full of bottle caps, tin foil and small pieces of metal under her bed. It seems she had recently read one of the "American Girl" books and got the idea to collect scrap metal for the war effort. This was before the invasion started.

We also had a ton of positive experiences. We were able to live in Germany for three years and traveled all over Europe. Although my children were very young, (my youngest, Finna was born in Germany), they loved living overseas and still talk about going back. When we told the girls that I would be leaving the Air Force they were upset. Apparently they are proud of what I did.

J: What's a day in the life of the Kent family like now?

BK: I am currently on an extended vacation, (90 days), and we live in the Florida Panhandle so I would describe it as a tropical honeymoon with three small children.

J: I wonder if some of the challenges the military has been facing, and the criticism it takes in the media, remind you of what it was like to be a Columbia football player in the early 90's. Any similarities?

BK: The media criticism of the military does remind me a little of the criticism the team received during the early 1990’s in that it is derisive criticism and does not offer any solutions. This is especially true of the criticism that has come from the Columbia campus in recent years. However, while few critics can offer any advice that can help a losing team win, involvement and participation in the current conflict by Columbia students, alumni and professors could improve the situation. If you don’t like current policy, get involved and do something to change it.

J: What do you want to do next and why?

BK: My dream job would be a career in risk management for a corporation like Templeton Thorpe or in risk assessment/mitigation for a company such as Control Risk Group or The Ackerman Group. I am interested in risk management because it seems like a natural progression from what I have done so far. I have a diverse background and I enjoyed aspects of each job. A career in risk management will allow me to utilize some of my legal skills, some of the analytical and area assessment skills that I developed as an Intelligence Officer and some of the think outside the box, “shoot, move and communicate” stuff that I learned in Special Operations.

J: What drove your decision to do post-grad study at Milford Academy after leaving Pope John XXIII in New Jersey, and how different were those two schools?

BK: I went to Milford Academy because I wanted to play college football. During my junior and senior years at Pope John I was recruited to play football by a number of colleges. However, after my senior season, I had surgery to repair part of my pelvis that I broke during my junior year and I was on crutches for a few months. Not surprisingly, most of the offers disappeared. When the coach at Milford gave me a call I decided to go and it worked out for the best.

Pope John XXIII is a regional high school with an excellent academic reputation and a solid football program. Around 99% of their graduates go to college. Milford Academy is a football factory for athletes who are not ready to enter college, most because of academic deficiencies. They have a ton of alumni who have played Division 1A football and in the NFL. Not so many in the Ivy League.

J: Tell us how you decided to come to Columbia and the recruiting process.

BK: Coach (Joe) White recruited me out of Milford Academy and after visiting the campus on a weekend visit, I jumped at the opportunity to go. Columbia was a dream school for me, and it really sold itself. I was a native New Yorker, (my parents did not move to NJ until I was in middle school), and the opportunity to go to an Ivy League School and play competitive football in NYC was too good to pass up.

J: You used to work as an iron worker, how did that happen and what was it like?

BK: I worked as an ironworker on and off for about 14 years, starting when I turned 18. I became an ironworker because I had access and it was a great way to make money for school. Mostly I worked summers between school and weekends when I wanted to supplement my income and get out in the fresh air. At the time, the union I worked for was a father and son local, which meant that if your father was an ironworker, and if jobs were available, they would hire the son. I was a fourth generation ironworker and because my father and grandfather had excellent reputations, I had a job whenever I wanted one.

Ironwork was a lot of fun and a great character builder. Climbing columns and walking across steel beams helped put the pain of studying for exams in perspective. The work was hard and very dangerous but it attracted the best guys, real characters that you usually only read about in pulp fiction. Additionally, I often worked directly for my father, which I came to appreciate more and more over time.

J: In a game program from the 1991 season, you were quoted as saying you came to Columbia to play football, "especially against Yale." Was there any real bad blood between you and the Elis?

BK: It was more like a personal rivalry. I was recruited to play football at Yale and the coach who recruited me told me that my acceptance was a sure thing. This was fairly early in the year and I foolishly decided not to apply to any other colleges. When I received a rejection that April I had a typical Irish reaction and decided to make the Elis as miserable as I could if I ever had another opportunity to play against them. So I always looked forward to playing against Yale. However, I was friendly with several of the Yale players and have tremendous respect for Coach Coza. I would not have disliked the team so much if I hadn’t wanted to be part of them in the first place. But I still like to see Yale lose.


Kent lines up against Brown, 1990 (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics Dept.)

J: Your senior year was filled with near-miss losses to Harvard, Fordham, Cornell and Brown, plus a very good showing against eventual league champion Dartmouth. Were the 1991 Lions the best 1-9 team ever?

BK: I really don’t know how to compare the quality of 1-9 teams. I remember my senior year it really felt like we were on the cusp of turning the program around. Obviously we never did, but part of coach Tellier’s genius was that he was able to sustain that feeling throughout a losing season.

J: You and your wife Clare were college sweethearts... in fact, some of your relationship seems right out of the 1950's, as you were "the football player" and she was "the cheerleader." Obviously, there's a whole lot more to two Ivy League college grads, so would you like to blow that stereotype up, or was the truth just as "storybook" as it sounds?

BK: Well, obviously there is a lot more to anyone than what you see on the surface, and Clare and I are no exception. For instance, Clare graduated at the top of her class from Haas/Berkeley Business School but also loves to bake. But as far as our romance goes, it is pretty much as “storybook” as it sounds. It was the first week of school when I saw Clare for the first time. She was on the opposite side of the quad, coming out of Hartley and I can still describe what she was wearing. We started dating in October of that year and I have been crazy about her ever since. On July 10th we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary and I can honestly say that it feels like we were just married. For me, the best thing about Columbia will always be that that is where I met Clare. Clare makes me believe in the myth of romantic love. I know it sounds incredibly sappy. Even Clare and I realize how it looks and maintain a sense of humor about our relationship. The attached photos should make everything clear.



This is why you shouldn't have thrown out your Underoos


J: Athletes are taking some criticism in the student papers and online publications at Columbia these days, was there any hint of that when you were at CU?

BK: There was always a little, but not to the extent I see now.

J: I've seen you at some Columbia games over the years, how closely do you follow the team and do you keep in touch with your old teammates?

BK: I follow as closely as I am able. I go to games whenever I can. Once I took a military transport to Dover AFB in Delaware and rented a car to make the second half of a game at Baker field. I read whatever is published about the team and particularly enjoy reading your blog and receiving the e-mail updates that Coach Wilson has started sending out.

Although I do not do nearly as good a job as I should, I do keep in touch with several old teammates, particularly Jim Daine, Bob Walcott and Kiernan O’Connor. Most recently, I had an opportunity to visit with Coach White and his family while they were vacationing in Pensacola Beach. He looks exactly the same and is doing great.

J: I remember seeing you practice alone on South Field every day during the summer of 1991. It seemed to pay off as you made 2nd team All-Ivy that fall, but was there a more organized practice and training schedule for the players in the off season?

BK: There were no organized practices allowed in the Ivy League during the off-season at that time. We did have a weightlifting and running schedule during the school year, but only a handful of players trained at Columbia in the summertime. One of the positive changes that Coach Tellier and his staff made was encouraging players to stay at Columbia during the summer to work and train. I have read that Coach Wilson has a similar program. I think this will really help Columbia develop future players (and help the players develop their resumes.)

J: How would you describe your overall experience at Columbia from 1988-92?

BK: While I am sure that there were some negatives, I tend to remember all of the positives. I had a great experience at Columbia. It is a wonderful university in the greatest city in the world and it attracts a brilliant and diverse student body. I met my wife at Columbia and the best friends I have today I met while attending Columbia. The ideas that I was exposed to at Columbia help me in my endeavors to this day. If anything, I wish I had done more and learned more while I was there. But there are so many opportunities at Columbia, it is impossible to experience them all in four years.

J: What game from your Columbia days do you remember most and what game would you most like to forget?

BK: I remember the Harvard game my senior year the best. We played at Harvard and the weather was perfect. It was a very close game but the team played extremely well and we were very hopeful when we left Harvard stadium. Personally, I remember being very excited after that game and believed that we would win the rest of our games that season.

(*Jake's Note: Columbia lost that game 21-16, despite having a 1st and goal at the four with about two minutes left in the game. Four tries yielded nothing and the Crimson held on).

As far as forgetting, the Penn game my junior year was a personal low for me. I remember being very excited about that game because I was going to play against (future NFL All-Pro center with the Kansas City Chiefs), Joe Valerio, one of the league’s best offensive linemen. During the first half of the game, I did a great job against Valerio, (at least that‘s how I remember it). However, in the second half I committed an extremely flagrant personal foul and was ejected from the game. This game served as a turning point in my career. Prior to this game, I had a history of committing personal fouls. However, this incident, along with some much needed mentoring from Coach White, made me realize how useless, selfish and counterproductive penalties were. I do know that I never intentionally committed another foul.

J: What was your daily schedule like during the football season?

BK: I usually woke up early and went to breakfast and then to morning classes. I used to schedule all of my classes in the morning or early afternoon because we had to catch the bus to Baker field at around 2:30. Then I would go to practice until 5-5:30 and then catch the bus back to Columbia. I usually went to the cafeteria for dinner and then studied and went to bed. A couple of times a week we also had to lift weights and watch game films. I also found time to hang out and do typical college student stuff.

J: What were your impressions of Coach Ray Tellier and his staff?

BK: Coach Tellier took over as head coach during my freshman year and he immediately started to make changes for the better. He brought in a great staff, many of whom are successful head coaches for other college football teams today. Eventually Coach Tellier was able to build the team he envisioned and had the best team in recent CU history. But what I remember best about Coach Tellier was that he managed to make us believe that we were working towards the future of CU football and were the foundation of what would one day be a great team.

J: Who did you consider to be the best players you played with while at CU?

BK: The players that I remember as having the biggest impact were the linebackers. I was very fortunate to have three great linebackers play behind me: Bart Barnett, Galen Snyder and Des Werthman. I remember Bart as being a great leader and Des went on to be an Ivy League legend, (and made the best hit I ever saw when Keith Elias called his name and pointed to the hole he was going to run through), but I think Galen was the best player I was ever on the field with. Galen was consistent, smart, fast, tough and hard hitting and would probably have been a stellar player in any league. During his junior and senior years he was definitely the heart of our defense.

Although we had many talented players at the offensive skill positions, the offensive player who I felt made the biggest contribution was the OG Brad Hutton. Brad was an anchor on the offensive line and a great captain our senior year. On the field, he could play with anybody and practicing against him definitely made me a better player. Additionally, he is a very classy guy and always exhibited great sportsmanship. His accomplishments are even more impressive when you consider that he was the youngest player on our 1988 freshman team, (I think he was 16).

The most intense player was Mike Holt. He was a fierce competitor and an all around great guy.


J: Have you had a chance to see this current team play, and do you have any thoughts on their success last year?

BK: I was only able to see the current team play on video last year. On paper, they seemed like any other Columbia team but obviously they were something special. I believe that there was lot of parity, talent wise, in the league last year, (with some exceptions). So I would have to attribute their success to Coach Wilson and his staff. Under Coach Tellier, I saw first-hand how a coach can turn a program around. I would love to see Coach Wilson build on his success. The hardest thing at Columbia seems to be building and sustaining winning teams. Maybe Coach Wilson can do it, I certainly wish him the best. If the football fairies are reading this, 20 years down the road I would love for Columbia to be a perennial Ivy Football powerhouse. It would also be great to attend their games at a new stadium in downtown Manhattan.