Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Scouting Harvard

Steve Williams has an incredible 7 interceptions! (CREDIT:

When you look at this Harvard team on paper, it appears there's a recipe for disaster in Saturday's game:

1) The Lions struggling running game and offensive line will face a Harvard defensive line that is still the toughest in the league despite giving up a few more rushing yards and racking up fewer sacks than last year. Matt Curtis and Brad Bagdis are lethal weapons that set the Crimson apart up front.

2) The mostly strong Columbia passing game goes up against a secondary with three outstanding defensive backs. Andrew Berry, John Hopkins, and Steve Williams are all having super seasons.

3) Harvard's running game is not a super threat, but against the Lions that may be irrelevant. Every one of Columbia's opponents this season has run the ball very well, bar none. Cheung Ho could have a monster game if Columbia doesn't do something about it.

4) The Crimson passing game is looking better and better as backup QB Chris Pizzotti continues to prove that he should have been named the starter in the first place. Lately, he's been doing a good job of finding top targets Corey Mazza and Matt Luft.

5) This is the same Harvard squad that mauled the Lions in a preseason scrimmage by 40 points.

Can Columbia compete? Is there any hope here? One thing to hold on to is that Harvard has not really had to play very strong competition in the Ivies this year, at least not at home.

Yes, Dartmouth is much improved this year, but I still don't think the Big Green are that great. Certainly Columbia could have easily beaten Dartmouth two weeks ago in Hanover. Meanwhile, Harvard barely escaped with a 28-21 win over the Green in Cambridge last week.

Harvard also barely escaped with a close win over Brown at home in week 2. The other home win was against Princeton, but that game was not close. The 32-15 win over Cornell in Ithaca was more impressive, but the Big Red have really fallen off since last year, especially on the road.

It may sound crazy, but Columbia may be the best Ivy team to face Harvard at home so far this year. And with games against Penn and Yale after this weekend, there's a very good chance the Crimson will get caught looking ahead.

But that might not be nearly enough to topple the Crimson. This is a team with an incredible 17 interceptions that are the result of a talented secondary and a furious pass rush that forces QB mistakes. On the other hand, Harvard hasn't faced a team with a multi-faceted passing attack like Columbia's. The closest they came to that was against Brown, and the Bears darn near won that game.

I'll address this in my "keys to the game" later this week, but if Craig Hormann can throw the ball crisper under pressure than he did against Yale, the Lions may have a chance.

Thoughts for a Tuesday

Scenes from the Lions last win over the Crimson

The last time Columbia defeated Harvard, it was a 16-13 thriller on a chilly day in November, 2003. I'll always remember that game as then-sophomore Prosper Nwokocha's coming out party as he made two key interceptions on back-to-back Harvard posssesions, the first one set up the Lions winning TD, the next one iced the game. Nwokocha, (whose brother Chuck once played for Harvard), went on to become a captain his senior year. Which freshman or sophomore will make a key play this Saturday? There are certainly a lot of possibilities.

The big question coming into this Saturday's game is whether some of the injured players, especially Justin Masorti, will be recovered in time. Hopefully, we'll get a better handle on that in the coming day or two.

Harvard is a surprising 4-0 in Ivy play this year, but you can argue the Crimson really haven't played any top quality league opponents so far. Dartmouth was their best Ivy opponent, and last week the Crimson barebly beat them at home, 28-21.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rossides Interview Available for Free

The great Eugene Rossides (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)

I've really enjoyed booking and doing the halftime interviews this season. I've had a chance to speak with Athletic Director Diane Murphy, star QB from the 70's Don Jackson, star QB from the 60's and NFL starter Marty Domres, and many more.

This past Saturday, I had a great interview with Eugene Rossides '49, (who looked great by the way), and that interview is now available for free online in a special edition of the SideLion Report.

Our conversations touched on many topics, including the historic win over Army in 1947, Sid Luckman, Lou Little, and current geopolitical issues as well.

Please enjoy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Washed Away

John Coombs intercepts Craig Hormann (CREDIT: Yale Athletics)

Yale 28 Columbia 7

Why Yale Won

It took awhile, but the Elis finally got their offense going in the second half. More importantly, they stayed even in the first half despite seeing their usual weapons neutralized. There was also some clear mental toughness, as a lot of teams coming into a game as 30.5-point underdogs would have imploded after a scoreless first half.

Why Columbia Lost

The football gods will punish if you don't score points and take advantage of the gifts you earn or the ones simply given to you. The Lions squandered several chances in the first half, and those chances simply weren't there in the third and fourth quarter. Injuries played a huge role too, as starters Justin Masorti and Brandon Buckley finished the game on the sidelines.

Key Turning Points

1) A late first half turnover gave Columbia the ball on the Yale 24, but the Lions couldn't get a first down and a field goal attempt by Jon Rocholl sailed wide left.

2) After falling behind 7-0 in the third, Columbia drove the ball back into Yale territory, but gave the ball away on a questionable fumble call. Coach Norries Wilson exploded as the referees overruled a lone colleague who called the Lion player down by contact, but it was to no avail.

Columbia Positives

Rain or no rain, the Columbia defense played extremely well in the first half before finally running out of gas after the Masorti injury. Phil Mitchell played well at his new nose tackle position. Drew Quinn forced a fumble and grabbed an INT.

Columbia Negatives

Other than the squandered opportunities mentioned above, there were problems again on the offensive line. One Yale player told me that was the real difference in the game. Hormann needs more time and the running backs need better holes, period.

Game MVP: Phil Mitchell

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Real Justice

We're more than four hours from kickoff, but I already feel like a winner today. That's because Genarlow Wilson, who I first wrote about 9 months ago, has been released from prison. Wilson was getting preliminary recruting letters from Columbia and Brown before the ridiculous case against him came about.

Jake's record last week: 3-0

Jake's record overall: 23-7

Princeton over Cornell

Tough game for both teams in the cold rain... but the Tigers rebound to win.

Harvard over Dartmouth

Big Green put up a good fight, but go down in the end. Crimson won't let Dartmouth run for even a third of the yards they got against Columbia last week.

Penn over Brown

Another close one, but Penn's defense stuffs the Bears when it counts.

Columbia-Yale: Keys to the Game

No dogs allowed

Catch the game on AND Sirius Radio (Channel 126)

Yale pretty much looked unbeatable until last week, when the Elis darn near lost to Penn at Franklin Field. The offense stalled a bit despite 147 yards from Mike McLeod and while the defense came up big when it needed to, there was some weakness against the pass.

Columbia will need to pull out a number of surprises and special tactics to have a chance tomorrow. They include:

1) Make the Elis Run

Coming off a triple-OT game and a long bus ride, Yale may tire a little easier than usual. The offense needs to spread the field with screen passes, deep balls, and give the ball to the speedy Ray Rangel more to induce fatigue. You never want to lose, but you really don't want to lose without even making the other guys break a sweat.

2) Blitz, Blitz, Blitz

Let's face it, the Lions haven't been able to stop the run by being conservative, so I say take more risks and see if they can't disrupt things in the opposing backfield. The burn risk is high, but I honestly don't know how Columbia can get more burned by the run than they already are.

3) Have Fun

The Lions will be playing the #1 team in the Ivies... they need to grab the underdog's spirit and know they have very little to lose.

... oh and did I forget to say: "stop Mike McLeod?" If I did forget, it's probably because doing so seems just about impossible.

SideLion Report Time!!

The new SideLion Report is up and it looks good as usual. Check it out!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sentinmental Journey

What a beautiful place to find a football coach

A few hours before the Dartmouth game, I drove about 30 miles south of Hanover to eat breakfast at a little diner in Bellows Falls, Vermont.

The pancakes and hash browns were absolutely excellent, (I really, really recommend the buttermilk pancakes), but I wasn't there for the food. I was there to finally meet a man I'd wondered about for almost 20 years: Larry MacElreavy, former head coach of the Lions, and co-owner of the Miss Bellows Falls Diner.

MacElreavy took over the team in 1986, just as "the streak" was starting, but he saw it through to the end, finally registering two wins in 1988. The team actually looked like it was headed very much in the right direction after that season, but MacElreavy's personal problems led to his firing at the end of the season.

It's no secret that his personal problems could be summed up in one word: alcohol. A drinking problem led to his ouster at CU, and eventually forced him to hit rock bottom several years later.

But I'm happy to report that Coach MacElreavy is doing well now, and he was more than gracious during our interview, which you can hear during halftime of the Columbia-Cornell game on November 10th on WWDJ 970AM and

Coach Mac looks back at his years at CU with longing. He remembers all the players and still keeps in touch with many of them. Even in the worst of times, I never heard any player say a bad word about him. I specifically remember how he would sprint out on the field to be the first to administer to an injured player.

One thing that I thought was most interesting: Coach Mac wants to coach again, probably more than anything else. And after speaking with him Saturday, I think I'd hire him if I were a Head Coach.

Weather Woes and Scouting Yale

Brandt Hollander is a superman on the defensive line (CREDIT: Yale Athletics)

The forecast for this Saturday in New York City is for rain and winds. This could hurt the Lions explosive passing game while augmenting Yale's run, run, run offense.

Meanwhile, Columbia remains a 30-point underdog to the Elis. I don't think I've ever seen a bigger spread in Ivy football. It's probably more of a thing of praise for Yale, which until last week's close win over Penn, looked head and shoulders above the rest of the league.

Obviously Yale begins and ends with Mike McLeod, but Columbia has allowed every running back it's faced this season to have a career day, so even if he were injured there's no reason to think McLeod's backups wouldn't do similar damage. And if the Lions defense somehow finds a way to bottle up the running backs, QB Matt Polhemus is an excellent runner in his own right.

I'm not as impressed by the Yale passing game, but if the Elis pass more than 15 times all day that will probably be a very good sign for Columbia. I am more impressed with a much-improved Yale defense that is not only holding opponents to fewer points this season, but is also setting up a number of scores for the offense.

There are some injury issues on this defense, but the real strengths, senior Brandt Hollander on the defensive line, and junior linebacker Bobby Abare, are ready to go. Hollander is particularly frightening, as he seems to be in the opposing team's backfield on every play.

Special teams aren't as fearsome, but are generall solid. Kicker Alan Kimball's field goal range appears to be no longer than 35 yards, but he's consistent within that range. Sophomore Reid Lathan is doing a very good job returning kickoffs with a 23+ yards per return average.

How do you beat this team? Probably by making them pass and creating a lot of turnovers. For Columbia, the best strategy may be to take as much advantage they can of what may be a tired and overconfident Eli team this Saturday.

As one commenter has already said, the Lions chances may be slim, but if Columbia does win this game you'd really hate yourself for missing it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Beauty and the Beast

A Dartmouth fan by the name of "Fred," who happens to be a great photographer took the key pictures to describe what happened in Hanover on Saturday.

This is a picture of freshman Calvin Otis' touchdown saving pass breakup late in the fourth quarter. Otis had to sprint to get into the right position for that super play. It should have been a game-saving play, but if he keeps healthy over the next four years, he'll have a lot more meaningful days in Columbia blue.

This picture is harder to look at. It's of the errant snap that sealed Columbia's fate. Note the incredible detail, as you can see the expression on Craig Hormann's face.

McLeod Milestones

Stop that Man! (CREDIT: Yale Athletics)

*UPDATE* The gambling sites have annointed Yale a whopping 30-point favorite over the Lions this Saturday.

Yale superstar Mike McLeod is close to breaking a number of rushing records, and if he has an extraordinary day against the Lions, he could shatter them all on Saturday:

1) McLeod needs 300 yards to surpass Rich Diana's single season Yale rushing record of 1,442 yards, (probably won't happen).

2) He needs 199 yards to break Roger Carr's career Yale rushing record, (could happen).

3) He needs six TD's to tie Ed Marinaro's single-season Ivy record of 24, (probably won't happen).

The way Columbia has defended, or I should say: failed to defend the run this season, it's very probable that McLeod will make a significant dent in the distance between him and those three records above. Unless the Lions can figure out a way to contain him.

Penn proved last weekend that you don't need to completely shut McLeod down to have a chance to win. The Quakers gave up 147 yards rushing to McLeod, but they had every opportunity to win the game they eventually lost in triple-OT.


Columbia did indeed play a four-man front through much of the Dartmouth game on Saturday. But instead of bringing in a fourth pure defensive lineman, Drew Quinn often lined up to the left side. This week's two-deep says Phil Mitchell will be starting at nose tackle, and he did play at NT during much of the game in Hanover, but the two-deep has been wholly unreliable this season. As Jerry Recco and I mentioned on the air, two or three of Columbia's STARTING PLAYERS, were not even listed in the two-deep at all last week. The lack of solid information doesn't make me angry, as I am still used to no information from the days before the Internet, but it can be confusing.

The big deal in this game against Yale is the upset factor. The Elis will likely be favored by 20 points or so, and that should motivate this Lion team that was insulted on the field by Yale last year.

60 years ago this week, Columbia shocked Army in one of the biggest upsets in college football history. How sweet it would be to mark the anniversary with another huge upset!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Tim Paulin is coming off one of his best games ever as a Lion, but his thoughts must be off the field right now as his family had to evacuate the San Diego area because of the wildfires. This comes just two years after former Lion Chad Musgrove's entire town in Mississippi was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

There are a lot of Columbia football players from the general area where the fires are burning. Let's keep them in our thoughts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Voice of the People

If you haven't already, make sure you check some of the comments from players' parents in the previous couple of posts.

I know it's hard to hear this when the team is 1-5 and we're going on 46 years without a title, but the talent pool is clearly much higher for this team right now, and I agree the future looks bright.

Key things about this team that long-time suffering fans should remember:

1) No one quit the squad in the pre-season. I can't remember the last time that happened.

2) Despite some rough losses, the team has kept fighting up to end. They always try to at least salvage something.

3) A huge number of players are playing through injuries. I know injuries hit everyone and they can't be used as an excuse too often... but these guys are banged up and doing whatever they can to be effective.

4) Matt Moretto, Alex Gross and Calvin Otis and several other kids are all playing well as freshmen and not letting the defense's overall problems affect their efforts. I think Otis has a shot at starting at left corner this weekend.

5) Nico Gutierrez... 'nuf said.

There is more to talk about here, but the team is going through what most young teams face, tough losses and tougher lessons learned. But I also expect something to happen on the field in the final few weeks that will prove just how many talented players Columbia has right now. I think a lot of people will be surprised by the final scores of the next four games.

Honors for Nico

Nice job Nico! (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/Gene Boyars)

Nico's Gutierrez's breakout performance in the Dartmouth game has earned him Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors. It's much deserved, and he will probably want to do even better this Saturday as the Lions take on Yale, that little college not far from his hometown of New Canaan.

Still no word on Austin Knowlin's health after he limped off the field at the end of the Dartmouth game.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Missed Opportunity

Nico had a big day (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/Gene Boyers)

Dartmouth 37 Columbia 28

Why Dartmouth Won

They took advantage of their opportunities and didn't look Columbia's inability to stop the run in the mouth. Alex Jenny relieved starting QB Tom Bennewitz, and played error-free ball in a tough situation.

Why Columbia Lost

Turn the ball over twice in the last 1:40 and you won't win anything. Oh, and they had the same old problems against the run, even though Big Green starter Milan Williams did not play. I'm beginning to think anyone on two legs can expect a 100+ yard game against these Lions.

Key Turning Points

After getting an early turnover and turning that into a 7-0 lead, Columbia promptly allowed Dartmouth to march right back down the field to tie it as 7 and snatch the Lions' momentum away.

On 3rd and 1 at the start of the 2nd quarter, QB Craig Hormann and center Mike Partain screwed up the exchange and Dartmouth recovered the fumble. Six plays later it was 14-7 Big Green.

After taking the ball on their own 5 and getting a touchdown anyway on a dramatic 4th and 11 pass to Nico Gutierez, the Columbia defense looked like it would at least help preserve the 14-14 score into the half after it forced a 2nd and 23 at Dartmouth's own 11 yard line. But Nate Servis took it around the left end for 56 yards and 5 plays later it was 21-14 Dartmouth.

With the score tied at 28, the Lions had the ball on their own 20 with plenty of time to drive down the field for the win. Instead, Jamal Russell fumbled the ball away on the first play and Dartmouth scored the winning TD moments later.

Columbia Positives

Freshman Nico Gutierrez had a breakout game with 5 catches, almost all them spectacular, for 132 yards and a TD.

Ray Rangel had a solid second quarter, giving the Lions hope that they at least have another option in the running game.

Game MVP: Gutierrez

Friday, October 19, 2007

Columbia-Dartmouth: Keys to the Game

See you tomorrow in Hanover (CREDIT:

1) It sounds like a broken record, but the Lions need to stop the run if they want to win. Milan Williams could have a monster day and might run halfway to Montreal if Columbia doesn't stop him. And Big Green QB Tom Bennewitz could become a serious problem if he tries to run along the sidelines on third downs.

2) It also sounds like a broken record, but the Lions need to establish their own running game to keep the defense more honest.

3) The special teams need to make a contribution. Austin Knowlin has been super as a receiver, but isn't making much happening in the return game. There can be no more blocked FG's or kickoffs returned for TD's by the other team.

Obviously, Hormann and Knowlin need to keep producing, but we know that that alone won't even guarantee a close game. The three keys above are all the Lions need to push for.

Good Video

The new SideLion Report is available, and this time, my voice even made into some of the highlights! Enjoy!

A Beautiful Sight

Final Score: Columbia 21 Princeton 20.. grounds crew 18

Just to bring a bit more sunshine into our lives, I present several pictures of the JV win over Princeton Sunday. These pictures come from a secret source north of the border.


Week 6 Predictions

Jake's record last week: 3-2

Jake's record overall: 20-7

Yale over Penn

The marquee game of the week and the season so far looks like it could be a good matchup. But don't be fooled. Penn hasn't faced a rushing attack like Yale's, and the Eli defense is much improved from the squad that gave up some big points against the Quakers at the Bowl last year. I don't think this will be a total blowout, but Yale should win by 10.

Harvard over Princeton

Everyone is talking about Yale-Penn, but this game could end up being the real gem of the day. The Crimson should be able to stop the Tiger running game when it counts, and I think Harvard wins by 3.

Cornell over Brown

Another game that could be very exciting. I like the Big Red to pull this one out by 3 or 4.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Scouting Dartmouth

John Pircon leads a shaky Dartmouth defense (CREDIT: John Risley)

Both Columbia and Dartmouth come in to Saturday's Homecoming matchup at Memorial Field with identical 1-4 records. Looking at wins and losses alone might make you think this would be a close game.

But if you are a believer in the transitive property, you have to be expecting a blowout. Dartmouth defeated Penn a few weeks ago at home, while the Lions are coming off a 59-28 thrashing by those same Quakers last week.

Okay, let me say it: I'm not a big believer in the transitive property, not in sports, and especially not in Ivy League football.


I am worried. I'm worried because Dartmouth has a good straight-ahead running back this year in junior Milan Williams, and Columbia has been so weak against the run, especially the straight-ahead run, all season.

Williams has 358 yards rushing on just 74 carries for a 4.8 yards per carry average. He would have more carries if it weren't for the fact that the Big Green have been far behind early in their last two big losses to Yale and Holy Cross. He has the potential to absolutely slay the Lions and will at least be a major test of any defensive adjustments the Columbia coaches make up front.

Dartmouth is also getting good production from QB Tom Bennewitz, who is throwing the ball about 23 times a game and still completing 58% of his passes. Bennewitz doesn't run as well as his predecessor Mike Fritz, whose scrambling made the difference in last year's Big Green win over CU, but he can run pretty well too. Bennewitz has been pretty decent on third down passing, going 20 for 37 for 253 yards, 14 1st downs, 4 TD's and just 1 interception, (he's been sacked just once on third down). He was knocked out of the Holy Cross game last weekend because of an injury, but I do expect him to be back this Saturday.

Dartmouth's receiving corps has been banged up, as a result the Big Green's leading receiver has just 15 catches. But senior Brian Evans is emerging as a deep threat, with 13 catches for 269 yards and three TD's.


Dartmouth's defense has been a different story, but with games against juggernauts like Yale and UNH already behind them, the Big Green will probably show some improvement going forward.

The Lions have to be encouraged by the fact that Dartmouth has registered only ONE SACK through the first half of the season. It would be interesting to see what Craig Hormann and Austin Knowlin can do without having to deal with a massive pass rush every play.

The run defense hasn't been stellar either, leading me to scratch my head a bit about this unit as it seems to have decent talent but is not generating enough results, (sound familiar?).

A Little History

Dartmouth absolutely dominated this series, until about 10 years ago when not only did the teams start trading more wins, but the games became more exciting and close as well. Since 1997, the average winning team in this series has won by fewer than 10 points, and five of the scores have been decided by a touchdown or less.

But with Dartmouth's running power and Columbia's passing attack, I'm thinking that Saturday might be a reminder of one of the wildest shootouts in Ivy League history. That was the 56-41 Big Green win in 1982 during which Lions QB John Witkowski broke several Ivy records, (some of which still stand).

Right now the weather forecast is calling for rain, but I think it would take a major downpour to really make this a low-scoring game.

Expect a "Shootout in the Prairie."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Patriots owner and Columbia donor extraordinaire Bob Kraft made an appearance on Fox Business Network on the channel's launch day. Kraft mentioned Diane Murphy, Norries Wilson and Bill Campbell. Who... Who I ask you at FBN could have green-lighted such an interview?


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hit and Run

Sandberg had a career day in a Penn rout (CREDIT:

Penn 59 Columbia 28

Why Penn Won

They didn't do anything fancy; they ran the ball right up the gut and Columbia couldn't stop them. But when Penn did decide to pass, the Lions couldn't stop them either as Bryan Walker finished 16 for 21 passing with two TD's

Why Columbia Lost

In addition to the defensive problems, the offense and the special teams made crucial mistakes that turned slight miscues into catastrophic errors. A blocked field goal was left lying on the field, and while the Columbia players were stadning around, Penn went after the ball and finally returned it for a TD.

The Turning Point

The blocked FG turned a 10-7 game into a 17-7 affair, but frankly, Penn's opening drive for a TD was an even bigger turning point in my mind.

Columbia Positives

It was eerily reminiscent of the John Witkowski era, as Craig Hormann became the first Lion QB since Witkowski to have a 400 yeard passing game. Hormann threw two INT's, but only one was really his fault. Like so many Witkowski games, the Lions defense made much of those big number irrelevant.

Austin Knowlin was the biggest positive on the day with 10 catches for 188 yards, (including a 90-yarder), and 2 TD's.

Ray Rangel's two TD runs were brilliantly executed.

Game MVP: Knowlin

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Thanks Bob!

On Friday, October 12, Columbia University will launch The Columbia Campaign for Athletics: Achieving Excellence, a $100 million initiative in support of “people, places, and programs.” To date, Columbia has raised more than $40.5 million toward the overall goal.

The kickoff, to take place at a special ceremony in Low Memorial Library on the eve of Columbia’s homecoming weekend, will see the announcement of the two leadership pledges made to The Columbia Campaign for Athletics: $10 million from University Trustees Chair Bill Campbell ’62CC and $5 million from Robert Kraft ’63CC. Campbell, the chair of Intuit, is a former football captain and head football coach at Columbia; Kraft, chairman of The Kraft Group and owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots, played football for the Lions.

“The effort made by Columbia student-athletes enriches their own educational experiences even as it brings us closer as a university community,” said President Lee C. Bollinger. “This campaign aims to make participation in athletics as meaningful and successful as possible.”

“Columbia University is committed to excellence in all of its programs and departments, including athletics,” said Campbell. “My gift, like the campaign as a whole, is intended to help the athletics program provide the best possible experience for Columbians today and tomorrow.”

“I believe that the formula for success in any business requires strong leadership and teamwork,” Kraft said. “There is no better environment than Columbia University Athletics to teach those skills.”

M. Dianne Murphy, director of intercollegiate athletics and physical education, said: “The Columbia Campaign for Athletics is about ensuring that we deliver winning teams and championship performances. We intend to win—and we are serious about being the best. Our athletics program is dedicated to quality and excellence in all that we do.”

Campaign priorities include:

• endowing coaching and administrative positions in order to recruit, develop, and retain outstanding coaches and administrators;

• investing in facilities, including a new sports center to be built at the Baker Field Athletics Complex; modernization of Marcellus Hartley Dodge Physical Fitness Center; and renovation or enhancement of existing facilities, including the football, baseball, and soccer fields, the tennis center and the boathouses; and

• creating endowments and unrestricted annual giving fund programs to support ongoing operations and fund innovative programs that enhance the student-athlete experience.

”We thank all our benefactors and major donors for their generosity,” Murphy said. “The Columbia Campaign for Athletics is about everybody coming forward to support the athletics program. Every gift counts.”

The Columbia Campaign for Athletics Leadership Committee is co-chaired by Campbell and Kraft and includes as members Andrew F. Barth ’83CC, Lisa Landau Carnoy ’89CC, Martin J. Cicco ’78CC, Geoffrey T. Grant ’82SEAS, Alfred G. Jackson ’67CC, Donald J. Jackson ’73CC, Jonathan S. Lavine ’88CC, Javier Loya '91CC, Philip L. Milstein ’71CC, Cheryl G. Milstein ’82BC, Richard M. Ruzika ’82CC, Charles W. Santoro ’82CC, Kyriakos Y. Tsakopoulos ’93CC, George L. Van Amson '74, Russell F. Warren ’62CC, Richard E. Witten ’75CC, and Helen Doyle Yeager ’85BC.

The Columbia Campaign for Athletics: Achieving Excellence is part of The Columbia Campaign, a $4 billion University-wide effort launched in fall 2006 that is expected to conclude on December 31, 2011. More than $2.4 billion has been raised already.

JV Season Opens Sunday!!

Don't forget the JV football season, the first for Columbia in two years, starts Sunday. The Lions take on the Princeton Tigers JV at Wien Stadium at 1pm.

Here's the complete JV schedule:

Oct. 14 Princeton 1 p.m.

Nov. 9 at Cornell 4 p.m.

Nov. 16 Brown 2 p.m.

Columbia-Penn Keys to the Game

Columbia is an 8 point underdog against Penn tomorrow. (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/Ben Shyman)

1) The Lions defense needs to make a statement. Joe Sandberg must be stopped; if you take him out, you take out the Penn offense, period.

2) Craig Hormann must avoid the catastrophic mistakes. No INT's inside the opponent's five yard lines, and no momentum-killing picks either.

3) Jordan Davis and the offensive line need to produce a credible running attack. The 100+ yard game Davis had at Princeton proves the Lions can run against Ivy opponents.

It's as simple as 1, 2, 3.

Sirius Game

Saturday's Homecoming game has taken on an added degree of importance... at least for me. Our broadcast will be simulcast on Sirius Radio channel 161.

Please come to the game, but check Jerry Recco and me out on Sirius or if you can't. (And you have a portable Sirius Radio receiver, do both!)

Friday, October 12, 2007

New SideLion Report is Up

Craig Horman gets ready to let one fly (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/Gene Boyars)

Hear from Coach Wilson and lots of players as they prepare for Homecoming.

No Excuses!!!

Sunny skies, only sunny skies

The forecast for Saturday's Homecoming game against Penn is absolutely perfect. Sunny and the low 60's!

I know some of us are bummed by the 1-3 start... but there are still a lot of things to be encouraged about when it comes to this year's Lions:

1) Austin Knowlin is assaulting the Columbia record book, and seems poised to break the big one when it comes to WR's: receiving yards for a season. Don Lewis currently holds that record at an even 1,000 yards.

2) Jordan Davis is finally proving to be a threat at running back. Last week's weak game at Lafayette was not really his fault as he only had 11 carries. As long as Columbia isn't facing a huge defensive line, he has a chance to be dangerous.

3) More freshman, like Alex Gross and Matt Moretto are emerging on defense. It's a work in progress, but it's fun watching these young freshmen and sophomores develop on the field.

And besides, this is PENN! Penn has become the bitterest of rivals thanks to Quakers fans and their arrogance and general lack of respect for Columbia. This is probably the weakest Penn team we've seen since 1991, and this is the time to finally end what has been an 11-year losing streak to Al Bagnoli and co.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Week 5 Predictions

Jake's record last week: 4-1

Jake's record overall: 17-5

Princeton over Brown

This should be a very close and high scoring game, but ultimately Brown's lack of a running game will trip them up. Tigers by 3.

Cornell over Colgate

The Big Red should bounce back at home. Colgate is not as sharp as it has been in recent years. Cornell by 4.

Holy Cross over Dartmouth

Crusaders are playing really well and Dartmouth is coming off a very rough loss. Holy Cross by 7.

Lafayette over Harvard

Teams without a strong running attack are in serious trouble against Lafayette. Harvard is one of those teams. Leopards by 3.

Yale over Lehigh

This one could get ugly. Yale by 15.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Scouting Penn

When he's healthy, Sandberg makes the Quakers go

The Quakers are going through lots of changes as the team looks a lot different than what we expected to see in preseason.

The biggest difference is that starting QB Robert Irvin is out, probably for the rest of the season. He's replaced by Bryan Walker, who has been solid if unspectacular, this season and in his appearances last year.

Next, the Quakers are no longer winless after ripping Georgetown at home last weekend. The actual value of a win over the Hoyas is highly questionable these days, but a win is a win.

One thing that hasn't changed, and it's something that will be a huge factor in Saturday's game, is starting running back Joe Sandberg. The 5th year senior reclaimed his "second best tailback in the Ivies" title last week with 117 yards on just 13 carries in the Georgetown win. If Sandberg is fully recovered from hamstring problems that plagued him earlier this year, he could have a big day. Another new wrinkle is freshman rusher Michael Dimaggio, who has won the #1 backup rusher job after gaining 85 yards on the ground last weekend on just eleven carries.

The passing game under Irvin and Walker has been generally stale. As expected, senior receiver Braden Lepisto leads the team, but he only has 22 catches for 262 yards and two touchdowns. Penn QB's are only averaging 5.2 yards per pass, so once again it's clear that Columbia will need to force Penn to throw more. But with Sandberg and Dimaggio that will be easier said than done.

It's hard to gauge Penn's defense right now because of all the turnovers the offense committed in the first three weeks of the season. The Quaker's "D" was put too far behind the eight ball on too many occasions. But it does seem like Penn is stronger against the run than they are against the pass right now. In any event, this is still a strong unit, but I think clearly not as strong as it was last year. Linebacker Joe Anastasio is Coach Bagnoli's favorite for a reason.

Special teams are much improved even though field goal kicking remains erratic. The Quakers are getting great kick and punt return averages from Chris Wynn and Marcus Lawrence, respectively. Penn is also covering kicks very well.

In short, if you stop Sandberg, you can stop Penn. But that's going to be a lot harder to do than it was just a few weeks ago now that he's 100%. Plus, we know how much trouble the Lions have had stopping anyone on the ground this season.

Going back to a classic look (CREDIT: The Helmet Project)

And here's one thing about Penn that I'm really willing to praise: the Quakers have reverted to what I have always considered to be their best helmet logo. The two-tone "P" logo is slightly different from the one they used from 1981-1991, but it's close enough.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Show Your Support!

Just Get Here! (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/Gene Boyars)

As I get a rare second, I want to echo some of the comments in the previous post and clearly state my "stand" on some of the issues facing the Columbia team right now:

1) Nothing is more important than getting your butts out to Baker Field Saturday and supporting the team in a huge game against Penn at Homecoming, 'nuff said.

2) Craig Hormann is the starting QB. He's made a couple of mistakes the last two weeks, but he is the best man for the job this season. Cheer very loudly for him when he takes the field Saturday.

3) We are 1-3, but just 0-1 in the Ivies and the remaining six games are all league games. How Columbia does this season will be determined in the next six games, period.

4) The people who bad-mouthed our players at Franklin Field last season were not Penn coaches, but they were Penn employees and stadium staff. The best way to respond is on the field with a win.

I will still have a preview of the game and will scout the Quakers in the coming days. Please bear with me, but more importantly, support the Lions!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Easton Assassins

Lafayette 29 Columbia 0

Why Lafayette Won

They controlled the line of scrimmage on offense and defense, and turned what had been a close-fought battle into a rout as they wore down the Columbia lines more and more over time.

Why Columbia Lost

They finally gave in on defense and the offense never took advantage of the many breaks the defense did offer before it was too late.

Game MVP: Matt Morreto

Why I'm not blogging as much this week

The time constraints of my new job, (FOX Business Network launches in just 8 days and we are in 24/7 mode), and my new responsibilities doing Columbia radio have stretched me too thin for now. Please use this forum to continue commenting and I will continue to post, (albeit briefly), every day.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Saturday Reading

The Dayton Daily News has a nice mention of both freshman Alex Gross and senior tri-captain JoJo Smith. Both Gross and Smith are from the Dayton area.

Princeton Highlights Up

Austin Knowlin breaks free for a score (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)

You can check out the top 5 plays from the Princeton game right now.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Columbia-Lafayette: Keys to the Game

The Leopards take the field (CREDIT: Lafayette Athletics)

For the second straight week, Columbia comes in to a tough road game as a heavy underdog. But this is a winnable game, one that offers a tremendous opportunity for the Lions to prove their strength on the field and their maturity as a team.

Key #1: Get Fired Up!

I realize this is a non-league game, played on the road and at night to boot. But every game in a 10-game schedule is precious and a win is a win. An early score, or a bone-crushing tackle, something to prove the Lions are in it to win it would go a long way here.

Key #2: Make them Pass, Make them Punt

Coach Wilson talked this week about how Columbia needs to make opponents punt more, not only because that's what happens when you get a defensive stop, but because you want guys like Austin Knowlin handling the ball as much as possible. Lafayette QB Mike DiPaola is not the best passer on third down, but he has scrambled for a 1st down or two when the Leopards have faced short-yardage situations. Columbia can't let DiPaola squeeze away from sacks like Princeton's Bill Foran did last week.

Key #3: Get Jordan Davis to 100 again

The Lions need to keep working on ball control and take advantage of the fact that the offensive line is performing so much better. Coach Blackshear is performing some miracles right now and with only one senior starter on the O-line, this group will produce victories for some time to come. Jordan Davis must be riding high confidence-wise right now as he has a chance to become only the second Columbia player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

Key #4: Don't let Adair beat you

Shaun Adair is DiPaola's favorite target, especially on third down. I'm not sure if Eugene Edwards or JoJo Smith will draw the Adair assignment, but he can't be left open as much as Princeton's Brendan Circle was at times last week.

Temperature at the 6pm kickoff time is expected to be a toasty 81 degrees! I'm not sure how that will affect the game, but it might take a toll on some of the bigger players as we head into the latter stages.

Week 4 Predictions

Look into my crystal ball

Jake's record last week: 4-1

Jake's record overall: 13-4

Yale over Dartmouth

Dartmouth will surely put up more of a fight than Cornell did two weeks ago, but Yale is just too strong right now... especially at home. Elis by 14.

Cornell over Harvard

The Big Red are decent at home, and the Crimson's #1 strength, run defense, won't completely shut down Siwula and company. Cornell by 3.

Penn over Georgetown

Quakers are shell shocked right now, but not that shell shocked. Penn by 8.

Holy Cross over Brown

Crusaders bounce back after getting schooled by Yale. The Cross by 4.

Hampton over Princeton

Kudos to Princeton for scheduling this game, but they will pay for it. I do expect this one to be the most exciting contest of the day. Hampton by 2.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Scouting Lafayette

Mike DiPaola can be shaky on 3rd down (CREDIT: Lafayette Athletics)

Lafayette was a team loaded with senior starters in 2006, and while most teams would be expected to suffer a down year after that, the Leopards were still a popular choice to win the Patriot League this year. In fact, 99% of the prognosticators didn't even CONSIDER the possibility that Lafayette would struggle in 2007.

The first three weeks of the season seemed to prove the experts right. The Leopards cruised to victories over Marist, (49-10) and Georgetown, (28-7), and impressed the heck out of everyone with an 8-7 win at Penn.

But then Lafayette laid an egg at home and fell to Princeton, 20-14. After a bye week, the Leopards remain at home and will now host the Lions at the beautifully renovated Fisher Stadium

Lafayette will present much of the same kind of challenges Columbia has faced so far this season. Not unlike Princeton, the Leopards are a team with a multi-faceted running game and a tough defense, but their talented starting tailback Maurice White is highly doubtful for this game with a high ankle sprain. That means a lot of the onus will be on senior running back Anthony D'Urso who has a gaudy 5.9 yards per carry average so far this season, but does not have White's speed.

Lafayette's QB is Mike DiPaola who is getting his chance to start this season after patiently understudying for the very talented Brad Maurer for a few years. DiPaola is not spectacular, but he has good talent. Columbia must watch out for him on 3rd down and medium and 3rd down and short plays as he has had good success scrambling for first downs. But as a passer on third down, DiPaola is just 10 for 23 for 178 yards, 7 first downs, no touchdowns, and three big interceptions and two sacks. If the Lions force Lafayette into third down passing situations, I like their chances.

More often than not, DiPaola has been looking for junior wide receiver Shaun Adair when he throws the ball. Adair is fast, but he hasn't really broken a big one yet this year as his longest catch is for 35 yards. Adair is truly lethal as a kick returner though, as he has a 78-yard punt return for a TD and a 56-yard kickoff return that almost went all the way.

Defensively, the Leopards have really been solid. The talented crew of defensive linemen and linebackers have really stuffed the run for the most part, holding opponents to just two yards per carry. The pass defense is strong as well, but not as fearsome. Remember that Princeton QB Bill Foran went an impressive 18 for 24 against the Leopard secondary two weeks ago.

Other than Adair's lethal return game, the Lafayette special teams aren't the best. Their kicker, Davis Rodriguez, is a freshman who hasn't hit a field gosl attempt longer than 27 yards. He has been perfect on PAT's, however. Typically, he's been banging his kickoffs pretty short, with the average return starting at about the opposing 15-yard line. Lafayette is giving up a little more than 20 yards in kickoff returns.

The more I look at this team, the more I think the Lions have a good chance to win. The road trip factor is really the biggest challenge, and it is formiddable as I do expect a decent crowd to show up on a warm night. But without White at QB, and with an apparent relative weakness to exploit in the pass defense, there is no reason why Columbia should come into this game as 13-point underdogs.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New Two-Deep Release

Bayo Aregbe is apparently still not ready to start (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics/Ben Shyman)

The two-deep and game notes are now available for the Lafayette game this Saturday night. The lineup looks the same, as we're still missing Bayo Aregbe but we do get JoJo Smith back as the starter, (although JoJo played most of the game against Princeton, including the first series, despite not being listed at all). Hopefully, whatever nagging injuries are still in effect will dissipate by Saturday.

I thought Eli Waltz did an excellent job at nose tackle last week and he gets the nod again with freshman Brian England backing him up.

Lafayette's multi-faceted running attack poses a big challenge to starting inside linebackers Justin Masorti and Drew Quinn. Quinn was listed as the starter last week against Princeton but I'm pretty sure he didn't get into the game. Alex Gross performed very well in his stead, but the Lions need a healthy Quinn and Aregbe... and soon!

After such a close call at Princeton, I would be very impressed with these players and the coaching staff if Columbia posts a strong performance under the lights at Lafayette. So should everyone else.

Another note: there is a mistake in the game notes and the media guide regarding our road record against Lafayette. We have actually NEVER won in Easton. *UPDATE: This has now been fixed in the game notes.

So How Ya Feelin'?

Time to take our temperature

Three days after Columbia's close loss to Princeton, ae you feeling more encouraged about the rest of the season or starting to get worried?

It appears the offense is really coming together, the offensive line especially. But the defense is clearly not as effective as it was in 2006.

Craig Hormann hasn't missed a snap despite his ACL tear early this year, but injuries seem to taking a much bigger toll than they did last year. Several players on defense are out and many others are playing banged up.

The Lions are still showing no let down as they keep fighting in every game, but they haven't shown any signs of being able to stop the run.

In general, I'm very encouraged about the future... but the present season, one that I think where it's very important that Columbia goes 5-5 or better, is more worrisome.

So I think this weekend's matchup at Lafayette becomes a lot more important than it looked like in preseason. After coming so close but coming up empty at Princeton, the Lions need to prove they're still hungry and never give up.

It would also be a statement game for a Columbia team that has NEVER WON at Lafayette despite playing there about 20 times.

Bits and Pieces

Columbia gave some different looks to the Tigers on Saturday, most notably a two-tight end formation where both Jamal Russell and Troy Evangelist lined up a little bit behind the rest of the O-line and got down in a three-point stance! The formation worked very well when they ran the ball that way, and a little less well when Hormann looked to pass to one of them coming out of that look. But I liked the way it seemed to cross up the defense big time.

Jordan Davis' option pass for a TD to Russell is just the kind of razzle-dazzle the Lions haven't had the O-line or the confidence to try for years. Now that the big guys up front are looking stronger, I expect more experimentation with options, reverses, and end arounds.

About 8,000 people showed up to the game at Princeton, which is not terrible but also not good. They scheduled the game at 3:30 in hopes of grabbing more bodies, but that was the same attendance they had for the Columbia game at PU in 2005.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The League Loves Alex Gross

I've been impressed with freshman linebacker Alex Gross so far this season, but not as impressed as the folks in the league office who have made Alex their Ivy League Rookie of the Week
for the second time this year.

Andy Shalbrack, Craig Hormann, and Austin Knowlin got honorable mentions in the weekly release.

Gross' play and the play of all the talented freshmen and sophomores on this Lion team is why player retention is so very important right now. Coach Wilson and his staff are making great strides in keeping all the players on the roster and that has to get people excited about the future.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Ivy Power Rankings

Mike McLeod has a lot to jump about (CREDIT: Yale Athletics)

Another weekend's worth of games is giving us an even better idea of who's good and who's weaker in the league:

1. Yale 3-0

Still looking like the best team. McLeod is getting all the press, but the improved defense is what's catching my eye.

2. Princeton 2-1

The Tigers seem to be far behind the Elis right now, but they get the nod at a distant second. Princeton's offense is clicking, if still mistake prone, while the defense is creating some key turnovers.

3. Dartmouth 1-2

The Big Green showed no ill effects from tough losses in the first two weeks, and finally beat Penn for the first time since 1997. Dartmouth now has a huge test as they head to Yale Bowl for a date with the #1 Elis.

4. Harvard 1-2

Starting QB Liam O'Hagan was pulled during Saturday's loss at Lehigh. Backup Chris Pizzotti provided a spark, but Harvard seems a little lost without a consistent running game.

5. Cornell 2-1

The Big Red finally won on the road with a rout of Georgetown and that puts them in a much better mental state to face #4 Harvard this Saturday.

6. Columbia 1-2

The offense looks strong, while the defense is still giving up huge yardage. But if Columbia plays the rest of the season the way it did against Princeton, another 5-5 season is very possible.

7. Brown 1-2

The passing game is coming around with new QB Michael Daugherty, but the defense and the running game are AWOL right now. Holy Cross will seek to exploit both.

8. Penn 0-3

Coach Al Bagnoli gave backup QB Bryan Walker the start against Dartmouth, and he cut down on the offensive mistakes, but provided little more. Penn's defense suddenly doesn't look that strong either. The Quakers can still be cotenders in this league, but they need to turn it around in a hurry.