Thursday, October 30, 2008

It Must be Nice...

Should Jack go?

It must be nice to be just two seasons removed from an Ivy championship and just a year removed from a damn impressive 9-1 season... and still feel so strongly that your school deserves better in a head coach that you can publish an editorial calling for his ouster!

The editorial makes some good points, but the premise that Yale recruits the "best" athletes at just about every position is a little questionable.

The piece also ignores some relatively recent history. When Jack Siedlecki took over, Yale was at the bottom of the Ivy football ladder. The Elis had suffered through five straight non-winning seasons coming into Siedlecki's first season in 1997. They had lost three straight to Columbia, five out of six to Princeton, and two straight heartbreakers to Harvard. Even Handsome Dan was having accidents on the clubhouse carpet.

Since then Yale has had some struggles, especially against Harvard, (Siedlecki is 4-7 against the Crimson, but once suffered through a very rough five-year losing streak to Harvard), has won two titles and hasn't even come close to revisiting the Ivy cellar since Siedlecki's first season when they went 0-7 in the league.

The biggest beef with Siedlecki in Eli-Land is the fact that Yale has blown a number of second half leads in crucial games in recent years. As gut-wrenching as that can be, I know that every Columbia fan would take a few losses in return for a long strong of winning seasons.

And you have to admire what Siedlecki has done by working to the strengths of the team to win. After years of using a rush-oriented attack with running QB's, he modified the team nicely when QB Jeff Mroz came on the scene and got him the receivers he needed to break some school passing records.

Then, Siedlecki adjusted quickly again when Mike McLeod proved to be a super runner and restructured the team into a ball-control squad.

The kinks have come into the picture with injuries, (McLeod is clearly not 100% and surely wasn't by the end of last season), and the increasing difficulty for every Ivy team to recruit good linemen. Not that it was ever easy, but getting big and fast offensive and defensive linemen is harder than ever before in the Ivies.

I'm not an apologist for Jack Siedlecki by any means. I too thought the 2006 loss at the Yale Bowl for Columbia was just ugly with borderline unsportsmanlike conduct from Siedlecki and McLeod to go along with some very bad calls by the refs. But I really don't think he should be fired right now. Forcing him to hire a new offensive coordinator seems like a better move.

Recent Bowl History

Columbia's history at the Bowl in the Siedlecki era has mostly been a tale of blowout losses. Jack is 5-0 against the Lions at home, (9-2 overall), but two of those wins are a bit tainted. The 2004 game ended with Columbia losing 21-14 after the refs didn't call what looked like a clear case of pass interference on tight end Wade Fletcher on an end zone pass from QB Jeff Otis.

The 2006 game has been hashed and rehashed on this blog many times. The very questionable pass interference call on JoJo Smith that set up Yale's first TD and took the momentum away from Columbia. Craig Hormann's worst decision of an otherwise error-free season to throw a pass right at Bobby Abare that he returned for a TD when Columbia looked like it was on the way to taking the lead. Siedlecki's decision to call a timeout the ball and a 14-3 lead with just seconds to go so the Eli's could put up one more score. It was just a rough, rough day for the Lions and their fans.

Some degree of revenge seemed within reach for the Lions last year as Columbia battled to a 0-0 halftime tie against the Elis at Wien Stadium before finally wilting in the third quarter.

But this Saturday's can't be about revenge when most of the players on this squad weren't even around in 2006 to remember that game. The game should be about beating a quality opponent on the road, something Columbia almost did against Penn two weeks ago and has every chance of doing this time around.

Yale Bowl Viewing Tips

There a couple of things you should know if this is your first time going to the Yale Bowl.

1) By all means, sit on the Columbia side of the field and cheer the Lions on. But remember that will put the sun in your eyes by the second half and you will need sunglasses and a hat.

2) The bathrooms are actually outside the stadium, so bank yourselves some time for potty trips.

3) The tailgating venue is the nicest and most expansive in the Ivies, with room to spread out and even get a pickup touch football game going. It's not too late to plan a little something for Saturday for you and your family and friends. (I will help you eat whatever you bring).


At Fri Oct 31, 03:06:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

It's hard to take that story from the Yale Daily News at all seriously. Is the student author that dumb? That disgruntled for reasons which have absolutely nothing to do with Yale's football program?

Oh well, let's give him something to really be upset about via a win Saturday.

At Fri Oct 31, 05:21:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, Jack is a classless creep. I will never forget his classless conduct in '06. He can't lose enough, as far as I am concerned. I hope that we have a huge lead with seconds to go and the ball deep in Yale territory, call time out so that Jack thinks we are going to run it in, and then take a knee.


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