Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 60: Upperco's Upper Hand

Dan Upperco Today

There are a few pieces of news I've neglected to mention over the past few days of keen interest to Lion fans.

Army and Notre Dame have agreed to resume their rivalry with games at the new Yankee Stadium.

I think this is a great development for college football in New York City. The question is: will this be a good development for Fordham and perhaps by extension, Columbia?

There was talk when Fordham announced the shift to athletic scholarships for football that the ultimate goal was to get some home games at Yankee Stadium and reap the potential big-time revenues from games with Army, Navy, and perhaps Notre Dame, (although that game would almost definitely have to be in South Bend, I can't imagine the Irish agreeing to travel for Fordham).

The Army-Notre Dame deal may or may not hurt Fordham's chances.

On one hand, it may crowd out the Rams if Army grabs whatever dates are available on the Yankee Stadium schedule, and if they force up the price Fordham would have to pay to use the field.

On the other hand, the folks in charge of the Stadium may find that football works well at the venue and try to keep the field in use as much as possible in hopes of paying back the considerable number of bondholders who financed the very expensive facility. Fordham might be the beneficiary of some free beta testing here.

IF Fordham does end up clinching some home dates at Yankee Stadium in the future, and IF the Columbia-Fordham rivalry continues for the coming years, I know I would be thrilled to see the Lions and Rams hook up at the big stadium in the Bronx. Even if a scholarship-strengthened Fordham becomes a University of New Hampshire-type powerhouse, I think it may be worth it to play them if we get a Yankee Stadium date.

That's just my opinion... and a lot of wishful thinking.

I know I have written a lot about Old Dominion's launching of a football program already, but check out this page and click on the link that shows an animated video of what they expect gameday to be like on a typical Saturday in Norfolk. These guys have the right idea. Sorry to be so interested in ODU, but this is my childhood we're talking about here. AND, you gotta love a school starting football in these economic times. Gutsy, and smart. Season tickets are already sold out.

And yes, I would love to see Columbia start playing ODU sometime in the future. That would be a lot of fun.

100 Players in 100 Days, the Tight Ends

Dan Upperco '85 came to Columbia in 1981 from Orlando's Boone High school where he was an all-state player. His brothers were football stars too, one of them played at U. of Miami, another at Tulane and a third one at the University of the South.

Upperco had the very good fortune of being at Columbia when John Witkowski '84 was the QB. In his sophomore year of 1982 Upperco platooned at tight end with James Powell '83, but he still made Honorable Mention All Ivy with 26 catches, 377 yards and an incredible 6 touchdowns catches. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, he was huge for a tight end at that time.

In '83, Upperco made 1st Team All Ivy and put up more monster numbers, but it was his senior year -- after Witkowski had graduated, that may have been Dan's most impressive achievement.

Working with new QB Henry Santos '86, Upperco still managed to lead the team in receiving with 38 catches for 489 yards. He once again made 1st Team All Ivy.

Upperco got a chance to crack the L.A. Raiders roster, (yes, they were in Los Angeles then), but never really made it as a regular player.

Today, Upperco is vice president of NFL Players Association Retired Players organization.

If all goes well, I hope to interview him during halftime of one of this coming season's games.


At Wed Jul 22, 04:22:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan was a great player and is and was as good a guy as he was a player!

He could play some hoops, too!

At Wed Jul 22, 05:44:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone see/hear that Rutgers is to play Army in Yankee Stadium in '11?

At Wed Jul 22, 05:52:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, I don't believe it's wishful thinking at all to consider the possibility that perhaps Columbia can capture some of the attention the local media is suddenly giving to college football in New York City. As Dr. Murphy has said many times, Columbia athletics has to be considered a "sleeping giant" given the massive population in the New York City Metropolitan Area. There are numerous ways Columbia sports can capitalize on what's happening in the Bronx, particularly from a financial standpoint, but only if someone from the University with imagination seizes the opportunity and makes contact with the Yankees and begins exploratory talks. Keep in mind that we are not just talking about football, but basketball and other sports as well. Columbia/College Basketball is also part of a gigantic dormant market in New York City just waiting to explode. Someday Columbia, St. John's, Fordham, Manhattan and LIU will get their act together and re-establish big-time college basketball in New York City.

At Wed Jul 22, 11:04:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally agree, if CU could ever replicate the success over an extended period of time in football and basketball that Penn did we would be NYC's darling.

Of course, we've all been saying that for as long as we played for CU and we are still waiting!

At Thu Jul 23, 02:52:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would it make sense for Columbia to position itself as the "opening act" for one of these games....effectively, staging a double-header with an Ivy game as the warm-up and the Army/ND game as the top billing.


At Thu Jul 23, 03:01:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

As long as it's a "road" game for Columbia and we don't lose a date at Wien Stadium, I'm all for any event at Yankee Stadium. As a New Yorker, I want to make sure we squeeze as much money out of the place as possible.

At Thu Jul 23, 08:59:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would be hard for us to get a game against Fordham at Yankee stadium . I suspect the Yankees will not permit football at the stadium until the baseball season ends (end of October). The Ivy league only plays league games in November . Forham may get a game there but Columbia is unlikely .


Post a Comment

<< Home