Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 65: Optimal Option

Welcome to Camp Cavanaugh!

Just a reminder that Ivy League Media Day is this August 11th, (26 days away), and it will be a teleconference instead of a face-to-face event at the Yale Golf Club.

Over the past two years, there has been a live online broadcast of the event, but I'm not sure that will happen this year.

The big news we all like to see on media day is the release of the preseason Ivy poll by the members of the media. I will try to get and post that list as soon as it's released.

Mike Cavanaugh '96

Technically, Mike Cavanaugh was a quarterback, and while he was never a subpar passer, it was his prowess as a runner that made him so memorable at Columbia. His efforts in 1994 were the single biggest factor in delivering the Lions their first winning season in 23 years.

Cavanaugh was a star QB at Bishop Foley High School in Troy, Michigan, but then Head Coach Ray Tellier wanted to put the 6-foot 195-pounder at wide receiver. In his sophomore season, an injury to Chad Andrzejewksi '94 thrust Cavanaugh into the emergency starter role and he paid some benefits immediately with two TD's in a win over Cornell at Ithaca. Mike also returned punts that season!

In '94 he and passing QB Jamie Schwalbe '95 shuttled at QB, and most weeks it really worked.

It started working big time in week 2 against Lehigh. Cavanaugh finished with 110 yards on just 9 carries, including TD runs of 50 and 27 yards. The game ended in a 28-28 tie when Lehigh blocked what would have been the winning PAT.

The following week Cavanaugh was even more spectacular, rushing for 188 yards on 12 carries with TD runs of 33 and 24 yards.

Columbia won again the following week at Fordham on the strength of a key 24-yard TD run by Cavanaugh.

By then, the Ivy League was sitting up and taking notice, and Cavanaugh's chances to run started to get squeezed. But he still made the most of his attempts and finished 1994 with 622 yards on 108 carries for a 5.8 yards per carry average and 6 TD's.

Because he was not a pure QB or running back, Cavanaugh didn't even make honorable mention All Ivy, still one of the most stinging omissions for Columbia fans to accept even after all this time.

Cavanaugh moved effortlessly into the single QB system in 1995 after Schwalbe graduated. He had the Columbia offense humming with a 22-points per game average and plenty of passing to compliment his running. The highlight of 1995 came against Penn, as Cavanaugh scored a long running TD to spark a 24-14 win. Two weeks later against Yale in a heavy rain storm, he calmly squeezed 21 points out of his Lion mates in a 21-7 win.

Then came the horrific leg break against Princeton and Columbia's march to a potential Ivy title came to an abrupt end.

Because he missed the last 3 1/2 games, Cavanaugh was relegated to the Honorable Mention All Ivy team, another real snub that still hurts.

Mike is currently spending some time this summer coaching at a free youth summer football camp run by his father and many of his other relatives who all played collegiate football, (including his brother John '01, who played at Columbia).


At Fri Jul 17, 07:11:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Cavanaugh was a great running quarterback at Columbia who thrived in Ray Tellier's system which gave him the chance to run the ball in the most improbable of situations. My favorite memory is when the opponent's defense would line up tight on a fourth and one at about midfield only to have Cavanaugh run the ball around the end for a touchdown. As far as I'm concerned Cavanaugh is up there with Gene Rossides and Archie Roberts as three of the best running quarterbacks in Columbia Football History.


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