A Night to Remember
Last night's special reception and BBQ dinner for returning season ticket holders on the concourse at Wien Stadium was great event.
I big highlight was seeing a number of former players, including Michael Quarshie '05, Justin Nunez '07, (who has sold dozens of season ticket packages for the team this year), Tom O'Connor '63, Olivier Manigat '05, and many more.
Here are some of the key points from the speakers who took the mic for a few words during the dinner:
Columbia sports marketing chief Barry Neuberger:
Barry reminded everyone there's still time to get your football season tickets, sign up for the True Blue package for football, men's and women's basketball, and also to sign up to donate a season ticket package for local kids who otherwise couldn't afford to go to the games.
Columbia Athletic Director Dr. Dianne Murphy:
Spoke of the soon-to-be-finished rennovations for the Chrystie Field House and how everyone is sure to be pleased with the final results.
Columbia Women's Basketball Head Coach Paul Nixon:
Gave us a preview of the 2009-10 season, and talked about how exciting it is to have three returning All Ivy players on the roster.
Columbia Football Head Coach Norries Wilson:
Players report back to Columbia this Saturday, start practicing for real on Monday.
Talked about the good number of returning players 18 of the 22 starters and how that bodes well.
Mentioned that just being "in the game" in the fourth quarter isn't good enough anymore; we need wins.
Said that at any given time during the summer, there were between 30-40 guys on the team working out on campus together.
Reiterated that right now, Millie Olawale has the starting QB job. He will have to prove he deserves to keep it during camp.
Said that Marc Holloway is the starting middle linebacker as of now, but he could still get a push from rising sophomore Nick Mistretta.
In response to questions about the kicking situation, Coach Wilson said there will be an open competition among the handful of freshmen kickers we're bringing in this year.
In response to questions about changing the offensive game plan, he insisted not much has changed in the playbook. If you want to see the Wildcat, "you'll have to watch Northwestern," was the quip.
The wide receiving corps is pretty deep. Nico Gutierrez is almost 100% healed from his 2007 ACL tear and he joins Austin Knowlin, Mike Stephens and Taylor Joseph as the leading wide outs coming into camp. But speedy A.J. Maddox is out and will not play this year due to injury.
Every team on the schedule is tough, including Central Connecticut State, a complere unknown for us.
Now here are a few things I gleaned during the "mingling" period with some of the alumni and assistant coaches:
-Coach Aaron Kelton assured me he knows some of the coaches in the new Old Dominion football program and "they will be very good." I may have to reconsider my hope to have Columbia play them in the coming years.
-Former Columbia Spectator writer Stan Waldbaum '62 talked about how close the Spec sports writers were with the football players back in his day. That does not seem to be the case at all these days. Stan also opined that the league overall will be very strong, (I see it as weaker), but he still thinks the Lions have a shot for the title.
-Columbia great Tom O'Connor '63 chatted with me about his days on the team, but mostly wanted to talk about the current squad. He comes to every home game and I am trying to recruit him for a halftime interview this season.
-Michael Quarshie was a surprise attendee and he seemed interested in reading this site. I hope he logs on soon and often. Stan Waldbaum told him of my prediction that he will be in the NFL front office one day. During the Q & A period with Coach Wilson, Quarshie asked who would lead our team in sacks. The coach reminded everyone that Lou Miller led the whole league in sacks and tackles for a loss last year and he is coming back for his senior season.
Again, I hope the athletic department is able to keep this preseason dinner tradition going. It is a very warm and fun event.
Day 32: Todd Abrams '07
Necessity has forced a lot of Columbia football players to switch positions over the years, and Todd Abrams enjoyed the results more than most.
After two years of getting solid playing time at linebacker, Abrams bulked up during the offseason and moved to nose tackle for the 2006 campaign.
Abrams came to Columbia in 2003 from Clayton High School in St. Louis, where he played QB, running back and linebacker.
In 2004, he got into nine games, making 13 tackles and two for a loss.
As a starting linebacker in '05, Todd racked up 52 tackles, including one and a half sacks. He also recovered a fumble.
Then came senior year and Abrams bookended that exciting 5-5 year with fumble returns for TD's in the opening win over Fordham and season ending win at Brown where his score was the turning point in the game.
Abrams finished the season with 37 tackles, six tackles for a loss, one sack, and three fumble recoveries.
And it was Todd's mom who rang that very memorable cow bell game after game during his career.
We miss Todd and that cow bell.
We gotta have more cow bell!