Monday, August 31, 2009

Welcome Freshmen!!!

Freshmen Ahoy!

The 1st years started to move on campus yesterday, and so it's once again time to acclimate them to the world of Columbia football and this blog. Here are 10 FAQ's:

1) "Hey, are you an idiot? Don't you know the title of our fight song is "Roar LION Roar?"

Yes, yes I am aware of that. I'm doing something called, "a play on words." I like to pass myself off as a witty writer. I also like to pass myself off as Kaiser Wilhelm I, but a lot more people seem to go for the writer thing.

2) Why are you such a crazy Columbia fan?

First of all, let's define "crazy fan." Do I go to just about all the games? Do I get happy and depressed based on the team's performance, and then write about it online?... yes to all of the above. Do I wear a rainbow wig, paint my bare chest light blue, and beat up opposing team mascots... no, (well there was that incident with the Dartmouth kid who dresses up like a keg back in '79, but the charges were dropped).

Actually I never really realized it until after the fact, but I was pretty much destined to be a Columbia football fan even before I set foot on campus as a freshman in 1988. My grandfather was a close friend and pinochle buddy of Columbia and Chicago Bears great Sid Luckman. Wien Stadium is named after a distant relative of my grandmother's, Lawrence A. Wien. And I'm pretty sure, my mom, who isn't much a sports fan, was dragged to the Ivy League championship-clinching win over Penn at Baker Field in November, 1961 by her then-boyfriend when she was a first-year at Barnard College.

3) You Columbia fans make me sick. Why do you talk so much even though you haven't won a title in 48 years? You should just be quiet and leave us alone.

Yes, die-hard loyal CU fans tend to dominate Ivy Internet chat boards and the like. But we're usually not boasting; we're just talking about our team and the sport we obviously love. This was the same reason why the Red Sox fans were so dominant on the Web pre-2004 and also why Cubs fans follow their team so closely all over the world. Fans of super-successful Ivy football teams like Harvard and Penn just aren't battle-tested enough to take things to obsessive levels. We are.

I follow just about all the pro sports and "big-time" college football and basketball too, but those sports have lost a lot in my eyes over the years. The average pro team has more turnover than a second-term White House administration, and many of the BCS football teams are filled with young men who work hard, but can't really be called "college students." Every Ivy football player is a true student-athlete. It's damn nice as a father to take my kids to a game where they can see players who have their priorities straight.

I am sick of spors anchors on ESPN getting all high and mighty about college athletes and leagues that are corrupt and then they don't spend even a minute focusing on the players and leagues who do it right. It's hyprocritical and cynical and I won't have it.

Anyone who says that the Ivy League "isn't real college football," should be reminded that BCS college football, for the most part, isn't really college.

4) Okay we get it, you love the team. But why spend so much time writing about it on the Internet, and what are trying to accomplish here?

Writing is what I do anyway. It's the way I make my living and I actually enjoy it. The Internet gives you a built-in audience, however small sometimes, so if you don't hate your writing, why wouldn't you post it on the 'net?

And the point of all this is to create a virtual meeting place for CU fans, players, etc. I wanted to prove that there is a large and vibrant Columbia fan base, it just needed a sounding board. As President Reagan once told his speechwriters in 1981: "The choir needs music."

Everyone is welcome of course, but so far not ONE person has left a nasty personal attack-type comment on this blog or via email to me. Not ONE. By Internet standards, I think that's a record.

5) When do you sleep?

I'm a dad, so I still don't exactly bank on 8 hours of sleep each night. But since I don't kill myself with as much meticulous editing as I should for this site, it doesn't take me too long to get these posts online. Seriously don't worry about me, this is not as time-intensive as it looks.

6) How will the Lions do this season?

Most years, football optimism at Columbia is based on the "they can't do much worse than last year" philosophy.

The year, most inside and outside observers see a tremendous shot for the Lions to move way up the ladder in the Ivies. The defense looks especially good and deep and is building off a huge improvement last season.

The offense has some serious weapons in the best-running QB in the league, (Millie Olawale is his name), and one of the best wide receivers in CU history in Austin Knowlin, who doubles as the most dangerous kick returner in the league. Combine that with the best-looking offensive line Columbia has had in years and you have the ingredients for a good unit that just needs to be able to put it all together. Specifically, they need to score points! They figured out how to get yards last season.

7) All my orientation leaders and upperclassmen make snide comments about athletics. What's with that?

If I learned one thing after spending four years with a bunch of kids at Columbia who were obviously smarter and more motivated than I, it was humility. I put on my cap and gown STILL not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, and that made me feel pretty pathetic next to my friends who did know and were also ready to work very hard for it.

I don't idolize athletes, even the student-athletes at Columbia who work much harder than the guys at big football factories.

But I do really admire the fact that a lot of these guys on the football team represent TRUE diversity and the ability to overcome adversity. They are kids coming from parts of the country where most people don't even know about Columbia. Many of them even have... GASP!!!... a different point of view about politics, religion and life in general than most Ivy students, (I kinda thought diversity was supposed to be about more than race, but that fact is lost on a lot of people, and presidents).

For example, guys like actor Matt Fox came to Columbia to play football by way of Wyoming, fulfilling what the University has always hoped to do: open the eyes and minds of young men and women who otherwise would not get exposed to higher learning in a place like New York City. Somehow, I don't think Columbia wants to be the college where a bunch of smart ass kids seek and get confirmation that they really are better than everyone else.

Okay, I know I'm ranting, but this is just one token shot against against the avalanche of anti-athletics sentiment you're likely to hear from your peers in the coming days. Do me a favor and find out for yourself.

8) Okay, but it's not like any of these guys are going to the NFL or anything.

Columbia has some former football players on active NFL rosters right now. Former All-Pro, Marcellus Wiley '97, recently retired, but now he's doing NFL coverage on ESPN. Think he gets that job without an Ivy degree? As for the here and now, Austin Knowlin has a shot at playing on Sundays in the future.

9) What about the fact that the stadium is so far from campus? I heard about the free shuttle bus, but I might have to take the subway... UPTOWN! My mommy told me that was dangerous.

Okay first off, you're still calling her "mommy?!?" We'll get back to that later, but there's a good chance your "mommy" either a) hasn't ridden the subway in 25 years, or b) is a vicious racist. Either way, let me give you a little glimpse of your future. Within a year or two of graduation, you're either going to be working at a job that'll keep you cooped up inside for 10-12 hours or day, going to a job that requires you to sit in traffic for two hours each way, or both. So think a bit before you whine about a 15-minute subway ride or a 25-minute free bus trip. When I was an undergrad, I wanted to join the crew team but I balked because of those 6AM practices. Then I graduated and ended up working a graveyard shift in TV that required me to come into work at 2AM every day for seven years. What a dope I was in college!

But I'm here to help. Stay tuned for my guide to Wien Stadium coming up a few days before the home opener on September 26th.

For now, just remember that tickets for students are FREE! And for you adult students over the age of 21... there is FREE BEER for God sakes! Get up there!

10) I'm too broken up that Harry Potter star Emma Watson isn't coming to Columbia to watch football.

Pretend football is a quidditch match... you know with helmets instead of flying brooms. Now you've got it!


At Mon Aug 31, 11:53:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great piece Jake. PS, any thoughts about first years who might see some playing time? It is going to be much, much harder for a freshman to crack the two deep, but one never knows.

At Tue Sep 01, 12:31:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is football. There are no first years on the team. They are freshmen. Thanks you and I'll go now.

At Tue Sep 01, 10:49:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand that all of Columbia's kickers will be freshmen. A couple very talented newcomers may see action early in the season at the skills positions. After that, however, it is would be surprising if any of the freshmen break into the two deep early in the season given the strength and experience of this year's squad. This is going to be a very good football team that will challenge for the Ivy League Championship.

At Tue Sep 01, 08:28:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have the talent to take it all, but football more than any other sport depends upon emotion and self-confidence. In other words we will have to play with an attitude. PS, look for MA to have a tremendous year. He runs like a freight train. they will put 8 and 9 in the box to stop him, which should open things up for AK.

At Wed Sep 02, 08:22:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job on the freshman thing Jake - let's try to indoctrinate some of them!

Not to dwell on the negative, but people complain about the Spec, and its derogatory remarks, but I see a lot of anonymous brickbats thrown at athletics on BWOG - makes me mad! I defend our light blue - but honestly, it makes me wonder what creates such hostility?


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