Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Special Honor for Campbell

The National Football Foundation will officially re-name the Draddy Trophy, (also known as the "academic Heisman"), the William V. Campbell Trophy later today.

To Columbia football fans, he's still "Bill Campbell," even though he's a super successful Silicon Valley executive and current Chairman of the Columbia Board of Trustees.

Before that he was the captain and heart of the Lions 1961 Ivy championship team, and later the head coach of Columbia football from 1974-79.

Congratulations captain!

Day 17: Bill Campbell '62

... and what a coincidence that I've chosen to honor Campbell's years as a standout guard for the Lions in today's installment of the "100 Players in 100 Days" countdown.

Campbell came to Columbia in 1958 from the Pennsylvania steel country with a slight problem: he was a 5-10, 165-pound guard and he had stopped growing.

But he made up for his lack of size with determination and effort, eventually becoming the heart of the team.

After decent efforts, but few wins in his first two varsity seasons, Campbell stayed behind in New York City in the summer of '61 and made sure his key teammates did the same. That summer, they followed a tough regimen and got in shape physically and mentally for what remains the best Columbia season since the official formation of the Ivy League.

Campbell never made the All Ivy teams, mostly because there were no second teams or honorable mentions back then, but everyone from the most casual fan to the players in the trenches new that the team captain was the real reason Columbia won the Ivy championship that season.

For of Campbell's amazing achievements on the field, it's what he's done off of it in his post-college life that's even more amazing.

At first, he got his Master's in education from Teacher's College while he worked as the freshman football coach at CU. Later, he became an assistant football coach at Boston College. He took over as head coach at his alma mater in 1974.

Campbell was in charge of the football program at just about the nadir for CU football and New York City. He had some minor successes, especially a strong start in the 1978 season, but overall his 12-41-1 record speaks for itself. It wasn't for lack of effort, Campbell was hospitalized for exhaustion on one occasion, but if you look back at the teams in those years you have to realize that the talent pool just wasn't anywhere near as deep as it is now on Morningside Heights.

After stepping down as coach, Campbell got a job in advertising with the J. Walter Thompson Agency. One of his clients was Kodak, who was so impressed with Campbell it hired away to lead its sales force.

The came the tech explosion and the folks from Apple came calling. Years later, Steve Jobs would say Campbell's value to the company is immeasurable... and we all know how hard it is for Steve Jobs to share the credit for anything.

This excellent piece on Campbell that appeared in Fortune Magazine last year really details all his personal successes, even as he still coaches 8th grade football near his home in the Bay Area.

I know many of my readers have been asking how people should respond when football and athletics in general are attacked at Columbia.

You should respond by saying: "Bill Campbell."

Enough said.


At Wed Sep 02, 09:11:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Congrats to Coach and thanks for recognizing him......I know Coach is a stickler for details so... just off the top...

Coach got his masters while he Coached the freshman at Columbia...then he joined Joe Yuckicas new staff at Boston College ('67) where he helped turn a small, dormant college football program into the start of a national power house!, sent many players to the NFL, many of whom where coached by Coach Campbell as Defensive Coordinator.....Columbia was very lucky to get him to come to Columbia as Head Coach....Yes you are right..his record was not great, but, it said it all in the NY Times (October 1979) when he resigned....."Woody Hayes uses boot camp tactics" to motivate players at Ohio state at Columbia......"Coach Campbell's players cried when he told them of his resignation".

Coach Campbell's post Coaching life has been well documented in the business press..but, many of his ex teammates,players and friends have been well aware of his kindness and as Steve Jobs said " his human-ness" ...what a credit to the man.

If there are anymore mistakes on details.... I am sure Coach will let you a very fair handed way...

God Bless Coach Campbell

At Wed Sep 02, 09:35:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, I agree with all the encomiums about Bill Campbell. Surely he's Columbia's Mr. Football
and a great American success story as well. But I can't help wondering what happened to poor "Draddy"?

At Thu Sep 03, 02:27:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can chime in about Bill Campbell - what a great guy! Generous and personable - after a columbia football dinner, he took everyone down to a pub and paid for everything. Now that is a gentleman!

His son played for columbia about 6 years ago, right?

At Thu Sep 03, 02:34:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

from the NYT story about Campbell: The trophy was named after the late Vincent dePaul Draddy, who served as NFF chairman for 19 years. He played quarterback at Manhattan College and went on to develop the Izod clothing brand.

At Thu Sep 03, 08:50:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger jjmcg66 said...

Coach can't be honored enough. The only mistake he ever made at Columbia was trying to give kids like him a chance. I believe he approached recruiting from the heart, and worked hard to give kids the same chance he had. Undersized kids from PA and OH and other places who had big hearts and were classic overachievers, but in whom he saw something special. Who else could have seen that Vince Pellini could be an all-Ivy nose tackle at 210 pounds? His vision, and confidence in me, changed my life and countless others. He continues to change my life by leading an example of what can be accomplished with a positive attitude and a belief that people can do more with whatever they bring to the table. By that definition, he could be the greatest coach that ever lived!

Short side story to demonstrate what a people person he is, he recruited me in 1978, then left after my freshmen year. I didn't see him again until 2002 or so when he returned to Pittsburgh for an informal event. I wasn't from Pittsburgh but happened to be in town for the event. He leapt from the bar when I entered, gave me a big hug, told me he wished he could have another piece of the blueberry pie that my mother served during his recruiting visit, and treated me like a million bucks. And he did the same for every person who was there. He is a role model unlike any other, and he absolutely changed my life.

Thanks for sharing his most recent special honor.

At Thu Sep 03, 10:01:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great comment from above

Just so we can get it right for Coach....Vince Pellini was all ivy as an outside linebacker in '79 Coach was a linebacker Coach most of his career(BC).....

But, great post about the never forgot anything!!!

At Fri Sep 11, 07:04:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great stuff on Bill Campbell. Truly a life changer and for Columbia...a "Program Changer"...


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