Tuesday, March 02, 2010

New York, New York

Midwood Field, Brooklyn

Not a week goes by that I don't get an email from a reader asking about whether Columbia is picking up some New York City recruiting prospect or another.

A lot of this curiousity comes from fans who believe a real New York high school star could jam the stands at Wien Stadium... and there's a good argument to be made for that.

But I think a lot of the questions come from fans who remember when the Columbia Lion football roster was packed with kids from the Metropolitan area year after year.

Here's how much that has changed over the last 40 years:

1969 (Complete varsity roster and and partial freshmen roster -- 1969 complete frosh roster not available, so I was only able to count sophs on 1970 varsity roster)

Total Players: 132

Total Players from NY/NJ/CT Metro Area: 50 (37.8%)

1979 (Varsity and Freshman players)

Total Players: 128

Total Players from NY/NJ/CT Metro Area: 61 (47.6%)

1989 (Varsity and Freshman players)

Total Players: 148

Total Players from NY/NJ/CT Metro Area: 44 (29.7%)


Total Players: 105

Total Players from NY/NJ/CT Metro Area: 18 (17.1%)


Total Players: 117

Total Players from NY/NJ/CT Metro Area: 26 (22.2%)

The was a slight increase in New York-area players from the early 70's through the mid 1980's. But since then the decline has been sharp, with the exception of the last few years where Norries Wilson and his staff have really beefed up the number of Connecticut-area recruits.

The biggest move away from a strong emphasis on Metro-area recruits came under Head Coach Ray Tellier, who was not only the first Columbia coach to truly make recruiting a 50-state, multi-national enterprise... he was really the first Ivy football coach to do it. Since Tellier was also the only Columbia head coach to produce more than one winning season since Buff Donelli, it's hard to argue with his approach.

And it's always been my contention, that Columbia's best chances for gaining ground in the Ivies are in the road less travelled.

The funny thing about that is our own backyard of New York City and Long Island are becoming the road less travelled as the general perception is that the best high school football days are behind us.

Maybe so, but it only takes one or two very talented high school diamonds in the rough to change a college's fortunes.

So keep your eyes open New Yawk!


Readership on this blog was up 41.7% in February, year-over-year. Thanks for reading!!


At Tue Mar 02, 04:41:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, talking about New York high school stars, any word on Bruce Grant?

At Tue Mar 02, 12:41:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake: the football team is just mirroring the student body. Since the College went (a) fully residential and (b) coed in the early 80's, it has become a national and international draw. Back in the 70's the College received about 3800 applications per year. They were mostly from the northeast and especially concentrated in the tri-state area. As you know it's an entirely different applicant pool today with 25,000 plus applicants from around the country and the world.

What's equally interesting to me are the schools the football players (and all Columbia athletes) come from today. Just as with the rest of the student body, there is a noticeably greater representation from private school/boarding school among our athletes than in the 70's because those schools have athletes who are better prepared academically, as they have to be to compete in the new applicant pool.

So combine the 6x rise in applications with the fact that Columbia is now a first choice school at the leading private schools and you get a very different demographic profile for the football team in particular and athletics in general. The coaches have to cast a wider net to find the players who can compete academically as well as athletically.


At Tue Mar 02, 08:53:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake...I was recruited under Bob Naso and I would guess that more then half of our team was outside the metro area. We had at least 15-20 players from just California and Texas alone. Garrett's team was the same way if not even more so I wouldn't say Ray started the 50 state recruiting trend.

At Wed Mar 03, 03:42:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Individual assistants have responsibility for recruiting in various states and regions, so it has varied with the staff. In the 70's, CU had a pipeline from California, for example, and I suspect it had to do with an assistant who had contacts there. As for 50-state recruiting elsewhere, I was told a while back that when Bob Blackman was coaching nationally ranked teams at Dartmouth in the '60's, he sent a recruiting letter to the coach of every single American high school that played football. If memory serves, that and the recruiting effort that followed got Dartmouth into the top ten in the late sixties/early seventies.

At Thu Mar 04, 02:08:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your poster is correct re: Bob Blackman. He set the standard and it was reflected in the California kids at Dartmouth (he was from here).
Princeton Bay Area alum


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