Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Stage is Set

Waiting for Superman? He's already here! (Credit: Columbia Spectator)

All systems seem to be “go” for what is shaping up to be one of the most important Columbia football game in a very long time.

The Lions are riding high into Philadelphia for a showdown with the Penn Quakers at Franklin Field this Saturday.

Columbia hasn’t defeated Penn since 1996, (that’s 13 straight losses folks), when the Lions edged the Quakers 20-19 in OT in Philly.

But this game is about more than just revenge, or getting over a mental hump.

This game is about grabbing the inside track to the Ivy title, which arguably is up for grabs. And that is what’s really important here.

Look, this blog is all about history… almost all the time. But I realize to these young men on the Lion football team right now, the past is not their responsibility. These guys want to make their own history, and they are already.

Let’s just talk about the history Sean Brackett is making:

-Brackett already has five wins under his belt as a Columbia starter. That’s more than any Columbia starter since Craig Hormann '08 who finished his career with eight. Jeff Otis ’05, needed a year and a half as a starter to reach five wins, and he sadly never got any more, finishing with an overall personal record as a starter of 5-15. Brackett's overall record as a starter is 5-3.

-Not only has Brackett achieved this less than halfway through his sophomore year, but he’s done it before his 19th birthday. #10 is 18 until November.

-Going beyond raw stats, consider what Brackett brings to the football-watching experience. Yes, he has a great arm and can run. But it’s actually a joy to watch him go through his reads, make a good decision, and then commit to it. He actually makes people watching him smarter about football. You don’t have to be a Columbia fan to realize it. I DVR’d the Lafayette broadcast of the game on ESPN GamePlan, and the Leopard announcers got more and more excited about Brackett as the game went on.

(Speaking of the Lafayette broadcasters and writers, I’d like to give them kudos for the great and evenhanded job they did all week leading up to the game and postgame as well. Do yourselves a favor and read Paul Reinhard’s many pieces about the game, especially this one. )

Keeping Mike on the Field

Look closely at the picture above.

That’s WR Nico Gutierrez wearing injured teammate and team captain Mike Stephens’ initials on his wristband.

Nico is just one of the many Lions trying to make sure Stephens is not forgotten despite his season-ending injury in the week one loss against Fordham.

Stephens is actually helping WR coach Aaron Smith develop the receivers and is giving as much as he can to the team from the sidelines.

This reminds me of the great gesture by Austin Knowlin last season when he came out for the Yale game wearing Ray Rangel’s #4 after Rangel had been lost for the season in the Dartmouth game the week before.

Nitpicking… I Admit

Getting back to history, you’ll see a lot of news releases this week saying Columbia is enjoying its first three game winning streak since 1997.

That’s technically correct, because the 2nd “win” in that streak was a game Penn had to forfeit at the end of the season because of a blatantly ineligible player, (Mitch Marrow).

But that feels like revisionist history.

This is really the best streak since the 1996 team began the year 6-0.


1. Penn (#2 last week)

The Quakers are looking iffy on offense, and super strong on defense. Just like last year, when they went 7-0 in the Ivies and won the title.

2. Columbia (3)

The Lions offense behind Brackett seems almost unstoppable. The defense had its roughest day of the season, but Lafayette’s offense came in ready to play.

3. Brown (1)

The Bears are in trouble without Kyle Newhall Caballero for the rest of the season. But they still have the tools to win this whole thing.

4. Harvard (4)

Is Hatch coming back? Even if he doesn’t, the Crimson can run the ball and play great defense. Not a bad combo.

5. Yale (6)

You have to respect the Elis 2-0 league record. But this is still a team that lost at home to Albany. If they beat Fordham this Saturday, I’ll give them an upgrade.

6. Dartmouth (5)

The Big Green really needed to beat Yale to prove they are for real. They didn’t.

7. Cornell (8)

Decent first half performance boosts the Big Red up a notch.

8. Princeton (7)

It’s hard to find any positives right now.


At Tue Oct 12, 07:48:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, one thing that drives me crazy about Penn is the way that Bags rides the refs. He routinely throws tantrums on the sidelines. I don't know how he gets away with it. And I still remember Norries' first season, when we went down to Philly and played them tough. You'll recall that some Penn assistants were bad mouthing our players, calling us bush league, etc. Norries spoke up about it after the game. I think all of this is part of the mind games that the Penn staff likes to play. But I have a feeling that our guys will be ready. GO LIONS!!!

At Tue Oct 12, 08:14:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd rather not think about Coach Wilson that day ... personally I think he spoke the truth. It was quite the episode at the time, but again, showed how Coach would stick up for his players. I don't doubt that Penn coaches were "talkin' smack" about us, would not surprise me one bit. We all know how tactful and ... kindly are Phillie fans and the same probably holds true for coaches!

My son just had a visit to Villanova - they had their student newspaper - headline "Wildcats crush Penn" (score was 22-10)let's hope that we will get a similar headline. I think it could happen.

1996 was a close game, there have been other close games at Penn, but this year - I think we have a good, a damn good chance.


At Tue Oct 12, 08:34:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the two previous posts regarding attendance. The low turnout this weekend was a HUGE wake up call that the admnistration needs to get their act together and FAST. They have two solid weeks to prepare for Homecoming, and there is no excuse for the school not to do a full court press--free drinks, more shuttle busses, music, free t-shirts whatever. I went to a CU basketball game last year that was marketed as "Pack the House" night and it worked. It was a sell out against Cornell. Columbia needs to get the word out and "pack the house" for Wien and for homecoming. I'm serious, there should be no reason why they can't go for a sell out for football the way the team is playing. Geez, they have all sorts of campaigns working the phones to raise millions for their graduate schools etc. Who's in charge to pull this off and get the word out? Murphy? Bollinger? Campbell? This needs to start tomorrow. I would love to see a flurry of posts on this blog to start energizing this effort immediately. Any marketing ideas are welcome. If no one else is going to do it, Jake's bloggers need to!! Otherwise, the CU bureaucracy is going to strangle this effort, flail in the wind and pass the buck-- and the moment will pass. Mild gestures of support and lackluster efforts are simply not going to cut it. We need ACTION!

At Tue Oct 12, 09:55:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those Paul Reinhard pieces are excellent.

At Tue Oct 12, 10:22:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to you, Jake, we Columbia fans already have the best football blog on the planet. Now it seems we may also have the best photographer as well, as that Spectator shot of Sean Brackett virtually flying into the endzone is really extraordinary. After seeing that photo at the top of your blog today, I found that it was credited by Spectator to one Clyatt Jasper. Searching under that name on Bing, I discovered a gold mine of outstanding photographs of the Columbia Football Team in action this season. More than 300 outstanding photos are available for viewing under the photographer's name at www.flickr.com/people/jclyatt. I'm not a camera buff, so,perhaps, mine is an overeaction. I would be interested in knowing the opinion of other Columbia Football Fans.

At Tue Oct 12, 11:12:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recruiting update: Hunter Little, the 6'4" 225 lb senior defensive end from the Webb School in Tennessee, who committed to Columbia in July, was selected to the First Team Pre-Season All State Division II Football Team by the Murphy Fair High School Football Magazine. Little attends the same school as former Lion standout Phil Mitchell.

At Tue Oct 12, 05:59:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Attendance starts with Lee. How about the administration calling for a pep rally every now and then? How about Lee and our new Dean showing up at some games? How about a front page plea in Spec? How about WKCR drumming up attendance? And it's great when our friends at Fairway light up the West Side Highway for us on their neon billboard!


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