Sunday, November 21, 2010

An Appeal

Many of you have already weighed in with some well-written and politely expressed criticisms of the coaching staff and calls for change.

But because of the anonymous nature of the Internet I'm not going to publish any more; I am concerned that perhaps the point is being overstated.

Feel free to continue commenting on almost anything you like, but I think the anonymous calls for resignations have reached the limit.

But I do appreciate the fact that no one has descended into vulgarities, personal nastiness, and profanity in their comments.

Others cannot say the same.


At Sun Nov 21, 09:53:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Fair point on anonymity...

I think the coaching staff needs to be shaken up and the OC replaced. They are underserving their players on the field at game time.

Happy to be identified with this opinion. 32 years of watching Columbia football provides some basis of comparison.

Curtis Chen Class of '82

At Sun Nov 21, 11:12:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, I find this policy inconsistent. Why are anonymous calls for resignation perceived as having "reached the limit", while non-anonymous ones somehow do not contribute to that limit? Especially since non-anonymous ones are far more impactful, for obvious reasons.

As long as comments are not nasty, personal or libelous, they are a contribution to the discussion (the comments are one of the reasons I visit the blog). Whether they are worth listening to is perhaps the decision of the reader -- that goes for anonymous and non-anonymous comments.

Of course, I respect your work on the blog and am not at all questioning that you can post and not post comments as you see fit (this one included, of course!) Just offering a counterpoint.

At Sun Nov 21, 11:51:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To last poster...

I have never met Jake, but he obviously does this blog for free and out of his passion for Columbia and its football/sports fans. In exchange I think he has the right to ask for us to stand behind our views. After all, my guess is that we're a relatively small community of active bloggers and it's not like we should feel inhibited about candor and Columbia football. It's not as if the whole world is listening.

Chen '82

At Mon Nov 22, 02:31:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One man's opinion: Jake's blog appears to have a wide readership, i.e., fans, players, parents etc. It is also a blog that is maintained at a high level of thoughtfulness, which obviously greatly contributes to its appeal, but which also means that it may influence.

I haven't spoken with Jake and can't be sure what he was thinking about when he made the anonymous/identified posts distinction, but it seems that when folks are talking about something as sensitive as calls for replacement of personnel, it's important to know who is posting. A parent? A player/former player? Someone with no agenda other than passion for CU football? Someone with an agenda, whether personal, competitive or whatever other kind?

Lastly, CU football is at a place at which very significant progress has been made, and more needs to be made. Although I share in the frustrations when expectations are not met, and am a strong believer in accountability, the articulation of the same or similar concerns/disappointments can snowball into an orgy of negativity that may simply be counter-productive to our shared goals, which shared goals very much involve successful recruiting and ongoing high levels of commitment by players already in the program.

(Never a player, alum, longtime fan and contributor.)

At Mon Nov 22, 02:54:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand and respect your decision. I do think you will be getting just as many posts from non-anonymous posters. I also don’t think anyone intends to disrespect you and your passion for Columbia football. You don't need to post this, it is just an opinion meant for you. I don't and won't identify myself because I don't want to be flooded with unsolicited mail that comes with making a public display of identity.

At Mon Nov 22, 04:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The commitment of all past, present and prospective CU football players is honored when the University is called upon to fully support a program that competes with our peers for championships. If that means higher salaries for a higher quality coaching staff to teach our student-athletes, that’s what it means.


(Very mediocre player, long-suffering alum and eyewitness, as well as longstanding modest contributor --- who still likes Norries.)

At Mon Nov 22, 08:56:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are good arguments pro and con your decision, Jake, but your decision doesn't bother me because
although I love your blog, this blog will not cause Columbia to win or lose. I'd rather hear from a large group, with or without names, just to get a wider opinion.

Having said that, what might cause a change is not any complaints here. What might cause change is a reduction in the already pitiful attendance at Baker Field, a reduction in financial support of the athletic program, and an all-around reduction in all forms of support and enthusiasm.

I'm not advocating these, and I'm not committing myself to reduce support; I don't want to. But it is inevitable that this will happen if football and also basketball, even men and women's soccer for the most part, continue the same dreary history of ZERO Ivy championships and close to zero contention, year after year, decade after decade. It's like asking the same girl for a date and getting turned down for 50years. Eventually the facts penetrate the skull of even the biggest optimist or dreamer.

At Mon Nov 22, 08:48:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The two posts which followed Jake's analysis of the Brown loss are worth reading. Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

At Mon Nov 22, 09:12:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spec is calling for Coach Wilson to be fired. I disagree. I think he needs better cordinators and assistants.

At Mon Nov 22, 11:30:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all about wanting to win and recruitng and not about coaching. Harvard wants to win more than Columbia so the Harvard Admissions Office accepts kids to play football, basketball, ice hockey, etc. who would never otherwise be considered for admission to Harvard. Yesterday's New York Times article on Harvard's star 24 year old football player, Marco Ianuzzi tells it all. And then there is Harvard's 24 year old LSU re-transfer, Hatch, and so on. Norries Wilson is a terrific person and football coach. Sure, there were some coaching mistakes this year, but the core issue is whether Columbia really wants to win and if it does then it has to accept the reality that comes with winning in the Ivy League.

At Mon Nov 22, 11:45:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The new President of Dartmouth is a huge football fan and patrols the sidelines at Dartmouth games. My brother, a Dartmouth alum, says that he has given a jolt to the program. Bollinger shows up at Homecoming as if it's a trip to the dentist for root canal work. For the 1.75 million he's getting paid along with his new 5 year deal maybe he can show a little more interest in athletics. And PS, Norries is a great guy who can use some support here, along with better assistants

At Tue Nov 23, 12:20:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger culions said...

Dear Jake,
I agree with your decision. None of us know the criteria Dr. Murphy uses to determine a successful program. The number of wins is certainly in the equation, but there are many other factors. Duke and Vanderbilt certainly are not football powerhouses, but they also are not revolving doors of football coaches. While we support our team, it is possible that Columbia may be a program where we may always be a .500 team. Are the players better in life for being Columbia student athletes? Absolutely!

At Tue Nov 23, 01:07:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Accepting to be a .500 team is like being happy getting a C or passing grade at Columbia. Let's not lower our expectations! The team is better than .500!

At Tue Nov 23, 03:05:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love CU football and think NW is great, but I have to laugh at the comment about us always being a .500 team. Guys, the whole problem is that we've won five games once in the past 14 seasons! The fans would kill for a consistent 5-5 football team. We played a weak non-league schedule this year with a reasonably talented team and won four. That's what hurts.

At Tue Nov 23, 03:34:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And believe me, no player comes into this program hoping to win a few games. Ask any of the seniors what they expected to accomplish in their four years at CU. They will all tell you they expected to be lifting the Ivy League Trophy above their heads, not reading that perhaps .500 is acceptable.

At Tue Nov 23, 03:53:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We really do have the talent to win next year. Brackett is the most talented player in the league.

At Tue Nov 23, 04:17:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The players thinking of coming to Columbia or that decided to should be given al the tools they need to win on the field....just as the University will give them all the tools to succeed in life. So, just as the University is willing to invest heavily in its campus/facilities expansion (e.g., Manhattanville extension) it follows that we should invest in our sports programs:

1) A world class weight room will benefit a variety of sports teams, not just football
2) Better coaches for our young men on the gridiron -- OC, DC to start. Keep Wilson but demand a shakeup and then give him two seasons
3) Make it a requirement that the President or the Provost attend every home game and visibly cheer the team on (maybe go to the locker room?)
4) Follow up on the idea of using Kraft and the Patriots as a recruiting tool...internships, Scouts coming to a home game, something

Do things like these and recruiting pipeline will get stronger.

Chen '82

At Tue Nov 23, 08:15:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Tom said...

Jake, thanks for your excellent work in administering this blog.

As a 1974 Columbia College graduate, I have followed the team for many years. The first half of the Brown game this past Saturday showed an inadequately prepared and poorly coached Columbia team.

Columbia football athletes deserve better preparation and coaching. Dr Murphy should consider a change in the entire coaching staff.

Tom Long CC 1974

At Tue Nov 23, 08:27:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This coaching staff did a great job this year Period!!!!

At Tue Nov 23, 08:30:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the people who write in on this blog don't know if the ball is stuffed or blown up...The coaches did a great job!!!!..lets get 22 more kids like Sean Brackett and Alex Gross and we will win the title!!

Brian O'Hagan'80

At Tue Nov 23, 09:44:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I've been waiting for this for weeks. I've read poster after poster discussing the play calling on offense. I decided to wait until the end of the season to view the complete body of work before posting. I tracked the entire stats for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 given in the Columbia Athletics data base. We all have the same facts.

First, let's just totally blow up the comments about attendance. We went from 20,137 in 2009(average attendance for 3 years) to 31,153 for 2010! Clearly, something IS happening to the Columbia football program that is evoking that kind of change. That post was outright wrong.

Now for the OC. The OC is also the New England recruiting coordinator. He is responsible for recruiting Brackett and developing the sophomore to POY candidacy. You cannot ignore that immense fact. It doesn't just happen that a quarterback develops that fast without good coaching.

Total offense from 2007-2010 has increased from 3313 to 3051 to 3297 to 3612 this season. The offense has increased an AVERAGE of over 30 yards a game from last season and 56 yards per game from two years ago! Likewise, first downs have increased from 159 to 170 to 187 this season.
Fumbles lost have decreased this year from 14 to 10. Interceptions have decreased this year from 11 to 8. These are clear areas of coaching impact. The team O/D/ST total for turnovers this year decreased to it's lowest total of the last four years, a very respectable 1.8 per game. Turnovers are a major determining factor in game results.

Offensive categories that increased since last year to this year. Listed:

First downs, rushing first downs, passing first downs, passing yards, completions, yards per offensive play, yards per catch average, passing touchdowns, fumbles and interceptions (fewer), red zone scoring, time of possession, PAT percentage, FG percentage (OC also recruited the new kicker from New England), 4th quarter scoring, penalties (decreased), yards lost rushing (negative plays decreased).

Scoring, red zone TD's, and total rushing were about the same.
As the old Wendy's commercial used to say "where's the beef"? What is the complaint based upon?

The offense is clearly trending up each year of the program. The coach is developing the best player and quarterback in the leagus, as a sophomore!

To be honest, Columbia's number one offensive problem this season was red zone turnovers. That is an indication of inexperience. There weren't a lot of seniors playing on offense this year.

I'm sorry to be disagreeable to many of the posters but those are just the statistics I pulled off the Columbia athletics website.

Let's think with our minds and not our emotions. I offer a strong endorsement here for the entire coaching staff and particular note of endorsement to the OC.

Parent First Year Player/ not offense

At Tue Nov 23, 10:00:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great analysis by parent of first year player. Please understand that our comments are so passionate because we care so much.

At Wed Nov 24, 01:45:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is from Greg Abbruzzese, class of 1992. Email:

“Okay, now that any critical concerns that I may express going forward will not be masked by anonymity, I would like to preface the following comments by saying that I played under both Coach McElreavy and Coach Tellier in the late eighties and early nineties. I also watched the failed Shoop era in the early years of this decade.

Now, over the past five years, I have been watching an equally disappointing record unfold under the current coaching staff and administration. The current staff is 16-34 over the past five years. This year's four wins came against teams with a combined record of 6-36. We have seen Brown elevate themselves from the basement of the Ivy League to multiple League crowns (won on our field no less). Dartmouth was 0-10 just two years ago and has now surpassed us already! Will we see Princeton do the same?

On the field, our game management appears lost at times. This season in particular it seems like we took entire quarters off. Our performance in the red zone, especially on offense, was challenging to watch.

It appears that we’re not using our best players as often as we should. Why would we sideline Brackett for most of the first half at Brown until we were down 28-0? Why didn’t we use Gerst more often?

Other than Cornell, it seems that we have a consistent track record of losing close games.

Is recruiting the reason for these problems? I don't think so, especially given the caliber of kids that we have on this team. I've read the bios of these kids coming in. I've seen a few of these kids play in high school. I've seen the current players in Spring games, JV games, and even on the Varsity level. The talent is clearly there.

To point fingers at the Offensive Coordinator, or Defensive Coordinator for the team' s shortcomings, while, factually valid, is counterproductive. If the fault were only theirs alone, then those comments could, (should), have been voiced two years ago, expressed louder last year, and screamed at the top of the George Washington Bridge this year. The reality is that we need overall change, not minor adjustments.

I have specifically spoken to members of the Football Committee over the past two years about my concerns. These are dedicated alums who do a great job helping out where they can. They are not blind to what they see on the field, nor are they deaf to what other alums are saying. The reality is that they have their hands tied because they are in an "advisory" role.

To his credit, we have heard Coach Wilson say over the past two years that. "… we have not paid the dividends on your investment...".
Okay, when is enough? So who should say, or do, something? What does Dr. Murphy have to say? She has done magnificent things with the infrastructure of the athletic facilities and set up a "best practices" policy within her staff. That's great, and in some sports we have made tremendous strides. But if 4-win campaigns in football are satisfactory, then we are all in for a long ride. You know who suffers the most? Not the ex-football players, not the non-playing alums, not even the fans. It's the young men on the team who sacrifice and dedicate so much of their time to this sport and the school.

One last thing, I agree, but only to a point, about anonymous posts. So is it fair to be "anonymous" if you singing the praise of the coach and administration? Many defenders of the status quo -- one suspects they are employees or friends of the athletic department -- also post anonymously or under pseudonyms.

At Wed Nov 24, 02:33:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a very simple question. For the first four games of the season we seemed to be stouter on the DL and OL sides. In other words, we won the battle of the trenches. Beginning with Penn, that seemed to change. So is the real issue here not so much coaching, or the skill positions, but the fact that we are getting outmuscled on both sides of the ball and have been unable to come up with schemes to counteract this? If so, then we need to bring in more size on both lines and do something aobut our weight training program.

At Wed Nov 24, 05:17:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those that have played the game and truly understand the game feel tremendous frustration for various reasons. There seemed to be a recurring post that resonated all year and that was the lack of playing time for Nick Gerst. I did some research on this young man. He came from a national power High School in North Jersey, Bergen Catholic H. S. that is always in the ESPN top 50 for many years. He played at the highest possible level in high School football and was all state. At the combines he was clocked at 4.38 and benched 315with a choice of 15 college offers and many Ivy's. Those of us that got a look at this kid saw a kid that actually plays at a faster level than anybody in the IVY league(even as a freshman). He appears to be a jewel that nobody knows how to use. Now I understand the frustration when you see a young man like this standing on the sideline...I saw a quote from him that he liked Columbia because it was close to his home. Boy, you got to wonder what the kid is thinking now..Also when I looked him up he has a brother who is also at Bergen Catholic H. S., also a running back(a junior) that is playing in Giants stadium 12/3 against the #1 football team in the country Don Bosco...The press shows this game as the #1 H.S. matchup in the country of any game 12/3.

Go Lions

At Wed Nov 24, 06:36:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to Greg Abruzze's comments and his candor. I also applaud the well thought out arguments of "First Year Parent." I can agree and disagree with all the comments.

As compared to others, I am new to CU Football having started watching 5 years ago, did not play college ball and have seen mostly seen football at the Big Ten level where my brother and friends played. What I see with CU is the inability to regularly complete an entire game of football at a high intensity and mistake free. I place a considerable amount of responsibility on the coaches, primarily the OC and DC to make this happen. Recruiting issues aside, they are coaches and they need to get the team ready to play and sustain that high expectation throughout 60 minutes of play. I haven't seen this. The record the team has had over 5 years cannot be accepted or acceptable. A shake up is due. Personally, I thought Coach K's leaving would be a benefit to the defense. Not so sure of myself now. I liked Lou when he coached. The current OC has shown me very little in making effective use of the personnel and talent. Time for a change there.

That said, from what I understand, Coach Wilson is respected by his players (very important to me), a good man and a good coach. Part of the decision-making on his end is to determine whether the people around him make his team better. That is his challenge for this next year. If changes need to be made, make them for the benefit of the program long term. A little discomfort at the coaching ranks while shaking up the program now is maybe what the Dr. ordered.

I again express my appreciation for the work and time and dedication of Jake, who has not only been very kind to my nephew, but has taken time to talk with me and my brother before CU games. I have actually become a fan of CU football because of what Ivy League ball stands for, as opposed to D1 scholarship programs. One of my best friends got the chance to play for Dartmouth. This really is football in a pure form, kids who play for the love of it. Kids with intelligence, character, commitment, high goals and proud parents and relatives. Similarly, Jake provides this forum because of his love of it. A good combination.

The Neckman (Mike Shalbrack, UW 1981, DePaul 1984, 1990)

At Wed Nov 24, 08:04:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to say it, make this Columbia (and Exeter '78) alum proud.

Chen '82

At Wed Nov 24, 08:19:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the Ivy League posting about the All Ivy Team..."The five first teamers are the second most all-time for Columbia and the most since 1994." Those players were recruited and coached by this coaching staff.

Very few high school players come from programs that prepare them to compete against men at the college level. Good teams have players who are dedicated to getting bigger stronger and faster in the off season. There's no substitute or coaching that alters that basic principal of football.

Get in the weight room. We win more games. The coaches look like they finally listened to the comments on the Lions Blog. Funny how it works!

Another Freshman Parent

At Thu Nov 25, 12:41:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Sorry for the late post. Ditto re the comments of Messrs Abbruzzese, Chen, Long and Shalbrack. Dr. V?

But whatever one's view of the state of Columbia football, I want to express my appreciation for the many perceptive comments on the subject expressed on this site and on Spec this week. It is one of the few times in my 31 years of following the program, largely frustrating ones, that I have witnesssed a useful, open, back-and -forth -- free of the mysterious maneuverings of Campbell, Kraft and the program's high rollers, the football advisory committee's alleged input (whatever the committee actually does, surely it needs to do more advising),the spin of the school's pr operation. and the manic -depressive mood swings of those (mostly anonymous) posters on

I think everyone would acknowledge the coaches,administrators, alumni and, above all, the players are dedicated to "getting Columbia football to where we want it to be" even if we disagree how we get there. But all of us would profit from paying close attention to the useful suggestions made in the discussion this week.

I must admit that I am already looking forward to see what Brackett and Co. will do next season, even though the evidence suggests more of the same regarding the w-l record. Maybe the fact that I keep coming back is part of the problem too. But as I work and wait -- it seems forever -- for a permanent turnaround, for the time being I would settle for more of the kind of excitement, perfection and anticipation that marked Homecoming morning this October. Alas, it lasted until the opening kickoff.

- Don Jensen CC'73 (first time poster, anonymous or otherwise.)


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