Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mingo from Ohio

Jeremy Mingo

6"0, 175-pound Jeremey Mingo, who doubles as a wide receiver and a cornerback, has chosen to come to Columbia this fall.

Mingo goes to Firestone High School in the Akron area, (so yeah, it's named after THE Firestone), and was an All-District All Star this past season.

Based on his size, I get the feeling he'll play at corner in college.

Mingo brings our number of known commits to 10, and that means I can start the unofficial "Roar Lions Roar" list:

1. Joey Andrada WR 6-3 190 lbs. Piedmont HS (Piedmont, CA)

2. Hunter Coleman TE/OL 6-4 230 lbs. Loyola (Prep Shreveport, LA)

3. Lou DiNovo WR 6-0 185 lbs. LaSalle Institute (Albany, NY)

4. Brian East LB 6-3 205 lbs. Carmel HS (Carmel, IN)

5. Tyler Feely K/P 6-0 155 lbs. Jesuit HS (Tampa, FL)

6. Brad Losee DE/TE 6-4 235 lbs. Eastview HS (Apple Valley, MN)

7. Mark McClain WR/S 6-2 195 lbs. Upper Arlington (Upper Arlington, OH)

8. Nick Melka DE 6-2 230 lbs. Benet Academy (Lisle, IL)

9. Jeremy Mingo WR/CB 6-0, 180 lbs. Firestone HS (Akron, OH)

10. Chris Rapka QB 6-3 200 lbs. Cardinal Gibbons HS (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Putting a face on Mr. Coleman

Hunter Coleman

I now have some pics and video for Columbia commit Hunter Coleman, who I first wrote about earlier this week.

It's unbelievable to me that Coleman is the first person from his school to come play football at an Ivy. But it's also encouraging, because that tells me there's a potential new fount for talent that we haven't tapped before.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Three for Friday

Brian East

This Friday morning brings us news of three new commits to Columbia football; easily our biggest one-day haul this year.

In my view, the biggest name is 6"3, 205-pound outside lineback Brian East from Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana.

He's a two-star-rated player by the folks at, (whatever that means), but I watched a number of his highlights from his school team homepage and he certainly was a major cog at a top high school powerhouse. East and his teammates just barely lost the state championship game in double OT back in November. They were state champs as recently as 2007.

East was named as a first-team All-Stater as well.

Joey Andrada

From out west, we have wide receiver Joey Andrada of Piedmont High School.

You can see his highlight video complete with comments from his coach.

And here's a longer video including his highlights from this past season.

Andrada's high school uses a revolutionary new kind of offense called the "A-11." So it's a lot of fun just to see how its run in the video links above.

Mark McClain

Finally today, we have strong safety/linebacker/wide receiver Mark McClain from Upper Arlington High School in the Columbus, Ohio area.

Mclain's own web page says he received offers from lots of schools, including Brown, Princeton and Dartmouth. McClain did sustain a leg injury this past season, but I'm not sure how much playing time he lost.

I'm also not sure which position he will play at Columbia as he has the right size for a lot of slots in the roster.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hunting for a TE

The Shreveport Times reports that 6"4 230-pound Loyola College Prep senior Hunter Coleman is heading to Columbia.

Coleman is the first person from Loyola to go to an Ivy to play football.

He starred on the defensive line, but reportedly is being asked to play tight end at Columbia. His father played at TE for Louisiana Tech.

Could this be the beginning of a Louisiana pipeline to CU?

Culture Shock Ahead?

Kent Austin on the Roughrider sidelines

I have no idea how good a coach Kent Austin will be at Cornell.

The Ivy League isn't the SEC and it sure isn't the Canadian Football League.

But even after a day to reflect on the news, I still think Austin's hiring is something of a coup for a Big Red football program that seemed to be on life support just 48 hours ago.

I think grabbing a very senior level coach from a program some pundits listed as a top 10 team in the 2009 preseason and a man who won the Grey Cup less than three years ago is a tremendous plus for the entire league.

Again, the main issue may be adjusting to a very different league. It doesn't get more mercenary than the CFL, and the Ivy League is the polar opposite of that player-for-hire, de facto NFL minor league they run up in Canada.

And the recruiting landscape Austin's faced in the SEC will look like the Garden of Eden compared to the non-scholarship. A.I.-dominated Ivies.

And there's also the rough fact that not only was Cornell a last place team in 2009, it's very hard to find even five or six players remaining on the roster who seem like they have the tools to make the Big Red a contender overnight. Just about every one of Cornell's best players on both sides of the ball in 2009 are graduating this May.

Depending on how you look at things, Austin may or may not have history on his side.

The last Ivy head coach coming from the CFL was Joe Restic at Harvard. But he was much less of a CFL legend than Austin was a player and coach. I'm also in the camp that says Restic was not at all a great coach for the Crimson and presided over a generally underachieving period in the team's history. But there are those who love Restic and say his offenses were effective, even if they were confusing. Of course, every title Tim Murphy wins now dims Restic's legacy more and more.

Overall for the league, we now have most of the teams in the league being coached by men who were not there six years ago. The three teams who have the longest consecutively serving head coaches, Penn, Harvard and Brown, have finished in the top 3 in the league the last two years in a row. Stability seems to work in the Ivies, at least these days.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cornell's Choice

Kent Austin

The Ivy football head coaching ranks are once again complete as Cornell has just announced the hiring of Kent Austin to replace Jim Knowles.

Austin has been the offensive coordinator at Ole Miss for the last two seasons. He is also an Ole Miss grad, (class of 1986), and a legend in Canada.

As a QB for Saskatchewan in 1989 he was the Grey Cup MVP. Then he coached the same Saskatchewan Rough Riders to a Grey Cup in 2007.

On paper, this seems like a great hire for Cornell and probably a great hire for the league.

The Rhody .500

Lions Captain Matt Barsamian leads the team in celebration

Continuing now with the list of the greatest Columbia football games of the 2000's...

Game #2

Columbia 22 Brown 21

November 18, 2006

Brown Stadium

The 2006 season under new Head Coach Norries Wilson began with a bang. The Lions were 3-1 out of the gate with their only loss coming to eventual Ivy champ Princeton in a hard-fought Homecoming battle at Wien Stadium.

Then a bit of reality set in.

Columbia lost four in a row, all to Ivy opponents. In each of those loses, the Lion defense played well enough to win. But the Columbia offense just couldn't score points, the weak running game being a major reason why.

The Lions Ivy losing streak stood at 16 before Columbia edged Cornell, 21-14 in week 9 at home to put the their record at 4-5.

But the chances of finishing the season with the first .500 or better record seemed slim as Columbia would have to travel to Providence to achieve that against an always tought Brown team.

Sure, the Bears were 2-7, but this was still a Phil Estes-coached team with players like future NFL'ers Zak DeOssie and Colin Cloherty. And besides, Columbia hadn't defeated Brown on the road since 1971.

Four minutes into the second quarter, the Lions were showing little life as they trailed 14-0 and Brown was on another offensive drive and perched at the Bear 49 with a first and 10.

Then the defense decided to take the scoring issue into its own hands.

Adam Brekke sacked Bear QB Joe DiGiacomo and forced a fumble that Todd Abrams scooped up for a 30-yard TD. The PAT by Jon Rocholl was no good, making it 14-6. Rocholl bounced back for a 42 yard FG late in the quarter to push it to 14-9 at the half.

Brown came out charging in the second half, driving all the way down to the Lion 11, but Andy Shalbrack stopped the drive with an interception at the goal line.

QB Craig Hormann took over from there and got the Lions all the way to the Bear nine before Patrick Huston, subbing for Rocholl at that point, nailed a 27-yarder to make it 14-12.

But Brown seemed to grab the momentum back for good when the Bears marched 81 yards down the field, ending with a 13-yard TD catch by Cloherty.

The Lions answered back with a thrilling 80-yard drive on 11 plays, highlighted by a leaping 24-yard grab by freshman wide receiver Austin Knowlin. Hormann ended it with a six-yard scoring toss to RB Jordan Davis and it was 21-19. 10:06 remained in regulation.

Brown killed a huge amount of that time with the Bears next drive. But the Lion defense held strong and All Ivy kicker Steve Morgan missed a 45-yard field goal attempt to give the Lions a chance with 3:49 left.

Columbia then began a gutty 14-play drive that included a nail-biting 4th and 1 on the Brown 21 decision. The coaches decided to go for it, and in a year when the running game could hardly do anything right, Davis came through with a huge nine-yard scamper for the 1st down. That set up a short field goal attempt by re-insterted-into-the-game Jon Rocholl.

With ice in his veins, Rocholl nailed the winning kick and the Lions had their first non-losing season since 1996.

Hormann finished the game with 285 yards on 30-for-43 passing, one TD pass and no INT's. Davis had just 14 carries, but netted a very decent 59 yards. Knowlin had nine catches for 73 yards. And outgoing senior Nick DeGasperis grabbed five balls for 75 yards including a crucial 17-yard catch and run on the final drive.

It was the perfect end to the most uplifting season of the decade for Columbia.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

John Alex '89 in Haiti

Everyone who knows former Columbia football captain John Alex knows that he is just as much of an entertaining inspiration now as he was on the field.

I don't know how entertaining John is right now in Haiti, but he is there and likely cutting the tension with some good humor at just the right time as he embarks on a unique aid effort.

The following update on John's great work comes from his classmate, former CU QB Chris Della Pietra.

(Thanks to all the many football alums who alerted me to this effort).

Dear Columbia FB Alums,

As many of you know from prior emails, United Aid Foundation was formed by John Alex CC’89 in the aftermath of the Tsunami for the purpose of getting direct aid to people immediately without overhead, salaries, or bureaucracy based on the his experiences in Sri Lanka. John and his UAF Team found that it took too long for the big NGOs and Government to act while people who needed care and supplies suffered. During Katrina, John was able to get down to New Orleans before the NGOs and our government, and UAF was able to provide desperately needed drugs and supplies financed mostly by Paul Tomasi CC’90. The medical director of the United Aid Foundation is Dr. Domingo Nunez, who is a Columbia grad and former Columbia Trustee.

After the earthquake in Haiti, John immediately went down and ran convoys into Port au Prince with food and supplies, while also having donated medical supplies airlifted to the Jimani, the border town that was running a triage hospital for the wounded. For the past 3 days, Dr. Michael Vitale, Ana Lucia Associate Professor of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center and Chief, Pediatric Spine and Scoliosis Service at Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, has been on the border with a team of doctors and nurses from UAF performing surgeries and post-surgery rehab. All accommodations and logistical assistance have been provided by Dr. Nunez. Dr. Vitale is considering today whether to cross the border into Haiti and establish a center in Port au Prince with the team. Dr. Nunez, meanwhile, is taking another UAF Team next week to Haiti, with John Alex in order to determine what areas still need basic essentials and medial assistance.

Columbia has stepped up in this time of crisis, and our FB alums have supported John and his UAF Team in many ways, including generous contributions, all of which go directly to support those in need and none of which goes to pay any overhead. We urge you to assist in any way that you can, and if you want to see your donations go directly to the front lines, please consider making an on-line donation through the UAF website -

Thank you for much for your help, and God Bless John and his UAF Team for their courage and tremendous efforts to help as many desperate people in Haiti as possible. If you would like to contact John directly, his contact info is below.

Chris Della Pietra

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Looking for a TV Deal

Bloomberg News reports that Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris is looking for a national TV sports deal.

The key point is Harris may want to force the Ivy schools with regional TV deals to give their best games up to whatever major network might take us on.

It's an interesting prospect because I'd like to see Ivy football and basketball games get a more permanent home. Right now, most of the national networks broadcasting our games are obviously not too well-schooled on the league and our history.

Of course, it's not just football and basketball. Lacrosse could become a major draw for such a deal if indeed the sport's popularity is catching on as much as I'm told it is. I say "I'm told," because I haven't seen any ratings numbers on LAX.

And then there's this nagging feeling I have that this whole discussion may be moot. With the advancements in streaming video that you can hook up to your TV, (like with ROKU boxes), the Ivy League could easily make its own network almost overnight. This will look like a great option once more people go with these devices in their homes. That number I know is growing.

Imagine the following scenario:

The league sets up a decent, but low cost, studio location for a pregame show on football Saturdays and basketball weekends. Then the viewers can simply click on the Ivy game they want to see. All the Ivy schools already have video services set up for home games, so the only issue here would be making sure cameras are available for out of conference road contests.

Then all we need is finding the right on-air studio team, a la Brent Musburger, Phyllis George and Jimmy "The Greek" from the old days on CBS.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Time Out for Basketball

The old Columbia University Gym, which sat about 24 people... tops!

So, we have a bonafide SELLOUT for Saturday's doubleheader at Levien Gym against Cornell.

The women's team is really looking like an Ivy title contender right now. So, I wouldn't say the 4:30 lady's contest is an "undercard" by any stretch.

Meanwhile, the Cornell men's team is a real top 25 squad. Kudos to them, but that would make a Columbia upset all the sweeter.

Funny thing about the sellout... I CAN'T GET A TICKET!!!

It's my fault, I thought I was going to be away for the weekend but now I'm not.

So anyone with a pair of tickets out there, let me know and I will happily pay for them!

Back to Recruiting

I stumbled on a rare kind of "campaign for a recruit" kind of article today for an all-around athlete from the same Richmond, Virginia-area town that Adam Mehrer comes from.

It's all about Logan Staib, who has played five different positions in high school and his coaches are high on him.

Columbia and VMI have reportedly lightly recruited him.

Here's a key quote:

“If somebody doesn’t take Logan Staib to play in college, every college coach out there is an idiot.”

And oh yeah, Staib is a member of the National Honor Society.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Two New Commits (and a J-E-T-S Connection!)

Tyler Feely

Jesuit High School (Tampa), punter/kicker Tyler Feely has committed to Columbia. Feely was selected to his local paper's All-Hillsborough County first team. He was 5-of-6 on field goals with a long of 43 yards.

Feely also was third in the county with a punting average of 40.1 yards, including a long of 50.

If that name is familiar to you, it should be. Feely's older brother, Jay Feely, kicks for the New York Jets, and you can see him face the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Nick Melka

6"3 230-pound defensive end Nick Melka has committed to Columbia as well. Melka comes from Benet Academy in Lisle, IL. He made the East Surburban Catholic All-Conference team this year.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Jersey Score

This picture says it all (CREDIT: Daily Princetonian)

Continuing now with the list of the greatest Columbia football games of the 2000's...

Game #3

Columbia 33 Princeton 27

October 4, 2003

Princeton Stadium

One of the Lions most improbable victories of all time took place on a drizzly night at Princeton Stadium.

New Head Coach Bob Shoop and the young Lions came into the game upbeat after nearly defeating a strong Fordham team at Fordham in week one, and then following that up with a last minute win over Bucknell in week two.

Columbia hadn't beaten the Tigers in Princeton since 1945, and this game started very much on the wrong foot as the Princeton rushed out to a 20-0 lead on three quick TD's in the first quarter.

The Lions settled down a bit with two field goals to make it 20-6, and it looked like that would be the halftime score when Travis Chmelka picked up a punt on a bounce at the Columbia 41 and raced all the way to the Tiger two before he was brought down. Ayo Oluwole then scored the TD from the 2 to make it 20-13 and Columbia was in business.

Columbia's defense then took over, causing multiple turnovers and stopping everything Princeton could throw or run at it. After the Lions tied it at 20, they would score the go-ahead TD with about nine minutes left in the game when QB Jeff Otis missed the handoff to Oluwole, but composed himself anyway and spun it for the score.

But the Tigers came back to life after that, executing a eight minute and 23 second drive to tie at 27-27 with just 26 seconds left.

No problem. After a decent kickoff return, Otis completed a short pass to get the Lions just beyond midfield. Then came one of the most dramatic single plays in Columbia history.

With no time left and Otis still dancing around looking for a receiver, he got an incredible block from his fullback and used the extra time to heave a classic "Hail Mary" into the Princeton end zone. Standing among a huge crowd of Tigers, including Princeton's 6"5 wide receiver B.J. Syzmanski who had been brought in especially to defend the final pass, was Columbia's star tight end Wade Fletcher. Fletcher somehow came down with the undeflected pass and the stunning game was over.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Week, New Commit

Chris Rapka

6-4, 200 pound QB Chris Rapka is coming to Columbia. (Apparently, he's grown since his last evaluation).

Rapka was one of the top passers in Broward County, Florida's excellent high school conference.

Bryant College, Princeton, Dartmouth, Penn and Holy Cross were in the recruiting mix for him, but he chose New York and CU.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

QB's of the 2000's: Jeff Otis

Jeff Otis

When Steve Hunsberger went down with his ACL injury well before the 2003 season, junior Jeff Otis was thrust into the starting job.

Columbia fans would soon find out that Otis was more than ready.

Jeff Otis came from a great football family. His father Jim was an All America running back for Woody Hayes at Ohio State in the late 1960's. Jim went on to star in the NFL for the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs.

Jeff's older brother also went to Ohio State and walked on to the football team as a QB.

Luckily for the Lions, Jeff set his sights east of Columbus and enrolled at Columbia.

In his debut as a starter, Otis was a spectacular 26 of 47 for 300 yards, one TD and no interceptions. The Lions lost that game, a 37-30 thriller at Fordham, but it was a very good start for the former backup passer.

Also in that game, Otis would connect with junior tight end Wade Fletcher for their first TD pass and establish one of the most lethal combinations in Columbia football history. By the time they were done, Otis and Fletcher would hook up for 11 total TD passes in the two seasons they played together, 2003 and 2004.

After the Fordham loss, Otis began to show his abilities in the clutch. First, he marched the Lions 73 yards down the field for a game winning TD pass to Travis Chmelka with just 22 seconds left in a 19-16 victory over Bucknell under the lights at Wien Stadium. Otis finished that game 25-45 for 236 yards, two TD passes and one INT.

Then came the big one.

Otis was under center for every offensive play in one of the greatest Columbia games of all time, the 33-27 win over Princeton that ended with a Hail Mary TD pass to Fletcher with no time remaining. Otis rallied the Lions back from a 20-0 deficit to win that game at Princeton, the first Columbia win over the Tigers on the road since 1945. Otis finished that game 22 of 38 for 326 yards, one TD and one INT.

Another big game for Otis in 2003 was the 16-13 win over Harvard where he kept coming back after sustaining brutal hit after brutal hit from the strong Crimson defense.

By the time the 2003 season was over, Otis had put in the best season for a Columbia QB since John Witkowski. He was 217 for 372 passes for a .583 completion percentage, with 17 TD passes to 13 interceptions.

Then the injury bug bit again. Not for Otis, but for Fletcher. The big tight end pulled his hamstring just days before the 2004 season and the Lions were just not the same in 2004.

Week after week, Columbia lost close game after close game. Fletcher did eventually return, but never really at full strength.

The Lions went from an encouraging 4-6, 3-4 Ivy season in '03 to a 1-9, 1-6 Ivy season in '04.

For his career, Otis finished with 429 completions on 737 attempts for 4,666 yards, 25 TD's and 24 INT's.

After Columbia, Otis ended up on a number of practice squads and even made the regular roster for a time with the Oakland Raiders.

Friday, January 15, 2010

QB's of the 2000's: Steve Hunsberger

Like this picture, we never really saw enough of Steve Hunsberger

He was fast, but he wasn't tall.

He had a gun for an arm, but he was young.

The above sentences could easily be written about current Columbia starting QB Sean Brackett, but before there was Brackett, there was Steve Hunsberger.

Steve came from the rich football country of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where he starred at football, basketball and track.

But at barely 5-foot-11, he didn't grab the attention of the big BCS schools.

Hunsberger understudied for Jeff McCall for his first two years before having an outstanding 2002 spring game and winning the starting job hands down.

He has a spectacular debut as he lead the Lions to a 13-11 win over Fordham at Wien Stadium in the inaugural Libery Cup game. Hunsberger scored the first TD of the game on a one-yard run after leading the lions 96 yards down the field on 15 plays. He finished the game 21 of 35 for 221 yards, and one INT. He also ran the ball 17 times for, (sack yards lost included), 48 yards.

The next week, the 2002 season took a tough turn when star offensive lineman Kevin Coco went down with a serious injury in a big loss to Colgate in Hamilton, NY.

But the following week, Hunsberger established himself as a fighter. In a gut-wrenching 35-32 homecoming loss to Princeton, he went 31-for-59 for 239 yards, two TD's and no INT's. He also ran 15 times for 66 yards.

The season went downhill from there, but Hunsberger broke the 200 yards passing mark four more times to finish the year with 2,023 yards on 212 completions, six TD's and eight INT's. He also ran for another six TD's and had a long run of 31 yards.

Things were looking up for Hunsberger for the 2003 when very bad luck struck. During spring practice, he tore his ACL and lost his starting job to Jeff Otis. This lost him the chance to play with the spectacular tight end Wade Fletcher, who had been a ineligible transer through 2002.

Hunsberger did make one final appearance for the Lions. In the waning minutes of the 2003 season finale against Brown, Hunsberger came off the bench and received one of the best ovations I've ever heard for a player coming in late to a game.

For his career, Hunsberger's were as follows:

He was 248-for-433 for a .572 completion percentage.

Seven TD passes. 11 Interceptions.

As a rusher, he had 362 yards on 182 carries and nine TD's.

In retrospect, Steve Hunsberger was a bit ahead of his time. The move to QB's who can run and throw like #14 did is now all the rage in the Ivies.

But the injury demons had their way with him and he missed out on a bigger chance to shine.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Road Less Traveled

Vincent Jackson

One of the key players in Sunday's New York Jets-San Diego Chargers Divisional Playoff game is wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

The new piece in Yahoo! Sports today talks about how Jackson had a full ACADEMIC scholarship to Columbia, but decided to pursue football instead.

Here's a key quote:

“I had a few offers, but no big schools. Columbia sounded great and that was pretty tempting, but I wanted to play football at a real level, take my chance with that,” said Jackson, who’s one semester short of earning his business degree from Northern Colorado. While there, he grew five inches during his first two years.

"Real level?" OY!

Oh well.

But the kicker is Jackson went to Northern Colorado, the same school our great tight end Wade Fletcher transferred TO COLUMBIA from in 2002. I guess we owed them one.

That said...

GO J-E-T-S!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Beat Down of the Decade

Corey Cameron was a one-man wrecking crew against the Tigers in 2009

Continuing now with the list of the greatest Columbia football games of the 2000's...

Game #4

Columbia 38 Princeton 0

October 3, 2009

Princeton Stadium

After an exhiliarating 40-28 win over favored Fordham and then a 22-14 loss to underdog Central Connecticut State, the Columbia Lions came into Princeton Stadium to take on a Tiger team that was also 1-1.

The Lions hadn't defeated Princeton since 2003 and were coming off two consecutive heart breaking losses to the Tigers in 2007 and 2008. Princeton was favored to make it three in a row.

But by the time the game was over, the Lions had completed their most dominating performance over an Ivy opponent for the entire decade. It was so dominant that even the Columbia fans walked out of the stadium still stunned.

No other Lion victory in the 2000's was as one-sided as this game, even though it was far from a flawless performance. The Columbia offense sputtered a bit in the first half, and despite the shutout, the Lion defense gave up a ton of yards all day.

But why nitpick? The game had everything! Defensive touchdowns, long TD bombs, an incredible effort by Austin Knowlin to find the end zone in acrobatic fashion.

But the sweetest moment had to be the stunned silence from the Princeton fans as they began to realize that not only were the Tigers going to lose, but lose very very badly.

It's a feeling not enough opposing fans had to endure over the past decade.

QB's of the 2000's: Jeff McCall

Jeff McCall

I'll be releasing my Columbia team of the 2000's later this month, but I thought that it would also be great to take a longer look at some of the young men who played the key positions over the last decade for the light blue.

Of course, the most key position of them is quarterback and Columbia had 12 different players start at least one game at QB in the 2000's.

The man at the helm as the decade began was Jeff McCall '02 out of Detroit.

McCall had the good fortune to play his entire career with super tailback Johnathan Reese '02, but he still ended up throwing the ball a lot, often with spectacular results.

McCall actually won the starting job just before the decade began, emerging from a crowded battle for the spot in 1999 to finish with 817 yards passing and four TD's in his sophomore season. He ended up starting 24 games overall in his career, with the Lions going 8-16 in those games.

Overall for his career, his stats were mixed.

His 375 completions on 648 attempts made for an impressive 57.8% completion percentage. But he never had a 2,000 yard passing season and his overall yards passing were 4,250 for a 6.5 yards per attempt figure. Not bad, but not great.

His best stat may be his TD-to-INT ratio. He tossed 31 touchdown passes in his career to 25 interceptions. Not many regular Columbia QB starters finished with more TD's than picks.

While he put up some better yardage numbers in 2001, I thought McCall's best season was 2000. It started with a super-efficient 13-of-18 for 172 yard performance in a 43-26 win over Fordham in the season opener. Then he finished the season with back-to-back 300 yard passing games; a 17-29 for 349 yards, 1 TD, no INT performance against Cornell and a another 17-29 for 307 yard game against Brown the following week. He finished 2000 with a .577 completion percentage, 13 TD passes and just nine INT's. Columbia finished 3-7, 1-6 Ivy.

In 2001, McCall led the Lions to another 3-7 year, but Columbia was 3-4 in the Ivies and more competitive overall.

In the Lions first win of the year at Dartmouth, McCall was 23-34 for 213 yards, two TD's and one INT. The following week against Yale, he helped the Lions pull out another win with a 17-31, 241 yard, two TD, one INT game.

Looking back at his career, it seems like the Lions didn't quite get enough wins that they could have with someone as athletic as Jeff McCall at the helm at QB for so long. But you could say the same thing about Columbia QB's like Marty Domres, Archie Roberts, and of course John Witkowski.

But also like those other Lion greats, McCall was a good team leader and highly respected by his teammates. He recently received his MBA from Harvard.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Breaking News: Maniatty Passes Away

Columbia has just announced the sad news that one of the biggest-ever supporters of Lion football has died.

Connie Maniatty ’43 was a key bseball player at Columbia who went on to great success at Salomon Brothers.

But for decades, Maniatty was extremely generous to the football program with his time and personal fortune.

The luxury lounge on the lower level of the Wien Stadium press box is named in his honor.

Columbia, and the state of Connecticut, has lost a very, very good friend.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Ray's Guys

Sean McDonnell

There's been a lot of talk lately about big-time college head coaches and how much they make.

There's also been a lot of talk about former Ivy League head coaches and assistants who have jumped to bigger venues in the BCS or the NFL.

One of the people I've mentioned lately is current Oregon HC Chip Kelly, who joined former Head Coach Ray Tellier's staff at Columbia in 1990.

But Tellier's first season at Columbia was 1989, and I wanted to look at his original staff and where they all are now:

Defensive line coach Tom Gilmore is currently the head coach at Holy Cross and has been a "hot candidate" for head coaching jobs in the Ivies for years now. To be fair, Gilmore was a holdover from previous Columbia Head Coach Larry MacElreavy's staff, but he was still a part of that coaching class of 1989.

Outside linebackers coach Sean McDonnell has achieved tremendous levels of success as the head coach at the University of New Hampshire. He followed Chip Kelly's path from Columbia to UNH, and who knows where he'll end up next?

Offensive line coach Jim Margraff has gone on to become the greatest football head coach in Johns Hopkins history. Margraff came over with Tellier to Columbia from the University of Rochester.

Speaking of Rochester, receivers coach Mark Kreydt was one of Tellier's players at UR and later went on to become the head coach there for eight years. He is now working in the insurance industry.

Running backs coach Joe White is now the head football coach at Rhodes College, a D-III school in Memphis.

Defensive coordinator Tom Radulski is now the head football coach at Bowdoin College. He was a teammate of Sean McDonnell's at UNH.

Erv Chambliss is currently a lacrosse head coach at Union college. Chambliss started as defensive backs coach with Tellier and eventually rose to defensive coordinator. It was Chambliss who crafted those great Lions defenses of 1994 and 1996. Coach Erv was always one of the staff members who the players most liked and respected.

Head freshman coach Steve Sorkin went on to Tim Murphy's staff at Harvard in 1994 and is now working in a corporate job in the Boston area.

The freshman defensive line coach Len Genova came to the coaching ranks after posting an All Ivy career as an offensive lineman at Columbia. Genova now works in a municipal job on Long Island, but he is very active in the National Football Foundation.

(and yes, today's post title is a play on words to honor the great punter Ray Guy).

Passing Fancy: The Receivers

Sean Morey holds the Ivy's all-time single season receiving yardage record

The 1,000-yard wide receiver has been the rarest of animals in Ivy football history. There were actually no 1,000-yard receivers until 1982 when Columbia's Don Lewis, Dartmouth's Jack Daly and Princeton's Kevin Guthrie all broke the millennium mark on the same final day of that season.

Including that season, 20 individual 1,000+ yard receiving seasons have been achieved by a total of 16 players. Nine of them took place in the 2000's.

Here's the overall list:

1,000+ Yard Wide Receivers in Ivy History

(Listed in chronological order)

Don Lewis Columbia 1,000 1982

Jack Daly Dartmouth 1,034 1982

Kevin M. Guthrie Princeton 1,003 1982

Kevin M. Guthrie Princeton 1,260 1983

Derek S. Graham Princeton 1,321 1983

Craig Morton Dartmouth 1,063 1986

John Hyland Dartmouth 1,076 1994

Sean Morey Brown 1,434 1997

Eric Krawczyk Cornell 1,042 1997

Sean Morey Brown 1,023 1998

Steve Campbell Brown 1,107 1999

Steve Campbell Brown 1,332 2000

Eric Johnson Yale 1,007 2000

Chas Gessner Brown 1,182 2001

Chas Gessner Brown 1,166 2002

Carl Morris Harvard 1,288 2002

Rob Milanese Penn 1,112 2002

Dan Castles Penn 1,067 2003

Jarrett Schreck Brown 1,035 2004

Buddy Farnham Brown 1,003 2009

Given the rarity, it's definitely impressive what Princeton was able to do in 1983 when the Tigers had two 1,000-yard receivers in Guthrie and Graham thanks to the passing talents of Doug Butler at QB. Columbia just missed achieving that mark in 1982, when Bill Reggio had 987 yards to Lewis' 1,000.

But the most impressive feats in this category have consistently been turned in by the Brown Bears. Brown has had eight seasons with a 1,000-yard receiver, including six years in a row from 1997-2002.

One of the men responsible for that run at Brown is QB James Perry, who has just been hired as the new offensive coordinator at Princeton.

Be afraid.

Meanwhile, the all-time single season leader Sean Morey should be back in action for the Cardinals in their playoff game against the Packers this Sunday.

And here are Columbia's top 10 receivers ranked by receiving yardage in a single season:

1) Don Lewis 1,000 1982

2) Austin Knowlin 988 2007

3) Bill Reggio 987 1982

4) Bill Reggio 958 1983

5) *Wade Fletcher 874 2003

6) Doug Peck 822 2001

7) Gary Comstock 816 1990

8) *Brian Bassett 793 1994

9) David Ramirez 708 1995

10) *Matt Less 707 1989

*(Tight ends)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Holy Red Cow!

It just wouldn't be fair to continue writing a blog in any way related to Ivy League sports without mentioning how well Cornell's mens basketball team played against the #1 team in the nation last night. The Big Red darn near knocked off the Jayhawks in Lawrence.

You can see how our Lions fare against this Cornell team in just 16 days, when the Big Red come into Levien Gym for a men's/women's doubleheader. You can get your tickets here.

Passing Fancy

Jeff Otis had the best single season as a QB for the Lions in the 2000's

Last week I was all about rushing stats in the 2000's.

Now let's look at passing, specifically passers.

2,500+ Yard Passers, 2000-2009

1. Gavin Hoffman Penn 3,214 2000 (Penn won Ivy title)

2. Eric Webber Brown 3,175 2000

3. Michael Dougherty Brown 3,039 2007

4. Al Cowan Yale 2,994 2003

5. Rich Rahne Cornell 2,944 2000

6. Brian Mann Dartmouth 2,913 2002

7. Nathan Ford Cornell 2,815 2008

8. Mike Mitchell Penn 2,803 2002 (Penn won Ivy title)

9. Kyle Newhall Brown 2,709, 2009

10. Kyle Slager Brown 2,679, 2002

11. Michael Dougherty Brown 2,677 2008 (Brown tied for Ivy title)

12. Neil Rose Harvard 2,655 2000

13. Jeff Otis Columbia 2,552 2003

14. Craig Hormann Columbia 2,505 2007

I think 2,500 yards passing is the stat most similar to 1,000 yards rushing and that said, there were 14 individual 2,500+ yard passing seasons in the 2000's turned in by 13 different QB's. Only Brown's Michael Dougherty was able to reach that plateau twice.

Only Princeton did not have a 2,500-yard passer this past decade.

By contrast, there were 21 individual 1,000 yard rushing seasons turned in by 13 different players in the 2000's. Five of those 13 players did it more than once. Only Dartmouth didn't have a 1,000 yard rusher this past decade.

As much as I like to make the point that the Ivies have recently been making a run back to the run, you can't deny that the 2000's saw an overall explosion in passing.

In the 1990's, there were only seven individual 2,500+ yard passing seasons turned in by just four QB's, (Brown's James Perry did it three times and Dartmouth's Jay Fiedler did it twice).

An incredible FIVE Ivy teams did not produce even one 2,500-yard passer in the entire decade of the 90's including Columbia.

So again, this was a decade for passing; I just contend the last few years have seen that overall trend slowing and even reversing a bit.

In the 2000's, three of 2,500 yard passers led their teams to Ivy titles or shared titles.

Four of the 1,000 yard rushers led their teams to Ivy titles or shared titles.

Both of the decade's leading rushers, (Nick Hartigan, 2005), and leading passer, (Gavin Hoffman, 2000), led their teams to solo Ivy titles.

Columbia and Passing

Of course, most of the Ivy pioneers in passing were Columbia Lions.

Archie Roberts was the first Ivy QB to pass for 1,000+ plus yards in a season three times.

Marty Domres was the first 2,000+ yard passer in Ivy history.

John Witkowski was the first 3,000+ yard passer in Ivy history.

And older guys like Sid Luckman and Gene Rossides were trendsetters as well.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Breaking the Mold

Continuing now with the list of the greatest Columbia football games of the 2000's...

Game #5

Columbia 49 Dartmouth 21

October 21, 2000

Wien Stadium

On one very beautiful Homecoming Day in October 2000, Johnathan Reese didn't just break all of Columbia's significant rushing records, he obliterated them.

Reese finished the game with 236 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries, and it was clearly the greatest day enjoyed by any Lion running back in school history.

The game itself was never in doubt. The Lions led 21-0 before the end of the first quarter. The first TD came after Reese's cousin Kirby Mack picked off a Dartmouth pass and returned it 40 yards to the Big Green 10 yard line just four minutes into the game. Reese ran it in from there for a one-play drive and the 7-0 lead.

After that, the Lions staged a more traditional drive. They went 80 yards on eight plays as Reese took it in from the two to make it 14-0.

The three score lead was established when Doug Peck came back for an underthrown ball by Jeff McCall and then scooted by everyone for a 54-yard TD.

Dartmouth did make a bit of a run in the second quarter, putting together back-to-back 65 and 74-yard drives to make it 21-14.

But the one score margin lasted for one play. Justin Logan took the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a TD and the Lions were back ahead 28-14. The key block on the return was delivered by Reese.

The Reese resumed his highlight reel. He had a 44-yard TD run to close out the first half, and then made it 42-14 with a 72-yard TD run in the third quarter.

That would be the last play for Reese in the game, making his totals that much more impressive considering his didn't play for more than one full quarter of the contest.

The Lions closed out their scoring, when the game's other hero Logan, picked off a pass and returned it 59 yards for another TD.

Reese broke the 33-year-old Columbia single game rushing record of 225 yards held by Jim O'Connor. Just six weeks into the season, he broke Doug Jackson's 25-year-old Columbia single season rushing record of 914 yards. He also became Columbia's only 1,000-yard rusher. A week later, after just one carry against Yale, Reese broke the career rushing record at Columbia just seven games into his junior year.

This was also the only time in the 2000's that the Lions won on Homecoming Day.

But the day belonged to Reese. It was simply the best individual effort of the decade... by far.

Big Jump

The number of confirmed "commits" to Columbia's football class of 2014 has just risen by 100%.

We've gone from 1 to 2 with the addition of Brad Losee from Eastview High School, the same school outgoing senior center Evan Sanford hails from.

Like Sanford, Losee is 6"4. But the incoming frosh is a defensive end weighing in at 235 pounds. He was 225 last year, so he seems to be going in the right direction on that score.

Miller Time

Another outgoing football senior is just getting started on his final season on the mats with the Columbia wrestling team. Lou Miller has quickly shed 33 pounds since the Brown game and competed against one of the top wrestlers from #3 Ohio State this weekend in the 197-pound level. Miller almost pulled off a huge upset, but fell by a 3-1 mark. Let's see if Lou keeps it up and gets himself an invite to the postseason.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Going Bowling

Chip Kelly & Cliff Montgomery, from Columbia to the Rose Bowl

Watching the college bowl games this time of year is a mixed bag for Ivy football fans.

It's great seeing the game we love played so well, (mostly), by the best teams in the college ranks.

But there are downsides too.

We often find ourselves wondering how many of these players are actually legitimate students?

How many of them, even at this highest level, realize that there's only the slightest chance they'll play in the NFL?

The list goes on.

But it's also a great time to look back on history. There weredozens of articles on the wires and Internet yesterday recalling Columbia's 7-0 win over Stanford in the 1934 Rose Bowl.

And I thought it was interesting that there was another Columbia connection to the "Grandaddy of Them All" established yesterday.

Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly got his coaching start under Ray Tellier in the early 1990' at Columbia. The Ducks fell to Ohio State, but Kelly's career story is impressive so far.

Go get 'em next year, Chip!

December Numbers

Hits to this blog were up 32.4% year over year in December. Imagine if there actually some GAMES in December! Thanks again, everyone.