Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Arms Race

I like to call Kyle Newhall-Caballero "KNC"

Now that we know which Ivy veterans are coming back for 2010, it’s time for a frank discussion about which returning players truly are the best at each key position.

Today let’s look at quarterback:

The only serious contenders for this title are Harvard’s Collier Winters, Yale’s Patrick Witt, Brown’s Kyle Newhall-Caballero, and Columbia’s Sean Brackett.

Witt had some flashes of brilliance, (unfortunately most of which came against Columbia in week 7), but didn’t have the consistency to seriously be considered the best veteran Ivy QB coming into 2010. Interceptions were a particular problem for him last season and he must improve in that area for Yale to jumpstart its offense. Witt still has all the tools, and you could argue that his transfer from Nebraska required a shakedown cruise that could now be over.

Brackett started four games as a frosh, won two, and showed superior talent as a runner and a passer. He has a very strong arm, but didn’t really pass the ball enough, (just 63 attempts), to get a the strongest verdict on his accuracy. Nevertheless, he did throw four TD passes, and had a decent 54% completion rate. Brackett needs to cut down on his interceptions, (he threw just three, but that was one for every 21 pass attempts, the same as Witt), and boost that completion rate.

One talent Brackett really showcased was his quick running ability. He ran 53 times for 287 yards, a 5.4 yards per carry average, and a TD. Most of those stats were earned in his sparkling 171 yard rushing performance in the win over Brown that earned him Ivy Rookie of the Week honors.

Brackett has a great arm, great legs, and a very good sense of timing and decision making on option plays. He could very easily be the best QB in this league this year and the next three years. But there isn’t quite enough of a total sample of his stats to definitively say he is the best signal caller coming into 2010.

Next up is Harvard QB Collier Winters, who led the league in passing efficiency last season and was a very good runner in his own right.

But poor Winters has two strikes against him. First, he may not even be the starting QB this fall. I think Andrew Hatch has an inside track on this job despite his transfer away, transfer back, status. I believe Winters has been handed a very tough break here and I would be happy to be wrong and see Winters take every snap of 2010.

The second problem Winters faces is his track record in the most important game of 2009. With a chance to clinch the Ivy title at home against Penn, Winters and Harvard’s offense faltered badly in a 17-7 loss. Having offensive problems against the 2009 Quakers is nothing to be ashamed of, (Penn allowed just 9.5 points per game last year), but Winters really struggled in the game going 10-for-23 passing for just 135 yards. The defining moment of the game came on the ground for Winters as he had two shots to run it in from the 2 late in the fourth quarter but came away with nothing.

Winters is no doubt a very good QB, but football coaches like to obsess about improving as opposed to maintaining what they already have. I think Tim Murphy and company will roll the dice with Hatch, and that will be that for Winters. It’s either that or kick themselves all year for not taking Sean Brackett when they had the chance 18 months ago!

That brings us to the best returning pure passer in the Ivies, Kyle Newhall Caballero. No one came even close to “KNC’s” 2,709 yards passing in 2009, (Winters was second with 1,861). He also blew away the competition with a 62.7% completion rate. I got a chance to watch him play twice last season, in a preseason scrimmage and the week 10 game against the Lions. As they say these days, he really throws a "nice ball."

But the jury is still out on how strong a year Newhall Caballero will have without receivers named Sewall and Farnham to throw to. He threw too many interceptions, 14, to feel comfortable with all the time under center. Brown lost all three games against its fellow “first division” finishers in 2009, and in each game KNC threw more than 40 passes and could not break the key six yards per attempt mark. (Most pundits see 6 yards per attempt as a baseline number for passers and seven yards per attempt is a gold standard that’s kind of like batting .300 in baseball).

I’m sure Phil Estes would like to see the Bears run the ball well enough to avoid too many 40-attempt games by his starting QB in 2010. But whether he throws the ball 40, 30 or even 25 times per game, Newhall Caballero needs to come through a bit better in the big games. Like Winters, KNC has to prove he can come through in the clutch in the big game.

But all in all, he is the best overall QB coming back to the league this year.

So here’s how I’d rank the top four Ivy QB’s for the preseason:

1. Kyle Newhall-Caballero, Brown
2. Collier Winters, Harvard
3. Sean Brackett, Columbia
4. Patrick Witt, Yale

Some of the other returnees, like Penn’s Keiffer Garton and Billy Ragone, have tremendous potential but just didn’t provide enough of a sample from 2009 to seriously make the list at this point.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Speed Demons

Treavor Scales: the man the rest of the league is trying to clone

The Speed Shift

A lot of readers have already commented extensively about the impressive speed so many incoming freshmen Lions have in abundance.

There are two important points to make about speed, Columbia football, and Ivy football in general.

First, speed has become the new hot commodity in Ivy recruiting. It's not that anyone ever didn't want fast players, it's just that this year there's a clear movement in favor of speed for as many players as possible.

This is a clear move away from the big bias in favor of size we've seen over most of the last decade.

(For some reason, only Cornell seemed to err in favor of size again this year with its recruiting class. It's not clear whether that's the result of its very late decision to hire new Head Coach Kent Austin).

I'm not sure why the league made this big shift and why it's happening now. One guess I would make is that it's become so hard to recruit quality running backs with all the tools, that the coaches have decided to focus on speed first and hope to develop the strength later.

Another idea is that the many years of favoring bigger players has led to a situation where even one speedy player on offense can really burn an opposing defense and make it look easy.

2009 Ivy League Rookie of the Year Trevor Scales seems to be a great example of the "speed kills" philosophy. Scales was just plain scary when he got into most games last year at running back for Harvard. Perhaps it was his early success during the height of last year's recruiting process that convinced the rest of the league to look for the next Treavor Scales.

For Columbia, the incoming freshmen that I think best fits that bill is Marcorus Garrett. His committment to come to the Lions late last year was met with much celebration throughout the program, and while I don't know if he'll get 12 carries per game as a frosh like Scales did in 2009, I wouldn't be surprised if he does.

Also, watch for Columbia to use some of the other speed demons in somewhat unorthodox ways based on their listed positions.

For example, the one TD scored in the Spring Game was a wide receiver end-around run by Brian DeVeau. I expect that to be a staple play for Columbia in 2010, and perhaps incoming frosh WR Bruce Grant will get some touches that way. This might especially work well for Grant because he has yet to show he will be 100% comfortable catching the ball in the traditional WR role; he was not used in that way at all at Fordham Prep.

Columbia's Speedsters

The second major point I want to make is that I when I looked back at the best Columbia teams of the last 25 years, I was surprised at just how much speed played into the success of those teams.

By that, I mean the leaders of those teams were almost always very fast and often the fastest players on the team overall.

Here's how I would break it down:

My first "best team" of the last 25 years was the 1988 squad. Yeah, I know those Lions only went 2-8, but hear me out. This was the team that finally broke the epic losing streak, and not only did it beat two Ivy opponents coming off all that futility, it also had a very talented roster and probably one of the best running attacks in Columbia history.

The speed demon on that team was RB Solomon Johnson. I can tell you that when "Solo" took the field, he truly instilled fear in opposing defenses. Along with backfield mate Greg Abbruzzese and one of the best offensive lines in Lion history, Johnson led a very potent running attack in ground-oriented Head Coach Larry McElreavy's game plans. Like Scales, Johnson was an Ivy League Rookie of the Year that season.

Six years later, the Lions finally broke through with a winning season in 1994. That '94 squad was mostly still intact for the 8-2 campaign of 1996. But one guy who had already moved on by then was QB Mike Cavanaugh, who was so fast he returned punts and even lined up at WR on some plays in '94.

The other speed demon who played both on the '94 and '96 teams were Marcellus Wiley, who came to CU as a lanky running back and was unusually fast for a defensive end. Wiley was the undeniable best player on those teams.

The 1998 Columbia team was a strong combination of power and speed, led by DB Chris Tillotson, and rookie RB Johnathan Reese. Tillotson was also fast enough to return kicks along with his duties as a major disrupting force for enemy passing games. Reese was just a frosh in '98 but he made an impact in a number of games with his speed.

The 2000 Lions were only 3-7, but they were much feared throughout the league because of Reese. #7 blew the Columbia record book apart that season with his rare combination of speed and bulk.

The 2003 Lions had good success on the backs of super-speedy offensive stars WR Travis Chmelka and TE Wade Fletcher. Defensively, DB's Steve Cargile and Prosper Nwokocha were major leaders.

The 2006 and 2009 Lions had lots of leadership on the field from all-time Columbia WR Austin Knowlin. Also in 2009, frosh QB Sean Brackett showed very impressive speed in his four starts.

Another returning Columbia player with great speed, especially for his position, is DT Owen Fraser.

Speed alone is not enough.

But it helps.

And when Columbia has been competitive over the last few decades, speed has played more than just a supporting role.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bulldogs Back

Bad News for the Rest of the Ivies: Adam Money is Back

You could make a strong argument that Yale was the worst football team in the Ivies last season. But that’s a bit of stretch, especially when you consider how good a team the Bulldogs were on defense. And most of that defense returns for 2010.

This was the typical starting lineup for Yale from the second half of 2009:


WR 82 Forney, Jordan*
WR 7 Balsam, Peter
TE 2 Sheffield, John
LT 70 Golubiewski, Alex*
LG 76 Burow, Nathan*
C 59 Koury, Jake
RG 61 Fernandez, Gabriel*
RT 71 Palmer, Cory
QB 10 Witt, Patrick*
FB 37 Bannon, Shane*
RB 15 Farrell, Jordan*


DL 92 Moran, Patrick*
DL 91 Young, Joe*
DL 48 McCarthy, Tom*
LB 99 Williams, Sean*
LB 5 Rice, Paul
LB 31 Handlon, Tim
LB 10 Henry, Travis
CB 1 Baldwin, Drew*
FS 46 Dunham, Geoff*
SS 24 Wallace, Marcus*
CB 17 Money, Adam*

*=returning player

The seven returners on offense should really be eight because RB Alex Thomas was a de facto starter for the end of last season and he returns as well. But the big loss is Sheffield, who was the Bulldogs leading receiver and a key blocker at TE. The number two receiver from ’09, Peter Balsam, is also gone.

Another offensive “starter” to add is QB Brook Hart. It looked a lot like Hart was going to take himself out of the running for football this coming season, but he’s not going to only focus on baseball after all. I still believe Patrick Witt will be the starter in 2010, but Hart’s presence should lend some healthy pressure and competition to the QB position.

The real problem is offense is that this Eli team simply could not run the ball in 2009. Yale averaged just 2.7 yards per carry and not one back gained even 300 yards for the season. The offensive line also had serious trouble in pass protection, giving up a whopping 32 sacks on the year. Losing two starters on the offensive line may not be such a bad thing all things considered, but since Sheffield is also gone at tight end, a good part of what were the best aspects of the blocking scheme are now missing.

Yale did have a very strong defense in 2009, and getting eight starters back on that side of the ball is a big deal. Paul Rice and Travis Henry will be especially missed, but the very talented secondary is 100% back for 2010. That secondary held opposing teams to well under 200 yards passing per game and only allowed 11 TD passes.

It’s also a secondary that includes Adam Money, who has a super combination of talent and heart that every team needs.

Another big loss was Tom Mante at kicker/punter. Mante was a bit erratic last year with his field goals, but he was a very solid punter.

Of course, experience is a key issue for the Eli coaches as well. Tom Williams very much looked the part of a novice head coach last season, and not just because of the very odd decision to go for it on 4th down that eventually lost Yale the Harvard game. Williams also showed poor management skills when it came to getting transfer QB Patrick Witt ready for life at Yale and as the leader of the football team.

Williams is going to have to do a much better job in the coming years, especially as long as Richard Levin remains in place as President of the University.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Breaking News: Bios Posted

Bruce Grant

You can now read the bios of our incoming frosh if you go to the roster page on

There's lots of info about many of the new players that I did not have on this blog before.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bob Surace has a rough job ahead

New Princeton Head Coach Bob Surace is going to have a lot in common with his starters in 2010... they'll be new on the job too.

Here's the starting lineup from Princeton's final game of 2009:

WR 19 Peacock, Trey*
LT 75 Paski, Mark
LG 65 Mills, Andrew*
C 78 Hauser, Andrew
RG 76 Daou, Marc
RT 72 Makrai, J.P.
TE 48 Flaherty, Harry*
QB 7 Wornham, Tommy*
TB 29 McCray, Meko*
FB 25 Zimmerman, Matt*
WR 9 Kerr, Andrew*


DE 92 Boyer, Matt*
NT 91 DeMaio, Kevin*
DE 85 Karacozoff, Joe
NLB 50 Callahan, John
SAM 56 Stetler, Brad
MLB 45 Oloffson, Jon*
WILL 51 Cody, Steven*
CB 3 Kelly, Cart
SS 17 Cates, Wilson
FS 18 Kopolovich, Dan
CB 23 Wakam, Glenn*

*=returning player

Having seven returning offensive starters and six returners on defense doesn't sound so bad right off, but then you have to focus on the specific starters Princeton is losing.

Four of the five starters on the offensive line are gone. And multiple sources now tell me at least one of the few remaining veteran offensive linemen has quit in a dispute with fiery new offensive line coach Eddy Morrissey.

The result is Princeton is in flat-out emergency mode when it comes to the most crucial unit on any football team. Tiger fans need to hope lightning can strike twice and the team can field a viable O-line staffed with four-to-five newcomers like it did in 2006.

I'm not putting too much stock in that happening.

The rest of the offense, an offense that managed to eke out just 12.5 points per game in 2009, is mostly back. That's not a complete piece of bad news though, because the offense did improve at the end of the season. In fact, I thought Princeton's wins in the last two games of 2009 would be enough to save ex-Coach Roger Hughes' job.

But they weren't enough.

Speaking of not being enough, the six returning players for the Tigers on defense do not include key 2009 stars like Cart Kelly, Wilson Cates, and Dan Kopolovich.

But the news isn't all bad.

LB and 2009 leading tackler Steven Cody is coming back as is DB Matt Wakulchik, who was Princeton's third leading tackler and basically an unofficial starter last season.

Getting back to offense, it won't hurt that QB Tommy Wornham returns this year. He was a better runner than a passer in 2009, but he definitely improved as the season went along. WR Trey Parker is a talented deep threat and should benefit from more practice time with Wornham in training camp.

But the facts in Old Nassau are cold and hard for 2010. Princeton enters the season with an unusual amount of missing links. The offensive line situation is particularly dire and even talented kicker Ben Bologna has graduated.

How a school with a storied athletic department like Princeton's could let its football team fall such victim to attrition issues is beyond me. But it better not be beyond Surace, who inherits a team much weaker than the one his predecessor took over ten years ago.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Penn's Returners

Columbia back on TV for 2010

As expected, the Columbia-Yale game this October 30th at the Bowl will be televised as part of "Yale on Yes." Yale actually pays Yes to televise these games, so it would be REALLY sweet to whip the Elis in this contest!

Now back to the team-by-team look at returning starters for 2010.

Penn's starting lineup for its final contest in 2009 looked like this:


RB 28 Hamscher, Matt*
FB 41 DeLuca, Luke*
WR 21 Tuten, Matt*
TE 81 Nawrocki, Luke*
QB 8 Olson, Kyle
WR 18 Derham, Kyle
T 62 Van Roten, Greg*
G 67 Ruffolo, Luis*
C 59 D'Orazio, Joe*
G 57 Schaefer, Matt
T 71 Mollenbeck, Jared*


DT 93 Sholly, Jared*
NG 75 Goniprow, Joe
DB 20 Schmucker, Jason*
DE 32 Levine, Brian*
LB 50 Heller, Zach*
LB 53 Lewko, Jake
DE 40 Thomas, Owen
CB 6 Wynn, Chris
SS 4 Gray, Kevin
FS 7 Powers, Josh*
CB 1 Moore, Jonathan

*=returning starters

Penn's eight returning offensive starters is a nice figure, but it's really more like ten or 11 because top QB Keiffer Garton will be back after missing a lot of games in 2009. Talented QB Billy Ragone returns. RB Lyle Marsh was the best back on the team despite not being the official "starting tailback" in most games last season.

And Lyle Marsh may be the best running back in the Ivies right now.

Getting four of five starters coming back on the offensive line is also a rarity for a defending league champ.

That's the good news.

The bad news is the Penn offense wasn't really that great last year. It did perform well in the clutch, but the Quakers won the Ivy title last season because of an incredible defense that took control of game after game.

Also troublesome is the fact that Garton's injury troubles appear to be chronic and he plays his best football when he can run right at the tacklers.

Penn won't be able to repeat this season without significant improvements on offense, particularly in the passing game.

But the defense is the big concern. It's not that five starters are returning. The real problem is that Joe Goniprow, Jake Lewko, Chris Wynn and Owen Thomas are not among those five returnees.

Neither is long-time Penn linebackers coach Cliff Schwenke, who other than seemingly "forgetting" that he used to coach at Columbia, has been a huge reason for the Quakers great defense year after year for the past 11 years.

Al Bagnoli is a master coach, but getting the Penn defense to play at its 2009 level this fall is more than a Herculean task.

And that's not all...

Losing Thomas to suicide is a huge blow to this program. As terrible as the Kyle Ambrogi suicide was in 2005, he was a backup player and not someone his teammates relied on for emotional support.

Owen Thomas was elected team captain just before his suicide. The fact that it happened well before the season, (Ambrogi took his life during the 2005 campaign), should soften the blow somewhat, but that's a psychological and not a physical issue.

From a purely football standpoint, losing Thomas will not hurt the defensive line as much as losing Goniprow to graduation. And Penn's defense will still be very good in 2010.

But can the Quakers hold their opponents under 10 points per game and 65 yards rushing again?


And that's another reason why the Ivy championship race looks relatively wide open this year.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Crimson Comebackers

James Williams (53) has his Harvard career behind him

For a team that was only a close loss to Penn from winning the Ivy title last year, Harvard is returning better than a fair amount of starters for 2010.

Here is the starting lineup from the season finale at Yale:


WR 89 Lorditch, Chris*
LT 53 Williams, James
LG 57 Sessions, Ben
C 60 Spisak, Alex
RG 70 Osborne, Brent*
RT 58 Paris, John
TE 85 Schwarzkopf, Nicolai*
TB 22 Gordon, Gino*
QB 16 Winters, Collier*
WR 81 Chrissis, Adam*
WR 82 Luft, Matt


DE 62 Lyon, John*
DT 56 Ehrlich, Carl
DT 55 Sklar, David*
DE 91 Ojuwku, Victor*
LB 94 Hasselberg, Nick*
LB 44 Hayes, Sean
LB 45 Takamura, Jon
CB 17 Barker, Derrick
SS 25 Barnes, Ryan
FS 27 Zych, Collin*
CB 3 Hanson, Matthew*

*=returning player

Six returners on offense and six returners on defense is not bad by any rate, but throw in sophomore RB Treavor Scales, who was the Ivy Rookie of the Year, and QB Andrew Hatch, who has BCS starting experience, and you begin to see why Harvard is a favorite to win the Ivies this season.

But the loss of four of the five starting offensive linemen has to be a concern, especially when one of them is NFL-signee James Williams, who dominated his position for most of his three years as a starter. Only Columbia's Jeff Adams, and the outstanding season he had in 2009, could knock Williams off of his 1st Team All Ivy perch at Left Tackle.

Harvard also loses WR Matt Luft, who was a nightmare to guard at 6-foot-6.

If this were any other team, I would say the losses of Luft and most of that O-line would mean a drop in the standings. But Crimson coach Tim Murphy has become a master of cultivating and preserving his talent, especially when it comes to getting highly qualified players who could start anywhere else, to sit and wait their turn to play at Harvard.

The losses on defense do not seem as dire. Carl Ehrlich is gone, but most fans don't know he played all of 2009 pretty badly banged up and his younger teammates were already carrying more of a load up front.

The biggest loss is linebacker Jon Takamura, who terrorized a lot of opponents last year.

With Collin Zych and Matthew Hanson returning, the secondary should be very solid.

I really think it will all come down to how well the new offensive linemen play and how quickly they can start to work together as a unit. Getting the front five to be in sync is one of the most difficult things to do in football, and the teams that do it best usually win championships.

Luckily for Harvard, the first Ivy game is against Brown, who loses James Develin and David Howard, and can't be expected to have much of a fearsome defensive line to test the Crimson O-line... at least not by week two.

And then there's that burning question about who will start at QB. I think it's not much of a question at all and Andrew Hatch will get the nod for sure. I believe the hemming and hawing about it is just out of respect to 2009 starting QB Collier Winters, who did a great job, and because of the animosity Hatch's questionable playing eligibility status has fostered throughout the league. It doesn't seem fair that a kid who transferred to LSU and back again should leapfrog a loyal player like Winters, but there it is. It's going to happen.

But if Hatch has trouble adjusting to the new offensive line and it to him, all bets are off.

And so are all the predictions that the Crimson will dominate Ivy play in 2010.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bumper Green Crop

Nick Schwieger is now just a junior

The 2010 Dartmouth Big Green may hold the Ivy League record for most returning starters.

Don't believe me?

Check out the starting lineup from Dartmouth's final game of the 2009 season:


WR 84 Reilly, Michael*
LT 67 Montgomery,Will*
LG 63 O'Neill, Ryan*
C 58 Fletcher,Austen*
RG 74 Cook, Kyle*
RT 66 Toth, Alexander
TE 85 Gallagher, John*
QB 16 Patton, Greg*
RB 28 Dornak, Matthew
H 88 Foley, Justin*
WR 86 Scott, Tanner*


DE 96 Bay, Charles*
DT 99 Smith, Eddie*
DT 52 Dwyer, Mark*
DE 90 Phillips,Connor*
SAM 37 Scorah, Pat*
MIKE 25 Wymore, Garrett*
WILL 30 Fernandez-Soto, Diego*
CB 8 Abuhoff, Shawn*
SS 11 Waggoner, Garrett*
FS 21 Pidermann,Peter
CB 31 Andreassi, J.B.*

*=returning players

That's right. They have nine returing offensive starters and ten returning defensive starters.

And that STILL buries the lead.

Because their best overall offensive weapon, RB Nick Schwieger, was out in the final game against Princeton and he'll be back in 2010.

So were talking about 20 out of 22 starters returning for Dartmouth.

Throw in guys like the multi-talented 2008 starter WR/QB Tim McManus who should be back and QB Conner Kempe, who didn't officially start the final game but still threw 34 passes in the contest, and you're simply dealing with a bumper crop of experienced players in Hanover.

So where's the catch?

There are a few of them actually.

There are the obvious facts that the Big Green were just 2-8 last season, gave up almost twice as many points as they scored, and were not even competitive in most of the eight games they lost.

The other "catch" is a little more subtle, but Columbia fans have become very familiar with it over the years.

You see, it seems logical that starting a bunch of freshmen and sophomores hurts at the beginning but then you reap the rewards down the road when they become seasoned veterans.

Unfortunately, it rarely works out that way.

Columbia has been stuck in that situation many times, and what usually happens is the seasoned vets help a bit in the long run, but not enough.

The fact is, there's a bit of a law of diminishing returns when to comes to athletes in the Ivies. A "two-star" player as a sophomore or even as a frosh rarely vaults into the four-star category even by senior year.

What happens more often is the best players are already playing like the best players even as sophomores.

That's what happened at Columbia in 1971 when sophomores like Ted Gregory and Don Jackson led the team to a shocking second place finish in the Ivies.

That's what happened in 2006 when more than 10 freshmen, like Austin Knowlin, Taylor Joseph, and Lou Miller got regular playing time for the Lions and delivered the first non-losing season for Columbia in ten years.

Dartmouth does have some very talented players returning. Schwieger may be the best running back in the league and DE Charles Bay could be the best pass rusher. The returning offensive line is starting to gel together and helped the Big Green improve tremendously in rushing yardage and allowed fewer than two sacks per game in 2009.

But the defense, especially that interior defensive line, is so suspect that I'm not sure all the starting experience in the world is going to do much to make this a viable crew in 2010.

The point of this post is not to trash the very impressive number of returning Dartmouth players - of course the experience on this team will be a plus - but experience alone is not enough.

And Dartmouth's fans know this.

That's why there's so much buzz about the incoming freshmen class.

The real question is why a seasoned professional like Head Coach Buddy Teevens and a storied program like Dartmouth got into a situation where so many upperclassmen needed to be replaced in the first place.

That's a burning question in Hanover these days, but one that the program seems very eager to answer by simply saying, "never again!"

With tough opponents like Colgate and New Hampshire off the schedule this year, things are already looking up. Those were two potential "returnees" Dartmouth is happy not to be having back in 2010!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Big Red Returnees

Kent Austin

If you only judged teams by the total number of returning starters, Cornell would look pretty good for 2010.

Here's the starting lineup for the Big Red at the end of the 2009 season.


WR 81 Blackman, Horatio
LT 53 Bohl, Andrew
LG 76 Green, Matt*
C 75 Ostick, Paul*
RG 69 Bourassa, Drew*
RT 60 Bernhard, Quent
WR 25 Savage, Shane*
WR 18 Walters, Bryan
QB 13 Ganter, Ben
TE 19 Houska, Ryan*
RB 30 Barbour, Randy


DE 59 MacFarlane, Matt*
NG 52 Carroll, Brian*
DE 93 Ballou, Ricky
SLB 40 Lainhart, Brand*
MLB 55 Costello, Chris
WLB 58 Levine, Aaron
S 49 Quinn, Dempsey*
FS 48 Heller, Ben*
SS 32 Ambrosi, Anthony*
CB 2 Campbell, Rashad*
CB 9 Fenton, Emani*

*=returning players

With five returning players on offense and a healthy eight on defense, you might predict the Big Red are poised to vault out of the last place spot in the Ivies.

But how excited can you get about eight returnees on a defense that allowed about 27 points and 200 yards rushing per game?

And the best defensive player overall in 2009, Chris Costello, is not one of those returning players.

The offense has five returning starters but none of them is a running back or QB with real experience. That's not really bad news since the Big Red scored an anemic 17 points per game last season.

But even for bad teams, losing key veteran players is tough. For example, the 2004 Columbia team went 1-9 and THEN it lost just about every key starter to graduation.

"Who cares?" was the rallying cry I heard from a lot of Lion fans who didn't think losing the talent from a 1-9 team was so bad.

Turns out... it was.

The 2005 Lions were the worst Columbia team in many, many years. The lack of experience at the key positions was why.

The hard truth is that 13 returning starters or not, Cornell was the worst football team in the Ivies last year.

What Big Red fans need to focus on is the hiring of a great new head coach in Kent Austin who should help ease the pain of what has to be a rebuilding year in Ithaca.

That also means a lot of these returning starters may lose their spots after they're evaluated by the new staff.

But watching Cornell should be fun for everyone as we are sure to see a lot of new faces and looks week after week.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Returning in Providence

David Howard: one of many, many Brown stars not back for 2010

Are there any Ivy teams that can beat Columbia's number of 17 starters returning for 2010?

Let's start with Brown and look at the Bears starting lineup from the final game of 2009:


QB 9 Newhall, Kyle*
TB 47 Theodhosi, Spiro*
FB 43 Mangiacotti, Mark
FL 46 Farnham, Buddy
SE 8 Sewall, Bobby
TE 87 Fertig, Andrew
RT 66 Jasinowski, Paul
RG 76 Johnston, Jarrid
C 77 Callahan, Mark
LG 64 Danser, Tim
LT 53 Conroy, Patrick*


DE 44 Develin, James
DT 96 Lemmons, Michael
DT 90 Howard, David
DE 57 Hughes, Peter
OLB 1 Gillett, Robert*
ILB 42 Cox, Kelley
ILB 52 Gallagher, Bren
OLB 5 Roffi, Phil* (5th year senior)
CB 12 Cruz, AJ*
S 15 Perkins, Chris
CB 4 Clement, David

*=returning players

From what we see above, Brown has just three returning starters on offense and three returnees on defense.

But you have to bolster the offense's numbers a bit. RB Zach Tronti, who started some games in 2009, will be back in 2010 as well. OL Brian Ellixson was a frequent starter who will be a senior this fall. Quasi-starter TE Alex Prestley is also coming back.

So it's more like six returning starters on offense, including the most important offensive player in QB Kyle Newhall Caballero.

But on defense, you really can't do much to change that small number of just three returning players. There is no other way to say it: the Bear defense is gutted. And despite the great publicity the Brown offense has gained and earned in recent years, the Brown "D" was instrumental in many wins last season. It was especially effective against the run with that great defensive line.

No doubt the losses of WR's Buddy Farnham and Bobby Sewall and OL Paul Jasinowski will be talk of the pundits this offseason. But if I'm Phil Estes, I'm more worried about the defensive losses. That's because unlike the Brown offense, the defense has not been able to simply reload with new talent every time top starters graduate.

And yet, I think most of the published predictions this year will put Brown in the top three of the league and I'll be shocked if all the experts don't choose the Bears over Columbia in the standings.

Hey, I have more respect for Coach Estes than I can say and I don't think Brown will suffer a 2006-like season where they fell to 2-8 after winning the league title the year before.

But these are significant losses, especially along both the offensive and defensive lines. I get the idea of predicting the Bears will still have a winning season overall. But I don't see how Brown can seriously be considered a title contender for 2010 with that kind of graduation attrition.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Returning Starters

Josh Smith could be the answer for the void left at DE (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)

Let's look at Columbia's starting lineup from the final game of the 2009 season:

QB 10 Brackett,Sean*
RB 39 Kourouma,Zack*
TE 82 Kennedy,Andrew*
WR 29 Joseph,Taylor
WR 1 Stephens,Mike*
WR 83 Knowlin,Austin
LT 76 Adams,Jeff*
LG 62 Seiler,John
C 79 Sanford,Evan
RG 67 Quirk,Ian*
RT 70 Lipovsky,Will

DE 97 Bashaw,Matt
NT 61 Groth,Chris*
DT 96 Fleming,Bruce*
DE 59 Miller,Lou
LB 40 Cameron,Corey
LB 56 Holloway,Marc*
LB 44 Williams,Augie*
CB 28 Morand,Ross*
CB 42 Morine,Jared
FS 47 Mehrer,Adam*
SS 6 Shalbrack,Andy

*=returning for 2010

Officially, the Lions have 6 returning starters on offense and 6 returners on defense. That's not bad.

But the truth is even better than that.

Also returning to the defense this year will be Alex Gross and Owen Fraser. These are two All Ivy players back in the fold. And Calvin Otis, while never an All Ivy, is also coming back from injury and he is one of the best corners in the league.

At middle linebacker, Marc Holloway may have had the official start against Brown, but Nick Mistretta also started much of the 2009 season at that position. You can count him as an extra starter.

In actuality, Columbia is bringing back 10 players on defense with significant starting experience. About half of those 10 are All Ivy or All Ivy caliber. Whoever gets the job as defensive coordinator will be dealing with a pretty deep roster filled with lots of talent.

On offense, that "6 returning starters" figure is also a little misleading. Since the coaches officially started three wide receivers and one tailback in the Brown game, it leaves out the fact that RB Leon Ivery is also coming back and he would normally be in the starting lineup.

So the number of returning offensive starters is really 7 and one of them is the most important returnee you can hope to have in the QB Sean Brackett.

You can conservatively say 15 of the 22 starters are back in 2010, and only a slight embellishment boosts that figure to 17 out of 22.

Of course, two of those starters are once in a generation WR Austin Knowlin and Columbia's all time sack leader Lou Miller.

You can't really "replace" a player like Knowlin, but I do expect Columbia's offense to adjust to his absence by using different weapons. I think TE Andrew Kennedy will get a lot more receptions this season, and Brackett could end up running a lot more than even M.A. Olawale did.

I;m also confident the three graduated starters on the offensive line will be more than just adequately replaced, even as I realize that's not something you can take for granted.

On defense, I like Josh Smith to make a great run at filling the void left by Miller at defensive end. Smith isn't as unstoppable as Miller on the rush, but he did finish the 2009 season with 3.5 sacks and showed a lot of promise.

The point of today's post is to pre-emptively strike back at the inevitable parade of pundits in the coming weeks who will talk about how graduation has "gutted" the Lions or how Columbia will need another 1-2 years to recover from losing Knowlin and so much of the starting O-line.

That's bunk. The REAL question for the Lions is whether they'll develop that killer instinct that will take games like last year's losses to Yale, Lafayette, Central Connecticut and even Penn and turn them into victories.

It's hard for people who haven't watched this Columbia team for many years to realize this, but the talent level to post winning seasons is and has been there for the last two years at least.

Now it's time to expect victory every week and achieve it.

“The best way to fix the economy is to stop trying to force-fix it!”

Duncan Dickerson

Wiser words have rarely been spoken by an 18-year-old.

Wiser words have rarely been spoken by anyone in the White House for that matter.

They are the words of incoming freshman OL and long snapping specialist Duncan Dickerson.

Looking at Duncan's bio and hearing his thoughts, it's nice to know that we already have one member of the class of 2014 who shows a better understanding of the economy than most of the Columbia faculty.

But sticking to football here, I shouldn't have to tell any longtime Lions fans about all the long snapping woes Columbia has faced on and off over the years.

Last season, WR Taylor Joseph was pressed into service as the long snapper due to an injury. He did about as well as you can expect a wide receiver to do. But there were games where this was a serious liability.

So, if Dickerson isn't too busy helping to deprogram most of the professors in Columbia's political science and economics departments, he should be able to help us out very soon on the field.

Good Data

I have a standing strong recommendation for all my readers to check out Bruce Wood's Big Green Alert blog on a daily basis.

There are some great non-Dartmouth centered reasons to read the blog lately as Bruce has categorized all the announced incoming Ivy schools' football freshmen by state and position.

Based on Bruce's tabulations, the incoming Lions are right at, or slightly above, the league-wide average at the following positions:

-Offensive Linemen, (Columbia has 5 incoming OL's vs. a 4.6 per team average)

-Wide Receivers, (Columbia has 4 incoming WR's vs. a 3.5 per team average)

-Running Backs, (Columbia has 3 incoming RB's vs. a 2.6 per team average)

-Defensive Backs, (Columbia has 4 incoming DB's compared to the league average of 4)

The Lions are a little more ahead of the curve with 3 incoming Tight Ends compared to the league average of an even 2. And we also have four incoming Linbackers as opposed to a 3.3 per team average across the league.

Columbia is bringing in fewer QB's than the league average with just one incoming frosh compared to a 1.6 league average.

Interior Defensive Linemen are also coming in at a little lower rate with two new Lion frosh compared to a 2.5 per team average. But they make up for it with two incoming Defensive Ends which is just ahead of the 1.1 per team average in the Ivies.

Also, only four incoming Ivy freshmen are being listed as fullbacks or H-backs across the entire league and not one of them are coming to the Lions.

The REAL difference is on special teams, where Columbia is bringing in two kicker/punters and another pure punter compared to most of the other teams in the Ivies that aren't even adding one new kicker, (at least not right now).

The fact that Columbia could afford to bring in that many more specialists and still meet or exceed the rest of the league's average position by position intake seems like a good case of recruiting management by the coaches.

One thing the Lions don't seem to be in danger of is falling into a situation that Princeton has suffered with recently with very thin numbers at key positions like QB and RB.

Len Genova

A New Genova at CU

Jerome Genova is coming to Columbia to join the heavyweight rowing crew. Genova is the son of former Columbia offensive guard Len Genova, who made 1st Team All Ivy for the Lions in the very lean season of 1984.

Len must be happy to see his son attend his college Alma Mater after young Jerome went to his high school's rival, Chaminade. Len graduated from Saint Anthony's.

The elder Genova is now of counsel at the Long Island law firm of Schroder & Strom. But he briefly coached at Columbia after graduation and he remains active in the National Football Foundation.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Catch Up Monday

And the winner is...

Cornell has released it's list and bios for incoming football freshman. They even included videos for each player.

At first glance, it appears the Big Red went for size a little more than most of the other Ivy schools that emphasized speed this year.

But the bigger story is that there is probably no other team in the Ivies that will lean on its incoming frosh more than Cornell. With a new coaching staff and very few returning skill players, a lot of these young kids could be playing and even starting in just about three months. Stay tuned.

Countdown Clock is Winding!!!

One of my favorite highlights of summer, the countdown to kickoff clock they put on the is back and counting down on the homepage.

But you have even less time to renew your season tickets and guarantee the same seats you enjoyed in 2009. The deadline is June 30th actually.

Let's reward the returning players who did so much to give the Lions a much-improved season last year with news of increased season ticket sales over the summer.

Top Columbia All Ivy Feeder High School

There have been dozens of Columbia All Ivy players since the league was officially formed in 1956. And yet, very few high schools have sent more than one future All Ivy player to the Lions.

In fact, the top Columbia All Ivy feeder school has sent just three of those players to Morningside Heights.

What school is it?

How many of you would have guessed Saint Mary’s College HS in Berkeley, CA? This is a school that didn't even send any players to Columbia until Jason Bivens came to CU in 1995.

But it gets better.

Saint Mary's has a PERFECT RECORD with all three of the players it has sent to Columbia making All Ivy. The other two were Norman Hayes ‘00 and Matt Himelstein ‘02.

But a special mention has to go to Classical HS in Springfield, MA. Classical has sent three documented players to Columbia over the years, including All Ivy standouts Mike Evans ‘74 and Jesse Parks ‘73. But the third, the great Venton Yablonski '46 played before the Ivy League was officially formed.

Here is the list of all the multiple All Ivy Columbia feeder high schools:

Saint Mary’s College HS (Berkeley, CA)-3

Cardinal Hayes HS (The Bronx, NY)-2

Cardinal Mooney HS (Youngstown, OH)-2

Choate-Rosemary Hall (Wallingford, CT)-2

Classical HS (Springfield, MA)-2

Greenwich HS (Greenwich, CT)-2

La Costa Canyon HS (Carlsbad, CA)-2

Milford Academy (New Berlin, NY)-2

Nutley HS (Nutley, NJ)-2

Saint Joseph’s School (West New York, NJ)-2

Saint Joseph’s Collegiate Institute (Buffalo, NY)-2

Saint Xavier HS (Cincinnati, OH)-2

Stuyvesant High School (New York, NY)-2

W.H. Burges HS (El Paso, TX)-2

Xaverian Brothers School (Westwood, MA)-2

I consider Saint Mary's being the top school as a very positive sign in many ways. Mostly because it proves that the newest recruiting gems could be "hiding" in some school and conference where no Ivy school has successfully recruited before.

Who says Columbia can't be the first?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

All Ivy High Schools **UPDATED**

New York: Still #1

For today's post, I thought I'd try to determine which high school and state has sent Columbia it's most "top quality" players over the years.

Using the All Ivy awardees since the league was formed in 1956, let's look at the state feeders, from largest to smallest:


New York (31)

Lee Black ‘62 Manlius School (Dewitt, NY)

Eric Blattman ‘80 Walter Panas HS (Cortlandt Manor, NY)

Tom Boccafola ‘92 Farmingdale HS (Farmingdale, NY)

Mark Calveric ‘94 Saint Francis Prep (Fresh Meadows, NY)

Sean Cannon ‘81 Cardinal Hayes HS (Bronx, NY)

Gary Comstock ‘91 Sachem HS (Farmingville, NY)

Frank Congiusta ‘96 Stuyvesant HS (New York, NY)

Sean D’Arcy ‘81 Saint Joseph’s Collegiate Institute (Buffalo, NY)

Chuck Dimitroff ‘92 Iroquois Central HS (Elma, NY)

Marty Domres ‘69 Christian Brothers Academy (Syracuse, NY)

Richard Flory ‘67 Fordham Prep (Bronx, NY)

Owen Fraser ‘12 Trinity-Pawling School (Pawling, NY)

Len Genova ‘85 Saint Anthony’s HS (South Huntington, NY)

Brad Hutton ‘92 Liverpool HS (Liverpool, NY)

Don Jackson ‘73 Stuyvesant HS (New York, NY)

Doug Jackson ‘76 Milford Academy (New Berlin, NY) *PG year

“Rico” Josephs ‘81 Mamaroneck HS (Mamaroneck, NY)

Bob Kent ’92 Milford Academy (New Berlin, NY) *PG year

Brian Lysiak ‘02 Canisius HS (Buffalo, NY)

Stephen McKoy ‘04 Rye Country Day School (Rye, NY)

Steve Monteith '82 Williamsville South HS (Buffalo, NY)

Bob Paschall ‘90 New Hartford HS (New Hartford, NY)

Art Pulsinelli ‘79 Massapequa HS (Massapequa, NY)

Mike Pysczymucha ‘70 Uniondale HS (Uniondale, NY)

Bill Reggio ‘84 New Hyde Park HS (New Hyde Park, NY)

Paul Roland ‘99 Saint Joseph’s Collegiate Institute (Buffalo, NY)

Mike Sardo ‘93 Bethpage HS (Bethpage, NY)

Michael Shane ‘71 Carle Place HS (Carle Place, NY)

Craig Valentine ‘96 Newfield HS (Selden, NY)

Jim Witherspoon ‘83 Cardinal Hayes HS (Bronx, NY)

John Witkowski ‘84 Lindenhurst HS (Lindenhurst, NY)

California (21)

Joe Aldrich ‘95 Del Campo HS (Fair Oaks, CA)

Jerry Bailey ‘03 Skyline HS (Oakland, CA)

Michele Bellanca ‘98 Lincoln HS (San Jose, CA)

Jason Bivens ‘99 Saint Mary’s College HS (Berkeley, CA)

Joey Bolder ‘98 El Segundo HS (El Segundo, CA)

Corey Cameron ‘09 La Costa Canyon HS (Carlsbad, CA)

Winslow Cervantes ‘86 Daniel Murphy Catholic School (Los Angeles, CA)

Jay DuPertuis ‘98 Elk Grove HS (Elk Grove, CA)

Pat Girardi ‘03 Loyola HS (Los Angeles, CA)

Norman Hayes ‘00 Saint Mary’s College HS (Berkeley, CA)

Matt Himelstein ‘02 Saint Mary’s College HS (Berkeley, CA)

Jim Hudnall ‘95 Santa Fe HS (Santa Fe Springs, CA)

Mike Jennings ‘97 Riverside Poly HS (Riverside, CA)

Mark Milam ‘86 Point Loma HS (San Diego, CA)

M.A. Olawale ‘10 Long Beach Polytechnic HS (Long Beach, CA)

James Porter ‘87 Oak Grove HS (San Jose, CA)

Matt Radley ‘00 Capistrano Valley HS (Mission Viejo, CA)

Nick Rudd ‘05 Miramonte HS (Orinda, CA)

Keenan Shaw ‘06 La Costa Canyon HS (Carlsbad, CA)

Jeremy Taylor ‘99 Trabuco Hills HS (Mission Viejo, CA)

Marcellus Wiley ‘96 Saint Monica Catholic HS (Santa Monica, California)

New Jersey (19)

Ed Backus ‘77 Saint Joseph’s School (West New York, NJ)

Chuck Britton ‘05 Southern Regional HS (Manahawkin, NJ)

Stanley Broussard ’91 Blair Academy (Blairstown, NJ) *PG year

Mike Brown ‘80 Paramus Catholic HS (Paramus, NJ)

Chris Carey ‘04 Pingry School (Short Hills, NJ)

Rick Cavalli ’86 Nutley HS (Nutley, NJ) *also did PG year at Wyoming Seminary (Forty Fort, PA)

Joe Hill ‘94 Woodbridge HS (Woodbridge Township, NJ)

Chip Hillenbrand ‘77 Jefferson Township HS (Oak Ridge, NJ)

Solomon Johnson ‘91 Montclair-Kimberley Academy (Montclair, NJ)

Paul Kaliades ‘73 Snyder HS (Jersey City, NJ)

Bob Kent ’92 Pope John XXIII HS (Sparta, NJ) *also did PG year at Milford Academy (New Berlin, NY)

John Klosek ‘94 Wayne Valley HS (Wayne, NJ)

Ayo Oluwole ‘04 Saint Joseph Regional HS (Montvale, NJ)

Doug Peck ‘02 Cresskill HS (Cresskill, NJ)

Joe Policastro ‘87 North Brunswick HS (New Brunswick, NJ)

Jorge Rodriguez ‘75 Saint Joseph’s School (West New York, NJ)

Paul San Fillippo ‘88 Wall HS (Wall Township, NJ)

John Strauch ‘65 Nutley HS (Nutley, NJ)

Dwight Valentine ‘75 Morris Hills HS (Rockaway, NJ)

Mark Zielinski ‘89 Rutherford HS (Rutherford, NJ)

Ohio (17)

Steve Cargile ‘04 Saint Peter Chanel HS (Bedford, OH)

John Garland ‘77 Struthers HS (Struthers, OH)

Ted Gregory ‘74 Middletown HS (Middletown, OH)

Alex Gross ‘11 Fairmont HS (Kettering, OH)

John Harper ‘96 Garfield Heights HS (Garfield Heights, OH)

Vic Kaminski ‘79 Padua Franciscan HS (Parma, OH)

Miro Lovric ‘83 Saint Ignatius HS (Cleveland, OH)

Lou Miller ‘10 Saint Xavier HS (Cincinnati, OH)

Vince Pelini '82 Cardinal Mooney HS (Youngstown, OH)

Drew Quinn ‘09 Saint Xavier HS (Cincinnati, OH)

Mike Scavina ‘83 Cardinal Mooney HS (Youngstown, OH)

Darren Schmidt ‘07 University School (Cleveland, OH)

John Sefcik ‘72 Chaney HS (Youngstown, OH)

Pat Sharkey ‘73 Chaminade-Julienne HS (Dayton, OH)

Ron Suber ‘87 Austintown-Fitch HS (Austintown, OH)

Mike Telep ‘75 Byzantine Catholic HS (Parma, OH)

Adam Yeloushan ‘94 Poland Seminary (Poland, OH)

Texas (13)

Adam Brekke '07 Cypress Falls HS (Houston, TX)

Stanley Broussard ’91 Lamar HS (Houston, TX) *also did PG year at Blair Academy in NJ

Kevin Coco ‘04 McNeil HS (Austin, TX)

Javier Loya ‘91 W.H. Burges HS (El Paso, TX)

Mario Loya ‘92 W.H. Burges HS (El Paso, TX)

Philip Murray ‘03 Poteet HS (Mesquite, TX)

Randy Murff ‘97 Bellaire HS (Bellaire, TX)

Prosper Nwokocha ‘06 James W. Martin HS (Arlington, TX)

Uche Osadebe ‘07 Clearbrook HS (Friendswood, TX)

Matt Pollard ‘90 Highland Park HS (Dallas, TX)

David Ramirez ‘97 Edinburg North HS (Edinburg, TX)

Barry Sorrels ‘75 Lake Highlands HS (Dallas, TX)

Erick Tyrone ‘03 Pflugerville HS (Pflugerville, TX)

Massachusetts (12)

Robert Asack ‘62 Taunton HS (Taunton, MA)

Anthony Day ‘63 Mansfield HS (Mansfield, MA)

Ed Dunn ’73 Cathedral HS (Springfield, MA) *also did PG year at Wilbraham Academy in Wilbraham, MA

Mike Evans ‘74 Classical HS (Springfield, MA)

Thomas Haggerty ‘62 South HS (Worcester, MA)

Chris Jenkins ‘83 Xaverian Brothers School (Westwood, MA)

Ed Miller ‘72 Xaverian Brothers School (Westwood, MA)

Jesse Parks ‘73 Classical HS (Springfield, MA)

Chris Riga ’87 Westfield HS (Westfield, MA) *also did PG year at Mt. Hermon in MA

Archie Roberts ‘65 Holyoke HS (Holyoke, MA) *also did a PG year at Deerfield in MA

Russell Warren ‘62 Northampton HS (Northampton, MA)

Robert Wroe ‘71 Foxboro HS (Foxboro, MA)

Connecticut (11)

Richard Bernard ‘92 Fairfield Prep (Fairfield, CT)

Joe Cabrera ‘82 Greenwich HS (Greenwich, CT) *also did PG year at Choate-Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, CT)

Ryan Gabriele ‘97 Bristol Eastern HS (Bristol, CT)

Doug Jackson ’76 Bristol Central HS (Bristol, CT) *also did PG year at Milford Academy (New Berlin, NY)

Andrew Kennedy ‘11 Staples HS (Westport, CT)

Ryan Kiernan ‘01 Greenwich HS (Greenwich, CT)

Austin Knowlin ‘10 Newington HS (Newington, CT)

Tom Masso ‘77 Stratford HS (Stratford, CT)

Austin Milliken ‘97 Choate-Rosemary Hall (Wallingford, CT)

Steve Noble ‘75 Kolbe HS (Bridgeport, CT)

Jeff Roether ‘04 Southington HS (Southington, CT)

Pennsylvania (10)

Rick Cavalli ’86 Wyoming Seminary (Forty Fort, PA) *PG year

Bob Federspiel '61 LaSalle HS (Glenside, PA)

David Klingerman ‘72 Bloomsburg HS (Bloomsburg, PA

Tony Petras ‘95 Old Forge HS (Old Forge, PA)

Anthony Radano ‘61 Monsignor Bonner HS (Drexel Hill, PA)

Andy Shalbrack ‘10 Saint Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia, PA)

Galen Snyder ‘91 Pennsbury HS (Fairless Hills, PA)

Matt Sodl ‘88 Whitehall HS (Whitehall, PA)

Tim Towler ‘77 Overbrook HS (Philadelphia, PA)

Mike Yeager ‘76 Bishop Egan High School (Levittown, PA)

Florida (6)

Bart Barnett ‘90 Bay HS (Panama City, FL)

Terry Brown ‘88 Boyd Anderson HS (Lauderdale Lakes, FL)

Don Lewis ‘84 Christopher Columbus HS (Miami, FL)

Dan Upperco ‘85 Boone HS (Orlando, FL)

Bob Watson ‘76 Winter Park HS (Winter Park, FL)

Rory Wilfork ‘97 Miami Norland HS (Miami, FL)

Michigan (5)

Matt Barsamian ‘07 Rochester Adams HS (Rochester, MI)

Bert Bondi ‘99 De La Salle Collegiate HS (Warren, MI)

Mike Cavanaugh ‘96 Bishop Foley HS (Madison Heights, MI)

Tony McGill ‘98 Wayne Memorial HS (Wayne, MI)

Chris Tillotson ‘99 Dondero HS (Royal Oak, MI)

Illinois (4)

Jeff Adams '12 Lyons Township HS (La Grange, IL)

Sean Nichols ‘94 Chicago Vocational School (Chicago, IL)

George Tomasek ‘75 Thornbridge HS (Dolton, IL)

Des Werthman ‘93 Loyola Academy (Wilmette, IL)

Indiana (4)

Mike Brune ‘09 Concordia Lutheran HS (Fort Wayne, IN)

Craig Hormann ‘08 Lawrence Central HS (Indianapolis, IN)

Charles Johnson ‘72 Arsenal Tech HS (Indianapolis, IN)

Jon Rocholl ’09 R. Nelson Snider HS (Fort Wayne, IN)

Missouri (3)

Matt Linit ‘99 Hickman HS (Columbia, MO)

Kirby Mack ’00 John Burroughs School (Saint Louis, MO)

Johnathan Reese ‘02 Saint Louis Country Day School (St. Louis, MO)

Tennessee (3)

Rashad Biggers ’04 Marshall County HS (Lewisburg, TN)

Phillip Mitchell ‘09 Webb School of Knoxville (Knoxsville, TN)

Sam Warren ‘02 Baylor School (Chattanooga, TN)

Virginia (3)

Claude Benham '57 Newport News HS? *(Benham came from Newport News, but I am not sure of his exact high school name).

Neal Kravitz ‘00 W.T. Woodson HS (Fairfax, VA)

Adam Mehrer ‘11 Clover Hill HS (Midlothian, VA)

Colorado (2)

Wade Fletcher ‘05 Dakota Ridge HS (Littleton, CO)

Kevin Robinson ‘93 East HS (Denver, CO)

Georgia (2)

Rashaan Curry ‘99 Archer HS (Lawrenceville, GA)

Bruce Stephens ‘78 Central HS (Columbus, GA)

New Hampshire (2)

Brian Bassett ‘95 New Hampton School (New Hampton, NH

Bruce Mayhew ‘91 Concord HS (Concord, NH)

Vermont (2)

Eric Keck ‘95 Green Mountain Valley School (Waitsfield, VT)

Mike Mckenzie ‘73 Rice Memorial HS (South Burlington, VT)

Arizona (1)

Matt Less ‘90 Casa Grande HS (Casa Grande, AZ)

Kansas (1)

John Alex ‘89 Shawnee Mission West HS (Shawnee Mission, KS)

Kentucky (1)

Terry Smith ‘73 Newport Catholic HS (Newport, KY)

Louisiana (1)

Ralph Hudson ‘96 Saint Augustine HS (New Orleans, LA)

Maine (1)

Richard Hassan ‘62 Bridgton Academy (North Bridgton, ME)

Minnesota (1)

Brandon Bowser ‘06 Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul, MN)

Nebraska (1)

Travis Chmelka ‘04 Fremont HS (Fremont, NE)

New Mexico (1)

Paul Childers ‘89 Del Norte HS (Albuquerque, NM)

North Carolina (1)

Jim Armstrong ‘99 Dixon HS (Holly Ridge, NC)

Oklahoma (1)

Roy Hanks ‘98 Sapulpa HS (Sapulpa, OK)

Rhode Island (1)

George Georges ‘74 Moses Brown School (Providence, RI)

Wisconsin (1)

Jamie Schwalbe ‘95 Hamilton HS (Sussex, WI)

Outside the U.S.

Canada (1)

Tad Crawford ‘07 M.M. Robinson HS (Burlington, Ontario)

Finland (1)

Michael Quarshie ‘05 Simonkyla Upper Secondary School (Helsinki, Finland)

I was actually somewhat surprised to see New York so far ahead, especially since the All Ivy awards began in 1956 and the trend during most of those years has been drifting away from New York-centered recruiting at Columbia. But it's worth noting that all of the recent New York state Columbia All Ivy players have been from outside the New York City area.

Not surprising was the recent surge in California-bred All Ivies and the good numbers from Ohio.

At first, I was discouraged by the numbers from New Jersey. But when I added the Honorable Mention players, there was a decided boost.

Pennsylvania's totals are a bit discouraging. Columbia needs to keep trying to make inroads in thar Ivy-rich area.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Omens & 100 Days to Go!

I'm all about the "Omens" today.

Good omens that is.

First off, we have the news that Versus is going to televise three Ivy football games this fall.

They are:

1) Penn at Princeton on Nov. 6th

2) Brown at Dartmouth on Nov. 13th

3) Yale at Harvard on Nov. 20th

Versus says it may televise more games, but I wouldn't hold my breath. That means Columbia and Cornell are shut out, at least so far.

Why is this a good omen?

Because more often than not, the teams the media overlook end up doing really well in the end.

I remember the huge news ABC made in 1981 when it decided not to put either the Jets or the Giants on any Monday Night Football games that season.

The result?

Both the Jets and the Giants had surprisingly strong years with the Giants making the playoffs for the first time since 1963 and the Jets getting into the postseason for the first time since 1969.

Of course, the full "Yale on Yes" package hasn't been announced and I have a feeling the Columbia Yale game in New Haven on Oct. 30th will be included.

Here's the second good omen: The Chicago Blackhawks.

The Hawks won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years last night.

49 years ago was 1961.

1961 was the last year Columbia won the Ivy Title.

Need I say more?

In other News...

Marty as a Colt

The great Marty Domres '69 will be the Columbia honoree at The Ivy Football Association Dinner this coming January.

The other honorees are:

Distinguished Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon and Author
Decorated Vietnam War Veteran
Brown ‘57

Original College and Pro Soccer-Style Placekicker
Executive R.R. Donnelly Financial
Cornell ‘64

NFF College Hall of Fame
Co-Founder, The Hanover Company
Dartmouth ‘71

Founder, Boston Culinary Group
Founder and Chairman, The Joey Fund
Harvard ‘67

NFL Hall of Fame
Decorated WWII Veteran
Pennsylvania ‘49

Founder of DeVry, Inc.
Trustee, Princeton University
Princeton ‘63

Founder, Higdon Partners
Leading Executive Search Consultant
Yale ‘63

More information on the dinner will be released as we get closer to the January 27th dinner date.

But you can see a video of the 2009 dinner here.

100 Day Countdown!!!

Today marks that day when we finally start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for our endless Ivy football offseason.

It's just 100 days before we kick things off at home vs. Fordham on Sept. 18th.

In 2008, I marked the 100 days before the season started by spotlighting 100 of the greatest games in Columbia history.

Last summer, I looked at 100 great players from Columbia's past and present.

This year, I'd like to focus on the many interesting gems I've culled from my ongoing Columbia high school football feeder list. This has been a tough, but rewarding research project that I hope will give Lions fans some insights on the past and strategies for the future of the program.

To start, I'd like to take a state-by-state look at the feeder schools beginning with Alabama.

I'd LIKE to start with Alabama, but it's not easy.

That's because the greatest Columbia players from Alabama high schools have yet to show themselves.

The yield from Alabama hasn't been that great so far in Columbia history.

7 players have been successfully recruited from 'Bama. They are:

Benjamin Russell HS (Alexander City, AL)

Rick Haynes ‘92

Cleburne County HS (Heflin, AL)

Will Payne ‘96

Demopolis Academy (Demopolis, AL)

Mike Compton ‘91

Fort Dale-South Butler Academy (Greenville, AL)

Chris Watson ‘99

George Washington Carver HS (Montgomery, AL)

Brett Pouncey ‘88

Montgomery Academy (Montgomery, AL)

John Ellis ‘03

Spain Park HS (Hoover, AL)

Zach Olinger ‘14

Young Mr. Olinger has a wide open shot at becoming the best Alabama product to play at Columbia. I'm sure we're all wishing him the best of luck.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Class of 2014: The Legacies, Part Two

The Beautiful Baylor School Campus

Continuing now with a look at the "legacies" in the incoming class of 2014...

Remember, you can check the ever-growing list of all the feeder high schools on my bit feeder list here.

LB Eddie Hitchcock: Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul, MN)

Hitchcock has a good tradition to uphold as the second documented Cretin-Hall alum to come to Morningside Heights. The first was Brandon Bowser '06, a spectacular deep threat wide receiver who stood out during some lean times for the CU football program. Bowser always seemed to get open on deep patterns and as QB Craig Hormann '08 matured, Bowser was the top beneficiary. Bowser caught 51 passes in 2004 for 583 yards and 4 TD's. In 2005, he grabbed 44 passes for 684 yards and 7 TD's.

DL Brad Losee: Eastview HS (Apple Valley, MN)

Losee comes to Columbia from Eastview just after the only other Eastview grad to play here, Evan Sanford '10, graduated last month. Sanford was a fantastic center, especially his last two years on the varsity.

RB Griffin Lowry: St. Louis University HS (St. Louis, MO)

Lowry and current Lion Ben Evans '12, are the only SLU HS grads to play football for the Lions so far. Evans hasn't seen real playing time with the varsity yet, but he is a very good sized offensive lineman. We'll see if he breaks into the lineup this year.

DB Jeremy Mingo: Firestone HS (Akron, OH)

It's been a long time since Columbia brought in its only other player from Firestone, 31 years to be exact. That player was Ed Melian '83, an offensive tackle who didn't stick with the team after his sophomore year.

QB Chris Rapka: Cardinal Gibbons HS (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Only one other Gibbons grad has played for CU, Nick Leone '88. Leone made a nice contribution to the '85 varsity with 21 pass receptions and 11 kickoff returns. But he left the team after the '86 season.

RB Sam Williams: Baylor School (Chattanooga, TN)

Williams is the second Baylor grad to come to the Lions. The first was kicker Sam Warren '02 who played all four years at Columbia and was 6 of 8 in field goal tries in his senior year of 2001.

OL Jimmy Yukevich: Palos Verders HS (Palos Verdes Estates, CA)

Not only is Yukevich the second Palos Verdes alum to come to Columbia, he's the second offensive lineman as well. His predecessor was Greg Pollowitz '92, a hard working tackle who gave his all for four years with the program.

Class of 2014: The Legacies, Part One

Loyola Academy in Wilmete, IL

About half of the incoming freshman now listed on the Columbia roster come from already established feeder schools to Columbia football.

You can check my feeder list here, it is now updated from 1969-2010 with a few other earlier years trickling in.

Here's a look at what I'll call the high school "legacy" players from the class of 2014:

WR Joey Andrada: Piedmont HS (Piedmont, CA)

Andrada is just the second documented Piedmont HS product to come to play football at Columbia. And he could be the first to make a real impact. 12 years ago, linebacker Jason DeBonis '02 came to Morningside Heights. He was the captain of his Piedmont team and the son of Brooklyn native Joe DeBonis '71, who was a solid varsity player at tight end for the Lions. But Jason did not stick with the team past freshman year.

DB Marquel Carter: Culver City HS (Culver City, CA)

Carter is also just the second documented Culver player to come to the Lions. And he's also in a position to be the first to make a real mark. The last Culver grad to join Columbia was Chris Johnson '99, who like Carter came in as a defensive back. Johnson did not stay with the team after freshman year.

P Paul Delaney: Loyola Academy (Wilmette, IL)

The punter Delaney will have a tougher job setting himself apart from the four other Loyola grads who have come to Columbia beginning with Matt Engels '89. The greatest Loyola alum to play for the Lions is of course, linebacker Des Werthman '93. Fellow linebacker Joe Cook '01 was also a real star. And I have high expectations for current sophomore Alec Kosminskas.

C Duncan Dickerson: Cypress Falls HS (Cypress Falls, TX)

The successful recruiting of center and long-snapping specialist Dickerson means Columbia will continue the tradition of having at least one Cypress Falls grad on the roster every year since 2003. Of course, that's because the other two Cypress Falls alums have been brothers Adam Brekke '07 and David Brekke '10. Adam was a major star for the Lions, playing on the varsity all four years and serving as a captain in 2006.

DB Mike DiTommaso: Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, NJ)

Seton Hall Prep is one of those schools that I KNOW I'll find more Columbia football alums came from as I get more data. But for now, I know of four other Seton Hall grads led by one of the great stars of the great Lions teams of the 1940's, Jack Nork '49. Much more recently, defensive tackle Michael McAndrew ‘06 was a very hard-working player for Columbia who battled all four years on that defensive line.

K/P Luke Eddy: Worcester Academy (Worcester, MA)

Worcester surely has sent more players to Columbia than the eight I've documented so far. But Eddy will be the first Worcester player since Jeff Klemp '92, a tackle who never played after his freshman season of 1988.

K/P Tyler Feely: Jesuit HS (Tampa, FL)

Feely is the first Jesuit alum to come to play for Columbia football in eight years and the fourth player overall. The most notable Jesuit grad was Chuck Leonard '02, who switched from defensive line to tight end but never made an impact in his years on the varsity because of injuries.

RB Marcorus Garrett: Pope HS (Marietta, GA)

Garrett is the third documented Pope grad to come to the Lions and the first since Ed Salter '09. Salter was a very talented offensive lineman, but injuries really marred his three years with the varsity. Before Salter, WR Jim Besselman '07 played for the Lions. He was never a starter but made some catches in his four years.

WR Bruce Grant: Fordham Prep (Bronx, NY)

Seven other documented Fordham Prep grads have played Columbia football, but Grant is the first since Ashley Hernandez '90 came way back in 1986. Mario Biaggi '80 was the last great Lion from Fordham Prep. Biaggi was a terror on the defensive line and the original Columbia sack master.

Tomorrow, I'll look at the other seven "legacy players" and what they might have to live up to.


Also tomorrow is the latest chance you have to support Columbia athletics by shopping at Fairway. This time, the event is at the Fairway in Pelham Manor, NY.

Don't miss it!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Wisdom from Westwood

John Wooden would have made a great Rabbi

We've been focusing a lot lately on the incoming freshman class for this fall.

That makes a lot of sense. We're all fans of Ivy football and we clamor for news on the newcomers mostly because we're still in the middle of a 300-day fast from actual Ivy football games.

But news of John Wooden's death late Friday brought to mind my strongest personal regrets about all the recruiting hype in college sports these days.

Coach Wooden was as great a teacher and coach of character as much as he was a great coach of basketball.

Maybe greater.

And it says so much for a man who was blessed with so many talented players that he is known best for not only his own personal humility, but the humility he passed on to his players.

I once heard Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a perfect 4.0 GPA all four years at UCLA. I wouldn't be surprised if that was true.

Bill Walton never missed a practice no matter what antiwar protest he was going to or coming from.

Walt Hazzard stayed out of the mental ward his entire collegiate career.

How the heck did Wooden do it?

He taught humility, that's how.

My favorite John Wooden quote is this:

"Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."

To me, the most dangerous thing about all the hype devoted to high school athletes today is it makes conceit so hard to avoid for some very, very young American men. I try to balance all that with a regular point about incoming Ivy frosh that I make on this blog all the time. That is, that even 17-year-old kids in America deserve serious credit for achieving a great combination of good grades and athletic success. I realize the same can't be said for many of the big time college athletes, and their "success" rate post-college speaks for itself.

But it's not the young college athletes that worry me most these days. It's the coaches.

Could a coach with the undeniable scruples of a John Wooden succeed in big time college sports?

I don't think so.

And recruiting is a big example of why this is so. Successful recruiting today seems to me to be a lot about pumping prospects with a lot of bunk about how they all could be the greatest of all time. Otherwise, why the heck would the anti-John Wooden, Lane Kiffin, be signing 13-year-old kids to scholarship deals at USC?

I'm sure there are a few things even Ivy League coaches do on recruiting trips that I wouldn't love. But I do love how every Ivy coach I've ever heard of always stresses the education and non-athletic future of each prospect first in his recruiting pitches.

This is truly what makes Ivy football my favorite sport. The games are exciting and fun, yes. But the athletes are people I can feel good about knowing on and off the field, and before and after their playing days are over.

So many of my friends look at me in puzzlement when they learn of my total devotion to Columbia football and Ivy League teams over all other sports. The examples that John Wooden set are the reason why I am the way I am. I want to root for athletes who I can be happy seeing my children rooting for as well.

As Wooden said:

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

I just don't know how a decent parent can't think of that lesson when he or she takes his kids to sporting events, especially big time college sporting events today. Do you really want your kids idolizing and rooting for young men and women not much older than they are who are not getting one iota of instruction when it comes to character? I think that's a risk you run when you go to BCS games or the major college basketball conference games.

Professional sports? Forget about it.

And yet, there is another danger the more civilized world of Ivy sports presents us with year after year. The danger of complacency. John Wooden had something to say about that too:

"I'd rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent."

Too many Ivy coaches are not pressured into showing results. I think it becomes clear pretty early on who has the talent and simply needs more experience, and who has little talent and won't get much better with or without more time on the job.

True, the measure of coaching success should be a little different in our league. But consistent losing, year after year, cannot be tolerated in the Ivies any more than it is at Michigan. I think some of the Ivies more inexperienced, and untalented, coaches are being given way too much time to fail year after year.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want the 1980's version of George Steinbrenner running our Ivy athletic departments. But too many times lately I've been hearing people say that it doesn't matter so much how many games some Ivy coaches win. It does matter. So does building character. The two are not mutually exclusive.

More from Coach Wooden:

"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."

I meet and work with way too many people these days who seem a lot more worried about what is said about them or their institutions on the blogs than anything else.

Anger at Internet chatter, other than vile racism or dangerous physical threats, is very silly. Every second worrying about what people say about you is a second you could have used improving yourself or your job that you just wasted. Conversely, those who only have nasty anonymous criticisms to make are really wasting their time.

Finally, Coach Wooden said this:

"Never mistake activity for achievement."

That quote by Wooden pushes me to try to show some humility of my own.

This blog may seem like a lot of work, but try being a coach or a player for an Ivy football team these days.

Now try being a GOOD coach or a GOOD player for an Ivy football team these days.

Me? I just write mostly what comes to my mind. I am greatly aware I bring little "breaking news" or X's and O's football brilliance at any given time.

I can write "new" stuff about Columbia football 5-6 days a week because it is not my job to write about any other sports. And, this blog is more like an editorial column than anything else. I hope my readers, and I, always remember that.

(And on a personal note. It's remarkable how much Torah there is in so many of John Wooden's famous quotes and philosophies. His quotes read so much like the Ethics of the Fathers it's uncanny).


For some reason, blogger has killed off all the posts I wrote for June before this one on Wooden. So I am republishing them below:

June 4th

Glastonbury HS, home of the Ghergurovichs

I'm swamped today with a visit from the parents, so just some quick notes:

-The question has been asked about incoming frosh Joe Ghergurovich and whether he is related to former Penn line John Ghergurovich. It appears the answer is yes... both Ghergurovichs attended Glastonbury HS in Connecticut. They are most likely brothers. I assume we'll find out for sure when the full write-up on the incoming frosh is released on

-Ivy League recruiting has to be the toughest task for a new coaching staff. Yale's Tom Williams seems to be having some trouble as the Eli class of 2014 seems a little thin. That said, he did score two transfers and Williams may be hoping to fill gaps via the transfer route for years to come. In the end, however, he's going to need to sell the Yale degree a little better than he is now.

-Columbia comes into 2010 with just six QB's on the roster. But just one, Paul Havas, is a senior and despite that low number, this Lions team is still relatively deep at the position since Sean Brackett and Jerry Bell have a lot of relative game experience. Contrast our QB situation with Princeton and you might as well title that tale of the tape: "Rich Man, Poor Man."

June 3rd

This is becoming a very busy day.

Yale has released the names and bios for it's class of 2014.

26 players are on the Elis list, including the son of Yale Associate Head Coach Richard Flanders.

June 3rd

Jimmy Yukevich

Here are some of the things I've been able to gather about the three new names on the Columbia football roster that I did not know about previously.

T.C. Williams OL Luke Dorris seems like a great get. At 6-4 and 275 pounds, he's the second biggest kid in the class. He was listed as one of the nation's top offensive line prospects by expert Jim Stefani.

Dorris is one of those great Ivy prospects who becomes more available to our league after a junior year injury. Dorris broke his foot his junior year.

LB Zac Olinger comes from a very competitive high school conference in Alabama. It seems like he had a knack for recovering fumbles in big games.

OL Jimmy Yukevich was his high school team's captain and was also on Dartmouth's radar before choosing Columbia. He's listed as 6-6 on the Columbia roster right now, but most other reports have him at 6-7 which would put him in a three-way tie for tallest on the Lions with Jeff Adams and Scott Ward.

As far as the still missing Tyler Kirkland and James Valeiras go, the fact that their names are not on the roster now does not mean they won't be on the team in the fall. They may not have been officially recruited players, or the list may not even be complete yet, etc. Every summer around the time training camp starts, we see new names added to the roster.

Some other quick facts about the class of 2014 so far:

-16 of the incoming frosh come from high schools where Columbia has successfully recruited players in the past. 15 are from new high schools on my feeder school list. At least two players also went to postgraduate programs, one at a school that was already on the feeder list and the other at a new school to add to the list.

-Two of the incoming players rejoin former high school teammates who are upperclassmen on the Columbia roster. They are Paul Delaney, who rejoins Alec Kosminskas from Loyola Academy and Griffin Lowry, who rejoins Ben Evans from St. Louis University HS.

-On their high school rosters, the incoming frosh were often listed at multiple positions. But the Columbia roster keeps them to one position. So here are the players who have been cut down to just one position:

Chris Alston-DB (was WR/DB in high school)

Marquel Carter-DB (was a QB/DB in high school)

*Hunter Coleman-DL (was a TE/OL in high school)

Bruce Grant-WR (was a RB in high school)

Eddie Hitchcock-LB (was a LB/FB in high school)

Brad Losee-DL (was a DE/TE in high school)

*Mark McClain-LB (was a WR/S in high school)

Zach McKown-TE (was a TE/LB in high school)

Jeremy Mingo-DB (was a DB/WR in high school)

Joe Raimondi-DL (was a DL/OL in high school)

Maurice Rothschild-WR (was a WR/DB in high school)

*Coleman and McClain appear to be slotted in positions they did not play in high school.


June 3rd

I can't confirm that the list of freshmen on the Columbia football roster is complete, but 31 new names are now posted.

Two of the names on my incoming frosh list do not appear, (at least not yet), while three new names do.

The missing players are Tyler Kirkland and James Valeiras.

The new names are:

Luke Dorris, Zach Olinger, and Jimmy Yukevich.


June 2nd

Is Sean Brackett about to run or pass? (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)

Anyone who watched Sean Brackett play last year had to be impressed with what they saw.

Brackett started the last four games of the 2009 season, and recorded a 2-2 record. But he really played the equivalent of about three and a third games because he was pulled in the first half from the Harvard game and in the late third quarter of the Cornell game.

In other words, a third of a season.

I admit this is hardly scientific, but if you take Brackett's actual stats and project what they would be for a full 10-game season, you get the following:

Completions: 102

Attempts: 189

Pct. 53.9%

Yards: 1,374

TD: 12

INT: 9

Rushing Attempts: 159

Rushing Yards: 861

Avg. per Carry: 5.4

Rushing TD: 3

Okay, okay. I realize some of these numbers sound crazy. For example, I don't think we'll see Brackett running 15-16 times per game even if he plays every down of all 10 games in 2010... not if the coaches don't want to see the kid killed that is.

On the other hand, I think we'll see bigger passing stats as Brackett gets more comfortable in the pocket.

Imagine if Brackett does turn in these kinds of numbers. A QB who could turn in nearly 150 yards passing, 86 yards rushing, and 3 TD's for every two games would be a great asset.

But these imaginary numbers only tell a small part of the story. A QB who can really hurt a defense as a runner and passer is worth his weight in gold, (at $1,200 per ounce these days, that's a REAL compliment). When M.A. Olawale was healthy last season, and it turns out he was only healthy through the first four and half games, the Lions offense was about as good as we've seen it in 30 years because of his dual threat abilities.

That said, there are things that Brackett does better than Olawale, most notably running the option play to perfection. I think he also has the good fortune of already having some wins under his belt, which should give him good confidence over his next three years at Columbia.

Of course, this all indicates how important it is to keep Brackett healthy. This is not only because he's so talented, but because the also very talented QB Jerry Bell is such a different type of player. I don't want to see the Columbia offense forced to change so radically on a dime if Brackett is hurt. Going from a running-gunning QB like Brackett to a pure passer like Bell might confuse opposing defenses, but it seems like it would require a whole new playbook for our offense as well. In case you haven't noticed, Ivy football players actually go to class and take it seriously, so an added bit of studying at midseason doesn't sound too appealing.

Remember that while the Lions had to adjust to Brackett in midseason, he was relieving the injured Olawale, who was also a QB who liked to run both by design and on improvised plays. Brackett's running style is different from Olawale's, but not that different.

My ideal scenario for Brackett is for him to follow in the footsteps of fellow #10 Fran Tarkenton. Brackett throws and runs like Takenton, for those of you old enough to remember him. They're even the same height, more or less.

Anyhoo, over Tarkenton's NFL career his typical passing box score was about 15 of 26 for 191 yards. His running stats were impressive for the NFL with 32 career TD's and a 5.4 yards per carry (which is exactly the same yards per carry average that Brackett logged last season).

Tarkenton's best year as a pro was 1975 when he completed 65% of his passes and threw 25 TD's to just 13 INT's. But 1975 was the year his heavily-favored Vikings fell to Dallas in the stunning "Hail Mary" divisional playoff game at Metropolitan Stadium. I you look closely at the video I linked to of that game above, you can see Vikings RB and Cornell great Ed Marinaro watching the play on the sidelines. But here's a better link with a lot more of the story and much better quality video.

Of course, Tarkenton has a good New York connection having played five seasons with the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium, just a few minutes from Baker Field.

June 1st

They won't have AK to try to kick around anymore

For four years, we were dazzled by Columbia's once-in-a-generation wide receiver Austin Knowlin.

For four years, we loved seeing him get open even when everyone in the stadium knew he was going to be the intended receiver.

For four years, we loved hearing how Knowlin's presence on the field "drew a crowd," allowing the other receivers to go up against single coverage or even no coverage.

But now, Knowlin is gone and the question is: how much will the Columbia offense suffer?

You could be optimistic and say the Lions will either make up for "AK's" absence through the running game, or simply by spreading the ball around to a wider array of receivers.

You could be pessimistic and say Columbia will struggle, especially in obvious passing situations.

The good news is two of Columbia's better passing threats in 2009 return this fall in TE Andrew Kennedy and WR Mike Stephens. The even better news is that they both return as co-captains and you know they're 100% invested in the teams 2010 success.

The bad news is someone could argue that both Kennedy and Stephens benefitted greatly from Knowlin's presence on the field, and there's no telling how strong they'll be on their own.

The good news is the receiving corps is unusually large. There are already eleven WR's on the current roster, (if you include Kurt Williams and Brian DeVeau who are switching to WR), and another eight WR's that we know about already in the freshmen class, (or eight players with WR experience). Basically, we're looking at a bumper crop of about 20 wide receivers for 2010 and the chances of another one or two being top quality are pretty good.

The bad news is 20 wide receivers may be a bit too many for the coaches to get a good quick read on the best weapons available.

Of all the discussions about the variables for the upcoming season, this one may be the most important. So I'm asking my readers to answer the following question:

"What will Columbia do this season to overcome the loss of Austin Knowlin?"

You know where to write your answers.

One More Thought...

How funny/odd is it that Dartmouth's shortest road trip in 2010 is the October 23rd game at Columbia?

It's funny and odd because Dartmouth is Columbia's longest road trip in the Ivies.

Last fall, I published a list of all the distances between Ivy teams and it turned out Yale and Columbia have the shortest average trip mileage while Cornell and Dartmouth have the longest distances to travel in any given year.

It pays to be centrally located.


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