Monday, October 10, 2011

The People's Choice

Roar Lions Roar is brought to you by IvySport.

You can check out IvySport's Columbia products here.

THIS is what has to stop!

What a time for Homecoming week!

Just when all the generous alumni are about to converge on the Baker Athletics Complex for a nationally televised game against Penn, the football program is clearly at its lowest point since Head Coach Norries Wilson took over in 2006.

The 0-4 record isn't the whole story. Some of the play in those losses has been frighteningly poor and sloppy.

Bad coaching is the culprit plain and simple.

Only the most unrealistic toady can avoid realizing that something is very, very wrong here.

So what are our options?

Here are the top five:

1) Keep Norries

After all, injuries are the biggest reason the Lions have faltered this year... right?

He deserves another season or two.

Most importantly, the team dresses the same to and from all games and we know that's the #1 goal.

2) Fire Norries after the Season

There's no use in creating too much chaos now... but spend the rest of this season finding the best replacement and raising the money to present that man with an offer he can't refuse.

Our top target should be Holy Cross Head Coach Tom Gilmore.

He has made a lot out of almost nothing in Worcester and he wants the job here.

For those of you who are skittish about offering the Lions job to a former Penn star let me remind you of another Penn football star who became our head coach.

His name was Lou Little.

3) Fire Norries NOW and use One of his Existing Staffers as the Interim Coach

The administration needs to prove it's serious about winning, and with 60% of the season left and 86% of the Ivy season remaining, there's time to prove that by cleaning house now!

John Gutekunst and Ed Argast are seasoned veterans who could take over as interim coaches right now if need be. Remember, Gutekunst was once the head coach at Minnesota.

4) Fire Norries NOW and Ask Ray Tellier to Fill in for the Rest of the Season

Tellier is still in the athletic department and probably could shoulder the responsibilities for six weeks if he had to.

5) Fire Norries NOW and Ask Bill Campbell to Coach the Team for the rest of the Season.

He paid for it, let Mr. Campbell push this stalled car all the way to the service station.

Stranger things have happened.

Feel free to choooe any one of the five options above and tell us about it in the comments section, but I will weigh in now on my preference.

It may surprise some of you and outrage others, but I think it needs to be said.

My choice is Option 3: Fire Norries Wilson now and get an interim coach.


After almost six years, Columbia's football program is only slightly better than where it stood on the field when things were so bad in 2005 that Shoop had to be fired.

I say "on the field," because by every other measure things have improved for Columbia Football and that means no excuses.

Here's what I mean:

A) Donations to athletics are coming in at a record pace. The money is here and here now.

B) The facilities are in the best shape ever. Even with the Campbell Center not completed yet, the locker room situation for the team was improved drastically before the 2009 season began and there have been lots of other touch-ups as well.

And if facilities or even fan support were such an issue, then please explain Brown football to me. Brown's stadium and other facilities are so bad, all the Brown employees spent the entire game complaining to me about them during my last visit up there in 2008!

And yet, all Head Coach Phil Estes does is win.

C) Columbia's stature among all college applicants is rising thorugh the roof. Columbia is ranked #4 in the US News & World Report ratings for the second year in a row, and as much as many of us think those rankings are baloney, lots of people don't. But that's just ONE measure of Columbia's rising reputation. Selectivity is also at an all-time high, meaning football recruits really have a great incentive to come here and grab a space in a school that's almost as hard to get into as winning the Lotto.

D) New York City is a recruitiong POSITIVE. Don't let anyone tell you that rural and suburban kids don't want to come to New York and play football. It's really a lie. I've spoken to a lot of football players at other Ivy schools and their parents who chose not to come to Columbia. None of them found NYC to be a problem and they opted out of CU for other reasons. And I don't think anyone of them was being "polite" by speaking highly of the City. They all knew I am no politically correct whistle-blower and would have little problem with them bad-mouthing the City if they really felt that way.

E) The talent is HERE. Yes, I know our players aren't super men. But just look at last year's underperforming, (in the W-L category), team. Columbia had a bevvy of first time All Ivy players, the most we've ever had to be exact. And the team still won only two Ivy games.

And yet all the above factors are dwarfed by the one thing that has kept Columbia from winning football games with any consistency or even slow-but-steady improvement.

And that one thing is this: lowered expectations.

Lowered expectations and constant excuses for losing are the only REAL things that have kept Columbia football down for all these decades, (50 years since our last Ivy title and counting).

And I say that because the steady mantra of lowered expectations is STILL the main message coming out of the athletic department and the football program!

Over the last few weeks, many of you have shared with me your stories of how you questioned top officials in the atheltic department and even the football coaches about the situation only to have them run off a list of excuses about how hard it is to win in New York.

The underselling of this season began in the preseason as almost every coach who did talk to alumni couldn't stop talking about all the injuries.

After all the donations, all the All-Ivy players, and all the once weaker football programs that have now passed us by, (Princeton, Dartmouth, Cornell), the administration is STILL pushing the lowered expectations line! And that's proof that attitude is the one constant that has to be changed.

We've seen this story play out time after time in sports, especially in pro sports.

The St. Lous Cardinals, the Phoenix Cardinals and then the Arizona Cardinals were pathetic losers year after year in the NFL all because owner Bill Bidwell.

Bidwell tried to do everything on the cheap, and he always got what he paid for.

But almost as soon as he turned day-to-day operations of his team to his sons, Michael and Bill, Jr., things turned around.

The Cardinals darn near won the Super Bowl in January 2009 after decades of never even winning a playoff game.

The Patriots were a mess until Bob Kraft came in and demanded higher expectations.

The rest is history.

As soon as Columbia gets an Athletic Director who hires coaches with the one goal of winning and makes it clear they will be gone if they don't win... we'll win.

Otherwise, it's all about who makes the best excuses.

Dianne Murphy's Law

And so that brings us to Dr. Dianne Murphy.

She has one last chance to prove she doesn't deserve to go too.

Let's rewind four years first...

Murphy was my very first halftime interview subject when I was doing the color commentary and halftime shows on from 2007-09.

I asked her the obvious question: "What will it take to increase fan attendance and interest in Columbia sports?"

Her answer was: "I think you have to win!"

I credit her for answering so honestly then, but she is running out of chances to prove she really meant it.

The fans, the donors, and most of all the players all deserve better than a laurel and hearty handshake at the end of their four or five seasons.

They deserve to WIN.

If she doesn't fire Norries Wilson now, then it's all lip service... or the REAL decision doesn't rest with her in the first place.

If Bill Campbell, a truly great person and Columbian in just about every way, is the real decision maker when it comes to Columbia football, then Murphy should resign and make her reasons public so Campbell can be held accountable for his presence in the program and be forced to explain his incredible support for Wilson, (which goes FAR beyond just moral support), and his decision to hire Bob Shoop a few years before all that.

Murphy cannot be expected to be held accountable for the sports programs at Columbia if she is given little real control over the school's most important sports team.

Either she cares about her job or she does not.

Either she cares about winning or she does not.

Either she means what she says in all those fundraising letters or she does not.

There really is no middle ground.

The time is beyond over for athletic directors and coaches who make excuses and get defensive or even beligerant when even slightly pressed about our losing ways.

Norries Wilson's time is up.

It was probably up during the 2007 season, and I regret continuing to editorially coddle him and his staff for so long ever since. I had hoped the evidence I brushed off or kept private would do more harm than good for our beloved Alma Mater and so I suppressed it.

And now I see that perhaps we could have had this discussion years ago and then maybe we could have seen better outcomes for our long-graduated stars who deserved better.

Stars like Andrew Kennedy, Alex Gross, Calvin Otis, Craig Hormann, Andy Shalbrack, Lou Miller, Ralph DeBernardo, Austin Knowlin, Adam Mehrer, Drew Quinn, etc, etc, etc.

And hey, I STILL pray with all my heart for the Lions to win all their remaining games even if that means another 10 years of this regime.

In fact, I'll be the first person to apologize publicly if that happens.

But barring some kind of crazy turnaround, this ship will only get righted when someone who truly demands winning and no excuses takes over not only Columbia football but all of Columbia athletics.

Let's start TODAY.


At Tue Oct 11, 12:55:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not since Emile Zola's J'Accuse have I read such a stinging and heartfelt cri de coeur. Of course Jake is right. I wish I could say he was wrong, but he isn't. The AD has been a hotbed of cronyism in my entire 50 years of association with the College. From Al Paul to Dianne Murphy we have had one terrible director of athletics after another. Make Ray Tellier the AD if only on an interim basis and fire Dianne now. Or give Ray the HC position and let him see what he can do with these kids, given his high football IQ. And yes, pay gilmore whatever it takes to get him to come to Columbia. We have had too much mediocrity for too long. And frankly, the Trustees and Bollinger are also to blame. Let them provide our students with a full college experience, with great coaches and facilities. We must demand excellence! Now! I'm telling you. Norries is a fine man but he ahs had 6 years, he isn't coaching these kids, the coordinators have shown me nothing, we aren't even putting our best kids on the field and when we do our schemes stink. HELP!!!!

At Tue Oct 11, 01:02:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, Jake, I hardly know what to say. I'm not sure that I agree with you, but I thank you for putting it all out there. Disappointed fans of every losing team call for the coach's job, but you have earned the credibility to do so as a careful, thoughtful, loyal fan.

At Tue Oct 11, 01:08:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I vote for #2 or #3. They both amount to the same thing,but #3 creates panic and does no good in the short run. I like the idea of the HC coach if he really wants to be here.
Six years and no measurable improvement!

At Tue Oct 11, 01:19:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another possibility is to give Norries the opportunity voluntarily to step down. But I have no confidence in Dianne or her ability to find a better replacement. She really just has to go. Now.

At Tue Oct 11, 01:21:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we once tried to hire Gilmore and he turned us down because he thought that he wouldn't get the support of the administration or the admissions department. Since Bags shows no sign of retiring or leaving for a D1 job, perhaps this is the ideal moment to take another pass at Gilmore.

At Tue Oct 11, 01:47:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake- out of curiousity, what's your basis for saying that Gilmore wants the Columbia job?

At Tue Oct 11, 01:50:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

He interviewed for the job in 2005 and I have sources very close to him that say he's listening again.

At Tue Oct 11, 01:54:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Gilmore is interested in the job, it's a no-brainer to hire him. Almost certainly alumni donations would rise if we hired a proven coach, so finances can't be an issue. You cannot ask 100 kids to spend 600+ hours per year on a sport and then fail to prepare them to compete, which is what NW has done. I was a student during the streak, so I have seen this movie before. You can have a good sports experience on a losing team, but not on an uncompetitive team. When a team becomes clearly uncompetive, attrition rises, recruiting lags, good assistants leave and the cycle intensifies. It's over for NW, whether the AD realizes it or not.

At Tue Oct 11, 02:05:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fritz Crisler, who took both Princeton and Michigan to national championships, once remarked that the key to a good coaching job was to find a situation where there was only upside. If Gilmore embraces the same philosophy, the opportunity at Columbia might make sense.

By the way, not to quibble over a detail not central to your point, but the only reason the Arizona Cardinals had a brief moment of success is that Matt Leinart performed so poorly in 2007 that coach Ken Whisenhunt was forced to try "washed up" Kurt Warner as his full-time starter in 2008.

Just as he had done stepping in for Trent Green in St. Louis, Warner basically willed Arizona to the Super Bowl. Look at what has happened to the Cardinals since Warner retired.

At Tue Oct 11, 02:50:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ivies never fire football coaches mid-season.

That only happens for Penn basketball.

At Tue Oct 11, 02:51:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good assistants can work wonders, but does anybody out there think that our two coordinators are good? Or that we have a good special teams coach? But here is the problem with this thread. I don't want our kids to quit on the season. But by the same token, if we pull out a few win those of us who love Columbia football need to make it clear to all concerned that changes must be made. Gilmore would be a grand slam home run.

At Tue Oct 11, 02:52:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Gilmore wants the Columbia job?? ROFLMAO x 1000

Tom Gilmore and the other Patriot League coaches are going to get a full allotment of scholarships in the very near future.

Think what Tom will be able to do at the Cross when he is able to give scholarships.

At Tue Oct 11, 03:06:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a serious question. Norries doesn't seem to be doing much of the coaching during the games. I have no idea of what goes on at practice. But at least during the games he seems to be very passive, and the assistants appear to be doing all of the coaching. By contrast, on the other sideline our opponents' HCs seem to be much more engaged. Am I off base here?

At Tue Oct 11, 03:08:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really stuggling to understand the logic. They continue to talk about tackling yet the player with the most tackles on the team is the one taken out. It seems to me that this is the person making the tackles. Please explain. Whats the issue? I would think that this would confuse what is expected.
Just like the comment on offense doing well when defense is spending the majority of the game on the field? They are great players and coaches it would be nice if they were supported by their fans

At Tue Oct 11, 03:09:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All will be forgiven if our beloved Lions defeat Penn this Saturday afternoon!

At Tue Oct 11, 03:24:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a very good question. I've always wondered about that myself. I've always assumed that Coach Wilson believed in delegating some of the decision-making to his assistants, but maybe there's more to it.

At Tue Oct 11, 03:52:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so impressed to read how passinate all of these posters are about this Columbia football team. I do not think these kids will give up this season because they are just as passionate (if not more). Hopefully anyone who has ANY say so as to what the next move should be ,is reading Jakes blog and ALL of these suggestions and comments.

At Tue Oct 11, 04:10:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Building a successful football program is not a mystery. Look around the country - Boise, Oregon and TCU just to mention a few. From what I've read, the construction of each of those programs began with the commonly accepted belief - accepted by the administration, key alumni and athletic department - that a successful program would benefit the school in general.

The only time I have heard the name Bollinger and football mentioned in the same sentence is to make the point he doesn't like the sport. Murphy gets more media coverage for her efforts to relocate farther up the Hudson than she does for her accomplishments here. And CC, as Jake mentioned, is enjoying record popularity.

I ask the following question in hopes of getting an answer to something that is not obvious to me: what binds the various constituencies at CC to the common objective of building a winning program?

The answer to that question and why probably says more about the future of the program than who coaches the team.

At Tue Oct 11, 04:20:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, Your call was an absolutely brilliant move on so many levels! I won't go into all the reasons (not enough space) but primarily you have removed the pressure off the kids. These are still student athletes and their primary concern should be on what they are doing in the classroom and not on the football field. As things stand now I think the pressure created by the coaching staff's physically and mentally abusive practices have harmed the players. This will spread into the classroom very shortly. The heat is placed back where it belongs. The paid employees.

People on the blog should never ever criticize the student athletes. Unforgiveable!

Your information sources are correct. Coach Arghast and Coach K, both the more mature members of the staff, have been the ones to stand up to the abuse and understand that they are foremost, educators on the football field. They have maintained their perspective and professionalism. This is an Ivy League school and the coaches are to be teachers not drill sargeants.
As for coach may want to slow down here a little bit. Yes, he is a good coach. He is a proven commodity in taking over a "successful" program but has never re-built one. His nickname is "Spike!". Yes, like the dog in the cartoon. That is for a good reason. He has earned it. He maybe a good coach but it is critical that he is the right coach for THIS team and University. The present staff has taken the marine's approach and it was a disaster. This team and university needs someone to build a program. Someone to teach them to win. Someone to get them to believe in themselves and each other. Someone that will get them to say "Yes I can". Coach Gilmore is a very good coach but he probably isn't that kind of guy. He's not a good match for here. Kind of like selecting schools. It can be a great school but it has to be the right place for that particular student.
Sorry, to rain on your parade on that individual point. This program would be better served with a Dick Vermeil, Pete Carroll, Lou Holtz, Rex Ryan type. Someone who is positive and welcomes the pressure and teaches on the football field. No more screamers.

At Tue Oct 11, 04:27:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I be happy to answer the previous poster's question about what goal binds the entire school behind getting a winning program.

The answer is simple: money.

The MOST successful and generally generous CU alums are the football alums. From Bill Campbell to Robert Kraft this is the case and has been for a long time.

Columbia won't ever scrap football because of that, but we all want more.

Who's to say how much more support we'll get from wildly successful young alumni like Chandler Bockledge and Matt Sodl if we start winning?

At Tue Oct 11, 04:29:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that we need the Ivy League more than the Ivy League needs us. And to be a member of the Ivy League we undertake to put representative teams on the field. That is the deal. Otherwise we will turn into NYU. I have supported the College with my time and money for many years. If we become NYU I will never lift a finger for the College again. Maybe Bollinger himself doesn't like football, but he isn't going to be with us forever. He told many of us that he was committed to our athletic program. If he isn't then he has committed a breach of faith with the alumni, the students, their parents and the players. I think that a good program is essential to attract a well rounded and vital student body and that it adds immeasurably to the quality of College life. If Bollinger doesn't share that view, then I hope he is soon gone from the scene. If he does, then he needs to clean house starting with the AD who may give away cupcakes and brownies at football games but hasn't done anything to improve the quality of our coaches.

At Tue Oct 11, 04:36:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You have identified two of the three actions that ned to be takne:

1. Get rid of Wilson now and have an interim coach for the balance of the season;

2. Get rid of Murphy now and search for a competent AD;

3. Get rid of Bollinger now (and not just because of the dreadful football and mens basketball records).

No ands, ifs, or buts - just do it!

At Tue Oct 11, 05:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a lot of hysteria here. Let's be honest, we all expected a good season this year (at least most of us on this board). That the team has been looking so anemic is unexpected. That doesn't excuse the coaching staff, perhaps their flaws have been fully exposed. If Wilson isn't coaching during games, he may be fed up himself and feeling he's on his way out. We all know the problems with his OC, whom he has refused to replace, most likely out of loyalty to his UConn colleague, the only one he took with him to CU.

I don't think anyone in the administration wants to act rashly or appear to be out for Wilson's head by putting wins and losses ahead of all else. That's not the Ivy, certainly not the Columbia way. But if the players are demoralized, as it does indeed appear, then a change is in order. But let's do it in a civil, humanistic way, not by a mid-season firing. And let's also remember all the success we've had in other sports since Ms. Murphy came aboard. Football, with rare exceptions, has always been our bete noir. It will take a supreme effort and a magical coach to change that. We've only had two of those in modern times, Lou Little and Buff Donelli, although Ray Tellier had his moments in '94 and '96.

The good news is that we have plenty of talent returning, the cupboard won't be bare for the new boss.

Finally, I agree with the previous posts about the possible inappropriateness of someone like Tom Gilmore, who may be a fine coach but not right for us. Viewing him as a savior could backfire, too much pressure. If Aaron Kelton is interested, I think we should give him a shot. He was excellent here as DC and now as HC at Williams, which is as close to Ivy League as you can get. I hope he's among the candidates, and if Gilmore really is interested, it would be good to see him there, too.

At Tue Oct 11, 05:34:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

Jake, lay off Dr. Murphy somewhat. Whatever we make of Norries's travails, she has brought championships in several sports to CU over and over again. She is the athletic director, not the "football director." Her tenure in the main has been a successful one, ranging from golf to cross country to squash to field hockey to archery and even to the launch of a new varsity sport in squash.

She has also clearly made a wise hire in Kyle Smith. No, he may not bring basketball title after basketball title to Columbia - Ivy hoops just has too much genuine parity for that - but he will bring one soon enough. At least as good, he will nonetheless bring us winning season after winning season, something Joe Jones was never able to do even when he had the league's one truly dominant player (Jon Baumann) on his roster.

And putting so mucn faith in Campbell may also be a grave mistake. He was a terrible head coach himself; more importantly, I suggest, he was fool enough to think he could handle the job in the first darn place.

So let's not just form an instant virtual lynch mob on this site for either Wilson or Murphy, okay?

At Tue Oct 11, 06:13:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure it is fair to say that Jake is putting too much faith in Bill Campbell. The way I read Jake, he appears to be saying that there is no greater son of Columbia than Bill, but that Bill has a blind spot for Norries and perhaps for Dianne. That blind spot has permitted us to tolerate mediocrity or worse for far too long, and in the case of Norries it is compounded by the fact that he is such a fine man.

At Tue Oct 11, 06:20:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake- FANTASTIC post! If Diane can drive out Joe Jones (which she did), who was at least 500 in Ivy play, WHY is she tolerating this dung?

Wake up! Kelton is NOT the answer. I was for the Gilmore years. His resume speaks for itself! Furthermore, if you watched the Holy Cross-UMass game on TV, as I did, you would see how passionate and engaged he is. His players love him! Half of the Hot Dog Committee knows Gilmore and what he brings to the table. We would be lucky to have him! I'm not sure if we can get him though. The other guy we should look at is Margraff from HopkIns.

At Tue Oct 11, 06:22:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Years ago there was some question whether Columbia had any passionate fans. Thanks to Jake, and the blog he created, everyone around Columbia Football now knows that there is indeed a very strong core group of devoted Columbia Football Fans who live and die for Columbia Football. I have no idea how big that group is, but it's very existence belies the prior notion that no one cared about Columbia Football. Go Lions!b

At Tue Oct 11, 07:01:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cathar nailed it. We're all frustrated by a seiously poor season but hve to accept the current staff for the rest of it.
As for a Carroll or a Ryan...a joke, yes?
Anyway, thanks Jake for stimulating the discussion.

At Tue Oct 11, 07:15:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a football blog. With all due respect to the defenders of the Murphy regime who point out that she has done wonders for squash, volley ball, archery and other minor sports, I say so what. Football and basketball are the marquee sports, and if you are dreadful in either or both, it is hard to take solace in a really great squash program. Norries has had six years to right this ship. It is time for a change, not a reshuffling of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

At Tue Oct 11, 08:09:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

info for 4:20 poster!!
joe jones fell to 5and 9 in the ivies in his last year.

At Tue Oct 11, 08:14:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know where people get the idea that Dianne Murphy is doing well with the non-revenue sports. Columbia wins way fewer Ivy championships than any other program in the league. With Columbia playing thirty one intercollegiate sports and eight members of the Ivy League, our fair share should be about four Ivy League championships a year. Yet Columbia won no championships at all last year, and just three in 2009-2010. It's another example of Columbia accepting mediocrity across its sports program in a way that no other Ivy League school would.

At Tue Oct 11, 08:54:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Mitch '68 said...

Great post by Jake as usual and I certainly agree with the poster who mentioned how this board is transforming many aspects of CU football. Onward. A few thoughts:

>> Wilson will not be let go during the season nor should he be.

>> Barring a miracle turnaround, Wilson will be let go after the season.

>> Gilmore will not be the next coach.

>> When it last opened up, Harvard's Murphy commented that the CU job is "a very difficult situation" and declined to elaborate. Difficult? You can say that again. I do not believe there has EVER been a head coach here with an overall winning record going back through Lou Little. Not sure before that.

>> A huge problem is the commute to Baker Field. Although other schools also have distance, there is something about the separation of the field from the school that has a big negative effect at Columbia. Especially in the first two years, players face an intensely demanding curriculum that makes playing football really tough with the commute. I don't know what or how anything can be done about this. It hurts everything.

>> I'm sorry, but the chances of beating Penn this week are <0. "Prepare for impact."

At Tue Oct 11, 09:11:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Inwood Tiger said...

Regarding the commute to Baker and the deeper psychological distance, I have some suggestions.

This is Manhattan, the stadium is not coming back to Morningside Heights. But treating Baker more like a third campus and less like a back lot would help. Columbia is building a second campus in Harlem -- it needs to think of Baker as a third.

Some of this is already happening, with the recent removal of the barbed wire fences, planting of trees and the new Campbell Center. But Baker needs to be more like an open campus and less like a guarded no-academics, sports-only fortress. Adding a little more academia in the vein of Campbell would allow players to study, eat, read, etc. before and after workouts so that they are not rushing back to campus the second practice ends. This would help remove the psychological distance. Who knows, maybe one day an actual classroom might show up on the site.

As for the physical distance, get off the bus and onto the subway. Buses cannot use the FDR or West Side Highway, and driving down Broadway is a bear. What does that trip take, 35 minutes? More? The subway, which now has countdown clocks, takes 16 minutes from W215th to W116th. Sixteen minutes. You can't turn a bus around uptown in 16 minutes. I don't really know how current policies work with students and buses, but it seems there are way too many athletes taking the chartered bus instead of the perfectly safe and fast subway.

At Tue Oct 11, 09:36:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mitch '68 is right on. Firing Wilson mid-season accomplishes little.

The scenarios with Tellier or Campbell as coach are far-fetched to say the least. The interim coach would be a current member of the staff. The assistants would each be taking on more responsibility. They have taken most of the blame from the "commentariat" for the poor performances -- now we want to give them all promotions?!

Gilmore, desirable though he may be, is a long shot. When he first interviewed at Columbia he was an unproven commodity. He was in his second year with a poor HC team. In the 5 years since he has made them a perennial PL contender. Frankly, his stock entitles him to a much better job than Columbia.

He also has two young children -- not sure what impact that would have on his decision.

At Tue Oct 11, 09:39:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's another suggestion out of left field ... have Tellier contact his protoge' Chip Kelly to get a Position Coach from Oregon ... if he still needs a little seasoning have Tellier take over for to years to transition the kid ....

PS JV game is at 2 PM on Friday

At Tue Oct 11, 10:03:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger DOC said...

Wow great passion on this board by a group of Alums who dare to demand excellence from our Lions! This is refreshing- how far we have come from the days when "beat the spread" was the only chant the Columbia Band could serenade us with. Thanks Jake for that Howard Beale-like analysis. It needed to be said and you couldn't have broken it down any better.
My 2 cents: 1)I don't see how replacing a coach in mid season is anything but a disruption at this point. 2) The current staff needs to get us at least 3 Ivy wins to indicate that some progress is being made. 3) I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dr. Murphy's efforts to change the losing mentality at CU. I sensed from meeting her that she wants to win as badly as any of us. If the Nories Wilson regime with its lifetime winning percentage here of .281 has to go, we need to accept that sometimes a coaches hiring proves to be a mistake- look at all the D-1 schools and their coaching carousels.
Jake is right, money will make the world of Columbia Football stop at the right place. We can and should vote with our wallets. This however is not the time to stop giving to the athletics program. Our student-athletes should not be penalized, only supported.

At Tue Oct 11, 10:04:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to see Gilmore return to Columbia, although I know virtually nothing about him . And he might want to return here for revenge. I say "return" because he was a CU assistant coach in his very early days of coaching and got dissed by the kiberak mind-set and had to move on because he squawked at a food server one day during the team meal on campus. Seems the guy (precise memory fails here) either had long greasy hair and was being careless about handling the food or he was goofing around with another guy on the serving line, or both, and Gilmore had the gumption to say something to him. End of Gilmore's CU coaching career before it really got going. Maybe now's the time to continue it.

At Tue Oct 11, 11:02:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post is dedicated to all Columbia Football Players.

It's safe to say that the 106 young men on this football team who are extremely dedicated to this program want nothing more than to win. It's also safe to say that every one of them read this blog. With that said it's time for these 106 hearts to beat as one.


Respect one another and reject all negative comments, if you dig deep within yourself the winner will always find the positive within the negative.

Overcome any and all objections and obstacles you’re faced with not as individuals but as a team.

Attitude is a state of mind. You have it use it.

Remember as you practice so shall you play. Practice every play as though it’s your last. Hard work, sweat, tears and a tireless effort on every down will make the difference.

Leadership is having a positive influence on your teamates in which you and others can motivate and lead their teamates in the accomplishment of a common goal to win at will.

Individuals don’t win games. The power and will to win comes from 106 players playing as one. This is the key to winning.

Overwhelm your opponents everytime you take the field with a desire and passion that you will not loose. This is your time, your game, your opportunity to turn the doubters into believers.

Never say die. You can if you think you can. Quiting is no longer an option and is no longer a part of your vocabulary.

Solitify your purpose as a Columbia Lion right now. It’s time to turn your season around. No more excuses, no more we can’t, we can and we will.

Read, react and destroy the opponents determination to win by hitting them harder than they ever thought they could be hit. Hit them hard, fast, and furious and their will to win will be severely diminished.

Obsess over the thrill of victory and not the agony of defeat. You have the power within you to defeat and destroy any team you face. Believe in the team, believe in 106 players hearts beating as one and the team will prevail.

Acknowledge your weaknesses so you can improve them, acknowledge your strengths to make them stronger and acknowledge that you will never quit because once you quit, quitting gets easier. You are the Columbia Lions and you will no longer be denied victory.

Recognize the sacrifice, the hard work, the tireless effort, the sweat, the injuries, the cold, the heat and all that you endure to be a Columbia Lion football player then recognize you can and will win because many hearts will now beat as one.

At Tue Oct 11, 12:57:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked the comment that a good athletics program adds immeasurably to the quality of student life. It does, a hell of a lot more than drugs, alcohol or demonstrations against the USA.
I also second the statement that the Less-publicized sports--which are important nonetheless--have been successful. They aren't terrible as football is almost always, and basketball most of the time. But brief spurts in men and women's soccer, and others, are always followed by a return to mediocrity or worse.
At times in football and basketball we have made the W-L records a bit less than horrible by scheduling hopeless schools but most of those are better than us now, in all sports. I guess we'll start picking on high schools next.
What a mess! Too many collges and universities have presidents and admins that are too overboard for sports success. Poor Columbia is always stuck with leaders who'd like to ban sports as if they were a contagion.
For God's sake, retire Wilson, Murphy and also Bollinger, who will be missed only by Ahmahdinejad.

At Tue Oct 11, 05:40:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bollinger is the epitome of political correctness. He is disinterested in sports. Sure, I would trade him in a heart beat for a President who actually shows up at Baker Field on game day. But so what? He'll be gone soon enough. Hopefully we will have somebody with the interests of our College first and foremost. But on to the present. We have the talent to play better football. How many of us who once played the sport, if only on the high school level, can say that our coaches were everything we wanted them to be? Not too many, I suppose. But for this moment in time, let's get past it. Let us resolve to play evry snap as if it is our last. As I was told a hundred years ago, let the guy on the other side of the line know from the first play that he is in for a long and miserable afternoon. More than any other sport, football depends on passion and will. When Harry Carson stepped off the field for the last time, he is fond of saying that he had no regrets because everything he had to give he gave. And let's not suffer from the silent syndrome that it is better to lose and guarantee a new staff than to win and be stuck with the same staff. This group is history. We aren't playing for them; we are playing for each other and for the certain knowledge that when we look back on our careers we can say, as did Harry Carson, that whatever we had to give, we gave. BEST PENN!

At Tue Oct 11, 05:49:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Actually Inwood Lion, the CU football team has been allowed to use its buses on the West Side HWY since 1994 when Mayor Giuliani gave the team a waiver.

At Tue Oct 11, 06:39:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was mention of Aaron Kelton as a replacement for Norris. Bad choice. The defense to a degree they are still running today was created by him. It worked better back then because the offense was managing to stay on the field longer and he was good at making on the fly changes. The defense is not performing well, but, for the first time in years they have a DC that is at least trying to make changes to improve the situation game time and during the week (rotations and LB moves last week). OC has never seemed capable of doing the same. If the change happens new blood is needed.

As far as sooner or later is concerned, probably sooner. That would be less harmful on recruiting. If you let Norris go you need to let the OC go too. Defense isn’t great, but, the new DC seems to making little improvements each game and I think whatever happens he might be someone that should stay around. At least he is not like his predecessor who was fixated on a few players and refused to make changes even if they weren’t performing or health. The ex-Minnesota coach could be the temporary replacement (if he really wants that), but, remember he is coaching the DBs which have been having tackling/coverage issues all season with the exception of one player we all know.

Money talks. If real change is going to happen some of the major money people supporting football/sports need to put some pressure on the powers to be. That is the only way change will really happen. I think by Jake finally taking the gloves off is a start. Many of the “money” people follow his blog and his frustration getting to the point where he is no longer mostly player/team positive only in itself sends out a strong message that will be noted by them.

I think the AD overall has made major improvements at the school. Unfortunately what she does now will determine her own future.

At Tue Oct 11, 06:41:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Money does talk, and NOT DONATING speaks volumes! The kids will not suffer, they have plenty of reserves. Giving money to this staff/admiistration means that we condone what they are doing. DO NOT BE A HYPOCRYTE! Only then will Bollinger and Diane wake up. Diane will have an opinion on Norries as soon as Bill Campbell tells her what it is. Bob Kraft is aware of this, as I have told him as much. He is unhappy with his name on a field that is associated with so much losing; and I don't blame him!

The administration first deemed this Blog as fringe press. Thank you Jake for bringing greater attention to our plight. All of our discontent would go away if we knew that here was light at he end of the tunnel. If we knew that Norries' contract would not be renewed, then there would be far more optimism.

Three wins, but the way, should NOT save this guy's job. We are a joke in the league because we tolerate mediocrity.

You people continue to look for excuses why it is difficult to win at Columbia. A 20 minute bus ride, boo hoo! Open your yes, we have two Ivy Championship baseball teams under this new coach... Hint, same ride, less facilities. What about our excellent track and X-Country teams. They have to go to Van Courtland Park and borrow track time in Manhattanville, or the Armory. These kids know what they are getting before they arrive, so stop withthe excuses! Football is no different. Columbia and NYC is an asset, not a liability.

At Tue Oct 11, 06:53:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Bob L said...

Points of information. Arizona just fired its football coach of eight years in the middle of the season after he had lost five games in a row including the last one to winless Orgeon State. This showed that losing was not going to be tolerated.
Also the president of Dartmouth is down on the field with the football team duing the game showing that he cares. Where's President Bollinger?
It's not enough for the alumni to be passionate about building a winning program.

At Tue Oct 11, 07:03:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog,love reading the comments. Don't mean to change the subject, but what is with the band? Nothing that I would have EVER expected !!!! Couldn't believe the small number of players in it, and was shocked at the way they just ran around on the field for the first 10 minutes before they even started to play!!!!!What is with that? Seems to me that a school like Columbia would have a hugegroup of musicians that would want to be a part of a saturday afternoon game. The sound coming from the small group wasn/t half bad so to add more people would be even better. Did not wear any kind of uniform, seemed so disorganized and that running around thing on the field was very unimpressive to say the least. Is this tradition? I would love to know?

At Tue Oct 11, 07:53:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous TrueBlue said...

How come no posts supporting the coaches and counseling patience? I posted one - there may be others. Jake are you playing censor on this one, trumping up the drumbeat to get the result you want? I'm disappointed to say the least. Very UN-Columbian of you.

At Tue Oct 11, 08:20:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "bus ride" and the "Tim Murphy says Columbia is a tough gig" stories are so much horse dung. We are allowed to use the West Side Highway and can make the trip in 20 minutes. It hasn't hurt baseball or tennis, etc. And Tim Murphy? He owuld be thrilled if Norries stayed until he retires. He will do whatever he can to talk down our program. He is all about winning, at our expense and at the expense of whatever other school he can talk down. The problem can and will be fixed if we demand excellence. Let's flood Bollinger with letters. Let's flood Bill Campbell with letters. And as far as Dianne is concerned, she should also go. She doesn't want to be here anyway. West Point's gain is our loss. BEAT PENN!!

At Tue Oct 11, 08:29:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To "True Blue" - there are several posts which ask for patience and understanding. Comments have been made that "coaches don't go off sides", or "coaches don't drop open passes". All good points. However, we have not seen progress with this program! That much is undeniable! Also, I believe 6 years is MORE than patient. Norries' LOSING percentage is not acceptable in any athletic, or business model.

*To Inwood Dave - if you are such a fan, can I park in your driveway for games? Parking is a ber around the stadium.

GMA CC '92

At Tue Oct 11, 08:30:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Advice for Saturday. 1. If we win the toss, take the ball. 2. When we kick off no squib kicks. 3. When we score, go for 2 on every play 4. If anybody misses a tackle, he comes out -- no excuses. 5. Let Brackett call his own plays. 6. Line up Fraser at DE. 7. Let Martin run blitz or pass rush on every down. 8. Run two back sets with both Garrett and Gerst, and work Fischer into the lineup. 9. Look for Garner at least 8 times. 10. Work slant patterns with Williams and Nelligan. 11. If a receiver drops a catchable ball, he comes out.

At Tue Oct 11, 08:32:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Sorry True Blue, but I haven't deleted or filtered out any comments in support of this group. Face it, the support just isn't there. And with a .296 winning percentage, (.250 Ivy), I'm not sure why you expect otherwise. Unless, unless, unless, you're answer is "well, that's not bad for Columbia"... and that's even worse, because it's these lowered expectations that have been killing us for 50 years.

At Tue Oct 11, 09:10:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing more I can add that hasn't been said. This is the best string I have yet read through, ever.

Coach needs to go, few would disagree. But rally around the team and show them we support them.

I will vote with my feet and fly in from Hong Kong for both the Dartmouth and Brown games this year

Chen '82

At Tue Oct 11, 09:22:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anybody outside of the hard core is reading this blog, one thing should be apparent. There is a hard core of us who love Columbia football who demand the best for our players and our school. Bollinger, Murphy and Campbell, wake up and do something!

At Tue Oct 11, 09:26:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At Tue Oct 11, 09:33:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone said "Comments have been made that "coaches don't go off sides", or "coaches don't drop open passes". All good points. "

He is right, but, coaching is what corrects those problems. A major D1 school was having the same issue for the past couple of years and they have a new head coach this year and you know something those are no longer major issues. That team is 6 and 0 and rank #10 in the country. What changed? Coaches. The penalties and dropped balls are all things that can be improved on by good coaching. You have to be realistic, there will still be some, but, getting back to fundamentals and improving on the metal aspect of the game is what the coaches should be doing. To be fare if you look at the games from week to week they are making improvements on the mental side of the game. Still dropping balls and still too many penalties, but, some improvement each game. Coaches also decide how much and what to practice. My guess last week’s bad kicking was probably because they didn’t practice that as much and it showed. Again coaching. The biggest problem they really have is offensive play calling and that has been constantly bad for years. This year not adjusting away from the teams tendencies is killing us. That is all coaching.

I think they have the players to be great. I think the players are going to put out 110% each game. They can and hope will beat Penn this week. When it comes down to it play calling and coaching will again be key factors. There are going to be mistakes and how they adjust when that happens will be key.

At Tue Oct 11, 09:42:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more thought. We have been consistently terrible in the third quarter. What does that tell us? for me, it says that the other side makes good half time adjustments and we do not. that is where a good HC makes a difference. He absorbs what he hears from upstairs, listens to his assistants and then makes the right moves. Every game this year has followed that pattern.

At Tue Oct 11, 09:46:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I made the financial commitment to fly in for every game for the first time this year. It is Chris's last year and this is my way of supporting him and even more importantly the team. Regardless of the coach situation, if you show up and cheer for the team the players will react. I for one am hoping everything comes together this week and they have a great victory. Regardless of how things turn out I can guarantee the players will continue fight and play hard each week.

Karl Groth

At Tue Oct 11, 10:09:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to Karl Groth and his son Chris! You and your boy make us proud to be Lions! In the end it has to be about the kids.

At Tue Oct 11, 10:54:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Use the element of surprize. It would be nice this Saturday to see the Lions come out with a hurry up offense. Also would be nice to see the dbacks play up on the line of scrimmage taking away the short passes and blitzing the QB all day. Would also be nice to see some kind of wildcat offense with Bell or Weiss at QB and Sean at slot or WR. I hope the coaches use some imagination this week they have nothing to loose and everything to gain just by being creative and thinking outside the box.

At Tue Oct 11, 10:58:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you publicly announce you are firing the coach, now or at end of season, you not only doom this season but also recruiting for the next one unlkess you name a full-time (not interim) coach now. Even then, since recruiting is done mostly by assistants, where do you think their heads will be?

You have to communicate privately to the AD your dissatisfaction, then have the AD move quickly immediately at end of the season.

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

I played during the streak and never won or tied a varsity game.

Even thought many of us stayed remarkably close with each other over the years, CU was absolutely awful at making me or my teammates feel like CU football was a special family and something of which to be proud. That is, until the arrival of Dr Murphy and Norries. They've generated a buzz with alumni around CU football that I don't ever recall seeing or experiencing.

I was skeptical when CU hired a female AD but she proved me wrong. Al Paul was a yes man who did little to make the players feel appreciated and never gave us the feeling he would push the admin on the behalf of athletics. I don't see that with Dr Murphy. I think she desperately wants a successful ahletics program in all phases and I think an AD is only as strong as the amount of juice she is ultimately given by the Admin. Maybe she is not good enough to sway the admin, (who still apparently thinks winning is a sign of academic inferiority)
or perhaps she was interested in leaving for Army because she has tired of arm wrestling with them?

This year is a huge disappointment because we've all had the feeling we were right there these past couple of years. I'm getting alot of emails from my teammates from the 80's and the turnout for HC is going to drop off - I think a lot of has to do with the unmet expectatoins of this season.

He may not be a strong enough game day coach, but he has gotten us closer than ever. He has renewed hope in CU football and he has done a tremendous job comunicating with and including all football alumni as part of the family. It sure seems like he has done wonders in terms recruiting, too.

It might be time to hand it off to someone who can get us over the hump, but Norries deserves a ton of credit for getting us this far and I am a fan of Dr Murhpy. I don't see her as the probelem, it remains the Admin. on that side of the equation.

At Tue Oct 11, 11:56:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please. All Al Paul did was to get Levien Gym, Wien Stadium and the soccer stadium built. If that's a "yes man" I'll take him any day. I'm pretty sure the athletes felt amply appreciated by the AD when they got vastly upgraded facilities. The administration Al served under and the alumni (aside from a relatively small but avid core) were another matter.

At Tue Oct 11, 11:58:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous TrueBlue said...

I appreciate your response, Jake. I was a bit P.O.ed because you didn't put my rather lengthy post up. Did you not get it?

At Wed Oct 12, 12:00:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

True Blue... Please resend it. I must have missed it.

At Wed Oct 12, 01:31:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In repsonse to the player from "the streak". First and foremost, I really admire you guys who had to live through the Dark Ages of Columbia football. As far as the merits of your comment, I think that Norries is a great guy who means well, who rescued us from the shambles that Shoop created, and who really cares about his guys. The problem is that at some point results have to justify the effort. I think Norries relies too heavily on mediocre assistants, doesn't seem to do much of the coaching himself, at least during games, and doesn't appear to make wise personnel decisions or to manage a game well. I wish it were otherwise, but it isn't.

At Wed Oct 12, 03:02:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous John Alex '89 said...

Nice job and hat tip to Jake the Snake for forum.

1. I am in touch with some of the players and they are totally committed and work their asses off. Absolutely first class men.

2. Having played for the crazies of a certain character, I have nothing but respect and admiration for coach Wilson and the way he conducts himself.

3. The results speak for themselves. I am certain coach realizes it more than anyone else.

4. Support your program. Hire kids, give money, come to games and then voice your opinion to the athletic department or the administration. We all know from the 11,000 emails we receive a year that CU runs on money from alumnae.

5. Have something other than your keys in your front pocket and post your name, especially former players.

At Wed Oct 12, 03:07:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger JJ said...

Putting Tellier in charge? Pfffftttt!. I hope you like the concept of platooning QBs.

At Wed Oct 12, 03:16:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, Jake. Our expectations for Columbia athletics should be high. We're ranked four in the country by US News and World Report and we're located in the greatest city in the country and possibly the world. We may not have the best facilities, but we have good facilities and they are coupled with top rankings and location.

The coaches of a number of varsity sports at Columbia are capitalizing on those advantages to build strong programs. Heck, our golf team has to leave Manhattan to practice, and they excel, and the men's cross-country team is ranked 18th in the country. It's coaching that is determinative.

Also, those coaches are successful under Bollinger and Murphy. Bollinger has been a superb president for Columbia in general; he chose Bill Campbell, the former football captain, to be chair of the trustees; the trustees put in place the first trustee committee on athletics under him and Campbell. Bollinger's actually put some pieces in place for athletics to prosper; indeed it is up to the alumni to provide the financial support the athletics department needs.

I'm not close enough to the team to know if a mid-season coaching change would be the right move or not, but I do know that Columbia football can be a winning program with the assets and support it currently enjoys. I join most everyone else in saying it's time for a change.


At Wed Oct 12, 03:54:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Mitch '68 said...

If you were interviewing for the CU job, it seems to me there is at least one question you would absolutely want to address: why, in the post war era, has there never been a head coach with an overall winning record?

I am certain that the answer to that question has many elements. Once you identified them, you would then want to ask: how is it going to be different now? How can I as the head coach make it different? What about the athletic department and the administration? What about the alumni? The students? What needs to change so that I will become the first winning head coach since Ike Eisenhower was president of CU, and maybe even before that.

Similarly, if you were interviewing candidates for the job, you could frankly address the fact that there has never been a winning head coach. Then you could say, "How can things be different now? What do you want? What do you need? And if we give it to you, what can you credibly promise us, and when?"

For what it's worth, if I were a candidate I would immediately state my urgent need for not just one, but at least three or four true stud players to jump start the program right away -- four-star or five-star players. Let's do whatever it takes within the rules to steer them away from Stanford or Cal. And it has to be more than one or two.

There are a lot more pieces to the puzzle, of course. But some players of that caliber are the essential first step.

When I was at CU, Penn football was pathetic and Brown was not much better. That changed. But let's face it: there has never
been a bigger challenge than Columbia. So......?

I would love to see other people's ideas -- as specific as possible -- about what needs to be done to reverse the sixty year trend. I know it's a big question, and I'm sure there are plenty of interesting answers.

At Wed Oct 12, 04:27:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you John Alex for your post. I admired your no nonsense play during your tenure (Captain of the '88 team). My questions to you, and to those of you who may share John's opinion, are as follows:

Is this staff's body of work over the past six years acceptable?

Does it merit another year, or renewal of Norries' contract?

If you answer in the affirmative to either of those questions, you must have a very successful Second career as a Real Estate Broker, because you just sold out!

Look forward to your response... Oh, and where is the Hot Dog Committee on this since you are the only one speaking up?

At Wed Oct 12, 04:30:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Al Peck said...

Our best season in recent memory- Marcellus Wiley, Rory Wilfork comes to mind - 1996. You would not think one or 2 players can dominate, but we did. Of course in 1996 we were crushed by Dartmouth, but that is another story.

Last year we had Gross, excellent player, and Kennedy - who was a great threat on offense. But even with these guys we only got 4 wins last year. J. Reese comes to mind, set Ivy rushing records - but a winning season eluded us.

For my money, I don't think that Columbia will let the coach go in the middle of the season, despite the overwhelming number of opinions to that effect on this site. Not sure why this outpouring of anger towards Dr. Murphy - but ... perhaps some blame is there.

I wrote to Bollinger years ago - sent picture of my son with Hunsberger, said "Come on, let's get a team" Presbo sent personal reply and said "Give me time..."
How much time?

I will keep my keys in my pocket, har har and give my name for a change. Not a player - just a fan, since 1992.

At Wed Oct 12, 06:43:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't believe the coach should be fired in midseason just for losing . The best approach would be to let him go after the season. We also need to think about attracting the next coach that is not the way to go. Coaches are conditioned to ignore the blog talk. Unfortunately his record speaks for itself.

At Wed Oct 12, 08:21:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

College coaches are conditioned to understand that their record is the final arbiter.

Players are conditioned to understand that when the coaches' job is on the line it is a reflection of their performance on the field.

The fine distinction that fans draw in their criticism between coaches and players are distinctions without a difference.

When fans shoot at coaches during the season they are using a "shot gun" that hits the players as well.

We'll see over the remainder of the season how many players understand that the season is played one game and one play at a time; what has happened in the past defines their future only if they let it.

Good luck to these gentlemen - players and coaches. They all took on a job to create a new tradition here. The book is not yet completed, and I only hope they get up every morning committed to the notion of writing their own history.

Years from today when these men have grey hair and sons - like mine - or daughters going through a challenging season, they won't remember the bloggers here. Their only memory will be how they responded to this challenge. Let it be a good one.

At Wed Oct 12, 08:51:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous TrueBlue said...


At Wed Oct 12, 08:52:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous TrueBlue said...

Wow. Much as I love a good lynch mob, I have to say you guys are just wrong. The very things you say are the reasons you expected more this year are Wilson's and Murphy's successes -- fundraising, recruiting, motivated players, facilities, etc. I haven't seen any abuse, as one poster suggested. And no evidence that the players don't like their coaches. Quite to the contrary, attrition stays at a low, 5 guys came back for 5th years, and the results of the off-season training program showed enthusiasm.
The program is way ahead of where it was when Wilson started. This year is a stumble, but it appears so because Wilson started the program on an upward trajectory. A perfectly straight lie is a lot to expect. That is NOT to say that anyone should be satisfied with losing. It IS to say that Wilson has achieved something significant since he took the helm, but the job clearly is not near done. I think he deserves a chance to see it through.
Certainly we are all frustrated with what we are seeing on the field. But none of us knows the real reason for it, because none of us goes to practices, coaches' strategy sessions, or the trainer's room, or is inside the players' or coaches' heads. Saying that Wilson has given up and is not coaching on the sideline is simply insulting to a guy who deserves much, much better. Saying the players are disserved by their coaches is demoralizing at best, and simply wrong.
Someone said Ray Tellier has a keen football mind. I agree. But remember that Ray lost more than 2/3 of his games and that Wilson's first five years' results were significantly better than Ray's. Even Lou Little lost more than he won at CU. This is a big ship that has been heading in the wrong direction for decades. Let's be grateful to Wilson for being been willing to work hard to turn it around, and for the progress he made. When he started, after all, the decks were awash.
Think Gertz is a great back who should get more carries? Thank Wilson for recruiting him. Think four All-Ivy first teamers should have gotten more wins last year? Remember who recruited them and trained them. I could go on.
Bill Campbell cares passionately about CU football, and he knows what coaching is about. If he thinks Wilson has what it takes, he would know. Saying it's a blind spot is insulting to Bill. He doesn't deserve it.
Consider this: if Brackett hadn't made that terrible throw at the end of the first half of the Fordham game (which was entirely out of character to that point, and a mistake that he took full responsibility for), CU would have gone into the locker room with a lead and the second half might have been very different. CU was in that game. Same for SHU and Princeton. Despite the ugly losses, these guys have been competitive.
I'm sure if you speak to the players, they're kicking themselves for poor execution. That's not dumping on them; it's respecting them. That's the reality of the situation. Is it the coaches' fault they are not tackling the way they were taught? I doubt it. And saying the player's don't have responsibility for their individual level's of play is insulting to them.

Remember the 3-6 year under Navarro in 1972? CU came off a 6-3 season and actually was favored to win the title that year. The defense was led by the exceptional linebacking corps of Kaliades, Dermody and McKenzie, and CU had All-Ivies, and three All-Americans. After the season, Dermody said the linebackers hadn't made a big play all season. He didn't blame the coaches, just stated the fact. It happens, even to the best of players.
I hope this year's squad can break out of its spiral, and turn things around. I know the coaches are racking their brains trying to find a way to break the spell. Help them and support them, if you care about this year's team. Dumping on the coaching staff is not only wrong-minded, it's also counterproductive. Let's put a stop to it.

At Wed Oct 12, 01:07:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the fan who asked about the band and is it always so crummy, you are obviously new around here, and I'm sorry to tell you it has always been like this. I can't say for sure but I've always had the feeling that the apathy about the band and the band's own loony attitude that they are funny and creative is a mirror image of CU's neglect of football and sports in general. The band thinks they are comedians but if given the mike at a comedy club they'd be thrown out in six seconds. We're talking about college football, and what should be a loud, proud marching band. Instead we get have a ragtag handful of Groucho Marx wannabes tootling on piccolos (ok they have a couple of real instruments but that's the impression they give).
Improve the football program and maybe the band will improve too. Or maybe our next coach is in the band--all that crazy running around they do--couldn't we use that in our running game?

At Wed Oct 12, 07:44:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...


I hear what you're saying, but it's what you're NOT saying that speaks volumes.

Specifically, WHAT are the obstacles that make Columbia a place where no one can win?

Isn't it funny how no one ever is willing to tell us?

It's like Big Brother, or Stalinist Russia.

Speaking of Russia, here's a quote from Ninotchka that we should all keep in mind:

"Comrade, I've been fascinated by
your Five-Year Plan for the last fifteen years."

TrueBlue, it's time to ask for better. You can't possibly be endorsing a coach and an administration that gives us everything but wins... for 50 years and counting.

At Wed Oct 12, 08:28:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

True Blue- This type of blind loyalty, just makes you BLIND! Wilson's and Murphy's successes? How does that Blue Kool-Aid taste?

One of Norries' "greatest" accomplishments, per his interview with the Spec. was (is) that the team now all dresses alike. Bravo, please renew his contract! And for those alums who say that we are seeing "progress" because Norries' record is better than Tellier, Shoop, McElreavy, etc. you just don't get it! The only people who want Norries to stay are the other 7 Ivy coaches. To date, Norries' record is: 16-40 overall and 9-27 in-league. That is 9-27 just in case you missed it the first time... Tell me again why he should have his contract renewed? Oh, because he's a good guy and the team dresses alike. And as far as Dr. Murphy goes, if she FINALLY makes a change (with Uncle Bill's permission), then she's doing the right thing. To date, she is a disappointment "managing" this program.

Disgruntled Lion!

At Wed Oct 12, 09:39:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous TrueBlue said...

Disgruntled Lion, Wilson was being ironic. He's never made excuses or pulled punches about losses. He changed D coordinators because Denauld Brown, a good guy, wasn't up to the job. No excuses.
Jake, perhaps the obstacle is losing itself. And this regime isn't satisfied with losing -- ergo, Wilson's ironic comment about his "greatest" achievement. But the talent he has brought in is unprecedented at CU, in size and overall speed. He has a top QB and another one behind him in Kal Prince. As I said, we are disappointed because the trajectory has been upward, and the team has taken a step backwards. But remember that trajectory. The question is whether this is a blip or an inflection point.
I haven't heard anything from this group of coaches and administrators that suggests they believe losing is structural. This year could be a number of things. Injuries -- which the coaches talk about privately but do not use as an excuse. A need for the captains to step up and lead in the locker room and on the field. Or the loss of an exceptional group of seniors, and time needed for new guys to step in behind them.
It appears, to me at least, that the quality of each incoming class has risen over the prior one during Wilson's reign. That is what keeps me on board. No illusions -- certainly none that there's a miracle savior out there. No Kool-Aid.
In terms of quality of coaching, consider Wilson's background. Not only was he prominent in a major upgrade at UConn and runner up for national assistant of the year, he has had several NFL fellowships. The turnaround from Shoop to Wilson's 5-5 was immediate. The man knows what he's doing. The drop in attrition suggests the players like playing for him. Argast and Gutekunst are exceptional assistants. The fact tat Coach K was hired at Williams says something about the program and Wilson, too. Williams has won the Director's Cup as the best overall athletics program in Div. III for each of the last ten years. They win in football. And they do not hire head coaches lightly, or from poorly coached programs.
I hope Wilson stays on after the season. Every time you change head coaches, you take a step backward -- new systems, new recruiting relationships, etc. That would hurt more than it would help, in my opinion.
Now, that said, no one should give our coach a free ride and be satisfied with poor results. Let's give the program a chance to show that this year's first half is an aberration. If it reveals itself as a trend, then it's over. But not until then.

At Wed Oct 12, 10:21:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the CU football fan that answered my question about the band,thanks. Thinking that running around on the field is creative??????We could get a bunch of 4 year olds from the local pre-school to show their creativity the same way. One band member was even on stilts ! You are so right,a college or even high school band takes more pride in representing their school on the field. I was shocked when I saw the CU band. I thought it was a joke. I cannot imagine that the band director or athletic director for that matter thinks this is a class act or could possibly be proud of this group.Very disappointed.

At Wed Oct 12, 10:45:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree about the band. And I also think it contributes to a less than meaningful overall football experience. Drop the rugby shirts, put on jackets and keep vertical for starters. And make it about the music. No more yapping. When the Cornell band shows up every other year, it upgrades the experience 100 fold.

At Wed Oct 12, 10:57:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, thanks for everything you do and I don't mean to nitpick but I was there so it's sort of personal to me. Also, you probably were sticking to the nice round figure of 50, but actually it's 57 years and counting for mostly futility in football. Three more years and it will be an even 60.
There have been a few very brief bright spots, it's true, and great memories. The greatest is being in the stands for the win against Princeton that broke the streak. But that just highlights the problem. Our most memorable moment--in the "modern" era anyway--is breaking a 44-game losing streak. Even when we lost there was a time when we were in every game, playing toss-ups down to the last minute with the great Ed Marinaro of Cornell, for example. How nice it would be to get that excitement back.

At Wed Oct 12, 11:20:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The CU band gets a pass from me ever since they saluted Yale by forming the word "wasp" and marching down the Yale Bowl field; they invited Princeton's students, alumni and faculty into an era of good feelings by playing "If We Could Talk to the Animals" from Dr. Doolittle at Palmer Stadium; and . . . they called Spiro Agnew the latest in a long line of Greek tragedies. Lately, however not so funny.

At Wed Oct 12, 11:24:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

To the one or two posters who made the predictable, hoary comments about the foolishness exhibited weekly by the band, I know from a personal exchange with Dr. Murphy (someone I respect, like personally and will continue to back) some years ago that, while she's well aware of the problems we all have with the band (herself included), her hands are basically tied there. The band is a student activity, in no way can have its conduct regulated by the Athletic Department. This is the reality. No matter how frustrating this may seem.

If it's any consolation, the rinceton band seemed no better or even relatively more musical at our game with the Tigers a few weeks ago. And they're also stuck with those garish blazers.

At Thu Oct 13, 12:06:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

True Blue: you are right that NW has done a lot of good things for CU. But at a certain point, you are what your record says you are. In 2009, Lafayette players said Columbia was the best team they faced that year. We had two of the best players in CU history in AK and Lou Miller. We went 4-6 and blamed it on bad breaks and injuries. Last year, we had an All-America TE and the best LB and QB in the Ivies and we played a weak schedule. 4-6. This year, the talent is down a little -- which a lot of us on this blog didn't see -- but the schedule was soft enough for 4-6 to be a realistic goal. We've played the three worst teams on the schedule already and we're 0-4. Per Sagarin rankings, we are the 10th worst FCS football team (out of 126) and we will be two touchdown underdogs, or worse, in each of the next six games. What really hurts is that it seems like a lot of our guys regressed over the past year. We know they worked hard all summer. Why didn't anybody improve?!

Weirdly enough, because NW has upgraded our talent I am not sure we would take a step back if we hired a new coach. A new guy would inherit Bracket, Gerst, Ollinger, Martin, Garner, Garrett, some giant OLs and a pretty good group of freshman. That may not be a stellar group of underclassmen, but the cupboard isn't bare.

The whole situation is sad. NW is a high-quality person who has done a lot for CU. But his inability to manage a game -- all those close losses! -- isn't going to improve with another year.

At Thu Oct 13, 12:17:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To TrueBlue in some ways I agree with you, but, I think Wilson has sealed his fate simply because of his loyalty to a OC that really hasn't produced since their first season. He really should have let him go long ago. That loyalty very well may get him fired.

At Thu Oct 13, 12:46:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poll question:

What record "saves" Norries' job? Is a 3-7 season acceptable for another year? That is a gift in my opinion since it is notes a steady decline (how's that for trajectory?).

I assume that anything below 3 wins, we're all in the same camp, correct? If not, your intentions are clear and there is no sense in talking to you...

Doomsday scenario: What if we go 1-9, or 2-8, and in the infinite wisdom of Diane we keep Norries? Great for all of the people in Norries’ camp. So is a 4-win season the following year acceptable? Does THAT merit a new contract? At what point do we say this is acceptable, or not?

If we asked Norries in 2005, when he was hired, if a 18-42 overall/11-31 in-league (estimating 2 wins this season), after 6 years at the helm would be acceptable. What do you think that he would have said? Seriously, what we would he have said in that interview? I would have hoped that he would have said that a record like that would not meet his expectations. Guess what, they don’t, nor do they meet ours!

At Thu Oct 13, 01:38:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous TrueBlue said...

I don't want to belabor the point -- and I do appreciate that the tone of the conversation has ratcheted down a few decibels. The question is not whether the record to date is satisfactory or not. If you ask anyone associated with the football program, they would say the record is not satisfactory. Wilson would be the first to say so himself. He does as much in his weekly post-game emails.
The question is how to get to a winning footing. I understand those who say Wilson can't get there. I think differently. Whether he will, I don't know. As laid out in earlier posts, he has shown solid progress, this season notwithstanding. With all the highly capable football coaches CU has had, who have tried and lost. Look at Buff Donelli: Duquesne 29-4-2 (top ten ranking twice), B.U. 46-34-4 (top twenty five) , Columbia 30-76-4.
I just don't think it's realistic to think this can be turned around in 5 years. But when it gets to a point where it appears the current regime can't win, I'll join you.
The difference is I'm not there yet. Maybe I've seen too much failure at CU to believe in quick fixes -- whether by Wilson or the next guy. I think Wilson has shown more than enough progress to deserve the chance to continue toward regular wins.
Then again, who knows . . . he may tire of the uphill slog, himself.

At Thu Oct 13, 02:01:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TrueBlue you may be right about Wilson and his program, but, if you look at the offensive game plan for the past 4 years you will see a really scary thing. A one dimensional offense. The opposing defense this year has been almost identical for the past 4 weeks. Why? Because we do the exact same thing on offense week in and out. If I was Penn I would load the box and play man to man on every play this week. Even with a super star running back you won't run much against that and the pass patterns we run make it real easy to cover one on one. That is all the OC who constantly seems to be unable to adjust. You have to admit why he wasn’t let go long ago is very confusing.

At Thu Oct 13, 03:38:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Columbis's fortunes ca be turned around immediately by the right staff.

The catch is can the athletic department recognize and recruit coaching talent?

I don't think so!!! This is as much a referendum on the athletic department as the coaching staff.

At Thu Oct 13, 05:22:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous TrueBlue said...

I wouldn't be surprised if there are changes at the coordinator level after the season. We'll see.
I'll be there Saturday with my outside voice. I dare not openly hope for a victory lest our friend Foehi get wind of it, but hope springs eternal in a Lion's heart.
Jake, thanks for the forum and for posting my musings. Maybe I'll see you at the game.
Now, let's get back to instructing the coaches on how to win!

At Thu Oct 13, 06:43:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to compliment TrueBlue on coming into a hornet's nest and making the case for Wilson with class and respect.

At Thu Oct 13, 06:52:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, at very least there will be changes at the OC level. However, that point has been noted on seval previous posts. It goes something like this... Norries will issue revolutionary changes of replacing the OC, some other staff, etc. In an attempt to save his job for another year. Bottom line, we lose!

At Thu Oct 13, 08:48:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments about the heart of the kids on this team, they give it their all. Wilson simply does not understand how to coach these kids. There are extreme demands on these kids so Wilson responds by having 7:00AM meetings every morning and then keeping them at practices late into the night. When I have been at practices, all they do is scream at the kids, never anything positive--the sign of a coach who is extremely stressed about losing his job.

At Thu Oct 13, 09:39:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's as predictable every year as another losing football season: Towards the end of a great string of truthful complaints, the pessimists come out with their "Oh let's not be too hard on the poor coach" etc., etc. When do we get some relief and pride back after 60 years of losing?

Even funnier was the defense of the CU Non-Marching, Non-Playing Band, because it is a "student activity" and the Athletics Department allegedly has no power over it! What bunk! Football is a student activity, for that matter. But to stick closer to your point, does that mean the Chess Team, another authorized student activity, has the right to play a tournament at the 50-yard line during halftime?
Maybe, and I don't know, the AD has no power to tell the CU band to act like a band, but the AD certainly has the power to tell the band to stay off the field at haltime. And when did they get enough members to form the letter "I" much less the word "Wasp?" And what's wrong with a "WASP" or are Americans supposed to change their
skin color, ethnic heritage and religion to humor the band and its admirers?

At Fri Oct 14, 02:02:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger JJ said...

As a former gridder for the Light Blue, I fully support the CU Marching Band. They're irreverent. They're foolish. Sometimes, they're downright crass. They are also unique and have done some of the funniest skits I've ever seen at a football game and if you pay attention to them and their message, they actually are quite humorous. I will agree though that at first glance they can be off-putting =D

At Fri Oct 14, 02:42:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At first glance, what about second, third and fourth glance etc. Since when is a COLLEGE football band (whom usually march and not run)suppose to be funny and put on skits? Never been to a football game where the band members were suppose to be comedians.Don't think our visitors from the opposing team think it is too funny.Not a very good reflection on a school with CU's reputation.

At Fri Oct 14, 08:10:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys who can't "get" the band are sadly lacking in imagination and a sense of irreverence. The band doesn't support the football team and has nothing to do with its performance. Get a life, you conservative monkeys.

At Sat Oct 15, 12:10:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi all,

1. i have enjoyed reading this thread - lots of good perspectives, on both or all sides of the issue/s at hand. except for the last two words i read - 'conservative monkeys' - i have appreciated the mutual respect shown to those with differing opinions. (and, btw, i felt the overall tone of the posts by this last poster was actually respectful, so hopefully those two words were meant somewhat endearingly - though i still
don't think they should have been used. one of the biggest problems we face - as a society - is our 'them-us' attitude and constant name-calling and ridiculing)

2. re the band... when i played my general feeling about the band was, "omg, are you kidding me?!" however, two years ago a group of
former footballers and wrestlers - mostly from the class of '66 - held a reunion up at dartmouth, and we had a wonderful, almost magical
time with the columbia band. we sang with them, laughed with them, and truly connected. was so powerful that a few of us actually wrote our impressions and feelings about the experience. if any of you would like to read these email me at and i'll send them to you.

3. i don't know enough to have a legit opinion about whether to get a new HC, but i do have a general comment to make. i think a
tremendous amount of weight - no pun intended - should be put on how the players feel - both former and especially current players, and including the starters and those who seldom get to play. and also the assistant coaches, trainers, and others who work closely with norries - how do they feel?
(same thing w the AD)

roger dennis cc'66

At Sat Oct 15, 04:40:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a nice post
will you be at the game today?
i would love to read a post from you about the team after we play P

At Sat Oct 15, 05:56:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The band doesn't support the football team and has nothing to do with its performance."

I honestly think its a shame that we ALLOW the band to play at all. In real college football the band DOES support the team, and DOES affect its performance.

Guess what Mr. Tuba Player, NONE of those people in the stands aren't there to watch you. Not a single one. It's about the game, not your "band".

They really get under my skin. But I won't let them ruin my first homecoming as an alum! Roar Lions Roar!

At Sat Oct 15, 08:18:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thnx, Doc/jock. i don't think i can make it today - some possibility but not likely.

i do plan on accompanying ed malmstrom to the yale game.

enjoy the day. hope we can pull the upset!

roger d '66

At Wed Oct 26, 02:51:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK i have had about enough now.
First have any of you alumni ever coached before? Sat in a positional meeting with lets say the linebacker coach? Spent 18 hours a day gameplanning your opponent and watching video?
Why dont you spend a day with the staff and try it? They do it 18 hours a day 7 days a week for 3 months. That is the job they took and for some it even includes pay!!
Ever let an 18 yr old make an executive decision of a fortune 500 company? NO of course not but coaches jobs are based on what an 18 yr old kid does in the heat of battle with the bullets flying (doesnt exactly sound like you shirt and tie types)(and by the way when most of you played ball, the QB just handed off, it was pre passing era)
TrueBlue you hit the nail on the head nobody likes to lose, but NW has done a better job than most in ALL aspects.
Have any of you executive type honcho's ever called a play in your life, and dont even give the example of sprint football. For us scholarship type guys, the IVY league is also known as the tennis shoe league!
Let NW steer the course and stop talking about mid season firing, it only hurts the kids and thats who we are here to take care of.
Be professional and have a clue about what you are taking about. TrueBlue has a clue!

At Sun Nov 06, 06:51:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake's post gets to the root of the problem with the Columbia Sports program. Let's face it, the poor record in sports tells the whole story. It has been fifty years since CU has had an Ivy championship in Football. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main one is the the lack of leadership, commitment, and accountability on the part of the President, Athletic Director, and the Head Footbal coach. The poor record speaks for itself. There has been no accountability regarding the people responsible for the management of the program. Columbia needs to replace all of them (Bollinger,Campbell, Murphy, Wilson, Tellier) and rebuild the program with people who have successfully done this at other Universities. Other Ivy institutions like Penn have achieved this in football. Columbia needs to recruit and bring in a new leadership team committed to the concept that excellence can be achieved in athletics as well as academics. I am a Columbia alumnus and low expectations are no longer acceptable.


Post a Comment

<< Home