State of Play and Scouting Harvard
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For those of you having trouble following exactly where we are with the Columbia football situation, (and who can blame you?), here's the state of play:
1) A very highly placed source in the Columbia administration tells me the firing of Norries Wilson is a done deal.
2) BUT there is a serious concern about a very strong political attack against the firing that will be launched against President Lee Bollinger and perhaps Athletic Director Dianne Murphy. That concern is slowing down the process somewhat.
3) I have asked the readers here to email President Bollinger and A.D. Murphy to show them your support for the decision to relieve Wilson and promise to back them up when and if the attacks come against them. Their emails are:
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
4) I have asked major Columbia donor and New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft to get involved in the process of finding a new coach or at least offer some guidance.
5) I have also urged the man who truly controls Columbia football, Board of Trustees Chair Bill Campbell, to make the bold move of hiring a major name/talent to be our next head coach. It's time to throw the long bomb again, just as he urged the Apple board to do when it debated paying for the iconic MacIntosh commercial in 1983.
6) A new issue has arisen over the lack of cold weather gear for the players at Saturday's game or the possibly deliberate decision not to use such gear by the coaching staff or some other authority. No one has publicly taken responsibility or blame for this as of this time. This is despite the fact that the stadium crew did an excellent job getting the field as playable as possible during the game.
7) Columbia hasn't won a football game in 12 months. The Lions have lost eight games in a row and 12 of the last 13. Coach Wilson's career record at Columbia is 16-41, 9-30 Ivy.
When you're Tim Murphy, you can get away with carrying the game plan in your pants
This is a very, very good Crimson team.
Even by recent Harvard standards, it's making a good case to be one of the best Tim Murphy coached teams of all time.
As the only Ivy team without a conference loss, the Crimson are the only team controlling its own destiny.
And control it they have.
But with three games to go, Harvard's last two serious challenges - Penn and Yale - both lie beyond this weekend's game with the Lions.
That sets up the classic "trap game" scenario.
In fact, the Crimson haven't exactly played their best games against Columbia in most of the last five meetings, and I have to think that's because Harvard is looking ahead a bit to those crucial final two games each season.
What can you say? This might be the best offense Columbia has faced in years with great QB's, RB's, and everything else.
Both Collier Winters and Colton Chapple have torn up defense after defense from the quarterback position. Winters is back in the starting spot after being out with an injury, but all Chapple did in his place was throw for 12 TD's versus just two INT's.
Running backs Treavor Scales, a junior, and Zach Boden a freshman, are both lethal on the ground.
The wide receivers are solid if not spectacular, but the stats are deceiving because Winters and Chapple did such a good job spreading the ball around. Seniors Chris Lorditch, Adam Chrisis, and Alex Sirkisian are seniors who have had big games against Columbia in the past. Sirkisian is having the best year so far.
Sophomore tight end Cameron Brate can be a terror and he has six TD catches.
The offensive line has allowed just 12 sacks through seven games.
You weren't expecting a respite on this side of the ball were you?
The Crimson are allowing just 17 points per game, 19 points less per game than the Harvard offense is scoring. That's an amazing cushion in case you didn't notice.
The leader in the defensive fear factor is Josue Ortiz, who has a real chance of getting into the NFL. He has six sacks so far this season.
Another leader is senior captain LB Alex Gedeon. He has 66 tackles this year, a sack and two interceptions.
The secondary is giving up more passing yards per game than you'd expect from a Crimson squad, (244), but you test this unit at your peril. Matthew Hanson and Brian Owusu are the leaders on the third line and both are set for some postseason All Ivy honors.
No relief here either.
Kicker David Mothander is 33 of 34 on PAT's and has hit four of his five FG attempts including one from 42 yards out.
Punter Jacob Dombrowski is one of the best in the Ivies.
Freshman Seitu Smith is handling the punt and kickoff returns and he's doing a terrible job.
Smith is averaging an incredible 31 yards per KO return and 13.3 yards per punt return. One of his KO returns was for a 91 yard TD.
Tim Murphy has built Harvard into the league's most consistent winning program.
Every successful season Murphy puts together sheds more light on just how erratic and underachieving his predecessor Joe Restic really was.
Unlike Restic, Murphy has parlayed Harvard's natural name recognition into an almost perfect recruiting advantage each and every year. The depth on this team, as evidenced by the Winters/Chapple performance at QB, is simply breathtaking.
That's Murphy's work on display.
Someone should learn from it.