The Grandstand at Jack Coffey Field
Columbia will be the Homecoming “villains” at two of our road games this fall, at Fordham and at Dartmouth.
Speaking of Fordham, it looks like the six-year tradition of playing the Rams in the Bronx at night is over. The game is scheduled
for 1pm, meaning the Lions will visit Jack Coffey Field for a day game for the first time since 2003.
Looking at the whole 2011 schedule, here is a quick rundown about how each team Columbia faces this fall looks like right now: At Fordham
The Rams are still in that no-man’s land, nominally in the Patriot League but not allowed to actually win it. In my opinion, this limbo is negating whatever recruiting advantage Fordham may have picked up when it introduced athletic scholarships for football last year. Even though this will be the Homecoming game for the Rams, it’s hard to believe this won’t be another close affair that will be decided in the last minute or two just like the last three CU-FU games. Albany
The Great Danes will be a super “X-factor” on the schedule even if this weren’t the first-ever meeting between the two teams. Any squad that can beat Yale at the Bowl and then lose to Robert Morris two weeks later by a 38-0 score has be called a mystery.
Looking at the Alban roster, you see a young team that will probably feature a red shirt sophomore QB named Buddy Leathley.
On defense, the Great Danes allowed a lot of yards last season, but fewer than 24 points per game and opponents only had a 33% 3rd down conversion rate. Bend, but don’t break I guess. At Princeton
The Tigers in 2010 were about as bad as I’ve seen an Ivy opponent be in my four decades of following Columbia football.
Princeton is bound to be better in 2011, but there’s a long way to go. The Lions may be lucky to be facing the Tigers this early in the season before some improvement is likely to really kick in. Sacred Heart
The early buzz on the 2011 Pioneers is that they will be badly lacking without star QB Dale Fink who is graduating this spring. This might simply be a game that Columbia wins or never lives down. Penn (Homecoming)
Even with 4/5 of its starting O-line graduating next month, the Quakers will be the favorites to “3-peat,” (damn, now I owe pat Riley money), in 2011.
I think the Lions and most of their fans realize that Penn is the hurdle Columbia must clear before it can ever consider itself a contender in the Ivies.
Tall order. At Dartmouth
After beating the Big Green in Hanover in 1998 and 2001, and playing them darn close there in 2003, 2005 and 2007, the Lions fell badly at Memorial Field in 2009.
Meanwhile, Dartmouth is definitely on the upswing after getting back to a winning record last season and returning most of the key players for 2011.
On the other hand, one of those players is NOT the graduating Charles Bay and there’s a good argument to be made that the Big Green will fall a bit closer to Earth this fall. Yale
Two straight close losses to the Elis have got to serve as an added incentive for the coaches and players to finally get over the Yale hump this year.
Starting QB Patrick Witt, and his mixed bag of great talent but erratic play, returns for 2011. So does Head Coach Tom Williams after a brief flirtation with getting the top job at Stanford.
My take is that Yale will either get back into contention this season, or fall hard under the strain of Witt and Williams’ drama. I don’t see much of an “in-between.” Harvard
QB Collier Winters will return along with star RB Treavor Scales and a bunch of defensive stars. Two years without a title in Cambridge will make the Crimson hungrier than most seasons this fall.
This will be a tough, tough game for the Lions. At Cornell
New Head Coach Kent Austin clearly needed all of his first season last year simply to evaluate the talent on the roster. The result was a very tough year that just about everyone predicted.
But I expect Austin to be a quick study and at least have the Big Red bouncing back faster than say, Princeton, in 2011.
Columbia has almost always played very well in Ithaca for decades now, but this late-season contest could prove to be a bigger challenge than usual. Brown
Does anybody doubt that Phil Estes will have his Bears ready to play again this fall? Nobody should.
Brown returns all its top star players like QB Kyle Newhall-Caballero, who missed most of 2010 with injuries. The defense still seems iffier than in some recent years in Providence, but honestly… by week 10 of this coming season things will look a lot different for every team in the league. Other than saying that Bears will be strong on offense, I’m not predicting much else about this game. And Finally...
You can't read this story
and not be inspired.
A one-legged young man is now an NCAA champion wrestler.
Not a paralympics champ... just a champ.