Saturday, April 30, 2011

Friday Trivia!

Occidental College

Who is Occidental College’s most famous graduate?

If you said, “President Barack Obama,” you’re wrong!

Mr. Obama only started at Occidental before transferring to Columbia and graduation with the class of 1983.

The real answer to the above question is, “Jack Kemp.”

And Kemp was honored today on the Occidental campus where he was once a star quarterback.

Check it Out!

Another nice cause Columbia fans should know about is the Maccabi USA Basketball fundraiser on May 10th.

Here is a lot more info about it from Columbia’s Associate Athletics Director for Sports Marketing, and a good friend, Barry Neuberger:

With less than two weeks to go, we are close to a full house for our May 10th Maccabi USA Basketball fund raiser with Bruce Beck at the Café at Fairway Market. We look forward to seeing those that are attending, and for those of you unable to attend and who would still like to participate, you can now bid on any of the items listed below. To place a bid, simply reply to me (only, not to all) and we will include your bid in the process. Some of the featured items include:
FOR NBA FANS: You and 3 buddies may want to attend the upcoming NBA Draft as a VIP guest of the NBA office or bid on a signed ball by all players who participated in this season's Rookie All Star Game (including John Wall and Blake Griffin).

FOR COLLEGE HOOP FANS: Spend the day with ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla at a Big East Game that he will broadcast, get a behind the scenes tour with Fran, and get 2 tickets for the game.

FOR NFL FANS: How about spending a Sunday afternoon at the CBS Sports studios with Boomer Esiason and the NFL Today crew

FOR GOLFERS: Play at one of America's newest and most exclusive courses, Liberty National, the site of the upcoming FedEx Cup or play at Fiddler's Elbow Country Club or Farmstead CC.

FOR RANGERS FANS: You can bid to be Kenny Albert's guest at the game of your choice and meet with Kenny and his broadcast partner before the game.

FOR MEMORABILIA COLLECTORS: You can bid on a personalized jersey from Darrelle Revis, and autographed items from Cal Ripken, Boomer Esiason and Howie Long.
Here is the complete list of items:
Golf Foursome, lunch and 1 caddy at Liberty National Golf Course. Minimum bid TBD.

An evening with Kenny Albert at the NY Rangers Game of your choice. Will include 2 seats to the game and pregame visit in the broadcast booth with Kenny. Minimum bid $200

A Big East Game Day with Fran Fraschilla. The game of your choice that Fran will be doing at MSG, UCONN, Villanova, etc., you and a guest to meet with Fran, tour the ESPN set up, and includes tickets to the game. Minimum bid $250

Memorabilia: Autographed bat from Cal Ripken, autographed football from Phil Simms, autographed mini helmets from Howie and Chris Long and 2 New York Jets Game jerseys autographed (to you) by Darrelle Revis.

CBS NFL Game Day with Boomer Esiason- 4 guests to spend a Sunday at the CBS NFL Studio as Boomer Esiason’s guest. Minimum bid TBD.

NBA Draft VIP package. 4 passes to the NBA Draft at the Prudential Center in Newark. Includes pre draft dinner reception. Minimum Bid $200

Autographed Game Ball from the NBA Rookie Game at the 2011 All Star game. Minimum bid $100

2 Tickets Friday June 24th Yankees – Colorado Rockies Game- Section 128 Row 7 seats 5 and 6. Face value $110 per ticket. Minimum Bid $150

2 Tickets Friday June 24th Yankees – Colorado Rockies Game- Section 128 Row 7 seats 7 and 8. Face value $110 per ticket. Minimum bid $150

2 Tickets Thursday June 16th 1 PM Yankees-Texas Rangers Sec. 115 Row 28 Seats 11 and 12 Face Value $275 per ticket. Minimum bid $400

4 Mets Field level seats for any weekday home game in June. Face Value $320 (based on seat selection). Minimum Bid $250

2 Tickets to the game of your choice for a NY Giants home football game in 2011, not including Dallas, Section 129 Row 27 seats 29 and 30. Face value $125 per seat, also includes parking pass $25. Minimum bid $250

2 Tickets to the game of your choice for a NY Jets home football game in 2011, Section 134 Row 13 Seats1 and 2 Face value $125. Minimum bid. $250

2 Tickets to the game of your choice for a NY Jets home football game in 2011, Club level seats Section 134 Row 13 Seats 3 and 4 Face value $125. Minimum bid $250

4 Tickets to the Rutgers Football home game against either West Virginia or Pittsburgh for upcoming season Face Value $160. Minimum bid $100

XL Yankee On-Field G III Team Jacket. Manufacturer’s Suggested Price $100. Minimum bid $75
$250 Gift Certificate for Paragon’s Sporting Goods, NYC. Minimum bid $200

4 Pairs of shoes from Clarkes- Minimum bid $150
New Balance Family Pack- 5 pairs of shoes from New Balance- Minimum bid $150

2 Chocolate Lovers Dream Packages- Metro Candy 5 Boxes from Joyva, Jelly rings, Halavah, Vanilla Marshmellow Twists, Cherry Marshmellow Twists, Sesame Crunch. 24 units per box, 120 total units, Manufacturer’s Suggested Price $240 Minimum bid $100

Golf Foursome at Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club, Bedminster, NJ. Minimum bid $375

Golf Foursome at Farmstead Country Club, Lafayette, NJ. Minimum bid $200

New York City Get –A-Way. 2 complimentary nights at the Beacon Hotel, Broadway and 75th and dinner certificate for $100 at The Mermaid Inn (88th and Amsterdam). Minimum bid $250

$100 gift certificate at Carmine’s Restaurant. Minimum Bid $75

A Teenager’s Dream. 6 VIP Passes to the MTV daily show “Seven”. Filmed live at Times Square. This MTV daily show features the 7 most important events in the world of entertainment; the live audience is 16 to 26 years only. Minimum bid $200.

6 seats to the game of your choice at any Sommerset Patriots (NJ) home baseball game. Minimum Bid $100

Friday, April 29, 2011

Using Your Assets

Bruce Woods’s Big Green Alert blog reports that Dartmouth is getting a good looking wide receiver transfer from Clemson . His name is Robbie Anthony.

Anthony should help the Big Green put together a nice wide receiving corps for 2011. Now the question is whether the QB will be able to take full advantage of that corps. There are some misgivings about whether Conner Kempe can take the Green to the next level.

The Kempe story is something everyone should remember considering the fact that all eight Ivy teams have starting QB’s returning this season.

Just because those starters are back, it doesn’t mean they’ll all begin the new season in the top spots… but most probably will.

Draft Potential, and Ivy Promise

There’s a good chance that not one, not two, but three Yale players will be picked in the NFL draft this weekend or signed to free agent contracts.

They are Tom McCarthy, Adam Money and Sean Williams

That would be an impressive for them, but kind of embarrassing for Eli head coach Tom Williams and his predecessor Jack Siedlecki.

How a team with three decent NFL prospects playing for it at the same time could produce just 11 Ivy wins over the past three years makes little sense.

It makes even less sense that Yale has not been a serious contender for the Ivy title, (despite a decent 5-2 Ivy performance last season),

To be fair, Williams seems to have improved the team after a disappointing 2008 campaign. But he still hasn’t produced a win over Harvard and losing to the Cantabs is what got Siedlecki fired.

Perhaps Yale can fire Siedlecki again.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Career Blocker?

This ain't Ole Miss anymore, coach

Every coach wants his players' undivided attention.

And in practice, film sessions, team meetings, and of course during the games, he should get it.

But in Ivy League football, there's just no way a coach can expect his players to make football the 100% top priority all the time.

That's what the BCS world is for.

In the real college world of the Ivies, the course work is just too tough and the goals for just about every player in the league go far beyond football.

Everybody knows that, right?

That's why when I first got reports of what Cornell's Kent Austin has done in Ithaca, I was incredulous. But then I got more sources telling me the same thing.

Nobody can or will go on the record with this, but Coach Austin has reportedly forbidden his players to pursue many internships and other non-football activities this summer. Some degree of player dissension has also reportedly ensued.

I expect to get some denials in the comments section and maybe even privately after I publish this.

But if this is true, (and I believe it is, and wouldn't publish it if I didn't), it's a big mistake by Austin and one that shows that he doesn't quite get the purpose of the league.

I thought the chilly reception Princeton OC James Perry received from his new Tiger players last year was a bad omen, and indeed the team finished 0-7 in the Ivies.

Now this is the kind of mistake that could hurt Cornell even more... perhaps for years to come.

It's just another strong reason why recruits need to remember Columbia's LOCATION. There really isn't any kind of job or career you can't find in abundance in New York City.

And Columbia and its alumni work very hard to make sure its student athletes get as much access to those opportunities as the rules allow.

... and I thought Kent Austin was going to be the best new Ivy football coach to come around in a long time.

Maybe that initial prediction will still come true.

But this isn't a good development.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Next Step

Alex Gross (Courtesy: COLUMBIA ATHLETICS)

Everyone knows that playing Ivy football for four years is basically a stepping stone to 40+ years of a great career.

(Well, maybe not EVERYONE... there is one school in the Ivies where the relatively new head coach is causing major problems but making some ridiculous offseason demands
on his players. More on that tomorrow).

That’s true for about 95% of the kids coming to play in the Ancient Eight.

For a select few players, like Columbia’s Alex Gross, Thursday night’s NFL draft may provide an equally lucrative detour from that set path.

Many experts say Gross has a great chance to be drafted or signed as a free agent by the time the whole process wraps in the next week or so.

Frankly, the NFL should be honored to have a person like Alex in its midst.

His good grades and winning personality will certainly help him succeed in the non-sports world, but he needs to give being a pro athlete a chance or he’ll regret it forever.

Great Idea!

The Lions are taking part in a unique fundraiser this Friday for a young boy fighting cancer named Stuart MacNaughton.

The football players will do weightlifting exercises in return for your donations.

I’ve already made my donation, how about you?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Encouraging Signs

Full Speed Ahead

How many times do I need to say that stopping the run is a key to the 2011 Columbia season?

I think I’ve said it enough.

What I haven’t had the chance to say so much is that I see real evidence of improvement in this area… and obviously so do the Lion players and coaches.

The run defense by both the first and second string units in the spring game Friday night was very good.

It was good up-the-middle and it was good on the edges.

And that was WITHOUT Owen Fraser and without the very promising incoming transfer Wells Childress from Texas A&M.

In this area, there is indeed reason for optimism based on what I’m seeing.

As for the second key to the season, “letting Brackett be Brackett,” I was encouraged as well.

No, his stats weren’t that great but it was obvious that Sean Brackett was doing what he wanted to do out on the field. Even with the two-hand touch rule for QB’s in effect for the game, #10 playing with healthy abandon when he was passing and running.

Add to that the fact that he was named one of the team captains, and you get the feeling Brackett will be at least somewhat unleashed in the fall.

Check Your Inbox!

Hopefully, this news is lifting your spirits for the 2011 season.

And speaking of that…

Emails and regular mailings for football season tickets have gone out in the last few days.

The amazing deal remains the same: just $108 for premium chairback seats for the entire season. Bench seats are just $54 each.

When you click here, you get to see the view from your prospective seats via one of those cool interactice seating charts.

I know it’s early, (145 days to go), but showing your support for the team this early in the process helps the program in many ways.

For one thing, a good number of early subscribers is something the marketing guys in the athletic department can use to attract more sponsors.

So, go on the website and make the very modest financial commitment to the Lion football team as soon as you can.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Anchors Aweigh!!

Columbia is now bringing the Navy ROTC back to campus!

I actually learned about this just before the Spring Game Friday night, but I was understandably distracted by the game.

Now, all we need is that ceremony honoring our student veterans halftime and a lot of us will be very, very happy!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Is Carter on the Way?

Ryan Carter

I still have no confirmation that Hoover HS standout QB Ryan Carter has made a committment to any school.

He's been recruited by Brown and Columbia in the Ivies, and a lot of other schools as well.

But two online recruiting sites report that Columbia has indeed made him an offer.

I'll keep looking for updates...

New Faces, Trusted Leaders

It was a COOOLLLD Spring

On what became a progressively chiller night, Columbia's Spring Game provied a mix of conventional football wisdom and "chaos theory" outcomes.

The Blue Team, made up of the presumptive first-string offense and second-string defense, edged the first-string defense/second-string offense White Team by a 7-6 final score.

As per usual in most Spring Games, the defenses dominated. That's consistent with the football conventional wisdom that says offenses take longer to work out the kinks than the defense.

The score was 0-0 at the half.

But what was surprising was that both TD's in the game were scored by the second string units.

First, White took a 6-0 lead after FB Andrew McHugh burst through the middle of the line for a 5-yard score. (The PAT was no good after a bad snap).

Then, Blue won the game when CB Christopher Thomas timed a beautiful interception and made an even nicer run into the end zone for what turned out to be the winning TD.

The rest of the game was marked by a series of drives that didn't produce points, thanks to stout defensive play... especially on the edges.

Here are some of my key notes from the game:

Marcorus Garrett and Nick Gerst were the running backs for the Blue Team. Both looked good but you could tell Gerst was a little banged up and Garrett went out with an injury late in the game that looks like it will need some of the remaining four months until training camp to fully heal.

David Chao and Bruce Grant did the running for the White Team. Both of them looked very good at times too, but didn't see too many holes.

DB Steven Grassa had the best punt return of the night, (there were no kickoffs), and he may have that job in the fall.

The punting was very good all night from Greg Guttas, Luke Delaney and Andrew Weiss, who also played a series at QB, (probably just for this game, though).

Other than Thomas' super pick six, WR Joey Andrada had the most amazing play of the night. He grabbed a long pass with super concentration even while CB Jeremy Mingo was all over him. That big catch set up White's TD a few plays later.

Long snapping fo both teams was sloppy all night, but presumptive starting center Kyle Stupi was out with an injury.

WR Maurice Rothschild got open a lot and made several nice plays. He was playing for the White Team, but he may move up the depth chart on offense this summer. He also left the game with an injury, but it did not seem very serious.

There were lots and lots of dropped passes, especially on some extremely nice throws by Sean Brackett who looked more and more like a team leader as the night wore on.

DB Marquel Carter looked great for the Blue Team, making some great hits.

On defense, you heard Seyi Adebayo's name a lot, along with Chris Groth, Nick Melka, Zach Olinger, and Grassa.

There were three missed FG's. All had the distance but were just wide. Luke Eddy missed two and Tyler Feely one.

After the game, Adebayo was named the Most Improved Defensive Player of the spring, TE Zack McKown was named Most Improved Offensive Player.

Then the captains for 2011 were named, WR Mike Stephens, OL Bob Hauschildt, DB Ross Morand and Brackett.

As a junior, Brackett gets the chance to be a rare two-time captain, but more importantly, this solidifies the best overall QB in the Ivies as his team's leader.

My overall impressions of the team is that the Lions are much faster than I can ever remember and it looks like my pleas for making stopping the run the #1 priority have a good chance of being answered.

Brackett is looking great and in a real game situation, (where just touching him wouldn't be enough to blow the play dead), he may have run for 100 yards or more last night.

The wide receiving corps is by no means settled, but the play of Andrada and Rothschild certainly signals that the offense will have some new options. Kurt Williams also looked decent last night but was not able to make any key plays.

We're less than five months to the openerat Fordham.

The countdown begins...

A Couple More Things...

-The cold evening was made a lot better by spending time with the good-sized and enthusiastic crowd.

I especially enjoyed meeting rising senior Nico Papas' parents, (Nico played well, by the way). Nico's dad John is the Head Coach at Buckington, Browne and Noble High School in Massachusetts. John's summer football camp/clinics are highly regarded.

And he and wife are great cooks as they treated my daughter Jordan and I to some great chilli, meat balls, and desserts!

-The Roaring Lion statue right outside the field house now has a new plaque honoring George Baker, who donated the land for Baker Field way back in 1923. Check it out the next time you're up there which we hope will be often in 2011.

-I spent much of the game sitting with great Lions of the past, including Bob Kent '92, Greg Abbruzzese '91, Stan Waldbaum '62, and many others.

-Earlier in the day, Bob was a guest on my show on FOX Business.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Forgotten Captain

The storied 1996 Columbia Football team had four captains.

Most die-hard fans remember three of them very well. They were the late Randy Murff, the great Marcellus Wiley, and the amazing Rory Wilfork.

But the fourth captain was a quiet senior tight end from Connecticut named Ryan Gabriele.

At 6-1, the 245-pound Gabriele was not really tall enough to be a serious receiving threat at tight end. In fact, he caught fewer than 5 passes that entire season.

But Gabriele was a very strong wrestler and thus, a super-effective blocker and a cog for Columbia’s “wear ‘em out” running attack that season.

Gabriele kept opening holes on the outside despite a knee and an ankle that needed surgeries earlier in his career.

He ended his career with a TD catch in his final game, a 31-27 thrilling win over Brown at Wien Stadium.

I mention Gabriele because we enter tomorrow night’s Spring Game with a yawning need for a new tight end to fill the void left by the graduation of Andrew Kennedy and the fact that promising freshman Chris Mooney has left the team.

I’m not sure how much playing time we’ll see from the three remaining tight ends on the roster. They are Hamilton Garner, Rafael Lopez and Zack McKown. It’s interesting that in an era of ever-heavier players, none of them is as big as Gabriele’s 245 pounds in 1996.

But Garner is a nice 6-foot-5 and if he can get his currently listed 225 pounds up to something like 240 with good speed he could be a force.

Lopez also might make some noise in what will be his senior season.

Often, when a team is dealing with a non-receiving weapon at TE, it uses an H-Back set to keep defenses honest. I know that’s been an option Columbia has considered in the past and there are some good candidates for that position if that’s the way the Lions go. Andrew McHugh and Griffin Lowry come to mind.

If you’re coming to the Spring Game tomorrow night, I’m sure many of you will focus on the tight ends.

I’d love to “discover” a new standout, but we should all be fine if we end up with someone like the quiet, hard-to-notice Ryan Gabriele.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Special Guest!

Bob Kent #93

Bob Kent ‘92, an All-Ivy defensive tackle for Columbia and a good friend of Roar Lions Roar will be live on my show, Varney and Company, on FOX Business this Friday in the 10am Eastern Time hour.

Bob has been the subject of some great interviews on this site in the past, but he’ll join us on FBN to talk about the work he does to find out if investing in volatile countries like Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq are worth it. And if so, where you should put that money and how.

Later that day, Bob and I and many others will be heading up to Wien Stadium for the annual Spring Game sponsored by Rack and Soul.

By the way, the forecast for Friday is a decent 52 degrees and cloudy skies. Not bad.

Getting back to Bob Kent, Bob is a real rarity. He left his career as a lawyer because he wanted to serve a higher calling and he joined the Air Force in 2001… that was a few months BEFORE 9/11 changed everything.

As a player at CU, Bob was an extremely hard worker who made a serious difference as a run stopper on the early Ray Tellier teams that eventually became defensive powerhouses .

As we await Bob’s appearance on the show, it’s a perfect time to read and sign the letter calling for a special halftime ceremony honoring our student veterans at a Columbia football game this fall.

Monday, April 18, 2011

From the Secret Files or Roar Lions Roar!

Roar Lions Roar has spies everywhere.

Covert operations are very important us.

After all, former Lion QB “Wild” Bill Donovan founded the CIA.

And now, I am pleased to share with you the spoils of one of our most fiendish operations… a look inside the very inner sanctum of our enemy from Cambridge!

Look closely at these photos while you can.

Meanwhile, I am attempting to contact our agents currently sifting through Al Bagnolis laundry hamper.

This message with self destruct in 5 seconds…

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Moving Fast

An artist's rendering of the future Campbell Center

The Columbia Spectator reports today that the groundbreaking for the much-needed Campbell Sports Center should happen before the end of this month.

The building should help Columbia athletics move up the ladder in the neverending amenities battle in Ivy sports.

The Chrystie Field House is just not the kind of structure that creates an "wow" reaction from recruits and their families. It is about 60 years old aftr all. Even the original Baker Field was replaced by Wien Stadium before 60 years passed.

Spring Sprouts

The more we hear about spring practice, the more we hear rising sophomore LB Zach Olinger’s name.

He showed a lot of promise last year and he’s definitely looking even better now. But with guys like Alex Gross and Matt Moretto graduating, it’s important not to put too much pressure on this one kid to fill their shoes... and I hope none of the fans does that.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Crucial Defense

The Maginot Line, 1944

Yesterday I laid out what were the four most crucial and telling drives of the 2010 for the Columbia Lions.

Of course, those were the most crucial and telling OFFENSIVE drives of 2010.

The defense put its imprint on the season during four key opponent drives as well. Two ended well, two did not.

First the good ones:

This drive began for Lafayette early in the 2nd quarter

Lafayett 1-10 at Lafayett32 O'Neil, Ryan pass complete to Bennett, M. for 5 yards to the LAFAYETT37 (Schuster, Neil).

Lafayett 2-5 at Lafayett37 Hayes, Kyle rush for 21 yards to the COL42, 1ST DOWN LAFAYETT (Schuster, Neil).

Lafayett 1-10 at Col42 Elder, Alan rush for 1 yard to the COL41 (Murphy, Ryan;Gross, Alex).

Lafayett 2-9 at Col41 Elder, Alan rush for 3 yards to the COL38 (Gross, Alex).

Lafayett 3-6 at Col38 O'Neil, Ryan pass intercepted by Gross, Alex at the COL31, Gross, Alex return 69 yards to the LAFAYETT0, TOUCHDOWN, clock 10:58.

Drive: 5 plays, 30 yards, TOP 02:33

Eddy, Luke kick attempt good.

Columbia 14, Lafayette 10

This drive began with the Leopards taking over on downs after Sean Brackett was unable to complete a pass to FB Nathan Lenz on a 4th and 1 play, (a pass on 4th and 1? Yes).

Anywho… with Lafayette up 10-7, the Lions were in danger of falling behind by two scores. But after Kyle Hayes busted through the Columbia line for the big 21-yard gainer, Alex Gross started to take over. He tackled Alan Elder on back-to-back plays for very short gains and then intercepted the 3rd down pass and returned it 69 yards for a pick six.

The Lions would fall behind again later in the quarter, but that defensive stop and score put a major exclamation point on the eventual 42-28 win.

This drive began for Cornell with the Big Red leading 17-13 and just 4:42 left in the 4th quarter

Cor 1-10 at Cor06 Mathews, Jeff pass incomplete to Savage, Shane.

Cor 2-10 at Cor06 Houska, Ryan rush for 6 yards to the COR12 (Schuster, Neil;Martin, Josh).

Cor 3-4 at Cor12 Timeout Cornell, clock 04:04.

Cor 3-4 at Cor12 Mathews, Jeff pass complete to Ambrosi, Anthon for 8 yards to the COR20, 1ST DOWN COR (Gross, Alex).

Cor 1-10 at Cor20 Gellatly, Grant rush for 2 yards to the COR22 (Gross, Alex).

Cor 2-8 at Cor22 Mathews, Jeff pass complete to Ondash, Kurt for 6 yards to the COR28 (Maddox, A.J.).

Cor 3-2 at Cor28 Timeout Columbia, clock 02:51.

Cor 3-2 at Cor28 Mathews, Jeff pass incomplete (Stotler, Matt).

Cor 4-2 at Cor28 Alston, Drew punt 41 yards to the COL31, Gutierrez. Nico return 10 yards to the COL41 (Zimmerman, Robe).

There was no more pressure packed sequence for the Columbia defense in all of 2010 than the final Cornell possession of the week 9 game at Wien Stadium. The Lions didn’t just need to stop the Big Red, they needed to stop them FAST to save time for the offense to rally back with a TD.

After an initial 1st down, Gross stepped up again with a big tackle on a run for just two yards. Two plays later, senior Matt Stotler knocked down a 3rd and short pass that could have sealed the game for Cornell.

Now the bad ones:

This was the opening drive in the game for the Quakers in the Columbia-Penn game at Franklin Field

Penn 1-10 at Penn25 Jack, Jeff rush for no gain to the PENN25 (Mistretta, Nick).

Penn 2-10 at Penn25 Bailey, Aaron rush for 10 yards to the PENN35, 1ST DOWN PENN (Gross, Alex).

Penn 1-10 at Penn35 Hamscher, Matt rush for 1 yard to the PENN36 (Martin, Josh).

Penn 2-9 at Penn36 Jack, Jeff rush for 5 yards to the PENN41 (Mistretta, Nick).

Penn 3-4 at Penn41 Ragone, Billy rush for 16 yards to the COL43, 1ST DOWN PENN (Mehrer, Adam).

Penn 1-10 at Col43 Ragone, Billy rush for 4 yards to the COL39 (Mehrer, Adam).

Penn 2-6 at Col39 Jack, Jeff rush for 5 yards to the COL34 (Schuster, Neil).

Penn 3-1 at Col34 DeLuca, Luke rush for 4 yards to the COL30, 1ST DOWN PENN (Mistretta, Nick).

Penn 1-10 at Col30 Ragone, Billy rush for 20 yards to the COL10, 1ST DOWN PENN (Schuster, Neil).

Penn 1-G at Col10 Blackmon, Brad rush for 3 yards to the COL7 (Schuster, Neil).

Penn 2-G at Col07 Ragone, Billy rush for 7 yards to the COL0, TOUCHDOWN, clock 09:13.
Samson, Andrew kick attempt good.

Penn 7, Columbia 0

Yes, this was an ENTIRE drive for 75 yards and TD that didn’t include a single pass attempt. It was a stunning blow to Columbia fans who were not yet aware of the weaknesses in the Lion interior defensive line.

Five of the 10 tackles on this drive were made by Columbia’s safeties, only one was made by a defensive lineman.

After that drive, the Light Blue “cover” was blown. While no team the Lions faced for the rest of the season had the kind of powerful offensive line as Penn, the rest of the Ivy League knew it was a good idea to run right at Columbia as much as possible.

This drive began for Dartmouth with about 7:30 left in the fourth quarter of the Homecoming week 6 game at Wien Stadium

Dart 1-10 at Dart31 Kempe, Connor pass incomplete to Gallagher, John (Gross, Alex).

Dart 2-10 at Dart31 Kempe, Connor pass incomplete to McManus, Tim.

Dart 3-10 at Dart31 Kempe, Connor pass complete to Scott, Tanner for 16 yards to the DART47, 1ST DOWN DART.

Dart 1-10 at Dart47 Schwieger, Nick rush for 12 yards to the COL41, 1ST DOWN DART (Huggins, Kalasi;Mehrer, Adam).

Dart 1-10 at Col41 Kempe, Connor pass incomplete to McManus, Tim (Otis, Calvin).

Dart 2-10 at Col41 QB hurry by Martin, Josh.

Dart 2-10 at Col41 Kempe, Connor pass incomplete to Scott, Tanner.

Dart 3-10 at Col41 Kempe, Connor pass complete to Schwieger, Nick for 9 yards to the
COL32 (Sommers, Shad;Gross, Alex).

Dart 4-1 at Col32 Pierre, Dominic rush for 3 yards to the COL29, 1ST DOWN DART (Gross, Alex).

Dart 1-10 at Col29 Pierre, Dominic rush for 15 yards to the COL14, 1ST DOWN DART (Murphy, Ryan).

Dart 1-10 at Col14 Schwieger, Nick rush for 2 yards to the COL12 (Smith, Josh;Stotler, Matt).

Dart 2-8 at Col12 Kempe, Connor pass complete to Schwieger, Nick for 1 yard to the COL11 (Gross, Alex).

Dart 3-7 at Col11 Kempe, Connor pass complete to Reilly, Michael for 9 yards to the COL2, 1ST DOWN DART (Schuster, Neil).

Dart 1-G at Col02 Schwieger, Nick rush for 1 yard to the COL1 (Williams, Augie;Popeck, Ben).

Dart 2-G at Col01 Schwieger, Nick rush for 1 yard to the COL0, TOUCHDOWN, clock 02:28.
Schmidt, Foley kick attempt good.

Dartmouth 24, Columbia 21

Columbia’s pass defense was mostly quite strong in 2010. But the front line’s inability to get decent pressure on opposing QB’s really cost the Lions in this crucial sequence.

Big Green QB Connor Kempe completed two crucial 3rd down passes for first downs and another one for close to a first down in this 14-play back breaking drive.

New defensive coordinator Chris Woods knows the challenges he faces this fall trying to shore up a defense that will now have to make real improvements without standouts like Alex Gross, Adam Mehrer, and Calvin Otis.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What Works

Sean Brackett on the run (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)

With about 9 days to go before the spring game, it’s time to add an offensive mantra to go with the already established “Stop the Run” mantra for our defense.

But first, a little analysis.

Two of Columbia’s wins in 2010 were especially tight games where the Lions were either behind or just ahead by less than a TD going into the fourth quarter.

Both of those games featured crucial touchdown drives by Columbia that sealed the wins.

And both of those drives have something very important in common.

Check the drive summaries and you tell me what that thing is:

The first drive began late in the 3rd quarter of the Towson game with Columbia leading by just 14-10

Wallace kickoff 70 yards to the COL0, Morand, Ross return 20 yards to the COL20 (C. Ford).

Col 1-10 at Col20 COLUMBIA drive start at 05:40.

Col 1-10 at Col20 Ivery, Leon rush for 2 yards to the COL22 (Blakey).

Col 2-8 at Col22 Ivery, Leon rush for 8 yards to the COL30, 1ST DOWN COL (Blakey;C. Patterson).

Col 1-10 at Col30 Brackett, Sean rush for 2 yards to the COL32 (M. Morgan).

Col 2-8 at Col32 Brackett, Sean pass complete to Kennedy, Andrew for 2 yards to the COL34 (O. Thomas).

Col 3-6 at Col34 Timeout Towson, clock 03:20.

Col 3-6 at Col34 Brackett, Sean rush for 9 yards to the COL43, 1ST DOWN COL (O. Thomas).

Col 1-10 at Col43 Brackett, Sean sacked for loss of 7 yards to the COL36 (M. Valentine).

Col 2-17 at Col36 Lenz, Nathan rush for 4 yards to the COL40 (Blakey).

Col 3-13 at Col40 Brackett, Sean rush for 25 yards to the TOWSON35, 1ST DOWN COL (Dangerfield).

Col 1-10 at Towson35 Gerst, Nick rush for 8 yards to the TOWSON27 (N. Oates).

Col 2-2 at Towson27 Brackett, Sean rush for 14 yards to the TOWSON13, 1ST DOWN COL (Beltre).

4th Quarter

Col 1-10 at Towson13 Start of 4th quarter, clock 15:00.

Col 1-10 at Towson13 Clock 15:00.

Col 1-10 at Towson13 Gerst, Nick rush for 13 yards to the TOWSON0, 1ST DOWN COL,

TOUCHDOWN, clock 14:53.

Eddy, Luke kick attempt good.

Columbia 21, Towson 10

The second drive began late in the 4th quarter of the Cornell game with Columbia trailing 17-13

Col 1-10 at Col41 COLUMBIA drive start at 02:37.

Col 1-10 at Col41 Brackett, Sean pass incomplete.

Col 2-10 at Col41 Gerst, Nick rush for no gain to the COL41 (Imhoff, Zack).

Col 3-10 at Col41 Brackett, Sean rush for 16 yards to the COR43, 1ST DOWN COL (Quinn, Dempsey;Murdock, Zak).

Col 1-10 at Cor43 Brackett, Sean pass incomplete.

Col 2-10 at Cor43 Brackett, Sean pass complete to Williams, Kurt for 10 yards to the COR33, 1ST DOWN COL.

Col 1-10 at Cor33 Brackett, Sean pass complete to Gerst, Nick for 6 yards to the COR27 (Fenton, Emani).

Col 2-4 at Cor27 Brackett, Sean pass complete to Cummins, Ian for 15 yards to the COR12, 1ST DOWN COL (Lainhart, Brand).

Col 1-10 at Cor12 Brackett, Sean rush for 3 yards to the COR9, out-of-bounds (Quinn, Dempsey).

Col 2-7 at Cor09 Brackett, Sean pass incomplete to Kennedy, Andrew (Quinn, Dempsey).

Col 3-7 at Cor09 Brackett, Sean pass complete to Gutierrez. Nico for 6 yards to the COR3 (Imhoff, Zack).

Col 4-1 at Cor03 Timeout Columbia, clock 00:45.

Col 4-1 at Cor03 Brackett, Sean rush for 2 yards to the COR1, 1ST DOWN COL (Minor, Tre').

Col 1-G at Cor01 Brackett, Sean pass incomplete.

Col 2-G at Cor01 Brackett, Sean rush for 1 yard to the COR0, TOUCHDOWN, clock 00:37.

Eddy, Luke kick attempt good.

Columbia 20, Cornell 17

Okay what is that thing in common?

Time’s up!

Answer: On these two drives, Sean Brackett ran for first downs on three crucial third and long plays and also moved the chains on a 4th and 1.

What works for Columbia, especially in the crunch time wins of 2010, was letting Brackett and the offensive take care of business.

Now let’s look at what doesn’t work:

This drive began late in the 4th quarter of the Dartmouth game with the Big Green leading 24-21

COLUMBIA drive start at 02:23.

Col 1-10 at Col12 Brackett, Sean pass incomplete to Pope, Clif.

Col 2-10 at Col12 Brackett, Sean pass complete to Gutierrez. Nico for 13 yards to the COL25, 1ST DOWN COL (Dettorre, A.J.).

Col 1-10 at Col25 Brackett, Sean pass complete to Williams, Kurt for 8 yards to the
COL33, out-of-bounds.

Col 2-2 at Col33 Brackett, Sean pass incomplete to Gutierrez. Nico.

Col 3-2 at Col33 Brackett, Sean rush for 5 yards to the COL38, 1ST DOWN COL (Dwyer, Mark).

Col 1-10 at Col38 Stupi, Kyle rush for no gain to the COL38, fumble by Stupi, Kyle recovered by COL Brackett, Sean at COL35.

Col 2-13 at Col35 Brackett, Sean pass incomplete to Gutierrez. Nico.

Col 3-13 at Col35 Brackett, Sean pass complete to Kourouma, Zack for 8 yards to the COL43 (Green, Bronson).

Col 4-5 at Col43 Brackett, Sean pass incomplete to Muston, Mark.

This drive began late in the 4th quarter of the Yale game with Columbia trailing the Elis 31-28

COLUMBIA drive start at 04:26.

Col 1-10 at Col08 Ivery, Leon rush for 11 yards to the COL19, 1ST DOWN COL (Stanley, C).

Col 1-10 at Col19 Brackett, Sean rush for 16 yards to the COL35, 1ST DOWN COL (Dunham;Stanley, C).

Col 1-10 at Col35 Brackett, Sean pass complete to Gutierrez. Nico for 6 yards to the COL41 (Haynes).

Col 2-4 at Col41 Ivery, Leon rush for loss of 1 yard to the COL40 (Williams, Se).

Col 3-5 at Col40 Brackett, Sean sacked for loss of 5 yards to the COL35 (McCarthy;Williams, Se).

Col 4-10 at Col35 Timeout Columbia, clock 02:16.

Col 4-10 at Col35 Brackett, Sean pass incomplete to Kennedy, Andrew (Reising).

On these two failed drives, Brackett dropped back and was unable to convert key 3rd and 4th down passes with the games on the line.

The point here is NOT that Brackett is a bad passer. He IS a GOOD passer and will only get better.

But even the best passers are only on target about 60% of the time. It’s clear that Brackett as a runner or scrambler has a better success rate than that.

Even when the other team is looking for him to run.

Even when there’s more than 10 yards to go for a 1st down.

Even when the game is on the line.

That’s because Brackett is just too quick and elusive for most Ivy defenders on their best day.

Months ago I coined a phrase: “Let Brackett be Brackett.”

It should become a mantra at Wien Stadium in 2011.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You Gotta Laugh

My five seconds of fame:

Jake on the Daily Show... sort of

Football? Baseball? Both?

Mike Weisman

(Today’s post is almost entirely courtesy of original reporting by Bruce Wood)

Bruce’s Big Green Alert Blog notes today that North Andover High School’s Mike Weisman has been honored by the National Football Foundation, (Eastern Massachusetts chapter), as one of its scholar-athlete awardees.

Weisman is a 6-0, 195-pound linebacker who was twice named to the Cape Ann League 1st Team.

Weisman is definitely heading to Columbia this fall, but there’s one catch… it looks like he’s coming here to play baseball.

As good a player Weisman is on the gridiron, he’s more of a star on the mound. He’s current the ace for the North Andover staff that’s expected to lead the team to the league title.

In the pre-Norries Wilson era, it wasn’t unusual to see students play for both the football and baseball teams, despite missing football spring practice which takes place during the height of the baseball season.

Perhaps we’ll see Columbia athletes doing double again one day, but I don’t expect that to come soon.

Running for Office

Many times on this blog, I have called for more Columbia athletes, any even, to run for student government office.

It’s a necessity that the large block of Lion athletes and their fans be represented better and it’s a great way for them to become more visible in more parts of campus life.

Without the athletes, student government continues to be dominated by the same old “politicos” who ran the joint when I was student and well before and after.

Now, one current member of the Dartmouth squad is running. Rising senior Aaron Limonthas is trying to make it as a write-in for president.

Let’s hope he starts a league-wide trend.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Other Changes

There are some more position changes to report from spring practice, er… just from looking at the roster on

Devan Luster moves from DB to LB

Marquel Carter back to DB from QB, (not a surprise as Carter was originally listed as a DB last year).

Malcolm Carson to DB from RB

Joe Raimondi from DT to OT

The biggest news is Raimondi. Here’s a very talented player who cracked the two-deep and got on the field as a DT as a frosh. Now he’s moving over in hopes of doing the same for what looks like a contended for the best quality veteran O-line in the league.

Joe is a fierce competitor and I would not be surprised to see him succeed in spades. Many people thought he was a better offensive player to begin with.

The idea of him joining the already stacked O-line makes me a little more optimistic about our offense in 2011.

Devan Luster’s move makes sense in that it does seem like we’re moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense and that increases our needs for more bodies in the linebacking crew.

Perhaps the best news coming out of the outstanding live blogs for spring practice is that Owen Fraser seems fresh and is moving well again. He looked pretty good last spring too, but reinjured himself in training camp and never got back to 100% during the season.

Harvard Gets It… Sort of
It’s not quite our idea of honoring all our student veterans at a football halftime, but Harvard is honoring all its graduates who went on to win the Medal of Honor.

But the kind of event we want to see honors all the veterans, especially the young and smart men and women who are currently studying at CU.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Back in Position

Bruce Grant in his Fordham Prep days

Bruce Grant, the local NYC product from Fordham Prep with blazing speed, has switched from wide receiver to running back.

It’s probably not a surprise to Grant’s high school coaches who featured him at RB and were richly rewarded for it.

When the Lions listed him as a WR last summer, it raised some eyebrows among those who were not sure that Grant would be able to catch the ball in traffic.

Now Grant, who also was a two-time high school All American as a NYC track star, is back at what seems like his more natural position.

It also seems like speed will be as prominently featured as possible in the Lions offense this fall. Whether that means there will be a totally different offensive system, is yet to be seen.

But can you imagine how gassed opposing defenders will be after four quarters of chasing after Grant, Nick Gerst, Marcorus Garrett, and Sean Brackett?

Let’s just say I hope they have a steady supply of oxygen on the visitors bench at Wien Stadium this fall.

Please don’t forget to post your name and school year/affiliation if you support our call for a special halftime ceremony honoring our student veterans.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Football Tonight!

Be sure to log on to tonight at 8pm Eastern for the latest spring practice live blog.

Be sure to ask questions and help keep the discussion lively!

Light My Fire

Commenting on Dartmouth’s move to install lights at Memorial Field this summer, long-time reader “DOC” made the point of asking whether Columbia should resume playing night games at Wien Stadium.

Of course, there is a night game coming up in just 15 days as the spring game is the night of April 22nd. But I’m sure DOC and other fans are thinking about regular season games.

I’m certainly in favor of one or two night games, especially in the early months of the season. Lately, I’ve heard that the biggest roadblocks to this are Inwood residents worried about noise and the current Lion coaching staff that prefers games earlier in the day.

I tend to agree that night games will bring in more student fans and younger people in general… but I also think it would discourage a lot of the older fan base.

But one or two games is just one or two games. Perhaps it’ll be worth a try as soon as the focus on the Baker Complex expansion is behind us.

That could be years down the road.

That’s okay, we’re Columbia fans… we’ll wait.

Farewell, George

George Kolombatovich is stepping down after 32 years as head coach of Columbia’s legendary fencing program.

His record is incredible by any standard. The dominance he and co-Head Coach Aladar Kogler created will never be matched by any sports team in the Ivy League.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Easy Win

City Hall

The wheels are moving in the right direction for Columbia's expansion/redevelopment plans at the Baker Athletics Complex.

The City Council approved the project in a full vote late today.

The final tally was 46-1. Not bad.

Hit the Lights!

Speaking of redevelopment and political approval, Dartmouth is moving into the 20th century now that the city of Hanover has approved its plan to install lights at its athletic fields including Memorial Field.

Night games could be a reality at Dartmouth as early as this fall. But I doubt Columbia will play the Big Green under the lights anytime soon since we usually play them in late October. That would be beyond my personal cut-off date for a comfortably temperate night game in new Hampshire.

But it could mean that late season start times for games at Memorial Field could now be pushed back beyond even 1 or 2 PM because losing decent sunlight will no longer be an issue.

When the Lions last played in Hanover, a heavy rainstorm made much of the game feel like a night contest because of the heavy cloud cover and no lights. Not that extra light would have made a difference as the Big Green beat a badly injured Columbia squad easily by a 28-6 score.

Can't Hold that Tiger

Well, so much for the fantastic turnaround for Princeton basketball. Brilliant Head Coach Sydney Johnson has bolted Old Nassau for Fairfield College, presumably for bigger money.

I'm going to say this is an embarrassment for Princeton and the Ivy League in general.

It's one thing for someone like Cornell's former coach to bolt for the Big East. In most years, several Big East teams have a shot at making the Final Four.

But to leave Princeton for Fairfield?!? Fairfield probably won't ever be a Final Four team. Not even the Cinderella Butler Bulldogs or VCU Rams have the kind of obstacles a program like Fairfield has to overcome.

Okay, okay... I assume it COULD happen. But who's willing to put real money on a bet that Fairfield will make even the Sweet Sixteen within a decade?

This is about money. And if Princeton, the Ivy school with the best assets-to-liabilities ratio, can be outbid by a tiny place like Fairfield, all of Ivy athletics is threatened.

I suppose there's also the chance Johnson was pushed out for some personal reason by Princeton's long-ruling A.D., Gary Walters.

Either way, the whole thing seems wrong.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Dartmouth Dragnet

Last month, a Columbia rising junior was busted for allegedly attempting to traffic in fake i.d.'s.

But Anthony Johnson was not a starter.

Now Dartmouth rising senior QB Conor Kempe, the incumbent starter at that key position, has been arrested for marijuana possession and is indefinitely suspended from the team.

I don't want to downplay this incident, but it should be noted that Kempe was far from guaranteed to start every game this coming season. His play at times last year was the weak spot on an otherwise resurgeant team.

Either way, I hardly think this is that way any Big Green fan wanted to see change.

Good Talk

Today's Columbia Spectator has a piece on the beginning of spring practice with quotes from Jeff Adams, Kurt Williams and Neil Schuster.
The issue of getting that "killer instinct", (as I call it, the Spec used some other terms), was addressed repeatedly. A lot of the article also spoke of new offensive and defensive systems which should make the spring game especially interesting.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Tightened Resources

Hamilton Garner: this is you big chance! (CREDIT: CU Athletics)

It’s official: TE Chris Mooney and QB Chris Rapka are no longer on the team.

Losing Mooney, who really impressed in training camp last season, is a tough one. But it does appear that rising soph Hamilton Garner is playing with the “1’s” and he caught some long passes during Saturday’s opening session of spring practice.

Garner, or someone else, is really going to need to step up this fall to help replace the graduating Andrew Kennedy. I don’t know if Garner has added to his 225 pounds listed on the roster. But at 6”5, he definitely has the right frame for an effective TE.

Brad’s New Life

Brad Hutton ’92, captain of the 1991 Lion football team, is featured in this article in today’s Albany Times Union.

Hutton is the Director of the Bureau of Early Intervention, New York State Department of Health. The autism explosion is very much a part of his job as his office works on getting children with autism the services they need.

Spread the Word!

Remember, please keep spreading the word about our halftime "honor the vets" campaign and let's get more signatories!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Spring Wishes

Can you believe it’s just three weeks until the spring game, (sponsored by Rack and Soul)?

Spring practice begins today and the players are really lucky. A very long week of bad weather has cleared here in New York and we're looking at just partly cloudy skies today with temps in the 50's. The forecast is even better fo tomorrow.

The athletic department will cover the start of practice with another one of the live blogs that many of us have really appreciated since they started doing them for football last year.

How would you rate the priorities for spring practice?

Here’s my top 3:

1) Get better at stopping the run

You already knew that was my top priority, didn’t you? That means rebuilding the defensive line, linebacking crew and perhaps shuffling the player deck a bit. We are already hearing reports that the Lions will switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense this year. If that works and looks good in spring practice, then great. But we should be willing to try anything.

2) Make the wide receivers and running backs better weapons

The WR numbers are strong, but the Lions need some real stars to emerge. Mike Stephens should be one of those stars as he returns for a 5th year. Kurt Williams has all the physical tools and was darn good for a first-time WR last season. But one or two of the other 10 receivers on the roster need to step up too.

If any of us had to guess, we’d probably say Nick Gerst and Marcorus Garrett will be the top two tailbacks this fall. But they are both smaller, speedier runners. Who will block for them? Is there a role for a fullback in this offense? We have to get some answers to these questions sooner rather than later.

3) Keep working on that killer instinct

The 2010 season was once again characterized by losses in tight games that didn’t have as much to do with talent as they did about keeping calm and precise in crunch time.

The losses to Fordham, Yale, Dartmouth, and even aspects of the Harvard loss showed that.

I don’t know how the players and coaches learn the killer instinct by playing a bunch of intrasquad scrimmages, but that’s the only choice we have for another six months.

Anyone who has followed Columbia football for more than 10 years knows that this Lion squad is very high on the relative talent bar.

We have the best QB in the Ivies.

We have a talent-laden veteran offensive line with four of five 2010 starters returning.

We finally have a very solid kicking game with young stars who will only get better.

We have one of the speediest and strongest WR’s in the Ivies returning for another season.

Are there teams with more talent?

Yes, but not many.

Time to expect better.

Back to the Front...

Speaking of expecting better, that vote by the University Senate to at least begin the process of getting ROTC back on campus was 51 in favor, 17 against. a 3-1 ratio is not bad in this case.

In the meantime, please keep spreading the word about our halftime "honor the vets" campaign and let's get more signatories!


Visits to this blog were up 14% in March compared to March of last year and up 24% compared to March of 2009.

Thanks for reading!

Making Progress


And it's the good kind of news.

The Columbia University Senate has just passed a resolution inviting the ROTC back to campus.

Does this mean that the ROTC will actually come back?

That's not clear.

But what is clear is that Columbia has finally returned to the sane position of supporting the armed forces that make the freedoms we all enjoy possible.

Well done Senators.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Remembering Randy

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtney A. Kjos

A number of you are rightfully calling for a little more recognition for Randy Murff '97.

As far as I can tell, he is the only Columbia football captain killed in service to his country.

I hope most of you know that I have written about Murff many times on this blog over the years.

Anyone who was the captain of the best CU team in 50 years and counting deserves a lot of tributes, even if he wasn't a true patriot with a tragic story as his epitaph.

If you aren't one of the readers familiar with Murff's story, you just MUST click on the link above and learn more.

In the meantime, please keep spreading the word about our halftime "honor the vets" campaign and let's get more signatories!