Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tickets Here!

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Okay, I get a little giddy when the season ticket package arrives for Columbia football every year.

In recent years, each ticket has been adorned with the image of a Columbia player, (usually all seniors), which serves as a nice honor for our student athletes.

With six home games this season, more of the players got a little chance to be in the spotlight.

First off, the pocket schedule and the football fan guide pamphlet have a picture of two-time 1st Team All Ivy OL Jeff Adams on the covers.

Fellow OL and co-captain Bob Hauschildt is on the game 1 ticket, (vs. Albany).

Co-captain DB Ross Morand adorns the game 2 ticket, (vs. Sacred Heart).

The Homecoming game 3 ticket for the showdown vs. Penn has the image of the only junior, QB and co-captain Sean Brackett.

WR Kurt Williams is on the game 4 ticket for the game vs. Yale on Oct. 29th.

DB A.J. Maddox is on the game 5 ticket for the Nov. 5th game against Harvard.

And make it two Texans in a row as co-captain WR Mike Stephens is on the final ticket, the game 6 contest and season finale against Brown.

Once again this season, the season ticket package comes with passes to the Athletic Director's hospitality tent before each game.

You still have time to purchase great season tickets and individual game tickets here.

Sports Network Ivy Preview

Craig Haley once again provides just about the most in-depth Ivy League football preview for the Sports Network.

Haley puts a lot of emphasis on schedule strength, and he agrees with my assessment from several weeks ago that Harvard has the easiest schedule in the Ivies this year.

Thus, Haley picks the Crimson to win the whole thing.

That's not exactly a stretch.

But once again, Haley picks his hometown Princeton Tigers to finish ahead of Columbia.

He picked Columbia for 7th... just like last year.

I've said it many times, so let me say it again: this is the kind of "respect" Columbia can expect until it starts posting winning seasons. Despite the obvious jump in talent in this program, we need wins.

Of course, Columbia has beaten Princeton two years in a row by a combined score of 80-14... but old habits die hard and Haley picks the Tigers to finish ahead of the Lions once again.

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#17: From Bad to Worse

Cornell's stunning 7-0 lead in the week 9 Senior Day at Wien Stadium started to look less like a fluke after the Lions went three-and-out on the series after the Big Red score.

Starting from the Cornell 27, QB Jeff Matthews immediately got things going on the first play with a 21 yard pass completion.

Three plays later, Matthews got another first down with a 10 yard run to the Columbia 38.

But the Big Red momentum was cut down a bit by a holding penalty and a sack by Ryan Murphy, forcing Cornell to attempt a 45 yard FG.

Brad Greenway's kick was good, and at 10-0, the Lions knew their work was really cut out for them that afternoon.

Busy Saturday to Come

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Football at UConn's stadium is still taking a back seat to Irene

Frosh Face Time

Things seem to be completely back to normal at football training camp three days after Hurricane Irene.

But there are still some practices to be made up, and the freshmen have had considerably less face time in front of the coaches because orientation events went on as scheduled the last few days.

One could argue that will make it that much tougher for frosh to get on the field with the varsity in an actual game early in the season.

For one thing, don't be surprised to see three seniors in the starting WR slots come Sept. 17th at Fordham.

Fordham-UConn Game Postponed

Speaking of Fordham and Hurricane Irene, the Rams opener at UConn has been postponed from Thursday night to Saturday.

That's because the Connecticut National Guard is using the UConn stadium as a staging center for Hurricane Irene relief.

I'm not sure when the exact game time Saturday will be.

That means all three of Columbia's non-Ivy opponents will start their seasons this Saturday.

The other two games are week four opponent Sacred Heart beginning at home against Marist and week two opponent Albany opening at powerhouse Colgate.

It looks like all three games will be played at night.

Getting back to Fordham, the NY Post has a short piece about the Rams and the goals of the program.

Don't get me wrong, Fordham is a very good school and its athletic scholarship program is intriguing.

But can anyone honestly tell me Fordham has a better product to sell than Columbia?

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#18: Cornell's Stunning Start

Cornell came into the week 9 game at Columbia a 19 point underdog.

What the oddsmakers didn't know was that Lion QB Sean Brackett began the game barely able to throw the football because of an injury.

What the oddsmakers COULDN'T know was that he would bang up his foot too, but that was late in the game.

Either way, the Big Red played excellently for most of the game.

On Cornell's third possession of the game, the visitors from Ithaca got into a groove thanks to some stellar play by QB and eventual Ivy Rookie of the Year Jeff Matthews.

Matthews best play of the drive was a 37 yard completion to Luke Tasker even as he stared down a furious Lion rush.

Two plays later Matthews took it into the end zone himself to give the Big Red a surprising early 7-0 lead.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pics are In

THIS is the face of a freshman?? (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)

The football roster now includes pictures of the freshman and new shots of all the returning players.

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#19: Greg's Big Punt, Calvin's Big Tackle

The week 9 game against Cornell at Wien Stadium began with both teams not able to score for multiple possessions.

But the Big Red looked like it was going to win a major field position battle early in the game when the Lions started their first possession on their own 10 and did not get a 1st down.

On the 4th down play from the Columbia 17, punter Greg Guttas booted the ball nice and high and let Lion speedster Calvin Otis get to Cornell returner Luke Tasker after just a one yard gain to the Big Red 41.

It was one of the better punts and coverages of the entire 2010 season.

Monday, August 29, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Roster Updated

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New weights are posted!

There are some headlines:

-OL Jimmy Yukevich, who is vying for a starting slot on the line went from 275 lbs. to 297 lbs.

-DL Chris Groth makes a good case to be the "load in the middle," going from 291 lbs. to 319 lbs. That also earns him the title of heaviest Lion for 2011.

-OL Xander Frantz is up to 291 lbs. from 280 last year.

-RB Marcorus Garrett is up to 200 lbs. from 180 last year. That could make a big difference as he attempts to be more effective up the middle.

-LB Josh Martin is up to 242 lbs. from 230 last season.

-LB Ryan Murphy is up to 230 lbs. from just 205 last year.

-LB Zach Olinger up to 220 lbs. from just 200 in 2010.

-DL Ben Popeck up 15 lbs. to 260 lbs.

-FB Nico Papas up to 231 lbs. from 220 last year.

But we do appear to have lost promising sophomore Joe Raimondi, who switched from the DL to the OL in the spring.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Remember #10

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Storm is Almost Here

I thought I would publish one last post before I suspect the power may go out early tomorrow morning.

The hard rain, wind, lightning and thunder is already here from Hurricane Irene.

Don't let this young man become anyone's afterthought

NY Times on QB's

Saturday's New York Times includes a piece on all the great returning quarterbacks in the Ivies for this fall.

Unfortunately, Columbia's Sean Brackett gets just one mention.

(And the piece also incorrectly says Princeton and Harvard shared the title in 2006, it was actually Princeton and YALE).

Once again, the obvious needs to be said: Columbia and its outstanding players -- even it's MOST outstanding players like Sean Brackett -- will not get the credit they deserve until the teams starts putting together some winning seasons and, eventually, a championship.

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#20: Going Down Swinging (again)

Several Columbia games last season ended with the Lions refusing to die.

The Harvard game in week 8 was one of those games.

Trailing 23-7 with 59 seconds to play, the Lions somehow rattled off seven plays and marched off 36 tough yards before the final second finally ticked away.

Every one of the plays on the final drive was either a run or pass by QB Sean Brackett, Columbia's grittiest and most variably talented QB in at least 16 years.

The following week, Brackett and the Lions' never say die attitude would finally pay off.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Storm Central

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Shutting it Down

Hurricane Irene has indeed disrupted football training camp, canceling tomorrow's practice and planned first scrimmage of camp.

I assume the storm will shut down most of the other Ivy camps today or tomorrow as well.

I don't expect to see massive damage in the New York area, but power outages are a different story.

A prolonged outage for several days or so would make things a bit difficult for the players and everyone else.

Throw in the fact that moving in day for incoming freshmen was supposed to be tomorrow and you have a lot of uncertainty on campus.

The good news is Columbia campus is on a nice high perch and I would staying in the dorms there is probably one of the best moves a person can choose right now.

Also, while this is nothing to ignore if you live in a low-lying area along the coast, I think a lot of the precautions the city and state are taking are mostly political butt-covering.

But in this case, that's very acceptable.

Fordham Media Guide Available

For those of you who want to do more intense scouting of week one opponent Fordham, the Ram media guide is now available online.

You can also see the Rams in action in just five days when they take on the UConn Huskies in East Hartford on ESPN 3. ESPN is an online streaming network, but if you have a laptop and an HDMI cable, you can hook the computer up to your TV and watch in style.

That's my plan, anyway.

You can do the same thing with SideLion Pass streams of Lion games.

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#21: Luke's Rare Miss

Luke Eddy came into the week 8 game at Harvard still riding a perfect PAT streak, and he hadn't missed a FG either.

The freshman's luck ran out with a missed 49-yard FG in the first half, but at that distance it was not a shock.

However, it was surprising in the fourth quarter when Eddy misfired on a 35-yarder that could have made it 23-10 in favor of the Crimson.

That miss would be the shortest distance failure of the season for Eddy, who still looks like he could have a record-breaking career as the Lion PK.

NYC on $10.95 a Day!

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Chip Kelly


A new interview with Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly includes a number of interesting tidbits about his first coaching gig with Columbia in 1991.

It turns out his salary that season was... $4,000!!!


It also says that Kelly counts former Lion Head Coach Ray Tellier as one of his most important mentors.

And he's not alone.

Ivy Jokes

A New York Times piece about Texas A&M's pending move to the SEC includes this gem:

"As for the identity of the 14th team, Williams said the topic barely came up at a meeting of SEC athletic directors last week. He did say that he joked with another athletic director that the SEC should bring in Yale."

I hear Al Bagnoli is angry that Penn wasn't considered.

Darryl Whiting

Fordham Forecast

The Sports Network has a Patriot League preview that includes a mixed review for week one opponent Fordham.

The Rams' running tandem of Darryl Whiting and Carlton Koonce are highly praised, but the focus is on sophomore nose guard Justin Yancy who was a fearsome freshman last year.

Hurricane Ahoy!

Roar Lions Roar! will try to continue posting for the next few days, but we are in Hurricane Irene's direct path right now, so I can make no promises.

I do hope everyone on the East Coast reading this is safe and remains so for a long time to come.

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#22: Kurt Gets Open

Who knows how much better 2010 would have been if WR Mike Stephens hadn't broken his arm in week one?

TE Andrew Kennedy stepped up and had a monster year as a receiver, but so did WR Kurt Williams in what was his first full year in that position.

And Williams never looked better than he did during a drive late in the third quarter at Harvard in week 8.

Trailing 23-0, the Lions took over at their own 33 determined to make something happen.

QB Sean Brackett immediately started to rely on Williams, passing the ball to him for seven yards on 3rd and three from the Columbia 40.

On the very next play, Brackett went to Williams again for nine more yards to the Crimson 44.

Two plays later, Williams got incredibly open in the end zone and Brackett had no trouble finding him for a 36 yard TD.

Williams finished the season with 27 receptions and an even 400 yards along with two TD catches. Columbia will most likely need him to improve on all of those numbers for this season.

Friday, August 26, 2011

New Look

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New Site

I posted earlier today a breaking news item on the new-look Columbia athletics website.

It does look nicer and flashier, as all websites should.

And by clicking on the schedule page for the football team, we learn that just about every Columbia football game will be available on TV or video-streamed live on the internet.

FYI: the Penn and Yale games, which are both being broadcast on national cable networks, will not be streamed live to protect their exclusivity rights.

It also looks like some of the road games will be video-streamed, but we’ll get more details on that later.

Hurricane Issues

It looks like the New York area will indeed get slammed by Hurricane Irene Sunday night.

Whether that means some practices get canceled, I don’t know.

I also don’t know if the NCAA and the Ivy League will allow for the missed practices to be made up… essentially extending training camp in some way.

The sad thing, (of course other than the potential loss of life and property all along the East Coast), is that these days before freshman orientation begins are the most crucial practice sessions of camp.

Once the orientation schedule kicks in, it’s hard to maintain the same continuity.

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#23: Worn Down

Already trailing 16-0, the Lion defense finally showed signs of a breaking point.

On 1st and 10 on the CU 11, the Crimson’s Treavor Scales easily ran into the end zone for the final Harvard score of the game.

For a defense that had fought brilliantly all afternoon to keep Columbia in the game, it was an unfortunate moment to say the least.

No one looking at the stats in the game, including the 246 yards passing by Harvard QB Collier Winters and the Crimson’s 166 net yards rushing, can guess just how well the Lion defense did that day.

But the only stat that counts is the final score.

Thursday, August 25, 2011



The website has a brand new look this morning.

It includes news on how games will be televised on the SideLion Pass again this year.

Check it out!

Weight Wish List

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Okay, since we're still waiting for the new weights to be listed on the Columbia football roster, why don't I just print my personal wish list for 10, off the top of my head, key players and the changes I'd like to see them make.

1) Jeff Adams: Currently 305 lbs.

Adams is currently listed at 305 lbs. He's more than okay at that weight, but imagine him 10 pounds heavier and even stronger!

2) Seyi Adebayo: Currently 260 lbs.

If Seyi can get it up to 270 or more, and maintain his speed, that would be devastating,

3) Tom Callahan: Currently 290 lbs.

Could a freshman OL really get some playing time? If Callahan adds muscle and goes over 300 lbs, he might have a chance.

4) Xander Frantz: Currently 280 lbs.

Love to see him break the 290 lb. level.

5) Owen Fraser: Currently 265 lbs.

Fraser needs to get back up to 275 lbs., maybe more. He could be a great nose tackle if he's healthy.

6) Hamilton Garner: Currently 225 lbs.

To be a great and effective blocking TE, he needs to get above 230 or so.

7) Nick Gerst: Currently 190 lbs.

If he can keep his speed at the 200 lb. level... watch out!

8) Alec Kosminskas: Currently 285 lbs.

Another OL who needs to get into 295 lb. territory.

9) Nick Melka: Currently 240 lbs.

A possible candidate for nose tackle if he can gain 30 pounds or so.

10) Jimmy Yukevich: Currently 275 lbs.

Yukevich is 6-7... so he needs to be 295 minimum to really get his body into proportion as an OL.

Top 100 Moments of 2010:

#24: Brackett Forces One

Sean Brackett threw just six interceptions in 2010.

But four of them came in back-to-back games against Yale and Harvard.

Perhaps the costliest pick came early in the 3rd quarter at Harvard Stadium with the Lions at the Crimson four and trailing 16-0.

On 2nd and Goal from the four, Brackett was picked off by Alex Gedeon. Gedeon then ran it back 29 yards to the Harvard 32.

The turnover marred a drive that had begun at the Columbia 23 and included four first downs.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shaking it Up!

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Earthquake Alert

The earthquake that hit the East Coast at 1:54pm took place about an hour before practice was scheduled to start at Kraft Field today.

I have no reason to believe practice was disrupted or delayed.

All other reports from campus are “all systems go” and all okay.

Roster Wait

We’re still waiting for the heights and weights to be updated on the Columbia roster, but I expect it all to be updated in the next two days or so.

Columbia Dean Ousted

A number of you have commented about the sudden resignation and then summary dismissal of Columbia College Dean Michelle Moody-Adams.

The full story is not yet known and may never be known… but issues regarding the College’s autonomy, similar to those that played out for former Dean Austin Quigley, seem to be rearing their ugly heads once again.

What this means for athletics, I have no idea. Anyone who says they really know is probably jumping the gun by a few months if not years.

But suffice it to say that the College and the University are still controlled by what are the true power sources at every elite school in America: the tenured faculty.

That’s the way it’s been for many decades.

Whether the tenured professors are friendly to athletics at Columbia is a question I’ll let you answer for yourselves.

But the answer should not be too hard to come by.

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#25: Cruel Fate

Midway through the 2nd quarter at Harvard, the Lions trailed the Crimson 3-0 and were playing extremely well.

The Columbia fortunes seemed to take a major turn for the better when on 4th and 10 from the Lion 35, QB Harvard Collier Winters threw an interception to Craig Hamilton at the Lion 18.

But cruel fate intervened and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Hamilton attempted to make an INT return only to promptly lose the football on a fumble caused and recovered by Crimson receiver Mike Cook at the CU 19.

There wasn't a more deflating moment for the entire 2010 season than that takeaway turned into a giveaway.

It’s easy for fans to say it was 4th down and Hamilton should have just knocked the ball down… but that’s a bit too easy to say.

Four plays later, Harvard scored a TD to turn their turnover into a crushing score within seconds.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Football is Back!

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Beautiful Night… Beautiful Day

I took my daughter Jordan to the Jets-Bengals exhibition game last night. It rained a lot, but my seats are under cover and as you can see, we both had a great time!

(sorry guys, but I didn’t get any of the cheerleaders’ phone numbers)

It sure felt good to get back to watching football at long last.

Meanwhile, the weather is just gorgeous today as the Lions actually hit the field for the first time for practice in training camp.

A Couple of Losses

Two names I noticed were missing on our roster today were junior LB Dan Kerrigan and sophomore DL Brad Losee.

Otherwise, the names and weights for each of the players remained the same, so stay tuned for those changes.

Yale Attrition

Yale has lost a couple of offensive linemen who quit the team. One of them was expected to vie for a starting spot.

Practice for the Elis officially started Friday.

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#26: Defense Starts Strong

Columbia came into the week 8 game at Harvard Stadium a heavy underdog to the Crimson.

And things started off on the wrong foot when Harvard RB Treavor Scales returned the opening kickoff 35 yards to midfield.

But the Lions defense was more than ready, forcing a surprising three-and-out.

Josh Martin made the key play in the series, tackling eventual Bushnell Cup winner Gino Gordon after just a three yard gain.

That first possession set the tone for what would be a very strong performance by the Columbia defense all day.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Final Failure

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Punter Greg Carlsen helped seal Columbia's fate

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#27: Coming up Short

After Columbia scored to make it 31-28 Yale with about 6:30 left in the 4th quarter, the Lions defense stepped up by producing a three-and-out and forced Yale to punt from its own 41 with about 4:30 left to go.

But Columbia's second half luck was about to run out.

Eli punter Greg Carlsen crushed a 51 yard punt that was not returned, pinning the Lions down at their own eight.

Columbia did get a couple first downs, but the last chance drive ended at the Lion 35 when a 4th and 10 pass fell incomplete.

This marked the third and final time in 2010 that Columbia was unable to capitalize on a final drive to tie or win the game. The other two failures were at home against Fordham and Dartmouth.

The valiant Lion comeback bid fell just three points short.

IN Season!

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This field won't be empty for much longer!

As the players, (about 110 in total), report to training camp today, New York City is not as hot as it was most of the summer. It may rain tonight and tomorrow, but the forecast is very clear and not too hot beginning Monday when the players actually hit the field.

Now is the time where a lot of do a lot of intense roster-watching to see if any names get added or deleted from the team, what the new weights are, and anything else that might surprise us.

The most intense attention will probably be on the 30 incoming freshman and 1 sophomore transfer, (Wells Childress), over the next two weeks.

The other major issue is the hope that every one of the players avoids the kind of injury that would keep them off the field for any time this fall.

Finally, when camp opens it means that our long, long, long, offseason is really over. Sure, there are another 28 days to go before a real game actuallu kicks off. But from now on, we're IN the season!

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#28: Mehrer Strikes Again!

A Yale interception of a Sean Brackett pass in the Eli red zone midway through the 4the quarter seemed to put the breaks on the Lions rally with Columbia still trailing 31-21.

But on the first play from scrimmage, Eli RB Alex Thomas fumbled the ball and it was recovered nicely by Adam Mehrer at the Bulldog 34.

It only took four plays for Columbia to score, as Brackett found TE Andrew Kennedy for the third time that day in the end zone.

Suddenly it was 31-28, when Yale had led 31-7 at the half.

And there were still 6:17 left in the game.

The Real Mystery

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The Coach would be proud...

New Spotlight

Great news! A postseason bowl just for FCS football all-stars is being inaugurated this January.

The Lombardi Bowl has a player “watch-list” and the Lions’ Jeff Adams is on it along with seven other Ivy players.

More importantly, a huge number of very deserving players – many of whom really need the extra recognition to help their NFL chances – will get just that.

Inside the Pride

The excellent Inside the Pride Columbia website has some short reports filed this summer that should get everyone updated as we head into training camp this weekend.

One report filed last month focuses on just how high the coaching staff is on Ryan Murphy. Coach Wilson even seems to think Murphy compares favorably to Lion great Lou Miller.

Indeed as the summer moves on, it becomes more and more clear just how important it is that Murphy makes a big impact this season.

But there are no hints on solving the real mystery going into camp: who will start on the front 3 of the new 3-4 defense?

If I had to guess, I’d say Ben Popeck, Chris Groth and Seyi Adebayo have the inside track. But that’s only a GUESS.

I’m as excited as anyone is about the new linebacking corps featuring Murphy, Josh Martin, Nick Mistretta, Evan Miller, Zach Olinger and so many others.

But if that front 3 doesn’t produce a strong season, it’s going to be a very tough year for Columbia.

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#29: Bang, Bang

Trailing 31-14, Columbia’s first possession of the 4th quarter did not end well with the Lions forced to punt from all the way back on their own 15.

But a booming kick by freshman Tyler Feely and a Yale penalty pushed the Elis way back to their own 30.

And on Yale’s first play, a totally airbourne and almost horizontal Adam Mehrer made a very athletic interception of Patrick Witt’s pass at the CU 41.

Three plays later, Lion QB Sean Brackett hit Nico Gutierrez for a 41 yard TD bomb.

Luke Eddy’s PAT made it 31-21 with about 12 minutes left and Columbia had suddenly made it a game.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Miami Mess

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Camp Clarity

To clarify, today is NOT any kind of official beginning of Columbia football camp.

The players will probably start practicing on Monday.

But they’re coming back on campus bit by bit, hour by hour and our long wait for another season of football is almost over.

Higher education

Hurricane Hell

If you ever feel left out because Ivy League football is not as popular or given as much due as BCS football… well, this story is for you.

The fact that payoffs, prostitutes, and abortions are part of what boosters provide at schools like Miami is probably not a surprise for any of you.

What is somewhat surprising is the NCAA is basically admitting that it doesn’t want to issue the “death penalty” to the U. because it would cost the BCS system so much money and could spark an all-out mutiny against the NCAA.

What a disgusting tangled web of junk the NCAA has become at the BCS level. If you aren’t relieved to see Ivy League football after reading stories like this, then you never will.

Speaking of death penalty’s Columbia was actually a beneficiary of the famed SMU death penalty back in the mid-1980’s

They snagged a strong transfer named John Robinson who made a nice contribution to the team in 1987.

Would Columbia want to even touch anyone from this tainted U. of Miami program if the team indeed gets the death penalty and the players become eligible for transfers anywhere?

Well, if we get access to upstanding young men like Robinson who would be innocent victims in this travesty I say: “Yes!”

But I doubt the NCAA will do the right thing here, and I’m not really sure there are too many players who are even eligible academically to play in the Ivies.

But all it takes is one…

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#30: Waking Up

Columbia entered the locker room at halftime trailing 31-7 to Yale and spent most of the 3rd quarter not doing much to change that.

But with a little more than four minutes left in the quarter, the Lions took over at the Yale 43 and finally got something going.

The key play was a six yard run by QB Sean Brackett on a 4th and 5 at the Eli 27.

But the prettiest play was the 23-yard TD pass Brackett threw two plays later to TE Andrew Kennedy in the back of the end zone.

The score made it 31-14, but no one though the Lions were back in it quite yet.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It Begins...

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Camp about to Begin

I received the big Columbia football fundraising mailing yesterday and it confirms that training camp officially begins tomorrow for the Lions.

Of course, the first day of training camp is usually just a check in day and I don’t expect the team to actually hit the field until Friday or Saturday.

But tomorrow is the true beginning of the season for the players and coaches and all the staffers who make Columbia football go.

Time to get serious.

I also have to say I am flattered that a short blurb by Head Coach Norries Wilson that appears in the mailing is almost completely identical to the top three goals I listed for the football program way back in December.

Collier Winters

Why Collier Winters Gets No Love

There’s still a lot of preseason hype surrounding Yale QB Patrick Witt and whether he is the best player at his position in the Ivies.

Yesterday, I pointed out that Witt is NOT among the three returning Ivy QB’s who have been a 1st Team All Ivy honoree.

Those three young men are Columbia’s Sean Brackett, Penn’s Billy Ragone, and Brown’s Kyle Newhall-Caballero.

So what about Harvard’s Collier Winters?

At least one reader thinks we’re giving him short shrift too.

Are we?

Well, Winters is definitely a good QB and he sure has a strong arm.

There’s just one problem: he hasn’t been able to beat Penn

In two crucial starts against the Quakers in 2009 and 2010, with the Ivy title on the line, Winters has come up short.

Last season at Franklin Field, Winters went 21-44 and threw three interceptions in the Crimson’s 34-14 loss.

In 2009 at Harvard Stadium, Winters went just 10-23 for just 135 yards passing in a 17-7 loss to Bagnoli’s Bruisers.

Based on the way he talks and acts, I think Harvard Head Coach Tim Murphy believes Collier Winters is a nice kid, a talented kid, but just not a kid who can bring the Crimson a title.

Why else would Murphy welcome two-time transfer Andrew Hatch back on the team with open arms last year. Yes, Winters got injured in the preseason, but that was AFTER Murphy brought Hatch back in. Of course in the ultimate case of poetic justice, Hatch got injured himself early in the season, Winters got better and Murphy had to go back to him for the remainder of the season.

So in summary, it’s not ME anyone needs to convince about how good Collier Winters is… it’s Tim Murphy who needs to be convinced.

Or maybe just Penn.

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#31: One Step Forward, two Steps Back

After Columbia showed signs of life with a determined drive to make it 24-7 Yale, the defense stepped up with a three-and-out and forced the Elis to punt from their own 38.

But Nico Gutierrez, who did a super job filling in for the injured Mike Stephens all year in punt returns, had a rare mistake and he fumbled the kick back over to Yale at the CU 22.

Three plays later, the Bulldogs had another TD pass and upped their lead to 31-7 at halftime.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Greater Danes

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Eddie Delaney

Albany Prepares

I must say I was blown away when Phil Steele’s new FCS preview magazine picked week 2 opponent Albany as one of the top 40 FCS teams in the nation, AHEAD of Penn and Harvard!

Not that I thought Albany was going to be a pushover, but if Steele is even close to being right Columbia is in for a very tough home opening game on September 24th.

The biggest reason for Steele’s enthusiasm is Head Coach Bob Ford, who has been the only head coach for the Great Danes for the last 38 years. Ford also has an incredible .608 winning percentage in that span.

Another big reason is senior defensive end Eddie Delaney, an inspiring young man who is a fearsome player despite being born with just one hand.

The Great Danes already shook up this league a bit when they beat Yale in New Haven last year.

Here’s a look at how Albany is doing in training camp so far.

The Great Danes begin their season at Colgate under the lights on September 3rd.

Witt vs. Brackett et al

Yale QB Patrick Witt is being touted by many as the Ivy passer who will have the best season this fall.

I’d say he’s getting about 5 to 6 times the attention as Columbia’s Sean Brackett and maybe 10 to 20 times the ink as Brown’s Kyle Newhall-Caballero or Penn’s Billy Ragone.

There’s only one problem with that.

Witt has NEVER been a 1st Team All Ivy QB, Brackett, KNC, and Ragone all have.

Witt’s record as a starter is a “lofty” 7-8.

That’s about the same as Brackett’s 6-7 record as a starter and way below the strong winning records Ragone and KNC have in their careers.

If anyone has any GOOD reason why Witt should be picked over these other gentlemen as the best preseason QB, OTHER than the lame argument that a Nebraska transfer MUST be better than anyone who was an Ivy player from the beginning… well, please share that reason here.

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#32: Signs of Life in New Haven

Trailing 24-0 midway through the second quarter, it seemed things just couldn’t get any worse for the Lions at Yale in week 7.

But thanks mostly to some great efforts by senior RB Zack Kourouma, Columbia started to make a game of it at the Bowl.

On the first play of a drive that began way back at the Lion 11, Kourouma busted off a 19 yard run.

Two plays later he ran for 11 yards and another 1st down to the Yale 36.

Two plays after that, Kourouma grabbed a nine yard pass from QB Sean Brackett.

It was Kourouma again three plays after that with an eight yard run to the Eli 16.

Columbia finally score a few plays later on an eight-yard Brackett-to-Andrew Kennedy TD pass.

But while Kennedy got the score, Kourouma was the workhouse racking up 47 of the yards in an 89 yard TD drive.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fordham and Family

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The Pesanello Boys

Week 1 opponent Fordham continues to provide regular updates on its training camp, now entering its second week.

This write up of the first intrasquad scrimmage has some interesting tidbits:

-There still is no clear winner of the QB starting job in the Bronx. But my money is on Griffin Murphy, who at 6-2 and 235 pounds seems to have a size advantage going for him.

-One of the top tacklers in the scrimmage was LB Anthony Pesanello, who is either big brother or big cousin to incoming Columbia LB Ray Pesanello. Both hail from Mahwah HS in New Jersey. If anyone can help me nail down the relationship, (I’m guessing big brother), please let me know.


Ray and Anthony are indeed brothers.

Incidentally, Anthony Pesanello comes in at 6-2 and 240 pounds, while our Pesanello comes in at 6-1 and 215 pounds. So, whatever Mrs. Pesanello is feeding her boys, let’s hope she evens things out soon!

-Ram late addition recruit running back Vaughn Scott, a young man a lot of opposing defenses are already worried about, did not get any carried at RB and only got his name in the stat page with a defensive tackle. I’m not sure if that means Scott got a special teams tackle, but I can’t believe he’s been moved to the defensive side of the ball.

-Starting RB Darryl Whiting seems to be in top shape as he tore off 58 yards on just nine carries for a 6.4 yards per carry average.

Fordham gets things going in just 17 days with the season opener at UConn.

Big Green Preview

Fellow blogger Bruce Wood of Big Green Alert has gone live with his 2011 preview of our Lions on his premium site. I have to strongly recommend signing up for Bruce’s premium service as he keeps as good a track on the league as a whole as anyone. His Columbia previews are also very strong too as he usually brings up a point or two I haven’t noticed or maybe understated during the long offseason.

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#33: Fumble Parade Marches On

Already trailing 17-0 after Yale converted a Sean Brackett fumble into a TD, the Lions took the ensuing kickoff and was promptly penalized on the return and had to start the drive at their own 13.

Then things got really bad.

On 1st and 10, FB Nathan Lenz fumbled the ball and it was recovered at the 15 by Adam Money.

One play and a PAT later, it was now 24-0 Elis.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Witt Goes Wild

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Patrick Witt

Top 100 Moments of 2010:

#34: Witt Goes Wild

Columbia's nightmarish beginning to the Yale game in week 7 at the Bowl wasn't even over at the end of the first quarter and the Lions already trailing 10-0... in fact, it wasn't even half over.

On their first possession of the second quarter, the Elis took over after a Greg Guttas punt to their 31.

Yale QB Patrick Witt was as erratic as ever on and off the field in 2010, but on this drive he looked positively like Peyton Manning. Naturally, the Lions bore the brunt of his sudden streak of brilliance.

The 10 play march featured 4-4 passing by Witt for 74 yards and TD. He spread the ball around to four different receivers and never came close to making a mistake.

It was now 17-0, Bulldogs and the bad dream was still alive.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Figuring the Front Five

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Last Liberty!

Enjoy your last free weekend Lion players! Next weekend, training camp begins!

Bob Hauschildt moves to center (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)

Who's Your Front Five?

Head Coach Norries Wilson put some of our notions about the offensive line out of whack this week when he said at the Ivy Media Day that senior Bob Hauschildt was moving back to the center position

That presumably makes last year's solid starter Kyle Stupi a backup.

But the Lions still return the most veteran and quality offensive line since 1996. By my count, a total of six returning players have started at least one game for Columbia. And I would call them "quality starts" since the Lions have improved so much in the running game over the last two years.

Hauschildt and top NFL prospect Jeff Adams are certainly the locked-in starters. I'd also put junior Scott Ward as a definite starter at right tackle. But maybe that's just me.

That leaves the two guard positions out there. The most experienced linemen left are Stupi, Xander Frantz and Sam Cecil. But they all have most of that experience at positions other than guard.

Coach Wilson would only mention sophomores Joe Ghergurovich and Jimmy Yukevich and junior Alec Kosminskas as vying for the guard spots, but Wilson is famous for not tipping his hand too much in interviews.

Yukevich is 6-7 and weighed in the 270's last season. If he can get into the 290's by training camp, you can see why he would be a dynamite candidate.

Ghergurovich is 6-3, but comes from a very tough high school conference and was considered a great recruit. He's in the mix.

Kosminskas comes from a dynamite Chicago-area high school program and would fit nicely with fellow Chicagoans Adams and Hauschildt, (if they all start this season, we'll have to call the OL the "Illinois Line"). Of course, Coach Wilson is a an Illinois offensive lineman himself, having grown up in the town of Markham.

Don't sleep on former D-lineman Joe Raimondi. The coaches thought so much of Raimondi as a frosh last season that he got significant playing time on the varsity. I have to think his switch to the O-line wasn't for nothing. This is a kid with a lot of strength and athletic ability.

Junior Eric Walker and sophomore Dylan Leonard could also make a splash this fall.

A lot of this guesswork will be easier after next weekend when the new weights should be listed, (give or take a day or two).

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#35: Sean Coughs it Up

QB Sean Brackett either threw or ran the ball on an incredible 62.5% of Columbia's 686 total offensive plays in 2010.

And despite carrying that heavy load he was responsible for just 9 turnovers, (six interceptions and three lost fumbles in those 428 plays. That's a turnover once every 48 total passes and runs combined.

But against Yale, Brackett had a much rougher time than usual in that department. And it all started with Columbia already trailing 7-0 in the first quarter.

On 3rd and eight from the Lion 26, Yale NFL prospect Ed McCarthy forced Brackett to fumble the ball away on a sack.

Four plays later, the Elis cashed in with a FG to make it 10-0.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fordham Gets Going

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Fordham trains on its home turf, Jack Coffey Field

Week one opponent Fordham began its training camp Sunday as it's opening game at UConn is now just 20 days away.

You can read the latest report about the Rams and their camp here.

One headline out of the Bronx is that the starting QB position is up for grabs. Right now, it's a battle between Long Island native Ryan Higgins, and Griffin Murphy from Massachusetts.

The Fordham QB whp started against the Lions last year, Blake Wayne, is moving to wide receiver where the Rams have lost last season's top three stat leaders to graduation.

But the big concern for Columbia will be what looks like an excellent Fordham running attack with star senior Darryl Whiting returning and scary freshman Vaughn Scott joining him in the backfield. The Rams also have a big veteran offensive line.

Top Moments of 2010

#36: Slipping through the Cracks

It's hard to think of worse way Columbia could have started its week 7 game at Yale.

Reeling from back-to-back losses where the Lions run defense was the #1 culprit each time, the Elis embarrassed the Columbia defenders with a big ground gainer from RB Alex Thomas.

On just the second play from scrimmage, Thomas broke several tackles and escaped down the sideline for a 42 yard TD and a quick 7-0 Bulldog lead.

... but the Lion nightmare beginning was just, er, beginning.

3 New Lions & the Roughest Road

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Luke Nichols

A check of the football roster shows we have three new members of the team:

First up is RB Luke Nichols who is a transfer from D-III Macalester College. Luke is listed as 6-feet even and 190 pounds.

Nichols went to Bronxville High School, making him the first Bronxville alum to join the Lions in about 11 years.

Since Macalester is D-III, Nichols will not be able to play with the varsity this year because of transfer rules. He can practice with the team though, and he will be eligible next season.

Next up is RB Michael Carter, a 5-11, 175 pound freshman from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, MN. That would make him the first documented Minneapolis Roosevelt alum to become a Lion.

I am having a very hard time digging up any other info about Michael, but welcome to him!

Finally we have 5-11 , 195 pound freshman LB Ben Walker from Cypress Ranch High School in Cypress Creek, Texas.

Cypress Ranch just started playing varsity football, so Walker is obviously the first young man from his school to join the football Lions at CU.

Schedule Strength

I’m not going to sugarcoat this.

The more I look at Columbia’s 2011 schedule, the more I think this is the hardest slew of opponents we’ve faced in at least seven years.

I’m referring to the murderous schedule in 2004 where Columbia’s out of conference opponents – Fordham, Bucknell, and Lafayette, were all at or near their best levels of the decade. The rest of the Ivy League wasn’t super strong that season, but teams like Harvard, Penn, and Brown were quite good and Cornell was energized by first year head coach Jim Knowles.

This year Columbia has to open the season against Fordham, now in its second year of athletic scholarship football AND that game will be the Rams’ homecoming day.

Then the Lions have their home opener against an Albany team that Phil Steele picks as one of the top 40 teams in all of the FCS, (BETTER than Harvard or Penn!).

Two weeks after that, Columbia appears to have the easiest challenge of the season as Sacred Heart will come into Wien Stadium. I say “appears” because you just never know, even though the Pioneers great QB Dale Fink has graduated.

As far as the Ivy opponents go, there is no denying that the league should be improved over all this season.

Columbia has to face the two Ivies it defeated last season, Princeton and Cornell, on the road this time. Both teams should be better this year as well.

Up-and-coming Dartmouth makes Columbia its homecoming opponent, so that will be a tall order for sure.

The home games are all against Ivy teams that at least some of the pundits think could win the championship.

Homecoming opponent Penn comes in first, followed by Yale, Harvard and Brown in the finale.

That’s a really tough schedule any way you slice it.

Is it the toughest in the Ivies?


I’d say Princeton is #1 here because it has to play new superpower Lehigh and Hampton out of conference. The Tigers also have to go to Harvard and to Penn.

#2 is Brown. The Bears have murderous games against powers like Stony Brook and tough contests against Holy Cross and U. of Rhode Island. In the Ivies, Brown has hard road trips to Harvard and Yale.

Dartmouth has to play Colgate at home and has a rough road trip at Holy Cross. The Big Green get Penn at home but have to go to Harvard and Brown.

Penn is often the Ivy team with the toughest overall schedule, but a big drop in the strength of schools like Villanova and Lafayette this year eases things up considerably.

And let me be the first one to say it publicly: PENN WILL BEAT VILLANOVA THIS YEAR.

Shockingly, Harvard comes in with the easiest schedule this season. The Crimson have very easy out of conference games against Bucknell and Lafayette. Holy Cross will be a bit tougher and that is a road game for Harvard. Penn, Brown and Dartmouth are all home games at Harvard Stadium.

Jake’s Ivy Strength of Schedule Rankings 2011

1. Princeton

2. Brown

3. Columbia

4. Dartmouth

5. Cornell

6. Penn

7. Yale

8. Harvard

Of course, all of this is based on where we are in the PRE-season. If it turns out teams like Sacred Heart are sudden powers or Lehigh is a bust, it changes everything.

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#37: A Tough Job Gets Tougher

With a little more than two minutes left in the 4th quarter when Dartmouth took at 24-21 lead, the Lions certainly had enough time to drive to a tying or winning score of their own.

But another crushing personal foul penalty against Columbia on the kick return forced the Lions to start that drive on their own 12 yard line.

A pair pass completions from QB Sean Brackett to Nico Gutierrez and Kurt Williams got Columbia to its own 33 very quickly.

But the Lions never got further than their own 43, failing to convert a 4th and 5 after an incomplete pass.

Nearly 11,000 Columbia faithful then walked out of Wien Stadium with their heads hanging low.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

So Much for the Quiet Period

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Emory Hunt

Remember when the entire summer was devoid of any Ivy football news or material for anyone other than the players and coaches themselves?

Those days are gone, and they will make the 38 days left until the season finally kicks off much busier than usual.

It also will make the time go faster.

Please go faster!

The latest bit of material to discuss is this video by Emory Hunt. He does make some errors in his Ivy preview -- mostly notably it seems he did not know that Kyle Newhall-Caballero is coming back for a 5th year at Brown’s QB – but he still shows more insight that a lot of our peers on some key issues.

First off, he’s the only pundit besides me who has not trouble deeming Sean Brackett the best QB in the league. He even predicts Brackett will be the top overall offensive player in the league, and that means something special this year since the Bushnell Cup/MVP award will be given to one offensive and one defensive player from now on.

The other headline is that Hunt also picks Dartmouth to win the whole league.

Future Schedules

Below are the future schedules for Columbia based on the info at I caution that future schedules are often pretty unreliable, but only when it comes to non-Ivy games. The Ivy games and dates are pretty much set in stone.



S15 Marist

S22 Fordham

S29 Princeton

O6 at Lehigh

O13 at Penn

O20 Dartmouth

O27 at Yale

N3 at Harvard

N10 Cornell

N17 at Brown


S21 at Fordham

S28 Albany

O5 at Princeton

O12 Sacred Heart

O19 Penn

O26 at Dartmouth

N2 at Yale

N9 Harvard

N16 at Cornell

N23 Brown


S20 Fordham

S27 at Albany

O4 Princeton

O11 at Monmouth

O18 at Penn

O25 Dartmouth

N1 Yale

N8 at Harvard

N15 Cornell

N22 at Brown

I guess the “headlines” from all of this are:

-After a 5 year hiatus, Columbia will play Marist again to start the 2012 season.

-The Lions will travel to Lehigh in week four to play a Mountain Hawk team that is expected to be just as good if not better than it is this year. Columbia hasn’t played Lehigh since 1999 when the ‘Hawks whipped the Lions by a 63-13 score.

-In 2014, Columbia will play Monmouth for the first time ever, (the 1942 game against Fort Monmouth was not Monmouth College).

-Albany and Sacred Heart will remain as semi-regular opponents for the time being.

Scouting Alert

For those of you who want to get an advance look at week four opponent Sacred Heart, you can watch the Pioneers take on Bryant on MSG plus at 7pm on Friday Sept. 16th. That’s the night before Columbia starts the season at Fordham, so make sure you go right to bed after that game is over and get enough rest to cheer your brains out at Jack Coffey Field the next day!

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#38: Kempe Sticks it Out

The final crushing third down conversion of what turned out to be Dartmouth’s winning TD drive in week 6 was one of the most emotionally daunting moments of the season.

On 3rd and 7 from the Lion 11 Kempe faced down a furious rush from Josh Martin and somehow just barely got off a pass to Michael Reilly. The completion went for nine yards and the Big Green scored the winning TD two plays later.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Penn Picked First

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There is an avalanche of news of this Ivy League Football Media Day.

You can click the link above to hear ALL the details for yourselves, so let me focus on what I think were the most important news items in bullet point form:

-Two-time defending champ Penn was the overwhelming choice to repeat as champions in the media poll, (*disclaimer: I participated in the poll this year for the fourth straight year). Columbia was picked 6th. Here are the poll results below:

1. Penn (12 1st place votes)

2. Harvard (2)

3. Yale (1)

4. Brown (2)

5. Dartmouth

6. Columbia

7t. Cornell

7t. Princeton

-A BIG HEADLINE is that this year and from now on, the Bushnell Cup will be given to one offensive player and one defensive player. This should go a long way towards negating the offensive skill player bias in awards voting.

-When penalties are committed with less than two minutes in the half, the non-penalized team can chose to take the yardage penalty and run 10 seconds off the clock, or just take the yardage.


-Head Coach Norries Wilson mentioned a number of names that maybe many of us didn't expect to hear. Mike Waller was mentioned as someone who stood out as an LB in the spring and perhaps in the mix to mentioned, Ross Morand mentioned as the leader of the secondary punt returner. Bob Hauschildt will play center this year, (he played that position as an underclassman), Scott Ward and Jimmy Yukevich are battling for the Right tackle spot. Wilson also mentioned that Alec Kosminskas and Joe Ghergurovich are coming along in the hunt for the guard spots. Zach Olinger was mentioned as a linebacker who has to step up along with Waller.

I'll have more analysis of Coach Wilson's comments and all the other coaches' comments throughout the coming days.

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#39: Pierre's Push

Just moments after Dartmouth icily converted a 3rd and 10, the Big Green faced another 3rd and 10, this time at the Columbia 41.

A short pass from QB Connor Kempe to Nick Schwieger almost produced another first down, but Shad Sommers and Alex Gross stopped him just a yard short of the marker at the Lion 32.

With the game on the line, Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens didn't hesitate to go for it on 4th and 1. He also didn't hesitate to give the ball to #2 RB Dominic Pierre, who easily picked up the three yards for a 1st down at the Lion 29.

It was a deflating moment for the Columbia defense, but there was more deflation to come.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Stainless Steele

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Steele Issue Stands Out

The first ever Phil Steele FCS College Football Preview issue arrived in my mailbox on Saturday, and I haven’t been able to put it down since.

Instead of relegating the entire FCS preview to just a few pages at the back of the magazine, or just one page like some other publications, Steele has a 240-page masterpiece so jammed full of information that I have never felt more confident about scouting Columbia’s opponents coming into a season.

Every school gets at least a full page of analysis and stats.

Every conference is analyzed and previewed.

Every top player is flagged and given special recognition.

I know some Columbia fans are a little bummed that the magazine picked Columbia for 6th and only two of our players made Steel’s preseason 1st Team All Ivy. But it also picks Jeff Adams as being on the entire FCS preseason 1st Team and considers him perhaps the best LT in all the nation at this level. There is also good recognition of the fact that Columbia has a true star in QB Sean Brackett.

There’s also fantastic information available from Columbia’s new opponents for 2011, Albany and Sacred Heart. Unlike the other pundits that chose Albany to come in the middle of the pack in the NEC, the Steele issue expects the Great Danes to win the NEC thanks to Head Coach Bob Ford.

But the take on Sacred Heart in the Steel issue is the same as it is everywhere else: bad.

The Pioneers are picked 7th out of eight.

There’s lots more to find out Don’t take my word for it alone, just click the link above and order the issue for yourself!

Ivy Media Day Set for Tomorrow!

All eight Ivy head coaches will be on the call tomorrow starting at 11am for the annual media day teleconference.

Due to a death in my family and a funeral I need to attend, I will not be able to participate for very long but I will do my best.

The website will have an MPEG file of the event available for everyone to hear sometime in the late afternoon or early evening.

Big Green Podcast

Speaking of prime audio files, Bruce Wood at Big Green Alert has put together a 25 minute podcast previewing all of Dartmouth’s 10 opponents for 2011.

Since seven of Dartmouth’s opponents are also Columbia opponents this fall, this is a very informative podcast that every Lion fan should check out.

Top 100 Moments of 2010

#40: Big Conversion #1

After Columbia came all the way back to grab a 21-17 lead midway through the 4th quarter of the Homecoming game against Dartmouth, the Big Green began their ensuing drive at their own 31.

After two straight incomplete passes, Dartmouth faced a tough 3rd and 10 and the Lions looked like they might have their opponents badly on the ropes.

But in that super pressure situation, someone on the Columbia defense went too soft on their coverage and QB Connor Kempe found a very open Scott Tanner for a 16 yard first down pass.

It would be the first of many artful dodges by the Big Green offense on what would turn out to be a nightmare of a drive for the Lions and the huge Homecoming crowd.