Friday, September 30, 2011

Turnpike Turnaround?

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Take Exit 9

Columbia Lions at Princeton Tigers

October 1st, 2011

Location: Powers Field at Princeton Stadium

Kickoff Time: 6pm

Gametime Weather Forecast: Rain, 57 degrees

The Spread: Columbia is favored by 3 points.

Columbia Game Notes

PrincetonGame Notes


You can catch video AND audio of the game on the SideLion Pass on with Jerry Recco and Sal Licata. If you're in your car, WKCR student radio is at 89.9 FM, (and you can get its feed over the internet too).

Columbia Alumni Tailgate

There are just a few hours left to register for the cool Columbia tailgate event at Princeton Stadium.

The deadline to RSVP is by the end of the day, TODAY.

Click HERE to register/RSVP for the event online NOW.


Directions to the Princeton Campus

Directions for GPS users

Columbia Athletics will be providing a fan bus to tomorrow’s Princeton game. It will leave from the Broadway gates at 3:30 pm. Anyone interested should RSVP to Gretchen at


Princeton has lost 10 in a row, has a head coach who's 1-11 lifetime with the Tigers and yet it could be Columbia's head coach and program that needs to win this game much more.

Ever since the Lions whipped Princeton 42-14 in New York last year, Columbia has lost seven of nine and started this season at 0-2. There is definitely some pressure on Head Coach Norries Wilson as even the student newspaper, (filled with reporters who are usually deathly frightened of the man), is asking questions about some of his recent moves.

Princeton alums, at least the older ones, have to be besides themselves after two straight blowout losses to Columbia. Another loss and it's not beyong the realm of possibility that Tiger Head Coach Bob Surace will be shown the door in November.

On the field, both teams have been mistake prone and they will both want to get things straightened out in the Ivy opener.

The winner of this game gets relief and a reprieve.

The loser sinks further into the abyss and perhaps goes into crisis mode.

Columbia's Keys to the Game

Get Stronger up Front

Nothing is really going to work for Columbia until the offensive line play improves. QB Sean Brackett has been hurried too often, and the running holes up the middle just haven't been there. Princeton's defense is much better than the first two games would tell you, so this will be a serious challenge.

Get Brackett back on Track

This was job #1 last week, and while Columbia's QB looked a little better than he did in week one, he still wasn't the same guy we saw week in and week out in 2010. This needs to stop... now!

Find the Right Runner

Someone needs to start gaining yards on the ground for the Columbia offense. Nick Gerst did it in limited duty last week but if he can't take more than 10 carries or so, someone else needs to step up. Marcorus Garrett hasn't been able to do the job so far this season, in no small part because he's not 100% healthy. But that could mean freshman Alec Fisher will get touches, and at this point no one should care WHO gets it done as long as SOMEONE gets it done.

Find the Right Receiver

With top wide receiver Mike Stephens out, Brackett needs to find a target he's comfortable with. Big TE Hamilton Garner is a new candidate after making some nice grabs last week. But senior receivers Kurt Williams and Paul Havas seem like they have the inside track to fill the void.

Harass Wornham

Princeton QB Tommy Wornham has had a rough start to 2011 too, and the Lion pass rushers like Josh Martin and Ryan Murphy need to make his life miserable tomorrow night. His mistakes last weekend turned what looked like a potential Princeton victory into a blowout loss. He can't be allowed to get comfortable in the pocket.

Hauschildt a Finalist

Tim Tebow with the Campbell Trophy in 2009

Senior Center Bob Hauschildt, a young man many people have identified as the smartest person on the football team, has has been named a semifinalist for the 2011 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Award and the Campbell Trophy, (named after Columbia Board of Trustees Chairman, former football head coach and football captain Bill Campbell '62).

This is a big honor for Hauschildt, and well deserved at that.

A Wonderful Sight

Click here to see what I am calling one of the most wonderful sights I've seen in a long time.

It's former Columbia Head Coach Larry McElreavy finally getting back into coaching after years of struggling to return to football. He's now running the program at Claremont Middle School in Vermont.

Week 3 Picks

I had a rough week two, but I'm still on the plus side against the spread and I am ready to shake things off for week 3.

Before that, let's get the details on that subpar second week.

For Harvard +3 vs. Brown I wrote:

"If it weren't for the rain, I'd be picking Brown tonight. But the Bears have had problems in rougher weather in the past. I think the Crimson win outright, so take Harvard and the points."

Actual Final Score: Harvard 24 Brown 7

1-0 Straight Up, 1-0 Against the Spread.

For Cornell +12 1/2 at Yale I wrote:

"I say Yale will win, but not by more than 10 points."

Actual Final Score: Yale 37 Cornell 17

2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS

For Bucknell +5 1/2 at Princeton I wrote:

"The Tigers will play well enough to squeak out a win over the Bison. Look for Princeton to win by three or four. Take the points."

Actual Final Score: Bucknell 34 Princeton 9.

2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS

For Penn +5 vs. Villanova I wrote:

"I say Penn wins the game outright. Take the points."

Actual Final Score: Villanova 30 Penn 21

2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS.

For Dartmouth -20 at Sacred Heart I wrote:

"Sacred Heart is just not good at all. Take Dartmouth to win and lay the points."

Actual Final Score: Sacred Heart 24 Dartmouth 21

2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS.

OVERALL 2011 RECORD: 6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS.

Now for this week's picks:

Cornell -1 1/2 over Wagner

I know Wagner destroyed the Big Red last year, but this game is in Ithaca and I think Cornell will be a strong home team this year.

Yale +10 1/2 at Lehigh

The Mountainhawks have been playing everyone a little closer than they should so far this year. I still say Lehigh wins, but the Elis will give them a run for their money.

Lafayette +6 over Harvard

I expect the Crimson to just barely win this game. The Leopards are improving and I don't think Harvard is going to be strong on the road this season.

Brown +3 over Rhode Island

The Bears will bounce back and beat URI in the annual Governor's Cup game. It'll be a big night under the lights at Brown Stadium.

Penn over Dartmouth (pick 'em game)

This is a very difficult game to pick, but Penn is very hungry coming into this contest at 0-2 and Dartmouth is dealing with a QB crisis after that shocking loss to Sacred Heart.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

We Need a Hero

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Two years ago, Columbia started the 2009 season with a lot of promise.

The Lions beat a very good Fordham team with an NFL-bound QB in the opener in the Bronx.

Two weeks later, Columbia whipped Princeton 38-0 in New Jersey.

But then, everything stalled.

Five weeks later, the Lions were 2-6 and sailing without a rudder.

Enter then-freshman Sean Brackett.

The young QB had actually made his debut two weeks earlier against Yale, and darn near beat the Elis himself on national TV.

But in weeks nine and ten of the season, Brackett led the Lions to victories over Cornell, (with a big assist from M.A. Olawale), in Ithaca and a very good Brown team at home to salvage the season and add to high hopes for 2010.

Two years later, Columbia has started out the year a dissappointing 0-2, dropping a game they should have won at Fordham and laying an egg against a good Albany team in the home opener.

It's early, but the Lions need someone to step up NOW to right the ship before it crashes on the rocks in 2011.

Here are some possible candidates:

Sean Brackett

He's done it before, why not now?

Brackett's been a bit off in the first two games, throwing four INT's when all of last year he was only picked off six times.

But if he's able to start playing like himself again, things could look up for Columbia in a hurry.

Nick Gerst

Hamstring injuries are tricky and Gerst has been battling a bad hammie almost his entire CU career. But if he can get healthy enough to take 15-20 carries a game, the entire offense changes as evidenced by what he did against Albany last week.

Connor Nelligan

A real "X Factor" right now, the freshman Nelligan should get a lot of playing time Saturday night and going forward with top WR Mike Stephens out indefinitely.

He's not a complete dark horse as the coaches knew he was a top recruit coming in and he impressed in camp.

If Nelligan can make things happen in the passing game and draw a crowd in coverage, a lot of other doors can open up for the Lions offense.

Alec Fisher

This freshman running back probably won't be a key ball carrier this season, but who knows? It's possible he'll get more of a chance than any expects. But he will contribute as a kick returner and could still be a game changer in that regard.

Someone in the Secondary

The Lions have a lot of defensive weapons, like Josh Martin, Ryan Murphy, Zach Olinger, Ben Popeck, etc.

They all know they need to step it up from here on out, but the secondary is where Columbia needs a star to emerge... or re-emerge.

I say "re-emerge" because AJ Maddox and Ross Morand are banged up at CB. Morand seems likely to be out again this weekend, while I don't yet know if Maddox will return. Columbia needs them both back soon.

The Training Room

The Albany game took a very banged up Lion team and banged it up a lot more.

The rash of injuries last Saturday may have set a record of work for the team doctors.

But a hero or two in the medical and training staff, (they already are heroes anyway), could save the season too.

Call it the "Wounded Lions Project."

Ivy Lines Released

The early lines for Saturday's games are out.

Columbia is now a four point favorite against Princeton.

The other lines are:

Penn at Dartmouth (pick 'em)

Yale +12 at Lehigh

Wagner +1 1/2 at Cornell

Harvard -7 at Lafayette

Rhode Island -3 at Brown

Scouting Princeton

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Before I analyze the Tigers, let's look at the announced starting lineups for Columbia according to the just released game notes.

At WR, Mike Stephens is indeed out and I expect him to be out for the next few weeks.

That gives the official start to seniors Paul Havas and Kurt Williams, with freshman Connor Nelligan and junior Ian Cummins as the backups.

Replacing Stephens on the two-deep as a kick returner is freshman Alec Fisher who impressed last week.

Nick Gerst is listed as the backup RB and hoping that means he will get more than the nine carries he had last Saturday.

Junior Eric Walker gets his first start, (at least on paper), at left guard.

On defense, AJ Maddox is listed as one starting corner... although he was listed as the starter last week too and he didn't play, (ah the little games with the two-deep, how much fun they must be to play). His absence, and Ross Morand's absence were sorely felt against Albany and getting either one back this Saturday could make a huge difference. Alas, Morand is not listed on the two-deep at all.

Other new names listed as backups include sophomore CB Jeremy Mingo and sophomore LB Brian East, (who got into a good deal of the Albany game).

Sophomore Paul Delaney is listed as the starting punter.

Princeton's Bob Surace is under the gun

Taking on the Tigers


The frustration in Tigertown is pretty obvious as Princeton is riding a 10 game losing streak and confidence in second year Head Coach Bob Surace is very low.

But Princeton's 0-2 record so far this season masks the fact that the Tigers player powerhouse Lehigh pretty tough in week one, and take away a turnover or two last week against Bucknell and you've got a team that some could argue is slowly on the rise.

But optimism alone won't turn this program around or grab them a win Saturday night.


This unit still doesn't seem to be buying in to OC James Perry's system or personality, but its injuries and other personnel issues that are the real problem.

QB Tommy Wornham have never been All Ivy caliber, and he's starting this season on a bad not. He's still struggling with interceptions and while he can be a good runner he's never had quite enough leg to win a game on his own.

Speaking of legs, Princeton seems to be recovering a bit in the running game for the first time since Jordan Culbreath went down with a life threatening genetic disease in 2009, (Culbreath came back to make a miraculous contribution last season, but well off his 1,200 yard pace of 2008. He has now graduated and is thankfully doing pretty well).

The Tigers sent up a glimmer of rushing hope in week one when freshman Chuck Dibilio had a strong performance against Lehigh and earned Ivy Rookie of the Week honors. But Debillo is not listed on the two deep at this week and it's a mystery whether he's 100%.

Junior Akil Sharp is doing a decent job getting most of the carries other than Debillo, but he only has 16 carries total.

A bigger concern is the wide receiving corps. Senior Isaac Serwanga, (a guy Columbia recruited heavily), is the go-to guy right now but this crew is as thin as we thought it would be at the beginning of the season after Trey Peacock graduated.


This unit was supposed to be much improved with the return of star players like senior LB Steven Cody who missed just about all of last year with an injury.

But it's hard to judge how badly the defense is doing on numbers alone, because Princeton played offensive juggernaut Lehigh in game one and gave up a lot of points because of offensive turnovers in week two against Bucknell.

Cody is indeed still the leader, but another star is junior DT Caraun Reid from the Bronx.

Junior SS Mandela Shaeffer is the team's leading tackler, which says a lot of good things about him but bad things about a defense with a defensive back as its top tackler.

Special Teams

Special teams are a definite strength for Princeton up and down the line.

Senior PK Patrick Jacob may be the best in the league, while junior punter Joe Cloud is also excellent.

The RB Sharp is a dangerous kick returner and is generally more dangerous at this position than with the set offense.

Kickoff is 6pm at Princeton Stadium.

There are just a few days left to register for the cool Columbia tailgate event at Princeton Stadium.

The deadline to RSVP is September 30th.

Click HERE to register/RSVP for the event online NOW.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

10 VIP's (Very Important Princeton Games)

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You can check out IvySport's Columbia products here.


There are just a few days left to register for the cool Columbia tailgate event at Princeton Stadium.

The deadline to RSVP is September 30th.

Click HERE to register/RSVP for the event online NOW.

This is a good deal and a great way to eat before the game.

The Jersey Score! Fletcher's Hail Mary grab sealed a dramatic win in 2003

The Columbia-Princeton rivalry has been filled with extremely memorable and important games.

Even in seasons where neither team seemed like it would make a run for the title, somehow the Lion-Tiger matchups made headlines.

Long-time Columbia fans are well aware of the history between the cross-Hudson River rivals, but here’s a quick primer for the uninitiated.

1) 1933: Princeton 20 Columbia 0

Columbia’s otherwise perfect season was ruined early in the year with a shutout loss at Palmer Stadium. The Lions shook off the embarrassing loss, ran the table in the regular season, and earned a Rose Bowl invite when the Tigers turned it down! The rest is history as Columbia shocked Stanford 7-0 in the soaked Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day in Pasadena. But the fact that Princeton left the only stain on the Lions’ greatest season remains a sore point.

2) 1961: Princeton 30 Columbia 20

The 1933 scenario played itself out again in eerie fashion as Columbia’s great 1961 Ivy championship season was somewhat marred by a loss at home to Princeton. The Lions blew a late lead with a bad turnover to contribute to the loss. As a result of the Princeton game, Columbia had to officially share the Ivy title with Harvard, even though the Lions whipped the Crimson in Cambridge.

3) 1971: Columbia 22 Princeton 20

Since the formal creation of the Ivy League in 1956, Columbia had NEVER beaten Princeton in official league play… until this game. The ’71 “Kardiac Kids” pulled out a thriller at Baker Field in a rainstorm. Sophomore defensive back Ted Gregory and junior QB Don Jackson starred in the game that finally got the Lions over the hump. The team finished the season 6-3 and second in the Ivies.

4) 1982: Columbia 35 Princeton 14

In the final Homecoming game at the old Baker Field stadium, legendary CU QB John Witkowski lit up the Tigers with 316 passing yards en route to his Bushnell Cup winning season. This would be the only game Columbia would win all season.

5) 1988: Columbia 16 Princeton 13

Princeton came into 1988 favored to win the Ivy title with stars like Jason and Judd Garrett.

Columbia came into 1988 riding the nation’s longest-ever Division I football losing streak.

No problem.

On a rainy Homecoming game at Wien Stadium, running backs Greg Abbruzzese and Solomon Johnson shredded the Tiger defense and the Lions held on for a miraculous 16-13 win that ended the 44-game losing streak and set off a massive celebration from Inwood to Morningside Heights.

6) 1996: Princeton 14 Columbia 11

Columbia came into the game 6-0 and looking for revenge on a Princeton team that had dashed its title hopes the year before in a 44-14 drubbing at Palmer Stadium. But the Lions disappointed the packed Wien Stadium crowd with a lackluster offensive effort and a costly taunting penalty by future NFL All Pro Marcellus Wiley. The game ended when a last second FG attempt by Columbia went just wide.

7) 2000: Princeton 27 Columbia 24 (OT)

This was possibly the most painful Columbia loss of the decade. Leading 24-14 with just over two minutes to go, the Lions saw the Tigers score and convert an onsides kick to set up the tying points in regulation.

8) 2003: Columbia 33 Princeton 27

A Hail Mary pass at the end of regulation from QB Jeff Otis to TE Wade Fletcher stunned the Princeton Stadium crowd. Columbia came back from a 20-0 deficit to win the game.

9) 2004: Princeton 27 Columbia 26 (OT)

The Tigers got their revenge for the 2003 game just one year later in front of a hopeful Homecoming crowd in New York. First, Princeton tied the game on a desperation FG drive at the end of the game. Then, they blocked the PAT on Columbia’s TD in overtime setting up their own winning TD and PAT moments later.

10) 2009: Columbia 38 Princeton 0

The Lions stunned the Princeton Stadium crowd with a thorough whipping filled with highlight reel performances by WR Austin Knowlin and several others. It’s was clear the home fans couldn’t believe what they were seeing.

Of course, last year’s 42-14 Columbia win over Princeton was more of the same and it was also the very first time the Lions had defeated the Tigers two years in a row.

Could they make it three?

Log on tomorrow for my scouting report and see.

But either way, this rivalry has taken on a new tone. There seems to be a more level playing field where either team could win in a close game or a rout.

And with two straight routs in the books, it feels like we’re due for a nail biter at Old Nassau.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Looking for Deliverance

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Columbia fans could sure use a bit of deliverance after our disappointing 0-2 start.

And now we’ll need a little more help in the passing game.

Don’t expect WR Mike Stephens to be in the lineup anytime soon after he came up limping on a kickoff return against Albany Saturday.

His absence means QB Sean Brackett and the offense will need to lean on some of the other guys in the receiving corps.

Against Albany, Stephens’ fellow fifth year senior Paul Havas came up big with some key grabs including a one yard TD catch and another tough reception that set up the Lions first score.

Freshman Connor Nelligan made a great impression too. The fact that he was on the field for the end of the 1st half Hail Mary play says a lot about him. The fact that he made one of the most heads up plays in recent memory to scoop up the Albany fumble on that play and take it in for the TD says even more.

I have to think Kurt Williams was fighting the humidity Saturday with cramping issues, and that’s why he wasn’t more of a factor. But under the cooler night skies at Princeton he could have a big game. He certainly burned the Tigers a few times last year at Wien Stadium.

And with sophomore TE Hamilton Garner getting into the mix, Brackett has a new big target to look for on designed plays and in a jam.

Another possibility is that we could see a new face in the running game too. If Nick Gerst and Marcorus Garrett are still not 100%, we might see freshman Alec Fisher get some carries after he too was impressive in limited duty against the Great Danes.

But true deliverance will not come until the offensive line and Brackett get back on the right track. And Princeton, a program that is really struggling too, may provide the best opportunity to do that.

Player of the Week Awards

Yale QB Patrick Witt won his second straight Ivy Offensive Player of the Week award and Harvard’s Bobby Schneider took defensive honors.

For some reason, no Columbia player was even mentioned in the Honor Roll. That may have been our own call since the honor roll is usually just sent in by each individual team.

Princeton Tailgate Countdown

There are just a few days left to register for the cool Columbia tailgate event at Princeton Stadium.

Click HERE to register/RSVP for the event online NOW.

This is a good deal and a great way to eat before the game.

Ivy Football Event in NYC!

My good friend Erik Anjou, who directed and co-wrote the excellent film, 8: Ivy League Football and America, is behind a special Ivy football networking event this October 13th here in Manhattan.

Click on the picture above for info on how to attend.

The keynote speaker will be Jay Fiedler, Dartmouth '94, who is certainly one of the most successful Ivy football grads in recent years... but Ryan Fitzpatrick is certainly giving him a run for his money on that one!

And now...

Some fun pictures from the game this Saturday:

The strong stick together!

Game face!

Partners in crime

Extreme close-up!

Strategically covering the scoreboard

New best friends

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Week Two Power Rankings

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You can check out IvySport's Columbia products here.

So, how does the league stack up after week one?

After a weekend of surprising results around the league, it's time to look at my power rankings as they stand now:

1. Yale

Could I have been wrong about Eli QB Patrick Witt? Seems like it after two solid performances and a 2-0 Yale record. The 37-17 win over Cornell yesterday has a lot of eyes opening. Yale looks better than it has in a very long time.

2. Harvard

Super defensive effort in the 24-7 win over Brown Friday night has this program looking good again. Fill-in Colton Chappel may be more of a winner than starter Collier Winters.

3. Brown

I still like this team a lot when compared to the rest of the Ivies. Losing to Harvard under the rain and lights at Harvard Stadium is nothing to be ashamed of when the game was closer than the 24-7 score indicates.

4. Penn

Pretty good bounceback performance in a near-win over Villanova last night. The 0-2 Quakers are getting primed for the big game at Dartmouth this Saturday night.

5. Dartmouth

That loud thud you hear is the Big Green confidence crashing down after a 24-21 loss to lowly Sacred Heart yesterday. Chances seem just a bit dimmer that Dartmouth will be able to hold off Penn next weekend.

6. Cornell

Looking a bit better in contrast after what Bucknell did to Princeton last night. (The Big Red beat the same Bison team in week one). Yesterday's loss to Yale wasn't completely ugly and they made it a game for a while.

7. Columbia

Looked awful yesterday, but against a good program, a good coach, and a good team.
But losing 44-21 in your home opener is never good.

8. Princeton

Looked awful last night, and against a not-so-good team. Losing 37-9 to Bucknell is just embarrassing.

Gone to the Dogs

Like the new Campbell Center, Columbia's season is still under construction

Albany 44 Columbia 21

Why Albany Won

The Great Danes found Columbia's weaknesses early and exploited them. Albany's screen pass heavy offense burned the Lions time after time. Meanwhile the defense won the battle at the line of scrimmage even when it was not in blitz mode.

Why Columbia Lost

The Lions turned the ball over four times, couldn't get a consistent running game going, and missed tackle after tackle on defense. And for the second straight week, Columbia did not get the performance it needed from QB Sean Brackett.

Key Turning Points

-With the score tied 7-7 late in the first quarter, Albany began a long march down the field aided mainly by tremendous play out of the wildcat formation by Drew Smith. Columbia failed to tackle him properly and then it got contagious. Omar Osbourne finished the drive blowing through tackles on 17 yard TD run.

-Now trailing 14-7, Columbia tried a fake punt on a 4th and 4 from their own 47. But a bad snap killed the gambit and Albany took over on downs. Four plays later, it was 21-7.

-Trailing 24-14 in the third, the Lions were on a promising drive when on 3rd and 10 from his own 45, Brackett threw a bad interception to the Albany 41. Four plays later it was 31-14.

Columbia Positives

-Not many. But the electric energy RB Nick Gerst did inject into the Lions when he did get into the game was encouraging. Gerst finished with 56 yards on nine carries with a TD. If he can get 100% healthy for the Princeton game, there's hope.

-Freshman Connor Nelligan's heads up play to scoop up Albany's bonehead fumbled INT and take it in for a TD was just a miraculous moment. I'm sure most of us have never seen a Hail Mary turn out like that!

Columbia Negatives

-Without Gerst, the running game was still inept. All the other ball carriers combined rushed the ball 31 times for a grand total of 62 yards.

-After stuffing the rush last week at Fordham, the Lions had no answers today. Albany gained 216 yards on the ground and averaged almost six yards a carry.

-Sean Brackett was still a bit out of sync. He did completed fewer than 50% of his passes, fumbled the ball away twice and had two interceptions.

-Already trailing 44-14, the coaches still left #1 WR Mike Stephens in the game to return kickoffs. Sure enough, he came up limping after his last kick return.

Columbia MVP

Despite limited duty, I have to give this one to Nick Gerst.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Forecast Upgrade

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You can check out IvySport's Columbia products here.


The home opener is just hours away, so it's time, past time really, to buy your tickets NOW for the Columbia home games and BUY EXTRA! Get your friends and family to come and make it an outing.

DON'T FORGET that if you buy season tickets, you also get passes for the Athletic Director's pregame tent for ALL six home games!

AND you get a 10% discount coupon for the Lion Store which sets up shop in a great trailer right in front of the stadium each week.

Drying Out!

After last night's heavy showers in the New York City area, the forecast for rain has been downgraded to a prediction of just some drizzle maybe with actiual showers not returning until late tonight.

In other words, bring some paper towels to dry your seats and GET TO THE GAME at Wien Stadium today!

Harvard Triumphs

Without injured starting QB Collier Winters, the Harvard Crimson beat the turnover -prone Brown Bears 24-7 in a crucial Ivy League matchup last night at Harvard Stadium.

The Bears turned the ball over five times, including a lost fumble on the Harvard one yard line and three Kyle Newhall-Caballero INT's.

Colton Chapple played very well in place of Winters, especially with some clutch short runs sprinkled throughout the game.

2009 Ivy Rookie of the Year Treavor Scales, (now a junior), ran for 129 yards on the ground for Harvard.

Facebook Updates

Once again today, I will be posting periodic updates and commentary during the game. I will do my best to post as often as possible, but I will be looking after at least one of my daughters all day, so I may "experience some technical difficulties!"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Who'll Make it Through the Rain?

Roar Lions Roar is brought to you by IvySport.

You can check out IvySport's Columbia products here.


The home opener is just hours away, so it's time, past time really, to buy your tickets NOW for the Columbia home games and BUY EXTRA! Get your friends and family to come and make it an outing.

DON'T FORGET that if you buy season tickets, you also get passes for the Athletic Director's pregame tent for ALL six home games!

AND you get a 10% discount coupon for the Lion Store which sets up shop in a great trailer right in front of the stadium each week.

*Tickets? Check! 10% Lion Store discount coupon? Check!

Columbia Lions vs. Albany Great Danes

September 24, 2011

Location: Robert K. Kraft Field at Wien Stadium

Kickoff Time: 12:30pm

Gametime Weather Forecast: Rain, 71 degrees

The Spread: Albany is favored by 2 points.

Columbia Game Notes

Albany Game Notes


You can catch the game on the SideLion Pass on with Jerry Recco and Sal Licata. If you're in your car, WKCR student radio is at 89.9 FM, (and you can get its feed over the internet too).


My 2011 Guide to getting to Wien Stadium

Some SPECIAL Updates on traffic and parking from a local resident


Both teams really need a win.

At 0-2, the proud Albany program isn't exactly reeling but Head Coach Bob Ford hasn't kept his job for 40+ years by starting seasons 0-3.

This is the first game where they play an opponent everyone thinks they at least CAN beat. The opener at Colgate, (with Nate Eachus playing for the Raiders), and last week's against Maine were contests where the Great Danes were big underdogs months ago. It turned out Albany played Colgate very tough, while falling predictably by more than two scores against Maine.

Columbia needs a win to get the fans to stop asking hard questions for at least a week. Last week's loss at Fordham marked the seventh straight game, (six of them losses), where the Lions played below expectations. This club seems a long way from the team that started last season 3-1.

Other than the pressure on both sides to win, there is no "history" here. Albany and Columbia are two very different schools playing their first ever game against each other in football.

Keys to the Game

Get Brackett back on Track

This is mostly up to him of course, but QB Sean Brackett needs to be more accurate and make much better decisions than he did in last week's loss at Fordham. When he's off, the Lions really have no chance to win.

Establish the Run Game

The wet field may work against Columbia's speedy running attack, but then why not switch to the bulkier David Chao or the bigger frosh Alec Fisher? Brackett could also do some serious damage as a runner against what could be a flat-footed defense in the rain.

Contain the Albany D-Line

Led by Eddie Delaney, the Great Dane defensive line may be the team's #1 strength. They could dominate tomorrow when the game is being fought in the soggy trenches. The Columbia offensive line desperately needs to do a better job than it did last week.

Have Fun!

Football in a warm rain can be fun, sometimes comically so, but still fun.

My bet is the team that gets more comfortable will win tomorrow.

*=Columbia co-captain and starting center Bob Hauschildt is pictured on the home opener tickets. I've always considered the "picture on the ticket" honor to be quite special and it is certainly deserved in this case.

Week 2 Picks

Before I get to THIS week's picks, let's see what I said and how I did LAST week:

For Georgetown (+14 1/2) at Yale I said:

"The Elis will win this game, but I don't think by more than 10 or 11 points."

Actual Final Score: Yale 37 Georgetown 27 (1-0 Straight Up, 1-0 Against the Spread)

For Harvard +2 1/2 at Holy Cross I wrote:

"I like Harvard to win this game outright, so take the Crimson and the points."

Actual Final Score: Holy Cross 30 Harvard 22 (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS)

For Dartmouth -3 1/2 vs. Colgate I wrote:

"The Big Green are making a huge push this year and if there ever was a Dartmouth team that needs to beat Colgate at home in the season opener to justify the hype, it's this one.

Either way, I like their chances at home tomorrow."

Actual Final Score: Dartmouth 37 Colgate 20 (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS)

For Princeton +21 1/2 vs. Lehigh I wrote:

"The Tigers will lose this game, but Princeton has a knack of looking pretty strong in the first few weeks of the season and they play Lehigh pretty well most years."

Actual Final Score: Lehigh 34 Princeton 22 (3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS)

For Cornell vs Bucknell (Pick 'em) I wrote:

"This is Cornell's homecoming against an improved Bucknell team. It may be the game the Big Red has the best chance to win all year."

Actual Final Score: Cornell 24 Bucknell 13 (4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS)

For Lafayette +21 1/2 at Penn I wrote:

"... I just don't see the Quakers pouring it on the Leopards right out of the gate.
Still, Penn wins this games by more than two scores for sure."

Actual Final Score: Lafayette 37 Penn 12 (4-2 SU, 5-1 ATS)

And for Stony Brook -2 1/2 over Brown I wrote:

"Brown is a very good team, and the Bears actually beat Stony Brook last season. But this game is at Stony Brook and Chuck Priore's team wants revenge."

Actual Final Score: Brown 21 Stony Brook 20 (4-3 SU, 5-2)

So, I stumbled a bit with just a 4-3 record picking straight up winners, but did a solid 5-2 against the spread which is supposed to be harder.

Now to this week's games, and remember the games start TONIGHT with Brown at Harvard at 7pm!!!:

Harvard +3 vs. Brown

It's going to rain hard in Boston this evening.

If it weren't for the rain, I'd be picking Brown tonight. But the Bears have had problems in rougher weather in the past. Rain is about there is that can slow down this team.

And Harvard will be much sharper than it was last week at Holy Cross.

I think the Crimson win outright, so take Harvard and the points.

Cornell +12 1/2 at Yale

The Yale Bowl is one of the two last natural grass fields in the Ivies, and it will be muddy and sloppy tomorrow.

I'm not looking for a high-scoring game here.

I say Yale win, but not by more than 10 points.

Take the points.

Bucknell +5 1/2 at Princeton

Princeton won't play as well as it did against Lehigh last week, but the Tigers will play well enough to squeak out a win over the Bison. Look for Princeton to win by three or four.

Take the points.

Penn +5 over Villanova

The Quakers need to rebound after that awful week one performance against Lafayette. And the rainy wet Franklin Field will be the best place for this team to do just that. I say Penn wins the game outright.

Take the points.

Dartmouth -20 at Sacred Heart

I hate giving so many points on a rainy field, but the Big Green are playing good football, play very well in bad weather, AND Sacred Heart is just not good at all. Take Dartmouth to win and lay the points.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Florida: We Knew it all Along

You rarely see freshmen offensive linemen crack the two-deep, but this week Columbia has TWO frosh listed as backups on the front five.

And they're both from Florida, which has become the capital of high school football recruits, (okay, it's drawing even with Texas)!

Ryan Thomas at Buchholz

First up is center Ryan Thomas from Buchholz HS in Gainesville.

Here's what I wrote about Ryan the day we learned he was coming to Columbia on February 2nd of this year:

"Thomas was a 1st Team All-Area selection in the Gainesville Sun and was recruited by several schools including South Carolina and Georgia Tech.

He seems like he could be the real, real deal."

Chris Proctor last spring

Next is backup LT Chris Proctor from Pine Crest HS in Boca Raton.

Here's what I wrote about Chris when we learned of his decision to join Columbia back on May 4th:

"Proctor is a big reason why Pinecrest’s Traveon Henry is one of the best running backs in the state of Florida.

At 6”6 and 258 pounds, Proctor has done his best work as a Left Tackle, a position that has to concern Lion fans in the near future with 2-time 1st Team All Ivy LT Jeff Adams entering his senior season this fall."

The disappointing play by the offensive line as a whole and some injuries are probably why we're seeing these younger guys get into the mix this week.

But if they have what it takes to help now, let's let them go!

Important Stuff for Saturday!!!!

West 218th and Broadway

Inwood resident and Ivy football fan "Dave", (who IS a real guy I know), has some important info for all fans heading out to the home opener against Albany Saturday:

1) Metro North is CHEAP on weekends when staying within the city borders. If coming from GCT or Harlem-125th, get a CITY TICKET at the machine for $3.75 rather than getting the normal $5.75-$7.50 fare. Just look for the CITY TICKET option on the screen. It's so worth it compared to the sluggish, junky A subway and no farther from the stadium.

2) NYC DOT has been making changes at the corner of 218th and Broadway to improve pedestrian safety. There is no left turn onto W218th from Broadway or 10th Ave heading north. (Southbound at W218th will also be jammed due to construction.) Be sure to turn at W 207th or Isham if your intention is to get close to the stadium. There is also a Farmers Market on Saturdays that will block Isham from Park Terrace West to Seaman but you can still use PTW to get to the stadium.

3) Food options in Inwood for before or after the game other than the Farmer's Market on Isham: Indian Road Cafe (the BEST cafe in Inwood, across from stadium on 218th), Inwood Local (new wine/beer bar at 4957 Broadway), Yummy Thai (cheap Thai, 4959 Broadway), Garden Cafe (2nd best cafe in Inwood, 4961 Broadway), Piper's Kilt (dive pub with burgers, 4944 Broadway). Also the ever reliable Twin Donut and Park Terrace Deli at corner of W218th and Broadway. There is also a new Associated Supermarket on Broadway just south of Twin Donut for more tailgate supplies. Go on Yelp or google for more on any of the above.

4) If you do find yourself needing to take a bus, use the M100 or Bx7 along Broadway (look them up for routes).

5) If your kids are bored and you need a quick pregame distraction, go into the little white building by the cove in Inwood Hill Park (just keep walking west into the park from W218th St and Indian Road). This is the park's Nature Center and has snakes, turtles and more on display.

Shakedown on 218th Street

Listen to this first.

and Dave also gave me a heads up about this issue:

(JAKE's words here): Because Columbia had the gall to develop land ON ITS OWN PROPERTY, it signed an agreement that coughed up various community benefits

that you can read about here.

Included in this is the promise to "create and implement a "Northern Manhattan Neighbors Appreciation Day special event at a select Columbia home football game, at which Columbia will provide complimentary admission."

As it turns out, the Albany game was chosen to be Northern Manhattan Neighbors Appreciation Day, though you will find NO mention of this on the Columbia website, the GoColumbiaLions website, the Columbia events calendar, etc. Nothing.
Nada. The only slip was a throwaway line at the very end of the Fordham game report
(see last sentence)

Anyone who shows "a drivers license, a rent receipt, a mortgage/maint statement, or a utility bill" will get in for free.

Not clear what "Northern Manhattan" means -- anyone in CB12, presumably (which is anything in Manhattan above 155th).

And you know what?

I'm okay with this as long as it actually gets people into the stands.

But, I suspect the loudest screamers about Columbia's development in Inwood probably don't even live there.

Passionate Argument

Peter Stevens '70C, '73L is never one to hide behind the "anonymous" moniker when it comes to making comments about this Lions team we all love.

Here's his important analysis of where we are right now:

Roar Lions Roar Multiple choice question:

We lost Fordham game because of:

A-Wilson's offensive system;

B-Wilson's offensive play calling;

C-Wilson's decision to throw sideline pass on 4th and goal from 3yd line;

D-All of the above,

D is the correct answer.

As for A, the offense against Fordham was exactly the same offense we used last year. (1)Try to run up the middle, and when that fails, continue to try to run up the middle-- so we are always facing 2nd and long. And bear in mind that we do not have a power back who can get these tough yards inside so the folly of this is even more ridiculous.

2) Force Brackett to be drop back pocket passer. This is exactly what Norries did last year in 1st half against Fordham and reason we lost that game. By employing this scheme, he is taking away from Brackett's strengths--mobility, running ability, speed, and knack of evading the pass rush. Plus, he's shown he can throw well on the run. It is a rule of thumb in football circles that when you have a good running mobile QB who can also throw that it is incumbent on the defense to keep him in the pocket and make him beat you throwing the ball from there. Moreover, without a running game to keep the defense honest, Brackett as a drop back pocket, passer was continually under pressure to get rid of ball.

Wilson has also remained in love with the sideline pass--even after we had great success throwing over the middle in the first half. Why we abandoned this I don't know. I don't think we did so because of Fordham's making adjustments at halftime. And as we also know and painfully experienced-- throwing sideline passes poses great risks, especially down by the goal line .(See C below)

And the option remains part of our offense too. Why I don't know. First and foremost, precision is required to run the option. And this precision comes from repetition. You can only achieve this precision if the option is a main stay of your offense.It's hard to use it occasionally. The option is also high risk as there is a good chance of fumbling. Finally, the option is a good way to get your QB hurt--something we cannot afford to do. Despite all this, we run the option.

For our offense to succeed, especially if we don't get Gerst back-and it painfully clear that Garrett is no Gerst , is to maximize Brackett's talents--throwing on the move (whether via sprint-out or moving pocket). This will also give him the option of running if he can't find receiver and help him to avoid sacks. Also, we have to do more play action, screens and draws to keep blitzing defenses from getting to Garrett. (Look how nicely, Fordham was able to evade our blitzes by throwing short passes and screens. Their 61 yd TD came on such a play.)

As for B, it looks like each and every play Wilson runs is independent of the play before it and after it. I see no sequencing or set-ups in an effort to either keep the defense off balance or flat out fool them.

As for C, enough has been said about his call on 4th and goal at Fordham 3 yd line. Up until that point, we hadn't been able to run. Plus, Brackett was missing badly, especially throwing to sidelines from the pocket--his earlier TD pass was almost picked off. Why Wilson didn't put Brackett on the move and give him chance to run or throw it in is beyond me. The dangers of keeping Brackett in the pocket and throwing a sideline pass--esp. at goal line-- was fully realized and cost us the game.

I have come to the sad conclusion that we will continue to lose close and winnable games because of the offensive play calling. BTW, I don't want to hear that it's the offensive coordinator's fault. Wilson is responsible. And didn't he come to us as an offensive coordinator?

The only joy last Saturday afternoon was watching the defense. What a contrast from last year when we sat back in our vanilla 4-3 and never blitzed. Our guys were blitzing all over the place. Sure this can be risky, but on balance it's going to help us a lot.

On a related note, it's nice that very few guys leave the team under Wilson. but it's painfully clear that Wilson's recruiting, esp. at skill positions is inept. We have no depth at QB, no depth at RB, only 1 quality WR, and no tight end. And what happened to Childress? If he's hurt, that's one thing, but if he can't break into lineup that's quite another.

In sum, Wilson has more than demonstrated his inability to be a successful head coach. This team has the talent to post a winning season, but based upon Wilson's lack of improvement as a head coach, I think we'll be hard pressed to do so.

If I am wrong in my assessment of Wilson and we go on to post a winning season, I will be one of the happiest old Lions alive, apologize to all concerned and keep my big mouth shut gong forward.

Peter Stevens ‘70C ‘73L

Princeton Tailgate!!

Roar Lions Roar is brought to you by IvySport.

You can check out IvySport's Columbia products here.


The home opener is just TWO days away, so it's time, past time really, to buy your tickets NOW for the Columbia home games and BUY EXTRA! Get your friends and family to come and make it an outing.

DON'T FORGET that if you buy season tickets, you also get passes for the Athletic Director's pregame tent for ALL six home games!

AND you get a 10% discount coupon for the Lion Store which sets up shop in a great trailer right in front of the stadium each week.

Princeton is one of the best Ivy locales to have a football tailgate and the Columbia Alumni Association is stepping up again.

Click HERE to register/RSVP for the event online NOW.

Here's the official announcement from the CAA:

Roar Lion Roar!
Columbia vs. Princeton
Alumni and Friends Tailgate Reception

Join the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) as the Columbia Lions take on the Princeton Tigers. Enjoy a pre-game dinner, dessert, and beverages with alumni, family, and friends.

RSVP online no later than September 30.

Questions? Contact Michaela Shank ’07PH at

Date: Saturday, October 1
3:45–5:45 p.m. Tailgate
6 p.m. Kickoff

Location: Princeton University
Princeton, NJ

(tent location to be announced upon registration)

Price:$25 tailgate and game ticket package

$10 tailgate and game ticket package for kids 2-12 years old

Game Notes Out

Notes, Notes, Notes

Columbia has released its game notes and two deep for the Albany game and they look identical to the two deep we saw from the Albany website on Monday.

The best news could be, (again, the two-deeps are not guaranteed), that AJ Maddox is still listed as a starter after he had to leave the Fordham game early. Maddox made a great tackle against the Rams' HUGE TE and came up wobbly.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Scouting Albany

Roar Lions Roar is brought to you by IvySport.

You can check out IvySport's Columbia products here.


The home opener is just four days away, so it's time, past time really, to buy your tickets NOW for the Columbia home games and BUY EXTRA! Get your friends and family to come and make it an outing.

DON'T FORGET that if you buy season tickets, you also get passes for the Athletic Director's pregame tent for ALL six home games!

AND you get a 10% discount coupon for the Lion Store which sets up shop in a great trailer right in front of the stadium each week.

Leading Off: Big Showdown

One of the most important games of the year in the Ivies, and possibly the most important, takes place in just two days when the Brown Bears head to Harvard Stadium for a fight with the Crimson.

The game kicks off under "Friday Night Lights" at 7pm.

The winner has a pretty great shot at winning the whole damned thing in the Ivy League.

The wisdom of having such a vital game so early in the year is worth debating, but for now I'm excited to be able to follow this game the night BEFORE the full slate of other games, (including Columbia's contest), comes in to distract me.

Brown hasn't beaten Harvard at Harvard since 1998, but this year the Bears look to have a great chance.

Brown's 21-20 win over a super Stony Brook team on Long Island should give everyone pause, especially since 5th year returning QB Kyle Newhall-Caballero had an interception free game.

Meanwhile, Harvard looked a bit flat in a loss at Holy Cross last week.

Other than home field advantage, I'm not sure what the Crimson can really rely on for this game.

I'm still waiting for an opening betting line, but it should come out soon.

Albany's Bob Fod: Face it, he's smarter than you

Scouting Albany

I'll admit that in preseason, I was shaking in my boots about the Great Danes after Phil Steele emphatically picked Albany to win the NEC and ranked them higher than Penn and Harvard.

Reality has set in now and I'm a lot more confident about Columbia's chances after getting a closer look at the team on the field.


First and foremost, Albany's best asset is its COACHING!

Head Coach Bob Ford has been in charge of this program since before they used facemasks, (seems like it), in 1970. He is a legend in FCS football, period. I don't care who he puts on the field, I don't want to be up against him in a close game late in the fourth quarter and nobody should either.

But speaking of the on the field talent, it's hard to gauge just how good this Albany team is even with two games under its belt.

I do think Albany's 6-5, 225-pound QB Dan Di Lella is a potentially dangerous threat and the passing game has been generally ahead of the running attack so far this year.

A certain strength is senior DE Eddie Delaney who will do his best to harrass Sean Brackett all day. Delaney has help this year from LB Kyle Jordan who is playing way above his size as he comes in at just 5-11 and 200 pounds.

WR Ryan Kirchner was highly touted coming into this season, but he's been out of the thick of things so far. He could break out Saturday.


In the Great Danes' two losses, the team has had trouble running the ball and stopping the opposing teams' running attack.

Bad combination.

Coming into the season, Albany was rightfully crowing about RB Andrew Smith, but he has been pretty quiet in the stat book so far.

Smith is a big runner, receiver, and they usually let him throw a pass or two in the game from that 1995 Kordell Stewart "slash" position.

(Speaking of Kordell... this Saturday's game will be the 17th anniversary of his Hail Mary pass to beat Michigan in the Big House on 9/24/1994.

The problem is the Great Danes have taken on a tough Colgate team with RB Nate Eachus and a very good Maine team at home. So, it's to be sure the running game is underperforming right now.

But at this point, they have a lot to prove.

Another weakness is this is a long damn trip for Albany and I do expect some effect from that in the early going.

National Story

Boomer and Carton

Columbia play-by-play man Jerry Recco is a member of the on-air crew on WFAN's "Boomer and Carton" in the morning show simulcast across the country on the MSG network.

This morning Boomer and Carton were giving Recco grief about Columbia's decision to go for it on the now infamous 4th and goal play at Fordham that resulted in a 101-yard INT return for a Ram TD.

So now we're a national story.

Hopefully, we'll get their attention again when Columbia does something good.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A 2-Deep... Already?

Our week 2 opponent Albany has already posted its two-deep for this Saturday's game... and apparently ours on the Albany site.

I don't know how reliable the two-deeps are for either side at this early hour, but there are some changes that are worth noting on our end:

-Kyle Stupi gets the start at left guard this week after being slated as the backup against Fordham.

-Chris Groth gets the start at NT, last week's starter Wells Childress is not even on the two-deep here.

-Nick Gerst is still not on the two-deep, despite some reports that he would be on the field this Saturday. We shall see...

-Greg Guttas is listed as the starting punter after Tyler Feely got the start at Fordham.

Guide to Getting There: 2011 Edition!

Roar Lions Roar is brought to you by IvySport.

You can check out IvySport's Columbia products here.


The home opener is just four days away, so it's time, past time really, to buy your tickets NOW for the Columbia home games and BUY EXTRA! Get your friends and family to come and make it an outing.

DON'T FORGET that if you buy season tickets, you also get passes for the Athletic Director's pregame tent for ALL six home games!

AND you get a 10% discount coupon for the Lion Store which sets up shop in a great trailer right in front of the stadium each week.

Remember this Sign...

... and remember this train!

The football home opener is THIS WEEKEND!

Time to start planning NOW!

I am here to help.

Every year, I publish my guide to getting to the Columbia home games at Kraft Field at Wien Stadium at the Baker Athletic Complex.

And this year, you REALLY need to pay attention to the guide because there are some significant updates you must know about, so read through it carefully:


For those of you who haven't heard, the #1 train on the NYC Subway will NOT be running on weekends this season for the second year in a row.

(The TWO exceptions will be Homecoming Weekend, that's the October 15th game against Penn, and the November 19th game against Brown, when the #1 will be running).

I think most students and a lot of others choose the #1 train as their primary route to the games, so this is important.

Many, many Columbia fans are probably ignorant of the GREAT other choices, (and in my opinion, BETTER choices), for getting to Baker.

My favorite public transportation option is the A train.

All the details are below...


Last year, they moved the pregame tailgating/picnic area to the concourse right in front of the stadium and it worked well! It was a little crowded at times, but the crowd was lively and close-knit.

And they are still serving free soft drinks and beer!!!

What could be better???

Now, here's how to get there:

Step one: DON'T PANIC

Getting around New York City, and Manhattan in particular, is all about your state of mind. If you're an overly aggressive or too passive driver, you will either drop dead of a tension-induced stroke or become the victim of a panic attack, respectively. The city is fraught with double-parkers, Kamikaze cabs with no regard for life and limb, and people who routinely make right turns from the left lane.

But fear not! The road to the Baker Athletics Complex is filled with special advantages and other options that can make the whole experience livable, decent, and even fun.

The key to avoiding disappointment, dyspepsia, and dismemberment is to LEAVE YOURSELF A LOT OF TIME.

Other than the Homecoming game which starts at 3:30 this year, and the Yale game whicg starts at noon, the Columbia home games will begin at 12:30 this season. With another season's worth of great pre-game activities in the works, (like free beverages, even some beers for those of you over 21), the best thing that could happen is that you show up an hour or so before the game and enjoy a good time in the picnic area. Is that so bad? And if you just make it in time for the game, well then you made it. Either way, going early is the way to go.

Baker or Morningside: Make Your Choice Now

Before we talk about getting to the actual game by car, ask yourself where you'd really like to keep your gas-guzzling SUV for the day. Do you want to park it up at the very tip of Manhattan, or do you want to keep it near the Columbia campus where you can spend a very pleasant morning and late afternoon/evening before and after the game? This is not exactly a rhetorical question, as there ARE things to do and see not far from Wien Stadium... but it's not exactly a culinary hotbed, in fact it's quite residential, (in the Baker Field neighborhood of Inwood there are actually a few houses... detached houses in Manhattan!). There are new choices lately. Just over the Broadway Bridge north of the stadium there's a strip mall with an Applebee's and a Starbucks!

You can also park very close to the stadium at many of the newly-opened garages within 1-6 blocks of Baker.

But My advice would be to park the car near the Columbia campus, which is only 100 blocks or so from Baker Field, (I will discuss how to get to the game from campus and more to do around Morningside Heights later). There is more to do, see, and definitely eat around there.

A path in Inwood Hill Park... yes, this IS Manhattan!

BUT definitely choose one game, and check out Inwood and its environs during the season. Parts of Inwood Hill Park are the only pieces of Manhattan that still look as they did in 1524 when the Dutch explorers arrived.

A few blocks South of Inwood is Washington Heights, a very resurgent neighborhood with lots of interesting Latin restaurants and shops.

The Cloisters... an excellent "Marital Bargaining Unit" if I say so myself

One Washington Heights highlight about 30 blocks South from the Baker Field is the lovely Cloisters. Most Columbia students get sick of the Cloisters after a few years, (some classes make you go there too many times), but it's a great place for the uninitiated. It's also not a bad date spot. So, if you have a wife or girlfriend who's none too pleased about being dragged to a football game, the Cloisters can be your olive branch. No need to thank me if your lady ends up thinking you're a romantic genius; like Billy Flynn, all I care about is love.

But How Do We Get to Neverland?

The directions provided here by the athletic department are very good. You can use them with confidence... but don't ignore the key section of those directions for people coming from Queens, Long Island, Eastern Brooklyn via the Belt Parkway, and that includes JFK Airport and La Guardia. If you are one of those people, I'm about to save you anywhere from 45 minutes to 7 hours by urging you to never, never, even if you're a Penn fan, NEVER take the Cross Bronx Expressway!

The Cross Bronx Expressway... dear Lord, why us?

The Cross Bronx Expressway was designed by Robert Moses a brilliant but evil man whose disdain for ordinary people was well documented by Robert Caro in The Power Broker. If you live in New York, drive in New York, or are thinking about driving in New York, you owe it to yourself to read this book. One great section details how the Cross Bronx Expressway was poorly designed from the outset, destroyed good middle class neighborhoods like East Tremont, and virtually guarantees traffic jams at the drop of a hat. And the kicker is, a lot of other urban planners in the 40's, 50's and 60's emulated this man and his designs. Robert Moses is a big reason why driving in America sucks.

So avoid the Cross Bronx, take the Grand Central Parkway to the Triboro Bridge, (now named the "RFK Bridge," presumably to honor the old home of the Redskins), follow the signs to Manhattan, (DON'T MAKE "THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES" MISTAKE AND END UP IN THE BRONX), and THEN take the Harlem River Drive North. Take the HRD to the 10th Avenue/Dyckman Street exit, (this is also the end of the Harlem River Drive, so it should not be hard to miss), make the first right at the first light that will take you onto 10th Avenue if you stay straight, (you'll be driving under an elevated subway track). 10th Avenue runs parallel to Broadway and will take you straight up to 215th Street, 218th Street, or wherever you want to go in the Baker Complex vicinity.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Harlem River Drive is officially a parkway, so if you're driving a U-Haul or a big bus of people, you can't take it. Otherwise, you and your sedan, SUV, pickup truck, etc. can enjoy it. IF YOU'RE TAKING A CAB FROM THE QUEENS AIRPORTS... MAKE SURE YOU TELL THE CABBIE TO TAKE THE TRIBORO/RFK BRIDGE TO THE HARLEM RIVER DRIVE. DON'T LET THE DRIVER TAKE YOU INTO MIDTOWN MANHATTAN!!!

Parking: The Odyssey

Option 1: Donate to CU!

Now if you're going to park near Baker Field, your options are limited, but there ARE options. Your first option is to send a big fat check to the Athletic Department and grab one of the sweet spots in the Baker Field complex itself reserved for generous donors. Seriously, I can think or worse ways to spend your money, and having a spot at Baker Field is like being a shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway during "Buffettstock"... you get to enjoy your investment in a party atmosphere!

Option 2: Parking Garages Ahoy! See the parking link above. FYI: in the past, parking has cost fans about $15 for the whole game.

Option 3: Street Parking, or "The Hunt"

Of course, you can try being really sneaky and try to park for free on the residential streets around the area. This is really something for early-birds, as the spots fill up fast. In fact, there aren't a lot of spots to begin with because Inwood is really residential and the local folks like to keep their spots for the weekend. BUT, the eagle-eyed among you may be able to find a nice spot and enjoy knowing that you're a winner even before kickoff by saving a few bucks with a free spot. There are a couple of important pitfalls to avoid:

a) If you aren't really good at parallel parking, don't even think about parking on the streets of Inwood. The hilly terrain makes even seasoned parkers a little nervous, and all those scratched bumpers and fenders on the parked cars are proof of the "goofs" people make from time to time.

b) Inwood is not really a high-crime area, especially during the day, but you should never tempt fate. Lock your cars. DO NOT keep any packages or valuables in plain sight in your car, and you probably should leave them out of the trunk too if you can. This is especially true if you are driving a car with out-of-state plates.

c) Make sure to check the street signs to see if you're parking in a legal spot. Saturdays are usually immune from alternate side of the street parking rules... but not always. You cannot park within six feet, either way, of a fire hydrant, and you also need to give a lot space for bus stops. You cannot block any driveways. And if there's a yellow stripe painted on the curb, you can't park there either. A good M.O. is to eye every open spot with EXTREME SUSPICION, the chances are more than likely that the spot is there because it's not a legal spot.

d) You may be hampered even further in your quest for free parking if the NYPD blocks 218th Street at Broadway which they often do on game days. To be safe, just find your way to Seaman Avenue, which runs parallel to Broadway on the WEST and start looking for spots there. You might consider printing out a Google Map of Inwood, NY to learn to navigate the local streets better. Remember to look out for one-way streets and the occasional street fair which often pops up and further kills parking opportunities on the weekends.


Manhattan is a great and unique place. One of the things that makes it so unique is that every inch of land is super-valuable and the chances of any institution setting aside lots of space for occasional parking is not likely or even sane. Most sensible people living in all parts of Manhattan do so without a car, regardless of their economic stature. A day or two driving around here will tell you why.

That's why we have the best, (but still too expensive), public transportation system in the world. And luckily, there are a number of more relaxing and reliable ways to get to Baker Field.

Public Transportation Option 1: From Columbia Campus

You can ditch your car at one of the many parking garages near the Columbia campus, or try to find free street parking, (it's not much easier than Inwood, but doable), and then take the free shuttle bus or public transportation.

To get the subway somewhat direct to the stadium you can 1) catch the uptown #1 train at 116th Street and SWITCH to the A at 168th Street. I do NOT recommend this option as the transfer involves taking a creepy and long elevator ride and I just hate the 168th station! Seriously, forget the #1 train this fall, folks!

You CAN 2) walk down the hill at West 110th Street, get on the uptown C train and switch at 168th Street for the A from there. That transfer does not involve the creepy elevator and is much better, but still not ideal.

Taking the subway is your best option, even with the loss of the #1 train. Just remember that getting the A directly is a lot easier from Midtown Manhattan, where most hotels are located anyway. From the Columbia campus, you can also take the #1 DOWNTOWN to 59th and then get on the A train UPTOWN from there. It's not too terrible to do that actually.

If you're in Manhattan, I recommend taking the A at the 59th Street and Broadway station. It is a VERY short ride, (less than 20-25 minutes), from there. The A train runs on the far West side of Manhattan, through Brooklyn, past JFK airport, and all the way to a neighborhood where I did a lot of my growing up called Far Rockaway. The uptown or Manhattan bound A takes you the 207th Street stop, which is the last stop. Exit at the 211th Street exit and then you can either walk the seven blocks along Broadway, (about 35% of a mile), to Baker Field or better yet, enter Isham Park on your left and enjoy a nicer trip that will take you to Seaman Avenue along the left side of the park and you will see Wien Stadium right in front of you at the end of the avenue. This is a more scenic walk and will give you a better idea of what Inwood is like.

To ride the NYC subway you will need a Metrocard. Go to the ticket booth at the station or the automated Metrocard machines and buy a two-trip card. The machines take cash, credit and debit cards.

When you get to the platform, again make sure that you are on the UPTOWN side awaiting the UPTOWN train.


If the subway isn't for you, for the last several years Columbia has been running free shuttle buses to and from Baker Field on game days. They usually run from the 116th Street and Broadway entrance, but ask the security guards at the gate to be sure. I'm not sure how long it takes for these buses to reach the stadium, but they will always be slower than the subway. (There is no faster way to get around Manhattan than the subway... none).

A number of NYC buses, (not free, you need a Metrocard), run to the Baker Field area, but I really don't recommend using them. They are extremely slow, (what do you call it when you have sex on a NYC bus? "Joining the 3-mile-an-hour club"), and erratic on the weekends. BUT if there ever is a fire on the subway or something, it's good to know they're there.

The Marble Hill Station on Metro North

One of the most beautiful ways to get to a Columbia game is on the Metro North commuter railroad. Take the HUDSON RIVER LINE to the Marble Hill stop and simply walk over the footbridge to Baker Field. The views of the Hudson that you will get if you're coming from the North, (if you're looking to go this way from Grand Central Terminal, it's not a terrible idea, but much more expensive than just taking the subway from another station on the West Side), are just great. Here is the link to a schedule of trains running Saturdays from Grand Central to Marble Hill this year. Note the reliable 19-20 minute travel time and the many, many options you have for trains all the way through game time. If you are staying on the East Side of Manhattan, this is a GREAT option.

Cab Anyone?

You can always try to hail a yellow cab and tell the driver to take you to WEST 218th and Broadway, (don't say "Baker Field," there's a very good chance he won't know what you're talking about), and go that way. I expect the trip will cost about $15-$18 in cab fare not including tip... but it varies.

In NYC there are also non-yellow so-called "gypsy" cabs that may honk their horns at you and offer you a ride. The official rules in the city say that you can't take a ride with them without arranging it in advance, but I have found they are usually reliable. The price should be about the same as Yellow cab, but they don't use a meter... so make sure you agree on the fare before you get in.

What if I'm coming from New Jersey, and I want to take Public Transportation?

New Jersey Transit trains take you to Penn Station where you can get the A train, or a cab. I'm not sure about the reliability of NJT trains or buses on weekends, but perhaps some of my readers would like to chime in about that in the comments section.

Isn't the Subway Dangerous?

Not really. It's dirtier than it should be, but in general it's fine. Here are some subway safety tips for the very cautious. Basically, keep your wallets and valuables secure, try to ride with or near larger groups of people, and try not to telegraph the fact you're a tourist by pulling out a map every two seconds. It's okay to ask fellow riders directions; most New Yorkers like proving they know the City.

I'm Coming from JFK, LaGuardia, or Newark Airport. What should I do?

A cab from Newark directly to Baker Field is actually not that terribly expensive. But from the other major airports, I suggest you get into Manhattan via a cab and then take the subway, unless you have lots of bags which will make the whole day a pain. In that case, try to get to your hotel first, dump the bags and then follow the directions above.

What if I get Lost?

Go into almost any store you see and ask for help. Store owners can sometimes seem surly, but they'll probably help you. Cops on the street will be good too.

Can't I Just Come with You?

I'd love the company, but I don't think that will work. I am with you in spirit, I promise.