Monday, October 31, 2011

Words of Encouragement

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Takin' to the Streets!


I'm going to be totally POSITIVE on the blog today.

I think we all deserve it.

So I am urging all my readers to send emails to President Lee Bollinger and Athletic Director Dianne Murphy as they go about replacing Norries Wilson as head coach.

This might seem like an easy decision to most of us, and maybe some of us think it will be easy to actually carry out.

But it won't be.

Bollinger, Murphy, Bill Campbell and the University as a whole could be in for an avalanche of criticism and unwarranted attacks for relieving Wilson at this time.

Politics will be brought into this, among other issues that have nothing to do with football.

We have to let the powers that be know that we demanded this decision and we support them for putting it into place.

You can email President Bollinger at:

You Can email Dr. Murphy at:

Let them know you know how hard this choice is and how they will have your support.

Let them know you will NOT be silent when the newsmedia or anyone else comes at them with crazy accusations of unfairness to Coach Wilson or anyone else.

Let them know that this dismissal is beyond warranted and no one has a right to criticize it on any sane level.

This blog and its readers aren't just about criticizing and wishing for better things.

We're also all about supporting good decisions at least twice as loudly as we bemoan the bad ones.

Let's prove that TODAY.

Not Just a Snow Job

I also want to say something VERY nice about the people who run things at Wien Stadium.

Now, we've all heard the comments about whether the players had the right gear... that's another issue.

I want to point out the hard work and excellent ADVANCED PLANNING that went into making Kraft Field even somewhat playable Saturday.

I watched as not one, but two snowplows and several people with shovels worked feverishly to clear as much of the field as possible before the game, at halfime, in between quarters and during timeouts.

The pickup truck snowplow drove faster in reverse than I've ever seen a plow go just to set up each new run.

These people were working really hard... and smart. I was really impressed.

I really wish I knew the names of the people who were smart enough to make sure those plows got there and then the names of the people who drove and shoveled that muck away. If anyone in the administration isn't afraid to email me, please let me know their names so I can give the proper kudos.

But I DO know that as AD, Dianne Murphy deserves a lot of credit for at least assembling the right stadium staff to handle this.

I know that Erich Ely is the Associate Athletics Director for Facilities Operations. Steve Figueroa, Scott Butch, and Maggie Johnson are listed as part of that staff.

And I know that Alex Oberweger is the guy who makes sure the broadcasters could at least try to get video and audio on the air.

I've been a TV producer for 17 years, and I can tell you getting clean shots on the air even on good days can be impossible. The fact that anyone not at Wien Stadium was able to follow any of the game is a testament to all the people at YES and Columbia who busted their butts to get it done.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Snowed Over

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This is New York City... in October!

Yale 16 Columbia 13

Why Yale Won

In a driving freak snow storm that buried Kraft Field, the Elis were able to establish a consisten running game. Mordecai Cargill carried the ball an amazing 42 times for 230 yards and two touchdowns. That helped Yale jump out to a 16-0 lead, which was just enough to win.

Why Columbia Lost

The Lion offense took way too long to get going, finally finding a spark from sophomore RB Griffin Lowry and some decent play action passes. The defense was too inconsistent in its efforts to stop the Yale run, but it still gave the team more than enough chances to win.

Key Turning Points

-A short pass followed by a long run by WR Louis DiNovo set Columbia up with a 1st and 10 at the Yale 25 to start the 2nd quarter. But the Lions proceeded to move backwards on a sack, throw an incomplete pass, and then QB Sean Brackett was intercepted at the Eli 4.

-Later in the second quarter, sophomore DB Jeremy Mingo stepped right in front of a Patrick Witt pass but dropped the sure INT. On the next play, the Elis kicked a FG for the first points of the game.

-Trailing by just 3-0 at the start of the second half, Columbia had no answers for Cargill on the opening Yale drive. He carried the ball on seven of the eight play TD drive that went for 59 yards. Cargill had 52 of those yards to make it 10-0.

Columbia Positives

-It was an amazing team effort to fight until the very end in conditions like that. The late rally the Lions put together should be something to build on, or at least keep morale at a high level as the team prepares for a new coach next season.

-It was a good game for the sophomores. Lowry, DiNovo, K Luke Eddy, and TE Zack McKown. Eddy made a tough PAT after a CU false start penalty and McKown got beautifully free for Columbia's first TD. It will be interesting to see if any of them, especially Lowry, get more playing time going forward.

-Another sophomore who impressed was P Paul Delaney. Not all of his punts were perfect, but his last one was and it set up Columbia's second TD. That kick after he was pretty badly beat up on a punt earlier in the half when a bad snap forced him to run back for the ball and take a big hit as he finally did get the kick away.

Columbia Negatives

-The Lion play calling for much of the game seemed too complicated considering the conditions. Columbia passed the ball 36 times while Yale threw just 10 times.

-The offensive line didn't protect Brackett well enough. He was sacked hard twice and rushed several more times and forced to make amazing escapes.

-Some of the non-tackling of Cargill really hurt the Lion efforts. There was plenty of good gang tackling too, but just not enough.

Columbia MVP

After seeing a game in conditions that defied belief, I have to give the MVP award to the entire team just for gutting it out all day. Remember the game was broadcast on YES, so the TV timeouts alone prolonged the contest by at least a half hour.

Thanks guys, we are all proud of you!


I'm sure this is the first time in at least 25 years that any snow at all has fallen during a Columbia home football game. But can anyone here tell us for sure when the last time we had the white stuff at a CU game?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gameday Updates-- No Alex Thomas

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No Rain Yet

The promised rain has not yet started to fall in the New York City area, although I do expect it to begin soon.

Part of me is happy for the bad weather as I'd like to see today be the worst possible physical and emotional afternoon for Yale.

RB Alex Thomas will be out today for the Elis, and that should help. Of course, Yale still has Mordecai Cargill, a big back that could test the Lions' erratic tackling.

An Open Letter to Bob Kraft

Let's add an Ivy championship trophy to that hardware!

I don't know how this letter will ever actually get in front of Mr. Kraft's eyes. But anyone reading this blog, perhaps some members of the FOOTBALL COMMITTEE, that can get this to his attention would be providing Columbia football fans a great service!

Dear Mr. Kraft:

First off, let me give you my most sincere thanks for all your generosity to Columbia and Columbia football over the years. Your help has been invaluable in everything from athletics to the improvement of Jewish life on campus, both of which I have been the direct beneficiary of many times.

Secondly, let me extend my condolences to you once again for the loss of your lovely wife Myra. As you continue through this mourning period and recite the Kaddish for her every day, I cannot possibly expect to offer any kind of real comfort to you. I do hope it gives you some encouragement to know that so many people in the Columbia community are praying for you.

We all know that you are an extremely busy, hands on owner for the New England Patriots. What you've been able to accomplish with that franchise is nothing short of stunning, but also inspiring. It's hard to remain too downtrodden about one's favorite team, or even personal career, when you remember how much the Patriots have overcome and where they are today compared to 20 years ago.

And so that brings us to Columbia football. The team that proudly plays on the field that bears your name badly needs your help at this time. Specifically, your acumen when it comes to identifying and securing excellent coaching talent.

The search for a new head coach at Columbia begins now, and I know I speak for the entire alumni and fan community when I say we all hope you will somehow find the time to become personally involved. This need not be a serious time commitment. For example, identifying some good candidates perhaps in the NFL ranks, or simply evaluating the candidates Columbia eventually considers would be a great help. We simply believe your input and guidance at key moments will be essential and beneficial.

This is not intended to be a knock on Bill Campbell and the current administration. Choosing winning coaches is hard and no one in their right mind could say otherwise. But you have a proven track record in this area. Combine that with your already very established commitment to Columbia football and this is a perfect role for you at this time. Anyone from President Lee Bollinger to Dianne Murphy would surely be infinitely grateful for your help.

And yes, we need absolutely need your help. Columbia's football players and fans are a very special breed. We all deserve to be a part of a winning program, even if just to beat back the ever clanging chorus of naysayers who refuse to stop saying that football can never be successful at Columbia.

I refuse to believe that.

And I refuse to believe that the man who made a three-time Super Bowl champion out of a franchise everyone had written off believes that either.

Thank you,

Jake Novak '92

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Hope and Change?

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Columbia Lions vs. Yale Bulldogs

October 29th, 2011

Location: Robert K. Kraft Field at Wien Stadium on the Baker Athletics Complex

Kickoff Time: 12pm

Gametime Weather Forecast: Oy. 44 degrees and rainy.

The Spread: Yale is favored by 16 1/2 points

Columbia Game Notes

Yale Game Notes


The game is being broadcast live nationwide on the YES Network's "Yale on Yes" package.

You can catch 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).


My 2011 Guide to getting to Wien Stadium

*REMEMBER* the #1 Subway train WILL be running tomorrow!


The tenure for Columbia Head Coach Norries Wilson is less than a month from over. The next four weeks will determine whether Wilson ends his time at Columbia on a strong high note or a whimper.

The Lions are coming off a stunningly flat performance at Dartmouth that was reminiscent of the darkest days of this football program in the 1980's. It certainly was the worst overall played game by Columbia in the Wilson years.

Much of that was due to not having starting QB Sean Brackett in the game because of an injury. Brackett is back this week and fans will be looking to see if the rest of the team responds.

The Lions also come into the game with very vivid memories of the last two contests against the Elis that both were squeezed out by Yale in heart-stopping fashion.

Last season, Columbia fell behind by 24-0 in the early going, and came all the way back to withing three points only to see that comeback stall there. The Lions lost, 31-28.

In 2009, Columbia unveiled then-freshman QB Sean Brackett for his first ever collegiate start. Brackett mesemerized the Bulldogs for most of the game before a series of improbable turnovers allowed Yale to steal the game in a 23-22 win.

In 2008, the Eli and Lion squads got into a nasty shouting match before the game began at the Yale Bowl.

The Bulldogs won that game comfortably by 15 points, but it was the continuation of even more bad blood between the two teams that began in the Wilson era with a 2006 contest that saw Yale RB Mike McCleod do an unsportsmanlike backflip into the endzone and a decision by Head Coach Jack Siedlecki to call time out with his team up several scores to get one more TD on the board in the final seconds.

Columbia has not defeated the Elis since 2001. Only Penn has a longer active winning streak against the Lions.

Yale started this season with a good number of experts predicting the Bulldogs would win the Ivy League. But with the Elis these days, it's really all about one player in QB Patrick Witt.

Witt is an outspoken Nebraska transfer who has held the team's fate in his hands week after week pretty much since 2009.

He has exceptional talent and good smarts, but he can be erratic and the offense probably chooses to pass the ball too much out of deference to him.

Another bigger than life personality is third year Head Coach Tom Williams, whose aggressive nature is beginning to wear thin on his colleagues and opposing fans who encounter him and his antics on the sidelines.

Yale has yet to win a road game this year and you can bet Williams will be livid if this game is anything but a strong rout as the Elis look to bounce back from a tough loss at Penn last Saturday.

After Columbia, it's Brown at home, Princeton on the road, and Harvard at home for the Bulldogs and Williams is looking to jumpstart the squad right here and right now.

The fact that he's never really easily beaten the Lions is probably a sore spot.

Columbia's Keys to the Game

Just Think About the Game

Yeah, the head coach is on his way out and the Lions are already 0-6... but any win against an Ivy opponent is always sweet and this one would be really sweet considering the recent history versus Yale.

Playing with reckless abandon can be fun, and I can't think of any team that is probably least expecting that out of Columbia tomorrow than Yale will be.

Get Brackett Back into the Groove

Coming off the week off the ease his injuries and maybe clear his head, the Lions need Brackett to take charge of the team and be sharper than he's been all season.

Put Pressure on Witt

It's the same story every week, opposing QB's get too much time to do their worst against the Lions. There was some good early pressure on Penn's QB's two weeks ago, but in some ways that Homecoming game seems like it was in the last century, doesn't it?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Change of Heart???

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Back from Bizzaro World

Something has changed in the last 72 hours and my sources now tell me Norries Wilson's tenure as head coach will indeed end at the close of the season.

I apologize for having everyone ride the emotional rollercoaster here, but when you're as insignificant to the program as I am you have to rely on the sometimes shifting information you get from the people who actually have power and influence.

Let the search for the best replacement begin.

Week 7 Picks

A lousy half point in the Brown-Cornell point spread stopped me from getting a perfect week last Saturday!

But the improvement is refreshing.

Here's how I did in each game.

For Penn (pick 'em) vs. Yale I wrote:

"... at Franklin Field, I think Coach Bagnoli will have his Quakers ready to play and beat Yale."

Actual Final Score: Penn 37 Yale 25

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

For Princeton +30 1/2 at Harvard I wrote:

"Harvard will win big, but not by 30 points or more."

Actual Final Score: Harvard 56 Princeton 39

2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS

And for the fateful Brown -11 1/2 at Cornell I wrote:

"Watch the Brown offense score in bunches on the fast Schoelkopf field turf. Take the Bears and lay the points."

Actual Final Score: Brown 35 Cornell 24

2-0 SU, 2-1 ATS

OVERALL 2011 RECORD: 23-7 SU, 16-14 ATS.

On to this week's games...

Penn +12 at Brown

I like Brown to win this game by about a touchdown, no more. The weather could be a factor in slowing down the Bear scoring machine. Penn's running game will test Brown, but Estes and his boys will get it done.

Cornell -6 at Princeton

Princeton's big stretch game was last week at Harvard. Now they will come back to Earth. Take Cornell and lay the points,

Dartmouth +24 at Harvard

I don't like big spreads in bad weather games. The height of the storm could be blowing at gametime. The Crimson will probably grab this win by 11 to 14 points.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Scouting Yale

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Columbia's game notes and two-deeps for this Saturday were released last evening.

(Ever notice how the game notes always come out earlier in the week as the season goes on? Does anybody know why that is?)

It's hard to put too much stock in the two-deeps when QB Sean Brackett was listed as the starter last week when everyone on the team knew he wasn't going to play at Darmouth as early as Tuesday.

But some astute readers have already pointed out that junior Andrew Weiss is now listed as the backup to Brackett. Since we don't really know if Brackett will play, we could see a brand new starter this Saturday on national TV no less.

Also notable is freshman Alec Fisher getting listed as the #2 running back and freshman Chad Washington listed as a backup defensive lineman. Congratulations to them!

Patrick Witt makes Yale all about him

Looking at the Elis


Last year, Yale made a strong move up the Ivy standings mostly by winning a series of extremely close games.

This season, none of their games has been decided by less than nine points, (and that game wasn't really as close as it looked).

No nailbiters this year.

What we do have is an improved overall offense and a team that has performed well at home and generally poorly on the road.


Veteran readers of this blog know I'm no fan of Yale QB Patrick Witt.

That's even though he's just been named the only Ivy finalist for this year's Bill Campbell trophy.

It's not that I don't think he's talented, because he clearly is. When he gets that quick release going he is impossible to stop.

It's not that I don't think he's smart. He clearly is; posting some stellar grades all the way through school.

My issue with Witt is that he seems to lack the complete maturity and leadership qualities to bring the Elis victories in tough games or on the road.

So the question is whether Witt will play the role of Dr. Jekyl or Mr. Hyde this Saturday.

One player who has clearly made strides over last year is senior RB Alex Thomas, who is having a great season running the ball for Yale. The only trouble is, he doesn't get the ball enough. Thomas is averaging just 15 carries a game, and I can't understand why. In short, I think the Bulldogs are passing the ball too much this season and that may be Witt's fault.

The offensive line has been excellent, notably giving up just seven sacks all season. But starting LT Wes Gavin is out for the year after going down in the Penn game and that could change everything in the coming weeks.


Yale's D is noticeably weaker this season, as many predicted it would be after several top players graduated.

The Elis are closer to the bottom of the Ivy pack allowing 136 rushing yards per game, but the real weakness has been pass defense. No Ivy team has been passed against more than Yale and those passes are being completed a league-high 66.7% percent of the time for 255 yards per game.

And yet the Bulldog defense also put together a 30-0 shutout of Dartmouth in week four, so there is some ability here.

Special Teams

The best part of the special teams at Yale is punt returner Gio Christodoulou who averages almost 15 yards per return and has a TD this season

Second best is junior Chris Smith who averages almost 26 yards per kickoff return.

The kickers aren't quite so great.

Place kicker Philippe Panico has been spotty, missing four PAT's already this season. He's a decent FG kicker, but nothing over 35 yards out is a good bet.

Punter Kyle Cazzetta averages just 35 yards per punt and has had one blocked.

Bizzaro World

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So you think that it's 100% obvious that Columbia Head Coach Norries Wilson has failed and there's no question he will be fired at the end of the season at the latest?

Not so fast my friend.

Based on my sources, I can now report that Wilson's job remains secure and he can expect to be back next season.

That's even if the Lions go 0-10.

That's even if we see another debacle like last weekend's 37-0 loss at Dartmouth.

That's despite everything that's completely plain to everyone watching Columbia football.


Because Wilson has been given a big vote of confidence again from the one person who matters in CU football.

I can't confirm this part of the story, but click here to see video of an actor portraying that vote for confidence and calm as it happened just this week.

The rest of us don't matter.

Reality doesn't matter.

In short, it is Bizzaro World.

Who Do We Call?

Everybody at Columbia likes and respects Bill Campbell.

But for some reason, he has a blind spot for Coach Wilson and this has to end now.

If he likes him personally, wonderful. I have no interest in ruining a friendship.

But their friendship now needs to remain independent of the head coaching position in the Columbia football program.

I want everyone to remain civil and respectful, but if you are dismayed by all of this you can send an email to the general address for the Board of Trustees at

I trust those emails will be passed on to Mr. Campbell's office directly.

Again, I really must insist that everyone remain civil, but I also am not naive enough to think that remaining silent will do this situation any good.

Otherwise, we're as far beyond reality as this guy:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ivy Power Rankings, Week Six

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Justin Nunez

Nunez Wins!!!

Who's the best athlete on Wall Street?

I think we have to give that title to Justin Nunez '07, the winner of The Decathlon held this Saturday at Wien Stadium.

Justin was an incredible plugger in his years with the Lions and was just a coach's dream. I never saw former Head Coach Bob Shoop cheer louder on the sidelines than he did when Nunez made plays.

Nunez remains a big supporter of the football program and a great salesman for season tickets!

Wise Words

Every once in a while, I fell compelled to reprint the comments from one of the readers right in the body of this blog so that every is sure to see it.

This morning, the following comment from a former player who was talking about what the Columbia football program was in the 1980's compared to how it is now:

"In fairness to Jim Garrett, he coached here one year and so he didn't really have any recruits to be responsible for. He inherited a ravaged program that had been run by a total incompetent, Bob Naso. Garrett was coach my senior year and I don't remember how big the roster was, but I do recall that we didn't have a lot of players. The QB was a converted safety. Not surprisingly, Garrett went 0-10, said some intemperate things in frustration, and got fired. He may have been a bad hire, but he didn't get a chance to recruit and develop his own players. I feel sure that if CU had kept Garrett that means his three sons would have played for him and we would've broken the streak a lot sooner.

NW has better players and better facilities to work with than Garrett had, and the Campbell Center is coming. Unfortunately, his game management and preparation is so poor as to render the team uncompetitive in most road games. Anyone who argues in favor of keeping him must ask how he is going to recruit this winter off of an 0-10 (or hopefully 1-9) season in his sixth year. He can't really say he's rebuilding. He can't say we're a piece or two away from contention. We start seven seniors on defense and we can't stop anyone. What does that say about NW's ability to develop players over four years? Worse, what is next year's D going to look like? I shudder to think.

NW's performance the past two weeks -- inept game management vs. Penn and a total lack of fire vs. Dartmouth -- have sealed his fate. Keeping him would be a statement that the administration doesn't care about providing a good experience for the players."

I really like the point about recruiting, but the final point is the most important one.

The PLAYERS, especially the seniors, deserve some immediate action.

Fans like us have been around, and God-willing we'll be around for many more years to wait for the Lions to finally win another Ivy championship.

But for the seniors, there are only four weeks left. I respect, but thoroughly reject, the notion that dumping Norries Wilson now would be too disruptive to make a positive difference. The biggest reason why is what the comment above says: it would show the PLAYERS that the administration is indeed committed to them.

Firing Norries now would also send the message to every player, that the administration is committed to winning.

Columbia last went 0-10 in 1987. There have been seasons since then where we've lived in fear that it would happen again, but this year is putting us at the greatest risk than ever before.

Columbia ranks 244th out of 246 college football teams in the latest Sagarin Ratings. None of the remaining four teams on the schedule are #245 or #246, so any victory now would be a real upset.

Ivy Power Rankings, Week Six

1. Harvard

Harvard's defense seems to have had a bit of a lapse to say the least in a 56-39 win over Princeton Saturday.

But the Crimson still won the game by three scores and it does look like Tiger freshman RB Chuck Dibilio is going to be a star.

I expect Harvard to bounce back strong against Dartmouth this coming weekend.

2. Brown

Looking better and better. The Bears beat an up-and-coming Cornell team by two scores in Ithaca.

I think they'll hand Penn the Quakers' first Ivy loss in three years this weekend.

If any Brown fans actually decide to attend the game, well that would be nice.

3. Penn

... but the Quakers are still darn good.

The convincing offensive performance versus Yale Saturday was a nice bounceback after a not-so-convincing win over Columbia the previous week.

4. Yale

The Elis have some good talent, but there's just no evidence they can beat top teams, especially on the road.

5. Cornell

If QB Jeff Matthews were a senior, I'd be worried about Cornell's future. But he's a sophomore and is clearly an aerial surgeon. Get him some running backs and the Big Red is a title contender.

6. Dartmouth

Whipping Columbia on a day when the Lions are without Sean Brackett all day is not that impressive... sadly. Teevens is still on the hot seat.

7. Princeton

Now the Tigers have something to build on: freshman RB Chuck Dibilio. But a 1-9 season is still very much in the cards.

8. Columbia

The Lions performance Saturday was probably the worst game the Lions have played in over a decade. The stats didn't lie, so... don't look at the stats.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Empty Set

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Dartmouth 37 Columbia 0

Why Dartmouth Won

The Big Green used multiple rushing weapons to amass 267 running yards. Nick Schwieger got most of the gains with 157 yards, but backup RB Dominick Pierre and wildcat QB Greg Patton had several carries each and both finished with well over four yards a carry.

On defense, Dartmouth had four takeaways and allowed fewer than 10 Columbia first downs.

Why Columbia Lost

The Lions looked lost on offense without starting QB Sean Brackett and turned the ball over time after time.

On defense, Columbia failed to stop the run.

Key Turning Points

-After recovering a Dartmouth fumble on the opening kickoff to start on the Green 32, the Lions then went four and out. Dartmouth then went 70 yards for a TD and the game was essentially over right there.

-What could have been a respectable loss turned into a terrible rout when Columbia turned the ball over on each of its first two possessions of the second half. Dartmouth scored TD's off both those turnovers and humiliation set in.

Columbia Positives

Very few, but I did like the play of senior LB Nick Mistretta who finished with 11 tackles and an athletic interception.

-It was good to see 5th year senior WR Mike Stephens back in action and grabbing some passes as well. Hopefully, he will get another win before he graduates.

-Junior QB Andrew Weiss looked comfortable at QB when he came in for a few series in the second half.

Columbia Negatives

-Too many to list here, but overall the team seemed ill prepared to play... an eerie reminder of how it looked the last time it came into Hanover two years ago.

Columbia MVP

Nick Mistretta

What's the Next Step?

I am really tired of the lame excuse that it's just too hard or too disruptive to change coaches in midseason.

It's far more disruptive to lose games to weak teams by 37-0, no?

Ray Tellier is in the athletic department right now. He has the mental means to guide this team for four more weeks and give these excellent seniors a chance to escape the shame of an 0-10 final season at Columbia.

Athletic Director Dianne Murphy should make this move right now and prove she respects the players and the fans.

Otherwise, please refund our donationsm, ticket prices, and parking fees.

But for the fans, what do WE need to do now?

We have to start demanding that the proper replacement for Wilson be found.

NO assistant coaches with no previous head coaching experience.

NO candidates who keep reminding us of all the supposed disadvantages Columbia has.

NO coaches who show an almost immediate disrespect for the students and fans.

On the Comments...

I refuse to play defense on my own blog, so let me set a few things straight:

1) This coaching change needs to happen NOW. Everyone other than the people working in the athletic department know this. Getting angry at me for stating that 2+2=4 is stupid.

2) I know for a fact that one of the people who is "dismayed" and "hurt" and is posting comments against me on the VOY Board and on this blog is an employee of the A.D. who often emails me complaining about critical anonymous comments on this blog! So, while I will continue to post all the comments here, even the ones critical of me, I'm not going to be intimidated.

3) These players do deserve better, but I don't pretend to speak for them. My sources include many different groups, including recent former players, people in the administration, coaches, and yes, some of the parents. I have never revealed a source, and that's not going to happen now.

Dartmouth 37 Columbia 0 final

A thoroughly embarrassing loss for the Lions as they go down in Hanover.

Yes, Sean Brackett was injured but the offense looked completely lost without him.

That's coaching.

And that's why I made what is becoming the less and less controversial call to let Norries Wilson go immediately and see what can be salvaged for our fine young players.

There are four games to go and any one of them would be a great win if Columbia can pull it off.

Time for new management NOW!

16-0 Dartmouth at the Half

You have to give the Columbia defense a lot of credit for only being down by 16-0.

16-0 Green

Nick Schwieger already has 85 yards rushing and the Lions have yet to complete a pass.

9-0 Green

Bad snap over Paul Delaney's head leads to a Dartmouth safety.

9-0 now.

7-0 Dartmouth

Nice drive by the Big Green to go 70 yards after the Lions went four and out.

Columbia needs to figure out an answer to Greg Patton and the Dartmouth wildcat or it will be a long day.

No Video

Many of you are reporting that the video feed is not working on

I'm sure someone is working on it...

Jerry Bell gets the Start

Just before kickoff, the Lions announce backup QB Jerry Bell will get the start instead of an apparently injured Sean Brackett.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Aerial Challenge?

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The Dartmouth Campus

Bruce Wood's Big Green Alert reports that Dartmouth Head Coach Buddy Teevens is looking to throw the ball early and often against the Lions today.

That's a surprising statement coming from the man who has the best running back in the Ivies, namely Nick Schwieger.

But given the Green's penchant for using play action, Teevens may be telling the truth. Now all that needs to be seen is if QB Connor Kempe is up to the challenge. It appears Teevens is trying to give Kempe as much confidence as possible by naming him the starter early this week.

Another factor brought up in Big Green Alert that I had missed is that while Dartmouth has fantastic players in the secondary, the Green pass defense is giving up a very high completion percentage. My theory on that is that opposing teams are choosing not to challenge those corners and settling for lots of shorter stuff that's easier to complete.

Finally, there's a concern in Hanover about running QB's, several of whom have already burned Dartmouth this season. So if Lion QB Sean Brackett feels healthy enough to run regularly today, Columbia may have an edge.

Kickoff is at 1:30. Remember, excellent coverage of the game is available on SideLion Pass, I highly suggest you sign up for it!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hope in Hanover?

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The Lions at Memorial Field, 2005

Columbia Lions at Dartmouth Big Green

October 22, 2011

Location: Memorial Field

Kickoff Time: 1:30pm

Gametime Weather Forecast: 54 degrees and partly cloudy

The Spread: Dartmouth is favored by 10 points

Columbia Game Notes

Dartmouth Game Notes


Video of the game synched up to audio from Columbia sportscasters Jerry Recco and Sal Licata is available on the SideLion Pass on The game is also on WKCR student radio at 89.9 FM in the New York area, (and you can get the WKCR feed over the internet too).

Memorial Field circa 1965


Both head coaches are basically on death watch as the smart money says neither of them will be back next year.

In Dartmouth Head Coach Buddy Teevens' case, a loss tomorrow would seal his fate for sure in what's been a mostly disappointing second tenure at his alma mater.

If the Big Green lose this homecoming contest, listen for some very loud "boos" from the crowd as the final seconds tick down.

There's still a lot of pressure on Columbia as you could argue that Head Coach Norries Wilson could save his job with two or three wins over these final five contests of 2011. if that's true, the Lions will have to start winning now or hang their hopes on beating three out of the next four opponents that include Harvard and Brown.

Another backstory is Dartmouth RB Nick Schwieger has a chance to get a rare 100+ yard trifecta against the Lions after going for more than 200 yards in the 2009 game and well over 100 yards last season at Wien Stadium. Columbia is dying for a chance to contain him and get some revenge against Green QB Connor Kempe after he had what seems like the best game of his collegiate career in New York last year.

Kempe himself is backstory, making his first start after being pulled from that spot for the last two games. He will be looking for a shot at redemption on the field tomorrow.

Columbia will be under pressure to play more mistake free in key moments after three straight penalties inside the Penn red zone last week sank their chances for a big upset win over the Quakers. Huge turnovers at crucial moments were key factors in the Lions' last two losses in Hanover in 2009 and 2007.

Columbia's Keys to the Game

Contain Schwieger

This will be Columbia's final chance to prove it can stop or at least contain the league's best running back. The funny thing is that in Schwieger's two starts against Columbia, he hasn't been the only key reason the Lions lost despite his huge numbers. In 2009, it was a series of Columbia turnovers and the fact that QB M.A. Olawale was badly injured that killed them. Last year, it was Kempe's sterling play that made the real difference. Perhaps that leaves Schwieger with added motivation to put the Lions away all on his own this time.

Establish a Running Game

Columbia's running woes could see a respite tomorrow against the league's worst rushing defense. In short, the Lions NEED this to happen to win. Dartmouth's secondary is too good to go after without the threat of some ground yards to balance things out. Columbia may need to try some types of runs it hasn't in the past, including running out of the I, and using some classic draw plays.

Rush Kempe

Blitzing a lot could give Schwieger too many opportunities to burn Columbia, but the Lions will definitely lose if they the Dartmouth QB as much time as he got last year in New York.

Use Garner More

One way to beat the Green secondary could be to throw underneath to emerging sophomore TE Hamilton Garner a lot more, especially early in the game.

Figure out How to Handle Kick Coverage

Shawn Abuhoff can win games on his own with his return abilities, but the Lions can't just settle for poorly executed squib kicks either.

A pre-renovation shot of Memorial Field with the huge visitor stands still intact

Good Cause, Good News

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Ralph DeBernardo

Graduated Lion gridders Ralph DeBernardo, Adrian Demko and Justin Nunez are all competing in "The Decathlon," a "Wall Street against Cancer" event tomorrow at Baker Field.

Please click here and search for "DeBernardo," "Demko," or "Nunez" in the competitor name search bar to donate in honor of any or all three of these great guys!

Ralph is competing in honor of his late mother Pat, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2009.

Pat was a wonderful woman and a good friend to me and Columbia football.

My entire family misses her.

Donations are being taken through the end of today.

Video Update

Thanks to some good work by both the Columbia and Dartmouth athletic departments, video of the game tomorrow will be available via Sidelion Pass! That means if you are already a subscriber, (and you really should be), you won't have to shell out any more money to get this great event coverage.

I'll miss the visit to Memorial Field this year, especially since the weather is expected to be nice. But I won't miss the drive and since the game starts at the later 1:30 kickoff time... I REALLY won't miss getting home at about 10pm if I'm lucky!

Week Six Picks

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Who's the QB?

Confirming what Big Green Alert had been reporting, Dartmouth Head Coach Buddy Teevens now says that Connor Kempe will be the starting quarterback for the Green this Saturday.

This comes after Teevens tried two other QB's in the starting slot the last two games to no avail.

I'm not sure how much of a vote of confidence that puts in Kempe, but it sure helps the Lions prepare for the game knowing who they will be facing.

I'm sure the Columbia coaches are reminding the returning veterans how well Kempe played against them last season when the Lions got virtually no pressure on him all day.


Right now, the forecast for Saturday in Hanover is pretty good: 56 degrees and some clouds.

Let's review how I did in Week Five:

For Princeton +21 1/2 at Brown I wrote:

"The Tigers will play the Bears close enough to beat the spread, but that's about it."

Actual Final Score: Brown 34 Princeton 0

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

For Holy Cross -14 1/2 vs. Dartmouth I wrote:

"Take the Crusaders and lay the points."

Actual Final Score: Holy Cross 25 Dartmouth 17

2-0 Straight Up, 0-2 Against the Spread

For Harvard -15 vs. Bucknell I wrote:

"Pick Harvard and give the points."

Actual Final Score: Harvard 34 Bucknell 3

3-0 Straight Up, 1-2 Against the Spread

For Colgate -7 1/2 vs. Cornell I wrote:

"Colgate is at home and starting to look more like itself after a spotty start."

Actual Final Score: Colgate 28 Cornell 21 (OT)

4-0 Straight Up, 1-3 Against the Spread

For Lafayette +3 1/2 vs. Yale< I wrote:

"Yale is not the best road team and Lafayette seems to be righting its ship in Easton. Go with the Leopards and take the points."

Actual Final Score: Lafayette 28 Yale 19

5-0 Straight UP, 2-3 Against the Spread

OVERALL 2011 RECORD: 20-7 SU, 14-13 ATS.

Here are my picks for this week as I am teetering on the edge of .500 against the spread:

Penn (pick 'em) vs. Yale

Penn seems ripe for a fall after a not-so-great performance against Columbia. If this game were at the Yale Bowl, I'd have no trouble choosing the Elis. But back at Franklin Field, I think Coach Bagnoli will have his Quakers ready to play and beat Yale.

Brown -11 1/2 at Cornell

Brown's weakness is run defense. Luckily for the Bears, Cornell can't run the ball too well. Watch the Brown offense score in bunches on the fast Schoelkopf field turf. Take the Bears and lay the points.

Princeton +30 1/2 at Harvard

The Tigers looked very bad last week at Brown, but Princeton usually gets very motivated against the Crimson. Harvard will win big, but not by 30 points or more.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Game Notes Posted

The site has posted the game notes for the contest at Dartmouth this Saturday.

Note the later start time this year, 1:30 as Dartmouth wants to give more time for its Homecoming festivities and it now has lights in Memorial Field in case it gets dark late.

So far, the weather forecast is beautiful.

The starters in the two-deep look to be the same group we've seen pretty much since week three.

But be ready for a nice surprise at one key position on Saturday...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Scouting Dartmouth and the Essential Five

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Open secret: Buddy Teevens' job is in danger at Dartmouth

Overview: A Mean Season for the Green

You can't usually account for emotions when scouting a football team, but the disappointing season Dartmouth has endured so far is out there for everyone to see.

Even I thought the Green would have a better year as I picked them for third in the league based on all the returning senior players.

But two major weakenesses have derailed the Dartmouth express and they don't seem to be getting any better anytime soon.

The first is run defense. The Big Green rank dead last in run D in the Ivies, and that's even after they didn't have to face RB Nate Eachus who sat out for Colgate in the season opener!

Dartmouth is allowing 213 total rushing yards per game and an eye-popping 5 yards per carry. That's 33 total yards more game than the 7th place run defense, Brown.

Columbia fans are no strangers to a weak run defense and the problems it can bring, but I can't remember a stat line as bad as 213 yards allowed per game and 5 yards per carry.

Three straight Dartmouth opponents have racked up 200+ yards on the ground against the Green; Penn, Yale and Holy Cross. And it's been worse every week. Penn had 206 yards, Yale 269 and Holy Cross 272.

Whether Columbia's worst-in-the-league 3.0 yards per rush average on offense has found a godsend in the Green D or vice versa will be determined Saturday.

The second major issue is quarterback play.

It seems that throughout Buddy Teevens seven year, second time around, coaching tenure at Dartmouth, he's never really had a very good QB.

For most of the last four years, he's stuck with senior Connor Kempe mostly by default... but that may come to a surprise to Columbia fans who remember that Kempe had an outstanding game against the Lions last year, going 24 of 37 for 237 yards a TD and no INT's.

This season, Kempe is completing under 48% of his passes and getting fewer than five yards per attempt. He has endured being replaced as a starter in the last two games, only to see his replacement fare even worse and have to come back into the game.

Those replacements were sophomore Andy Gay against Yale and senior Dan Rooney against Holy Cross.

The results were disastrous. Gay went just three for 11 for just 14 yards before being pulled for Kempe at the Yale Bowl and Rooney was one for six for 10 yards with an INT and a sack before Kempe replaced him too.

One would think Teevens is through trying to experiment with different QB's, but who knows? There are still four other QB's on the roster who haven't started a game yet this season.

There's a lot of talent and experience on this team, but you just can't win if you can't stop the run and you don't have even decent quarterback play.

It's as simple and as sad as that.

But They're Still Dangerous

Dartmouth still has some weapons that could make it a long afternoon for the Lions on Saturday.

The first is defending Co-Bushnell Cup winner Nick Schwieger. Schwieger is the rarest of commodities in the Ivies these days: a 1,000 yard rusher.

Through five games, Schwieger has 551 yards rushing, 5.3 yards per carry average, and four touchdowns. He is as good a cutback runner you'll see in this league and has shredded the Lion D two years running with 242 yards in 2009 and 124 yards and two TD's last season in New York.

The #2 back, sophomore Dominick Pierre, is a serious bruiser as well who burned the Lions with some key first down runs last season.

On defense, the Big Green have two super cornerbacks anchoring an excellent secondary. Shawn Abuhoff is the most dangerous kick returner in the Ivies, but his regular job defending the pass is no afterthought. The other corner, J.B. Andreassi, is a demon as well.

Very often, a team that defends the run poorly has good pass defense stats simply because opponents don't really need to throw against them. But Dartmouth's pass D is for real.

And don't forget the incredible force Abuhoff is for the special teams. On kickoffs, Abuhoff is averaging 24 yards a return, including one 89 yarder. On punts, he averages an incredible 13 yards per return including a 90 yarder for a TD.

The Five You Must Know

The Columbia-Dartmouth rivalry has been one of the more closely contested in the Ivies over the last 20 years. Here are the five key Lion-Big Green games over that period in chronological order:

1991 Dartmouth 28 Columbia 19

This game turned out to be significant for a number of reasons.

First, it was Dartmouth QB Jay Fiedler's first real impact game on his way to an epic career that ended in the NFL.

Second, it was Columbia's first real competitively-played game against an eventual league champion in decades. The Lions had a 19-17 third quarter lead and most of the crowd left Wien Stadium more than a little impressed with the effort.

Finally, the day had to have had the most dramatic weather change during a game in Columbia history. What had started as an extremely warm day ended with temperatures dropping and winds kicking up significantly by the fourth quarter.

1996 Dartmouth 40 Columbia 0

Columbia came into the game 6-1 against the 7-0 Big Green in a game that would determine the Ivy title.

The Lions never had a chance as Dartmouth's defense and a steady freezing rain battered Columbia into multiple turnovers.

Columbia and Dartmouth haven't been serious contenders for the Ivy title ever since.

1998 Columbia 24 Dartmouth 14

The Lions came into Hanover without a win over the Big Green since 1971 and without a win at Memorial Field since 1946.

But a 24-0 lead and a strong game by RB Johnathan Reese ended all that.

2000 Columbia 49 Dartmouth 21

Reese's record-breaking 236 yard rushing day still stands as a Columbia record.

This game is also the last time Columbia won a Homecoming game.

2009 Dartmouth 28 Columbia 6

Dartmouth came into the game riding a 17 game losing streak. Once again, the rain fell hard all game in Hanover and the Lions came out all wet after Schwieger destroyed them in a 28-6 Green win.

Two More Names & Midseason Bushnell

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Joe Moglia

Two more people who should be considered to take the head coaching job at Columbia should it indeed become available are Joe Moglia and Mike Donnelly.

Moglia's current situation is the most tenuous as his UFL team gig is about to end because the UFL is going broke.

As some readers have already pointed out, Moglia could make a perfect fit for Columbia because of his Ivy coaching experience, his years as the CEO of TD/Ameritrade, and his burning desire to prove himself in football all over again.

Moglia's Wall Street connections especially stand out and many former Columbia fooball players worked with him at Merrill and liked him there.

I know Moglia is highly regarded at Dartmouth, where he once coached and where there may be a head coaching vacancy very, very soon as well.

My only reservation about Moglia is his relative lack of head coaching experience, but he does have some under his belt right now and thus, a lot more than the no head coaching experience the last two Columbia head coaches had before they were hired here.

Mike Donnelly

Donnelly is a former Ray Tellier assistant I've written about here before. Some say he was the one who encouraged Marcellus Wiley to make the switch to defensive end and helped him flourish at that spot.

His success as the head man at Muhlenberg College is impressive and being in D-III football surely didn't stop people like Al Bagnoli from becoming even more successful in the Ivies.

The Mules are 3-3 this season, (one of the losses coming to Jim Margaff's Johns Hopkins squad), but Donenlly's tenure has been nothing short of great.

Midseason Awards

Half the 2011 Ivy football season is over, but five of the seven Ivy League games have yet to be played.

In other words, it's not really midseason because 71% of the games that actually determine the Ivy standings are coming up.

Nevertheless, here's who I would give the now split Bushnell Cup/Player of the Year awards to if the season were over today:

Offensive MVP: Colton Chapple, QB Harvard

An emergency replacement starter after #1 Crimson QB Collier Winters got injured again, Chapple has thrown for 12 TD's, completed 62% of his passes, and has just two interceptions. Chapple has Harvard in the driver's seat for the championship.

Defensive MVP: Josue Ortiz, DL Harvard

As much as I would hate to hand both Bushnells to Harvard, Ortiz is a sack demon and has the advantage of meeting expectations when so many players and teams have not so far this year.

Check back in a couple of weeks for an update on my picks to win the MVP awards. They are certainly subject to change.