Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hot Stove Football

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Do you spend a lot of time speculating on who our next head coach will or should be on this blog?

Of course we do.

It's called, "being a fan" and having some fun in a "hot stove league" of sorts as we wait out an offseason that is somewhere between 300 days and the gestation period of an elephant.

Is such speculation helpful to the search process?

Who knows? And frankly, I don't think it matters. It's almost like asking if booing the other team or the refs during a game helps the Lion cause.

We're fans and this is what fans do.

On my end, I'll repsonsibly report anything that's true out there about the search. There's not much right now and that's a testament to the professionalism of everyone involved in this process right now.

Until then, the fans will continue to discuss potential candidates... because we're fans.

Did We Fumble on Kelly?

Speaking of speculating...

My sources tell me that current Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly was indeed a candidate for the Columbia job the last time it was available in late 2005.

In all fairness, it's not like Kelly was such an obvious catch back then as this article detailing Kelly's amazing and quick rise documents.

But it's a good case study to prove that Columbia DOES and IS getting top notch applicants for this job.

It's also encouraging that Ray Tellier, who was not as intimately involved in the coaching search last time, is now such an integral part of the process.

I know I have reported on Tellier's ties to possible candidates like Hopkins Head Coach Jim Margraff, but he is not the only successful coach out there with a positive connection to Tellier.

Considering Tellier's active role in landing a super coach like Brett Boretti for Columbia baseball, there's good reason to be more optimistic about the football coaching seatch this time around.

That said, anything the fans can do to keep the decision-makers honest is useful.

... and I'm sure you will all continue to do so. ;)

Recruiting News

News about incoming freshmen commits has been more scarce this year than it has been at any time since I started this blog.

But some of the recruiting web sites do have a few names of players who has been offered spots on the team... at least according to them.

Here are some names:

Jonathan Ford

Elijah St. Hilaire

Jordan Bronowitz

Brandtly Wilson

Tanner Thexton

Luke Longinotti

Lavondre Nelson

John Buchanan

Braden Meador

Dalton Stogner

Max Keefe

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Case for Columbia

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Let's say you were the guy or gal in charge of offering the Columbia head coaching job to the best candidate, how would you seal the deal?

And how would you do it if you couldn't go over a base salary offer of $250,000 per year?

If it were me, I'd offer three key perks that are enticing yet realistic:

1) Total "New York City" cost protection: generous allowances to cover all added expenses related to living in this area from parking garage fees to eating out allowances. A big effort needs to be made to get the coach to live full time in Manhattan. Let's get creative here.

2) Personal Staff: I would upgrade and increase the head coach's personal staff for everything from communications to scheduling. We're all dying for more emails and other updates from the coach and this should be made extremely easy for him to do as often as he likes. This is not to say the staff that worked with Norries Wilson did a bad job, but we need to offer our new coach a Cadillac-standard of excellence in this regard so he knows he has a sterling pipeline to the fans and big donors that stays online at all times.

3) Media Blitz: once the Ivy season ends, our head coach is allowed to fulfill any contractual deal he can work out, (and we will help him do so), with any of the many media outlets in New York covering the final weeks of the college football season and the bowl games. That includes working as an in-studio analyst on game days. With the right deal, this could be a VERY lucrative job for our coach and it could also truly boost recruiting interest in Columbia.

I realize not every coach is camera-ready or even willing. But I think the most successful candidate at Columbia will be someone who relishes New York City as the media capital of the world and is just cocky enough to know that he can conquer the media in this town with a few good quips and friendly insight.

The last few head coaches we've had have been relatively camera shy or even downright guarded, and that doesn't work in New York. I agree with what former Head Coach Larry McElreavy told us last week when he said that the new head coach MUST be a real New York lover and wear that love on his sleeve every single day.

I'm not sure we can project the greatness of the city with a football head coach who hightails it to Connecticut or New Jersey every night.

Clawson Staying at BG

It looks like most of the Dave Clawson talk at Columbia, Fordham and U. Richmond is already over.

Several reports suggest Clawson is NOT out at Bowling Green and he has publicly stated he is committed to remaining at the Ohio school for as long as it takes.

Bushnell Follow Up

Earlier today, I posted the news about the four finalists for the 2011 Bushnell Cups.

The actual award will be presented to the winners on Monday December 5th at 11:30am at the Waldorf-Astoria here in Manhattan.

(Yet another case in point for my argument that New York City MUST be used as a PLUS for Columbia football and it must be used OFTEN. Even the hopelessly Princeton-bound Ivy League sports offices know enough to host this event in the city!)

John Audino

The Bagnoli Way?

Penn's Al Bagnoli had a successful career as the had coach of Union for 10 seasons before he took his current job and the rest is impressive history.

Ever wonder who took over the job at Union when Bagnoli left?

That would be none other than former Columbia assistant coach John Audino, who served five seasons on Morningside Heights under head coaches Bill Campbell and Bob Naso.

In fact, Audino has been the only head coach for the Union Dutchmen since Bagnoli left following the 1991 season. In that time, he has an impressive 141-60 won-lost record.

Heck, John even is the same exact age as Bagnoli, 58.

But unlike Bagnoli, Audino had some big time playing experience, toiling as a running back under Ara Parseghian at Notre Dame in the early 1970's.

If Union is some kind of great pipeline of Ivy coaches, perhaps John Audino deserves a look.

BREAKING: Bushnell Finalists Named

The Ivy League has released the names of the finalists for offensive and defensive players of the year for football.

On defense, the two finalists are Harvard's Josue Ortiz and Penn's Erik Rask

On offense, the two finalists are Cornell's Jeff Mathews and last year's co-winner, Nick Schwieger.

All of the finalists are graduating seniors, except for Mathews... and boy is he not a senior... he's just a sophomore with a lot of passing records yet to break presuming he stays healthy.

If I were voting on these awards, my choices would be relatively easy ones.

On defense, I'd go with Ortiz who set a tone on a dominant Harvard team that mostly relied on offense to win, but got just enough defense thanks to Ortiz.

And while I think Jeff Mathews is one of the best passing QB's we've seen in years, I don't think he produced enough tough wins for his team compared to what Schwieger meant to Dartmouth.

Plus, Mathews' not-so-great performance in the Big Red's loss to Dartmouth seems like a good tie-breaker to me.

But if I were a publicist working for the Ivy League, I'd be pulling hard for Mathews - a very marketable quantity for another two years - to win this award as a sophomore and grab national headlines.

Of course, if Mathews does win it won't exactly be an outrage. He is a legitimate star.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Possible New Name

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Dave Clawson

I certainly hope the Columbia search committee isn't in a super rush to make a decision.

That's because, if the reports are true... Bowling Green may soon fire Head Coach Dave Clawson.

Clawson is the former Fordham and Richmond head coach, and frankly he was one of the best opposing coaches I've ever seen in all my years watching Columbia football.

Strangely, Clawson's best Fordham team - the 2002 squad - lost to Columbia in the first-ever Liberty Bowl. That would be the only game the Lions would win that year.

Clawson hasn't exactly been a washout at BG, it's just that it's on a bit of a decline in what is a very difficult conference. Also, BG has lost to in-state rival Ohio University all three years of Clawson's tenure.

I suspect Fordham will also try like the Dickens to get Clawson back, so if Bowling Green does can him it would be nice if a decision is made this week.

We're waiting...

Some Facts

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I can't say who is on the short list for the vacant head coaching job at Columbia, but there are some things I can clear up that seem to have a number of readers confused:

1) This is by no means an "undesirable" job. The inbox is full for the three point men accepting inquiries and resumes for the position. Let's stop negotiating against ourselves, (as some astute commenters have said), and trashing the job.

2) Recruiting goes on; it really never ends. There will be some recruits who will decide not to come to Columbia because of the coaching change, but probably no more than three or four. On the flip side, whomever comes in as the new coach will most likely bring in a few new players to fill that void.

3) THREE players, one current sophomore, one current junior and one current senior, are taking an advisory role on the search committee. They will not have an official "vote" on the candidates.

FCS Playoff Update

Stony Brook squeezed out a 31-28 win over Columbia's week two opponent in yesterday's round one of the FCS playoffs.

How great would it be for Columbia to play on those playoffs one day right on Kraft Field?

Attention Ivy presidents: EVERY Ivy football fan and player wants the chance to play in the FCS playoffs. How about granting a simple wish to some kids who actually show a commitment to their schools?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Season Ain't Over!

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Usually, this first Saturday after the season ends is very tough to take.

The realization sets in that we're now about 41 long weeks until we get to watch Columbia football play an official game again.

But with the coaching search now in full swing, it really feels like the Lions are still playing not just every weekend but every day.

And once the new staff is in place, the feverish activity that will follow as they prepare for the season will keep this entire off season exciting.

Albany-Stony Brook on Tap

And there's still a lot of great FCS football to watch. At 2pm Eastern today, week two opponent Albany comes back to the NYC area to take on Stony Brook in the first round of the FCS playoffs.

This should be an excellent game.

Margraff Accolades

Speaking of the coaching search, Jim Margraff's candidacy should be enhanced by the fact that his Johns Hopkins team had its first ever undefeated regular season this year, has won seven of the last 10 Centennial championships, and had nine academic All-District players this year alone.

Here are some of the interesting stats from Hopkins' season that should be of special interest to Columbia fans:

-Hopkins outscored its opponents in the 3rd quarter by 139-40

-Hopkins held its opponents to 2.6 yards rushing per carry for the season

-Hopkins converted 52% of its 3rd down plays and held opposing teams to just a 26% 3rd down conversion rate

-Hopkins had 33 sacks while allowing just 11

In addition to probaby having Ray Tellier in his corner, I can report that at least one other highly placed Columbia administrator is lobbying hard for Margraff.

And all of this continues even as I have NO idea whether Margraff is interested in or even applied for the job.

Toal on TV?

Right now, it doesn't look like MSG Varsity will be covering Head Coach Greg Toal's Don Bosco Ironment taking on Bergen Catholic in the New Jersy state championship game at MetLife Stadium this coming Friday night. But I will keep looking for some TV coverage of any kind.

More Random Thoughts on the Brown Game...

I know the Lions sole win of the year is an entire week old now, but the excitement over the win and all the coaching news that came right afterwards precluded me from getting a few more thoughts out there about the 35-28 double OT win:

-I was impressed by the number of Brown fans at the game and their enthusiasm. Their numbers far outweighed the total number of Harvard fans who showed up to Wien Stadium just two weeks before on a similarly beautiful day. After the game they were all gracious about the loss, although understandably they were mostly talking about the Bears' six turnovers.

-I saw a lot of high school recruits, complete with their school varsity jackets, in the stands enjoying the game until the very end.

-I have to agree with the many Brown fans who have bemoaned the fact that Coach Phil Estes inserted the wildcat formation and pulled 5th year senior Kyle Newhall-Caballero for the final two plays of the game. When it didn't work the first time, I can't understand why you don't get KNC back into the game and at least make Columbia defend the pass in some way. That said, I'd take Estes as our new head coach in a heartbeat!

-It's still amazing how perfectly a rarely used senior like RB David Chao finished his career. Those tough runs, great blocking, and the save of the bad snap in the 4th quarter were all truly crucial parts of the Lion victory.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Return Engagements?

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Would You Sign with us again Joe?

Now that Columbia is in for a new coaching staff, the question is whether any of the potential impact players who have left the team over the last year or so might return.

There is a long history of this scenario working out well for the Lions.

Perhaps the best example occurred in 2003, when RB Ayo Oluwole returned to the team when Bob Shoop took over as head coach from Ray Tellier.

All Oluwole did that year was lead the team in rushing with 903 yards and five TD's. Incidentally, no Columbia rusher has come close to matching that 903 yard mark since.

Two players in particular should be on every Lion fan's wish list as we hope for even more talent to come in for 2012.

First is DL/OL Joe Raimondi, who left the team just before this season. Raimondi impressed as a freshman on the offensive line as a frosh in 2010, and then he was switched to the O-line in the spring. Perhaps he will jump at the chance to return, especially if he can get back to the defensive side exclusively.

TE Chris Mooney impressed a lot of coaches and teammates with his abilities as a freshman, but was off the roster before the spring of this year. With sophomore Hamilton Garner excelling at the position this year, Mooney's loss didn't sting as badly as we thought it might. But getting him back on the squad would be a plus if he is so inclined.

Greg Toal yesterday

Toal's Road

Possible Columbia head coaching candidate Greg Toal and his Don Bosco Ironmen crushed St. Joseph 41-0 yesterday to clinch a spot in the state championship game.

Toal's high standards became evident in the early stages of the 2nd half, according to this account of the game by MaxPreps:

With a No. 1 ranking comes an expectation for four quarters of dominance, though, and the Ironmen looked uninspired coming out of the locker room after intermission. Shumate admitted "we felt like we already had the win," although head coach Toal, ever the perfectionist, saw his players loafing while running pass patterns and missing blocks – mistakes uncharacteristic for one of his teams.

Hearing the wrath of Toal and his coaching staff helped inspire the Ironmen again. After their second three-and-out of the third quarter, Peppers plunged in for his third 1-yard touchdown to cap a powerful, albeit methodical, 7-play, 22-yard drive.

Bosco's championship game against Bergen Catholic is at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands a week from tonight.

Jim Margraff

Margraff's Moment?

Former Columbia assistant coach and current Johns Hopkins Head Coach Jim Margraff is also considered to be one of the candidates for the top Lions job.

Margraff may have an ace in the hole as he is still close to his former boss, Ray Tellier, who is making the final hiring decision along with athletic director Dianne Murphy.

Until Tellier was named in the official press release as being such a crucial player in the process, I wasn't sure Margraff could be called a leading contender. And I am still not sure he is even interested in leaving Maryland to return to New York.

But if he does want this job he certainly has the best ally he can get on the very highest of levels.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lifeline for Williams?

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The article that started it all

It seems like this new piece in the Yale alumni magazine is offering a big boost for Head Coach Tom Williams' chances of keeping his job in New Haven.

The magazine's editors say it was their reporter who first inserted that word "finalist" into the text about Williams' Rhodes Scholarship candidacy and not Williams himself.

If true, that could make all the difference.

If Yale is still somehow intent on relieving Williams, it might want to get a move on. You just can't have your coaching situation in limbo for very long in college football.

Thought of the Day

Yale chose Williams over Tom Gilmore for its head coaching job in 2008. Princeton did the same in 2009.

How's that working out for both of them?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

BREAKING: Kelton not in the Running

Aaron Kelton

Mulitple sources have confirmed to me that former Columbia defensive coordinator and current Williams Head Coach Aaron Kelton will NOT be a candidate for the head coaching job at Columbia.

It appears Kelton himself is taking himself out of any possible consideration.

Kelton has been successful in his first two years at Williams, going 8-0 last season and a respectable 5-3 this year.

The Calls for Gilmore Get Louder

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Tom Gilmore

Bob Kent '92, a great Columbia player, honored US Air Force veteran, and a good friend is speaking out strongly in favor of getting current Holy Cross Head Coach Tom Gilmore to take the helm here in Morningside Heights.

And he's not alone.

In the last 72 hours, I have received a great number of emails and calls from former Lion football players who have pledged to work as hard as possible to see that Gilmore comes back to Columbia by next month.

Just to be clear, this is just Bob's public endorsement, and of course the decision still remains in the hands of Athletic Director Dianne Murphy and Ray Tellier.

But I think all the readers here should hear what so many valuable football alums are saying:

Bob Kent

"I am writing from Afghanistan to urge you to strongly consider Tom Gilmore for CU Football Head Coach.

I was fortunate that Tom Gilmore was my position coach for two years, (1988-89), when he was Columbia's DL coach. I tried to emulate Coach Gilmore's commitment to excellence, and was a much better player (and eventually person) due to his exemplar.
Tom is a player's coach who leads by example and knows how to win.

Columbia Football has been stymied for decades by the expectation of mediocrity. Coach Gilmore is the man who can change our path. He has the history, charisma, intensity, and football acumen necessary to recruit athletes and win championships in the Ivy League. CU football has practiced bleeding long enough. Please give the players a coach they deserve and hire Tom Gilmore.

Who dares wins."


Bob Kent, CU '92

Gilmore's official biography tells you a lot about the man, but I want to emphasize some important facts that get lost in the shuffle and shouldn't:

-Gilmore was a fantastic student while at Penn. He almost had all A's all four years. And this was from a kid who did not even think he was going to go to college before a coach finally convinced him to take the SAT.

-During his years at Columbia, he was a legend. Rarely have I seen the kind of bond Gilmore forged with everyone who played under him as an assistant coach. I know he was popular while at Penn and Dartmouth, but I can't believe his troops there are as loyal to him as his Columbia players from 1987-89.

-Holy Cross has completely turned around under Gilmore. The Crusaders don't win the Patriot League every year, but they are always competitive when they were not for years. Holy Cross also is very strong against the Ivy League. Gilmore's teams have dominated Dartmouth, and he even has three wins over Harvard. That includes a win over Harvard this year when no Ivy team really came all that close to beating the Crimson.

Again, this is not an endorsement from ME; I'm just restating some facts.

But they are impressive facts.


All Ivy Football 2011

Chuck Dibilio, Princeton (Fr., RB, Nazareth, Pa.)

Jack Templeton, Brown (Jr., OL, Ramsey, N.J.)
Jeff Adams, Columbia (Sr., OL, Western Springs, Ill.)
Ryan O'Neill, Dartmouth (Sr., OL, Orland Park, Ill.)
Kevin Murphy, Harvard (Sr., OT, San Clemente, Calif.)
*Greg Van Roten, Penn (Sr., OL, Rockville Centre, N.Y.)
Jeff Mathews, Cornell (So., QB, Camarillo, Calif.)
*Nick Schwieger, Dartmouth (Sr., RB, Norton, Mass.)
Kyle Juszczyk, Harvard (Jr., H-Back, Medina, Ohio)
Chuck Dibilio, Princeton (Fr., RB, Nazareth, Pa.)
Shane Savage, Cornell (Sr., WR, Leesburg, Va.)
Ryan Calvert, Penn (Sr., WR, Studio City, Calif.)
John Gallagher, Dartmouth (Sr., TE, Salem, Ore.)

Kyle Rettig, Brown (Sr., DL, Clearwater, Fla.)
*Josue Ortiz, Harvard (Sr., DL, Avon Park, Fla.)
Eddie Smith, Dartmouth (Sr., DL, Louisville, Ky.)
Brandon Copeland, Penn (Jr., DL, Sykesville, Md.)
Caraun Reid, Princeton (Jr., DL, Bronx, N.Y.)
Brett Wyman, Brown (Sr., LB, Bridgewater, Mass.)
Alex Gedeon, Harvard (Sr., LB, Hudson, Ohio)
*Erik Rask, Penn (Sr., LB, Newport Beach, Calif.)
Jordan Haynes, Yale (Sr., LB, Folsom, Calif.)
A.J. Cruz, Brown (Jr., DB, Lake Forest, Calif.)
Stephen Peyton, Brown (Sr., FS, Woodland, Calif.)
Shawn Abuhoff, Dartmouth (Sr., CB, Hialeah, Fla.)
*Matthew Hanson, Harvard (Sr., DB, Lafayette, Colo.)

Special Teams
Brad Greenway, Cornell (Sr., PK, Encinitas, Calif.)
Nathan Lovett, Brown (Sr., P, East Providence, R.I.)
Rashad Campbell, Cornell (Sr., RS, Cheltenham, Pa.)
Shawn Abuhoff, Dartmouth (Sr., RS, Hialeah, Fla.)

J.C. Tretter, Cornell (Jr., OL, Akron, N.Y.)
Austen Fletcher, Dartmouth (Sr., OL, Old Brookville, N.Y.)
Jack Holuba, Harvard (Jr., OL, Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J.)
Matt Allen, Princeton (Sr., OL, Tulsa, Okla.)
Jack Geiger, Brown (Sr., OL, Whitefish Bay, Wis.)
Gabriel Fernandez, Yale (Sr., OL, Honolulu, Hawaii)
Collier Winters, Harvard (Sr., QB, Claremore, Okla.)
Trevor Scales, Harvard (Jr., RB, Stone Mountain, Ga.)
Alex Thomas, Yale (Sr., RB, Ansonia, Conn.)
Alexander Tounkara-Kone, Brown (Sr., WR, Staten Island, N.Y.)
Kurt Ondash, Cornell (Jr., WR, New Canaan, Conn.)
Chris Smith, Yale (Jr., WR, Midlothian, Va.)
Cameron Brate, Harvard (So., TE, Naperville, Ill.)

Clayton McGrath, Brown (Sr., DL, Longmeadow, Mass.)
Nnamdi Obukwelu, Harvard (Jr., DT, Brockton, Mass.)
Jared Sholly, Penn (Sr., DL, Clear Lake, Iowa)
Mike Catapano, Princeton (Sr., DL, Bayville, N.Y.)
Jake Stoller, Yale (Sr., DL, Shaker Heights, Ohio)
Josh Martin, Columbia (Jr., LB, Aurora, Colo.)
Steven Cody, Princeton (Sr., LB, Midlothian, Va.)
Andrew Starks, Princeton (Jr., LB, Plainfield, Ill.)
Will McHale, Yale (Jr., LB, Old Greenwich, Conn.)
Daniel Smithwick, Brown (Sr., DB, Danville, Calif.)
Rashad Campbell, Cornell (Sr., CB, Cheltenham, Pa.)
Brian Owusu, Harvard (Jr., DB, Oxnard, Calif.)
Matt Hamscher, Penn (Sr., DB, Whitehall, Pa.)
Drew Baldwin, Yale (Sr., DB, Alexandria, Va.)

Special Teams
Patrick Jacob, Princeton (Sr., PK, Solon, Ohio)
Joe Cloud, Princeton (Jr., P, Edwards, Ill.)
Gio Christodoulou, Yale (Sr., RS, Miami)
Chris Smith, Yale (Jr., RS, Midlothian, Va.)

Scott Ward, Columbia (Jr., OT, Costa Mesa, Calif.)
Kyle Cook, Dartmouth (Sr., OT, Anaheim, Calif.)
Joe Bonadies, Penn (Jr., OL, Leonia, N.J.)
Kyle Newhall-Caballero, Brown (Sr., QB, Gilbert, Ariz.)
Sean Brackett, Columbia (Jr., QB, Brooklyn, Conn.)
Patrick Witt, Yale (Sr., QB, Atlanta)
Mark Kachmer, Brown (Jr., RB, Wheaton, Ill.)
Brandon Colavita, Penn (Jr., RB, Sewell, N.J.)
Luke Tasker, Cornell (Jr., WR, East Aurora, N.Y.)
Chris Lorditch, Harvard (Sr., WR, Chalfront, Pa.)
Deon Randall, Yale (So., WR, San Diego)
Hamilton Garner, Columbia (So., TE, Duluth, Ga.)
Ryan Houska, Cornell (Sr., TE, Plymouth, Mich.)
Luke Nawrocki, Penn (Sr., TE, Syosset, N.Y.)
Zack Imhoff, Cornell (Sr., DE, Cincinnati)
John Lyon, Harvard (Jr., DE, Durham, N.C.)
Matthew O'Donnell, Brown (Sr., LB, Tipton, Iowa)
Brandon Lainhart, Cornell (Sr., LB, Cincinnati)
Bronson Green, Dartmouth (So., LB, Los Angeles)
Joshua Boyd, Harvard (Jr., LB, Hyde Park, Mass.)
Alexander Norman, Harvard (Jr., LB, Lewisville, Texas)
Joey Casey, Dartmouth (Sr., DB, Noblesville, Ind.)
Dan Minamide, Harvard (Sr., DB, Escondido, Calif.)
Foley Schmidt, Dartmouth (Sr., PK, Inver Grove Heights, Minn.)
Jacob Dombrowski, Harvard (Jr., P, Gaylord, Mich.)

*Unanimous Selection

Not surprisingly, Columbia's only first teamer is Jeff Adams.

Junior Josh Martin was the only second teamer. He was on the 2nd team last year as well.

QB Sean Brackett was an honorable mention.

I was happy to see junior Scott Ward and sophomore Hamilton Garner on the honorable mention slate, hopefully leading to a very strong 2012 seasons for them both.

Showing us the Love

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All Ivy Today

The All-Ivy football teams are about to be announced at the Ivy sports website.

Coming off our 1-9 season and a ton of injuries, we cannot expect the list to be kind to Columbia today.

I really wish that were not the case, especially for the seniors and the fifth year seniors who sacrficed so much, achieved a great deal, and deserve better.

On the other hand...

But I can confirm at this time that there has already been tremendous interest in the Columbia head coaching job and there are already a lot of coaches actively applying.

Those people include some "big name" coaches we have discussed here, some we have not, and some strong candidates that may not be very famous but have serious and successful coaching experience.

With the talent level on the team much improved from the last time the head coaching job was open, (2005), to the stronger funding position Columbia athletics enjoys, it is an objective fact that this is really a great time for the Lions to be in this "buyer's market."

Coach Mac Speaks Out!

For those of you who don't read the comments section regularly, former Head Coach Larry McElreavy wrote a long assessment of the situation here at Columbia last night.

It is just too good to keep hidden in the comments section, so here it is:

"Yes, Jake is a friend, and I did inform him that I might create a post for the blog. Also please excuse any mispellings or grammatical errors, it is a result of a "land grant education".

Even after 23 years I have not left Columbia Football, I put three years of my life into the program. The ship sank while I was the captain, and no matter what the circumstances were behind the sinking, the responsibility lies with me solely.

I would like to give you my insights as to what it will take to produce a successful football program. These are random thoughts.

For you younger guys and even for the older ones who may have forgotten, please let me refresh you about my background: My college coaching career began at Dartmouth; freshman coach in 1974, I recruited 14 out of 22 starters that would win an Ivy Championship in 1978 (Including Dartmouth Coach-Buddy Teevens).

1975-1980: OL coach at Yale where we won 4 championships in 6 years finishing 2nd the other 2.

1981-82 the OC/OL coach at UPenn where we took a loser and won a championship our second year, Penn for the most part has been winning ever since. Their president at the time made a statement to the effect that it cost Penn more to lose than it did to win, we found out later the winning the championship sent alumni donations into a record setting year.

1983-85 Head Football Coach at the Univ of New Haven, where I took it from Div 111 to a National ranking at the Div 11 level and became a stepping stone for coaches like Tony Sparano(Miami Dolphins), Mark Whipple(pro and college), Chris Palmer (pro and college)

1986-88 Columbia and "The Streak".

Now to Columbia football today

1. You are fortunate to have a Bill Campbell, He has "walked the walk".

2. Ray Tellier and your committee will do a great job. Ray has "walked the walk".

3. Stop complaining about bus rides to Baker (Yale has a not so nice ride to get to their practice facility) Parkers, NYC, etc

4. Believe it when I tell you the new coach is going to look into the eyes of the team he inherits and if he sees or hears bitching about the past staff, he will recruit his own players, he is going to want to see enthusiasm, commitment. He is going to want players that can look in the mirror and say I can do better. Just think if Columbia had played the whole season with the passion and enthusiasm they did against Brown, we wouldn't be having this dialogue.

5. The following is, I feel, the most important think I can relay to you. If any of you will have imput into the hiring process, look for this. To be successful, your next coach needs to have a passion for being in NYC and at Columbia. There are lots of good X & O guys out there with great resumes, great references, etc but if they go to Columbia because it is a job that will get them a better job or if they think they are going to get a great salary and benefits, they are doomed. If you can get that same guy and he can demonstrate a passion to be a part of the dynamic that is Columbia, the core and NYC, he will be able to sell all of this to great young athletes and their parents, the athletes will come and you will win a lot. We proved we could recruit against the Big 3 and everybody else, our freshman teams against predominately Ivy teams were a combined 14 and 4 with an undefeated team in there.

6. You can recruit against anyone!

7. The dynamic of Columbia and NYC is second to none.

8. The Baker Field setting (I have gone to a number of games over the past few years)is second to none in the Ivies or Patriot League.

9. You are fortunate to have Jake and his forum, I would suggest that you close it to current players and parents. All it takes is for one player, parent to read a negative comment and it will begin to erode the confidence in the current or new staff.

10. I thank Jake for allowing me to post this, it will be my only post. I wish you all (even Flickr and Alex) nothing but wins and happy Saturday nights. For those players that have gotten back in touch with me, it has been wonderful, thank you."

Coach Mac


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ivy Power Rankings, Final List

1. Harvard

The Crimson stumbled out of the gate with a loss to Holy Cross, but never looked back after that. It's interesting that Harvard played its best games against the best Ivy opposition: Brown, Penn, Dartmouth and Yale, while seemingly underachieving against teams like Princeton and Columbia. But that's a small concern on a team that may have been the best Ivy offensive machine in a decade.

2. Brown

It's a tough call here, because the Bears finished the season weakly with two straight losses. But Brown defeated two of the three other teams tied for second in the Ivies and barely lost to the other. Certainly for the first eight weeks of the season, the Bears looked as strong as they come.

3. Penn

The Quakers took a much bogger step back this year than I expected, especially on defense. But Penn still played every opponent tough, (except for Lafayette in week one).

4. Dartmouth

A great turnaround in the second half of the season puts the Green in the top tier for 2011. Dartmouth's running game was really impressive and one can only imagine how far this team could have gone with a more consistent starting QB and a slightly better defense.

5. Cornell

Finished the season on an up note, but was still a basket case defensively. Jeff Matthews has two more years to continue shredding the Ivy record books, but he did plenty of great work this season alone.

6. Yale

A bad showing at Harvard capped a weak overall second half and disappointing 2011 season. Yeah, the Elis beat Cornell soundly in week two, but would you bet on them to take Cornell if they had to play tomorrow? I wouldn't.

7. Princeton

Without RB Chuck DiBillio, the Tigers might be the worst Ivy team in 26 years. But they did have DiBillio, and that's worth a lot. Finally, Princeton has something it can build on for next year. As for this year, they played some good opponents tough at times and that kept them out of the power rankings cellar.

8. Columbia

The Lions showed just how good they can be when Sean Brackett is healthy in their 35-28 win over Brown Saturday. But he wasn't healthy enough this year and the team was simply not prepared to win without him.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Still Safe

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Evan Takes it!

What a way for senior Evan Miller to end his collegiate career!

Miller was just named Ivy Defensive Player of the Week for his 19 tackle performance in the big 35-28 double OT win over Brown Saturday.

Buddy Teevens job is secure

Perhaps the "race" for Ivy head coaching talent won't have as many horses on the track as many once thought.

It looks all clear for Buddy Teevens at Dartmouth; local supporters tell me they'd be shocked if he's suddenly going to be fired in the coming days.

It didn't look good for Buddy after the 1-4 start, but winning three in a row to end the season looked good.

At Yale, everything is QUIET. We know the whole Tom Williams Rhodes Scholar claim is still being "investigated," but we still don't know if this will end with Williams losing his job.

The many anti-President Richard Levin sports fans at Yale are already thinking this could be a great way for Levin to kill football for another few years, That is, by waiting several more weeks to fire Williams and putting an already seriously challenged Eli squad, (lots of graduating senior stars), further behind the pack in 2012.

The hapless Bob Surace at Princeton seems safe for now despite a 2-18 overall record and 1-13 Ivy mark. But it appears that everyone gets three years grace in the Ivies these days. Another 1-9 next season and he is probably gone.

So for now, it looks like Columbia is really only competing with Fordham... at least for those few candidates that could be considered real contenders for the job at both schools.

I don't mind that fight. I feel confident we can match or beat any salary Fordham offers and I know we beat the Rams hands down on facilities, stadium, and league prestige.

The only category I worry about is aggressiveness. Will Fordham out-effort us on this and grab the best man out there? Will its search committee somehow convice the best candidate that it is more serious about winning?

I do applaud Athletic Director Dianne Murphy for urging Columbia supporters to contact Ted Gregory, Don Jackson and Kevin Ward with their candidate suggestions. I am optimisitc that any outside the box names or just some people that never would have been considered will at least get a mention where it counts.

And while I do wish someone from completely free of administration ties would also join in this process, I believe anyone like that with real clout will certainly not be ignored by Gregory et al during the search.

Out of respect for their privacy, I won't publish Gregory, Jackson or Ward's email addresses here but I'll be happy to pass on any serious suggestions from readers who can't contact them on their own.

For those who have been asking, I haven't endorsed any candidate myself, and probably won't publicly out of fear that doing so migh DISQUALIFY his candidacy with a Columbia administration that doesn't quite know what to make of all this "blog stuff."

But my list of attractive candidates part 2 and part 1, plus my really outside the box call to make a call to Brown's Phil Estes, from a few weeks ago are still viable and I'd like to add one more names now:

Mark Whipple in his UMass days

Mark Whipple

Pros: Tremendous record of success at the Ivy and FCS level. A master with QB's at every level, including the NFL. Helped begin the big turnaround at Brown. Would be a great asset to assure we get the most out of Sean Brackett's final season.

Cons: After vying for much bigger jobs lately and failing to get them, would Whipple see the Columbia job as a step down? His teams at Brown were good, but never better than 4-3 in the Ivies.

Ahead of the Curve... for Now

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No one doubts the fact that Ted Gregory, Kevin Ward, Don Jackson, Ray Tellier and Dianne Murphy are smart people dedicated to Columbia athletics.

But I have to agree with many of you who have commented on the fact that it would help to also get some newer and different blood into this selection process for our new head football coach.

But I do want to give credit where credit is due, and right now Murphy gets a lot of credit for having the guts to make this very necessary decision and doing it quickly.

With Dartmouth and Yale still dithering about with their head coaching decisions, (I can't believe BOTH Buddy Teevens and Tom Williams will survive the month... I think at least one is going to go), we're suddenly ahead of the game for once.

Our only semi-parallel competition is Fordham, who fired Head Coach Tom Masella right after yesterday's game. Masella started the same year as our Norries Wilson, but was let go despite sporting a better winning percentage and a league championship.

But getting back to the matter at hand, I can only hope that this blog will somehow serve as an outside monitor and aide in the search process... even though I know that's a bit of a long shot.

Robert Kraft, are you out there?

And before we only think about what qualities we want in a coach, let's remember that there's a team of players that has to be evaluated as well.

Yesterday we said goodbye to 24 seniors. That means about 86 players are still around.

They include a super talented QB, two dynamite pass rushers and a lot of players with varsity experience.

But the issues the team needs help with the most are:


Several players and even a coach or two told me this season that the team just wasn't prepared from week to week. I attribute that to tunning out some of the coordinators who had lost their hold on the team, but there may be other reasons.


Some fundamental rules of football just got violated way too often the last two seasons. It may be rough to focus on that in the limited practice time allowed in the Ivies, but it has to be addressed.


The talent is still better than most longtime fans are used to, but there was still not enough depth at WR, RB and some of the offensive line positions. These backups need to be more ready to play.

-Winning in crunch time

In tight situations, the Lions just lose way too often. Losing 50% or even 60% of your closer than a TD games is one thing, but Columbia lost more like 80% of them in the Wilson era.

Carry on...

BREAKING: Wilson Fired, Search Team Named

The Norries Wilson era at Columbia has officially come to a close.

Don Jackson, Ted Gregory, and Kevin Ward will be the alumni advisory group in the search process that athletic director Dianne Murphy and Ray Tellier will lead.

Time is short as December 15th is the target date for the naming of a new replacement.

But speed cannot become an excuse for making the wrong choice.

Many of us have favored candidates and we should do our best to present them to Gregory, Ward and Jackson as best we can.

BREAKING... Wilson Fired

Head Coach Norries Wilson was relieved of his duties earlier today.

More details coming...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Waiting Game

It's most likely that any announcement about Norries Wilson and whether he remains as head coach will come out tomorrow.

Remember that even if he is retained, the team and current recruits need to know as soon as possible.

If I hear anything credible, you all will be the first to know...

For those who are wondering, Bill Campbell was in attendance yesterday. He was sitting for much of the game in the bleacher seats talking to Ted Gregory '74.

The Day After...

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Well, sometimes the main stream newsmedia has some integrity.

A few days after the papers and several wire services piled on Columbia for its banning and then unbanning of the CU band, they almost all came back with fun pieces about the Lions' stellar double OT win over Brown yesterday.

Here are just a few...

NY Daily News

FOX Sports

The NY Times

The Boston Globe.

And then there's Minnesota's Pioneer Press, which still managed to get it wrong. It wrote that the Lions ended their season winless and speculates that Norries Wilson will probably try to get a job at the University of Saint Thomas.

H-Y Tragedy

Many of us are still reeling from the one truly sad stroy yesterday, and that's the shocking death of a tailgater at the Harvard Yale game in New Haven.

the story is here.

The driver of the U-Haul truck involved was a Yale student, and there will be a very serious problem at Yale if it turns out he was underage and drunk.

Best for Last

United in Victory!

Columbia 35 Brown 28 (2 OT)

Why Columbia Won

Columbia's defense forced six Brown turnovers, including three INT's of QB Kyle Newhall-Caballero who had only thrown four picks in all the previous nine games combined.

On offense, QB Sean Brackett just kept running for crucial yardage and completing just enough key passes to keep the Lions alive. He finished with four rushing TD's, one passing TD, and no interceptions.

Why Brown Lost

The Bears kept failing to put Columbia away, especially in the third quarter. The Brown long passing game was almost non-existent, and the defense finally became too tired to chase after Brackett.

Key Turning Points

-Late in the first half, Brown was leading 21-7 and driving again to a first and goal at the ten. But on that play, Newhall-Caballero's pass picked off and returned 77 yards by senior A.J. Maddox. Columbia did not end up scoring on the ensuing possession, but it kept Brown off the scoreboard and the Bear offense was never quite the same after that.

-Early in the third quarter and the score still 21-7, a Griffin Lowry fumble gave Brown the ball at the Lion two yard line. Then, Evan Miller went to work. On first down, he nailed Matthew Sudfeld for a two yard loss. Two plays later, he popped the ball out of a running Newhall-Caballero's hands and it was recovered by fellow senior Neil Schuster at the one.

-With the score still 21-7 early in the fourth quarter, Ryan Murphy sacked Newhall-Caballero on a first down and 10 at the CU 48 and Seyi Adebayo recovered at the Brown 46. An agonizing eight play drive ensued, but Brackett finally ended it with a two yard plunge for a TD and the Lions were back in it.

-On the ensuing Brown drive Columbia forced a three-and-out, finished off by Murphy's second sack back at the Bear five yard line. Three plays later, the Lions faced a 3rd and 3 at the Brown 33 when Brackett found senior Mike Stephens, who had to make an awkward turn to grab the ball before taking off for several more yards to the Bear seven. Three plays later, Brackett ran it in from the one for his third rushing TD of the game and the 21-21 tie.

-Trailing 28-21 in the first OT, Columbia faced a 4th and 1 at the Brown 16. Brackett banged it through for two yards and then on the very next play found TE Hamilton Garner for a 14 yard TD to send it to the Lions first-ever double OT.

Columbia Positives

-The team never gave up and several players had career days even in limited roles. Maddox and Ross Morand kept coming back from getting knocked out of the game with injuries. Fellow senior David Chao saved Columbia's bacon several times, especially when he grabbed a bad snap meant for Brackett and scampered ahead for a three yard carry on the Lions' second TD drive. On the final play of the day, somewhat unsung heros senior Chris Groth and transfer sophomore Wells Childress combined to stop Sudfeld maybe a hair shy of the end zone. Miller had 19 tackles, three of them for a loss.

-Brackett took over the game just like he did so many times in 2010, but never was able to this season before today. He begins the wait for his senior season on a high note.

-This time, the Lions made some good adjustments in the second half. The best one was the decision to finally start blitzing more.

-Lion kickoffs and punts were stellar all day and made a difference in the game.

Columbia Negatives

-It took the offense too long to finally get going, and the long passing game was non-existent.

-For some reason, no one wants to block the blitzing defender on Lion PAT's and FG's. This is not just something that happened today.

Columbia MVP

There are a lot of candidates, but I have to give this one to Sean Brackett. He directed his troops to an amazing comeback and deserves the most credit for the win.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Holding Steady

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Just about all the major news developments from yesterday remain in a holding pattern early this final game day of 2011.

-We still have a sunny day with 52 degrees projected as the high for NYC this afternoon.

-Columbia is still a 20 1/2 point underdog to Brown.

-The Columbia University Marching Band is still cleared to play today.

-Yale is still investigating Head Coach Tom Williams resume claim that he was a Rhodes Scholarship "finalist."

In the Dog House?

Tom Williams

I hate to dance on a man's soon-to-be grave, but there is proof today that not EVERY embarrassing incident in Ivy football is connected to Columbia.

Yale's controversial 3rd year Head Coach Tom Williams is in a lot of hot water over allegations that he lied on his resume.

The specific question is whether as a football player at Stanford, Williams truly was a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship. Williams resume says he was, but no Stanford faculty member will step foward to confirm that.

Williams will already be on thin ice if the Bulldogs lose to Harvard AGAIN, (this would be the 5th year in a row), and he is not popular around the league for his aggressive personal style.

If Williams does get fired over this, and it's a good chance he will, we could see THREE head coaching vacancies in the Ivies in a couple of days.

That's assuming Norries Wilson is out and Dartmouth's Buddy Teevens is out too.

If all three are gone, the competition for the best talent adaptable to Ivy football should be fierce.

And that means the Columbia administration needs to be ready and aggressive.

Let's do what we can to help it, shall we?

Week 10 Picks

No excuses... I had a rough week last week.

Here's the look back...

For Yale -10 1/2 at Princeton I wrote:

"Take Yale and lay the points."

Actual Final Score: Yale 33 Princeton 24

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

For Dartmouth +17 at Brown I wrote:

"Brown win, by only by about 11 or so."

Actual Final Score: Dartmouth 21 Brown 16

SU 1-1, ATS 1-1

For Penn +13 at Harvard I wrote:

"I like the Crimson to eke out a win here."

Actual Final Score: Harvard 37 Penn 20

SU 2-1, ATS 1-2

OVERALL 2011 RECORD: 30-9 SU, 21-18 ATS.

With my Against the Spread record dubiously close to .500, here I go with my final picks of the year:

Penn -6 1/2 vs. Cornell

The Quakers won't let down on the final weekend. This will be a strong final game for the Penn seniors. Lay the points.

Princeton +18 1/2 at Dartmouth

I like the Green to win by two scores, not three. But Princeton sure doesn't get as much out of freshman running back Chuck DiBillio as they should. Any other Ivy team with a consistent 100 yard rusher would at least control the clock a bit better.

Yale +14 1/2 at Harvard

Lots of added drama for The Game this year. Patrick Witt and Collier Winters in their last games against each other. Witt starting and presumably missing out on his chance for a Rhodes Scholarship interview. And Eli Head Coach Tom Williams in deep trouble for possibly lying on his resume. Elis lose, but keep it close.

Last Chance

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Brown Bears at Columbia Lions

November 19, 2011

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

Kickoff Time: 12:30pm

Gametime Weather Forecast: Mostly sunny, 52 degrees

The Spread: Brown is a 20 1/2 point favorite

Columbia Game Notee

Brown Game Notes


My 2011 Guide to getting to Wien Stadium

*REMEMBER* the #1 Subway train WILL NOT be running tomorrow!


You can catch audio and video 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).


The season finale is always a meaningful game, (get ready for 301 days of waiting for another Columbia game), but this one is packed with lots of questions for the fans, players, coaches and administrators.

The three biggest questions are:

Will the Lions avoid their first winless season since 1987?

Will this be Head Coach Norries Wilson's last game?

Will there be any ugliness from or directed at the once-banned, now un-banned Columbia University Marching Band?

Columbia's Three Keys to the Game

Run Brackett... A LOT

It's the last game of the season, so any additional bumps and bruises QB Sean Brackett MAY endure tomorrow should be well-healed before spring practice rolls around.

I know, I know, easy for me to say. But Brown's weakness this year has been against the run and no one on this Lions team can run like Brackett.


Columbia hardly blitzed against Cornell last week, even though all the Red did was pass. Hard to figure that one out, but there's a chance someone will learn from that mistake and let guys like Ryan Murphy and Joshua Martin
come after Brown QB Kyle Newhall-Caballero as much as possible.

Trust the Seniors

No one's going to give more of a focused effort tomorrow than the graduating seniors who know this is probably their last real football games of their still very young lives.

So when there's a third and short, or another crucial play and there's a senior ready to fill a slot... use him!