Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Where's Jake?

Thanks to all who have sent along their best wishes.

For answers to all your questions, please email me at jakesjokes@gmail.com

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lost in the Shuffle

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Kent Austin

There have been some other big stories out there that have been overshadowed by Pete Mangurian's arrival at Columbia but they are important:

1) Cornell Head Coach Kent Austin is being aggressively wooed by the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Montreal Gazette reports that Austin will surely be offered the biggest salary for a head coach in CFL history. The number being batted around is $600,000 per year. The Hamilton Tiger Cats are also interested in him.

Remember, Austin has been a CFL head coach before, and in 2007 he led the same Roughriders to the Grey Cup title.

To say that Austin ditching Cornell at this time would be catastrophic is probably not much of an exaggeration. This is a team on the rise and losing him would be a shock to the young players, especially Offensive Ivy MVP Jeff Mathews.

If Austin leaves, it will suddenly put the Big Red behind the curve in the coaching search and in preparing for next season.

2) Despite firing their head coach the day before Columbia released Norries Wilson, Fordham has yet to hire a replacement for Tom Masella. Of course, the big question for Columbia fans is whether the Rams will hire finalist Greg Toal from Don Bosco High School. Toal makes little secret of his disappointment that Columbia did not seriously consider his application for the job in Morningside Heights.

3) In case there's any confusion, we now know the 2012 Lions schedule will include a switch. Fordham will be our week TWO opponent, not the opening foe as the Rams have been every year since 2002, (the 2001 game was postponed until Thanksgiving because of 9/11). Marist is the opening week opponent. The Lions will open the season with three straight games at home: Marist, Fordham, and then Princeton.

Mangurian Newser Now Available

Pete Mangurian

Kudos to the athletic department for getting the Pete Mangurian news conference archived and readily available now on the GoColumbiaLions.com website. Yes, I was frustrated earlier today, but they fixed it and I appreciate it.

So here's what I can say after seeing the full video:

1. It's Man-Gurian with a hard "G"

2. Coach Mangurian gave a decent reasoning for why he is coming back to the Ivies. After 11 years of the NFL, I can see why getting back to a team with no thugs, head cases, etc. could be very refreshing.

3. That said, he certainly made the case that he won't take this job as a break from the pressure to win.

4. Mangurian focused on something many of us have called for at Columbia for decades: we need an identity. CU needs a team identity, (it could be a certain type of offense, defense, or an attitude). This will help us focus our recruiting and helping the team to prepare week after week.

5. He promised to re-evaluate every aspect of the Lions training and practice philosophies and schedules. That's essential.

Yes, it's all talk right now but Mangurian passed an important first test today.

A Minute of Mangurian

I did receive an email at 2:29 telling me of a working link for the news conference.

So I saw about one minute of a youthful, (are we sure he's 56? He looks 46), Coach Mangurian who did sound enthusiastic and emphatic in the last few seconds of his comments.

But this event was about Mangurian and I hope they can get the archived tape of his opening statements online right away.

Sadly, only two people asked him questions and that's partly my fault for not being able to attend. I thought Coach M. handled the very general questions just fine.

From what I did see, I think he will be a great TV and radio guest for the large news media here in New York. He sounded like the kind of guy I'd like to hear talk not just about Ivy ball, but also the NFL and maybe even the European debt crisis.

Mangurian Newser Highlights

Well, it's 2:25 and all I've seen so far is a blank screen.

Serves me right for not being able to make it in person.

I tried.

They can not be serious.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Mangurian Newser to be Streamed

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I don't have the link yet, but the official Columbia athletics website will be streaming the Pete Mangurian introductory news conference today at 2pm.

So now everyone can watch and get their own impressions.

And that's good, because while I had planned to attend in person, but something has come up t home and I'll have to watch online with the rest of you.

Hauschildt Honored... Again!

Graduating senior OL Bob Hauschildt has been named to another academic All American squad. academic All American squad.

He has a 3.83 GPA people!

Three Questions

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News Conference Tomorrow

I hope to be at the news conference introducing Head Coach Pete Mangurian at Faculty House tomorrow afternoon.

There will be a lot of questions to ask, and it will also be interesting to see how Mangurian handles himself in the spotlight.

In the past, I've noticed a lot of these news conferences focus on "coaching philosophy" and general strategies.

But I'd love to be able to focus on three main questions:

1) How do plan to get re-acclimated to college ball, and Ivy football in particular?

2) Do you have a good idea who will get the top coordinators jobs on your staff and will they be primarily from your NFL or college contacts?

3) What's the one area where you think the Lions need the most improvement for 2012?

I hope to be able to report back as best I can tomorrow.

Thursday, December 08, 2011


Pete Mangurian in his days with the Patriots

Pete Mangurian has accepted an offer to be the new head football coach at Columbia University.

The deal was announced just after midnight.

A news conference has been announced for tomorrow, (Friday), at Faculty House to formally introduce Mangurian.

I am hoping that event will be streamed online.

Mangurian now joins that rare fraternity of Ivy coaches who have been the head coach of more than one Ivy team.

The last time Columbia got a head coach with previous Ivy head coaching experience it was the great Percy Haughton from Harvard in the 1920s.

The last two Ivy coaches who took new head jobs with new Ivy teams were Bob Blackman and Frank Navarro. Blackman improved Cornell but was never able to get them anywhere near the level of his great Dartmouth teams.

Navarro had some success at Columbia, especially in 1971. But his Princeton teams later in his career were forgettable.


In case anyone is wondering, I plan to let everyone here who wants to vent on this choice do so for the next 24 hours or so.

After that, I agree with those who say it's time for all of us to get behind Coach Mangurian. Whatever failings the search committee had, they were not Mangurian's fault.

When I first broke the news that he was a serious candidate for the job, I emphasized Mangurian's successful tenure at Cornell.

Make no mistake, he is a good coach.

Now, he'll need our help getting him back up to speed on college, and specifically Ivy ball.

And we also need to make sure he gets all the help he needs to promote NYC. Everyone in the news media here should be aware that he spent some successful years as an assistant with the NY Giants. As of now, the news radio sports reports are not yet even reporting the news of the hire.

I want to hear Mangurian on WFAN and ESPN Radio, and see him on NY1, SNY, etc. and lots of other local outlets early and often. We can help make that happen.

Final point: Columbia had better teams than Mangurian did all three years we faced him and Cornell. He won two of those games anyway. Let's hope he squeezes more out of our guys too. I know he has done it before.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

What NOT to Do

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And now it's time to impart a little friendly advice...

I still expect Columbia to hire its new head football coach sometime this week.

And I'm sure everyone here wants to get out there and support the new skipper as soon as possible and with as much enthusiasm as possible.

That's why it's up to AD Dianne Murphy and the search committee to bring us a coach who doesn't disqualify himself right off the bat.

Forget the "leadership" platitudes, I will again list the three most important things our new coach needs to have coming in to the job:

Remember, the three biggest things the new head coach at Columbia needs are:

1) Successful track record as a head coach

2) Experience coaching and recruiting in the Ivy League

3) Willingness and ability to promote New York City for recruiting and to increase fan interest

Giving us a coach who clearly fails to have any one or more of the above criteria is going to be a hard sell for a lot of the fans.

Candidates Pete Mangurian and Jim Hofher probably meet all the above qualifiers. They certainly do for #1, can be okay on #2 with a little refresher course, and can succeed at #3 if willing to get help.

By contrast, former K-State head coach Ron Prince looks like a strikeout. He has a bad record as a head coach, has little Ivy experience that's very dated anyway, and has no known affinity for or abilities to promote NYC either.

The fact that Prince is still being paid a massive severance from Kansas State leads me to believe Columbia can get him cheap and I can only hope that isn't what makes him an attractive candidate to the committee.

Tom Gilmore

The Gilmore Factor

The other potential mistake that could really unfairly hamstring a new coach is if his name is NOT Tom Gilmore and it turns out Gilmore is never even offered the Columbia job.

Gilmore is THE fan and football alum favorite, and most of them will understand if he were offered the job and for some reason turned it down.

But if it turns out the committee never seriously took a run at him, there will be a lot of anger coming from people who really support Columbia and cannot be called fair weather friends by any stretch.

Cornell, circa 1995, (I cannot confirm if the clock tower is also a finalist for the Columbia job)

All Cornell???

And the third thing that could trip up a new coach is if we learn that 3/4 of the finalists were all simply people Murphy remembers from her time at Cornell about 15 years ago.

It won't go down well if the results of a "nationwide search" yield three guys from Ithaca who haven't coached in the Ivies for a collective 35 years. Because not only would that preclude so many very qualified candidates, but it would wrongfully promote the falsehood that Columbia can't attract a lot of great applicants for this coaching job.

So again, here's the advice: avoid fumbling the issues above and the road for the new coach will be lot easier to navigate.

Clock Ticking... Offer Made

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I know there are still 9 days left until the Dec. 15th deadline, but I expect Columbia to name a new football head coach tomorrow or Thursday.

I can report than an offer has been made to at least one candidate, but the deal has not been finalized and I cannot confirm the name of that candidate.

One big reason for the urgency here is that for the second straight weekend, football recruits will be on campus for visits.

I know some recruits were on campus last weekend and I am simply stumped as to how those visits went without anyone knowing who will be on the head coaching staff.

I realize the visits couldn't be canceled or easily rescheduled because of flight schedules and expensive flight-changing fees.

But I really don't think the athletic department will let another weekend go by without a new head coach in place.

That said, I can also report that Norries Wilson's entire coaching staff will not be returning next season. So this program needs to really staff up in a hurry!

Fordham Latest

Greg Toal's interview with Fordham went extremely well yesterday and he has to be considered a frontrunner for the job right now.

Toal has told one of my sources that if he gets the Fordham job he will -- how can I say this nicely -- look forward to playing Columbia every year.

Let's just say Toal used some more colorful language.

Uh oh.

Meanwhile, another candidate for the Fordham position is Joe Moglia.

Apparently, I am acting as an unpaid consultant for the Rams football program because just about every top candidate I write about for Columbia is getting interviewed by the Rams!

Tom Gilmore

Gilmore a Finalist... for an Award

Holy Cross Head Coach Tom Gilmore has been selected as one of five finalists from the football championship subdivision for the 2011 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award.

Can you say: "rising stock price?"

Lion Awardees

Some really deserving players were featured in last night's football dinner and award ceremony.

Guys like senior RB David Chao who won the "special forces award."

Senior FB Nico Papas winning the "Maniatty-Remmer Unsung Hero Award" was also quite fitting.

Senior Nick Mistretta was truly deserving of the Phil Fusco leadership award. Anyone who heard some of Nick's stirring speeches knows that.

Boding well for the future, there were plenty of non-seniors who were recognized.

Sophomore TE Hamilton Garner was the most obvious choice for Most Improved as he came out of virtually nowhere to lead the team in receiving TD's.

Junior QB Sean Brackett deservedly won the Sid Luckman team MVP award.

And it was another senior whose name I was really happy to see getting a top honor. Neil Schuster took home the defensive MVP award even though I feel like he was a bit overlooked his entire career at Columbia. But after leading the team in tackles this season, he could not be denied.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Keep Your Eyes Peeled!!!

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If you see this man... alert us immediately!!!

With Bill Campbell in New York City for much of this week, it stands to reason that we might also see some of the finalists for the football head coaching job in town -- or even on campus -- to meet with or interview with Campbell and AD Dianne Murphy.

Campbell is here to be a part of the National Football Foundation's Scholar-Athlete and Campbell Trophy awards tomorrow night.

Campbell's visit to the city leads me to believe that Columbia may actually name its new football head coach sometime later this week, as opposed to the December 15th deadline which falls next week.

So if you happen to be on campus this week, or hanging out in several lobbies of midtown hotels, and you happen to see someone familiar... let us know!

Greg Toal

Toal's Progress

We won't need any spies in the Bronx today because I have already learned that Don Bosco Head Coach Greg Toal will be there today for his second interview.

As every reader of this blog knows, the Toal question has been a major lightning road of controversy separating those who think he's a no-brainer choice for a college head coaching position and those who think he's a crazy choice.

If Toal goes to Fordham, we'll have to live with his success or failire up close for some time.

Of course, Toal isn't the only candidate at Fordham. My sources tell me two former Ram QB's, Mark Carney and Joe Moorhead, are also in the running for the job. Carney coaches under former Fordham Head Coach Dave Clawson at Bowling Green and Moorhead is an assistant at UConn.

More Coaching News

Old Dominion Head coach Bobby Wilder has agreed to a 10 year extension running through 2021. Long-time readers of this blog know I have a special affection for ODU football, which came back to life in 2009.

As a kid I used to tool around the ODU campus when my dad taught there from 1977-81. But my recent love for the school came because it was smart enough to bring back football to a sports-mad part of the country that doesn't have a major college program within easy driving distance.

In just three years, Old Dominion has become an FCS powerhouse and a definite money maker for the school when you add in all the sold out games to the renewed alumni interest.

Carl Pelini's base salary at FAU will be $450,000 per year.

Bushnell Winners Provide Mild Surprise

Jeff Mathews

Sophomore QB Jeff Mathews surprised many by winning the offensive Player of the Year award Bushnell Cup earlier today.

Dartmouth's Nick Schwieger was expected to edge out the underclassman Mathews for the award, but not by a wide margin.

The fact that Schwieger is graduating and would no longer be promotable by Dartmouth or the Ivy League may have played a role in the voting. But I am a man obsessed with PR opportunities, so perhaps I am biased in those considerations.

Both Mathews and Schwieger shredded the Lions defense this season, so Lions fans really can't have anby quibble with this decision.

In fact, Mathews set several Ivy single game passing records against Columbia in the Big Red's 62-41 win over the Lions in week nine.

Incidentally, Columbia hasn't had a Bushnell winner since 1982 when junior QB John Witkowski walked away with the hardware.

Josue Ortiz

Josue Ortiz was widely expected to take the defensive Player of the Year Bushnell, mostly because he flat out deserved it and he led the champion Crimson to the title.

It's hard to shut out the league champs from postseason honors.

Now the pressure really is on Mathews to live up to this honor and Cornell to improve on this season's 5-5 record with Mathews at the helm.

Mathews and the Big Red invade Wien Stadium for the 100th meeting between Columbia and Cornell on November 10, 2012.

Mark your calendars now!

BREAKING: Ortiz wins Defensive Bushnell

Josue Ortiz wins the defensive POY award. Jeff Mathews is the surprise winner of the offensive POY.


Monday, December 05, 2011

BREAKING: Mathews win Offensive Bushnell

Just breaking now...

Carl Goes Down South

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Basketball Triumphs!

More good news from California where the Lion Basketball team finished out a perfect trip to La La Land today with a 78-56 win over La Sierra College.

One adept reader has already pointed out that the next Lion men's basketball game is at home against Holy Cross. Will there be room on the Crusaders' team bus for head football coach Tom Gilmore in case he's like to come interview at CU?

You know... I'm trying to encourage carpooling to be "green."

Carl Pelini

Pelini Gets an Offer

Former Columbia footballer Carl Pelini, who some thought might make a good candidate for our vacancy, is reportedly about to get the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic University.

By the way, Pelini has never been a head coach above the high school level. But he does have eons of experience as an assistant, especially under his brother Bo who is the head man at Nebraska.

FCS Playoffs Thoughts

Towson, the team Columbia whipped by two TD's on Kraft Field just last season, won the Colonial Athletic championship and just barely lost to Lehigh in the second round of the FCS playoffs yesterday.

Anyone who says you can't turn around teams quickly should take a good long look at Towson.

Oh, and Chuck Priore's Stony Brook team just barely lost to the top ranked Sam Houstaon State in the same FCS playoffs.

Remember, Priore was the man who was the Columbia search committee's top choice the last time we had this vacancy.