Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Weighty Issues

The CU Roster has now updated the player weights.

I am trying to remain calm.

Let's cut right to the chase and talk about the Offensive Line, a unit that Head Coach Pete Mangurian has consistently insisted on keeping much lighter than our Ivy opponents.

It still is too light.

1) Keith Ramljak, a projected starter at Left Tackle, is DOWN 14 lbs. to 257 from 271 last year. Great.

2) Some of the other key returnees are still too light. Kendall Pace is at 273 lbs, Billy Lawrence is up to just 275, and Marshall Markham is 270.

3) Freshman DL David Donovan has the most dramatic weight change, and it too is down. He's now at 214 lbs. from a reported 240 when he committed.

4) Freshman QB Anders Hill was 210 when he committed, and at 6-4 I was hoping he'd bulk up just a bit. Nope, he's now down 10 pounds to 191.

5) Freshman TE Bailey Popeck is down 11 pounds from 240 to 229.

6) Freshman DB Dylan Weldon is down 12 pounds to 168.

7) Sophomore DL William Carson is down 13 pounds to 270.

8) I guess the news isn't all bad. DT Niko Padilla is up to 288 lbs. from 276. I assure you, that extra weight isn't flab. He should truly be a force.

9) Sophomore Anthony Bonadies is still at 294, making him the heaviest guy on the team.


WR Isaiah Gross, who left the team last season after showing flashes of brilliance in 2012, is back on the official roster.

Gross made some spectacular catches as a frosh in the first two games of the '12 season, before an injury ended his season in week 3 vs. Princeton.

Last season he left training camp.

If Gross is ready to return to form, the Lion receiving corps will be a lot stronger.

In other breaking news, the pictures on the roster have been updated which is VERY good news for fans of OL Keith Ramljak.

Haley's On It

Craig Haley

Craig Haley is out with his well informed predictions for the upcoming Ivy League season.

(There was one mistake in his Columbia profile, when he listed WR Scooter Hollis as no longer with the team. That is not correct)

But otherwise, Haley makes a good case for all his picks.

A little backstory is necessary here:

Two years ago, I openly blasted Haley for picking Princeton to finish in the top half of the league. He turned out to be 100% right. I still take issue with his reasons in 2012 for that pick, (he basically said they'd win simply because it was their "turn"), but I'll never stop apologizing for accusing him of being too worried about what his former close contacts at Princeton would say if he picked on them in his predictions.

This year, Haley actually makes a good case for picking Princeton for first. Columbia is his choice for last, but he did put DT Niko Padilla on his preseason All Ivy team.

Haley makes the same conclusion that I have when it comes to CU's schedule; it's murderous. And he too is hard pressed to find a game the Lions are likely to win.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Yale Update

Egu vs. Pace

If there’s been a bigger “Jekyl and Hyde” like team in this league, I’m really not aware of it.

I’ll get deeper into why I think the Elis can be a solid team one weak and a stinker the next when I post my complete preview of the Ivy season in about two weeks.

For now, here’s what you need to know:

The QB Situation is Still Mostly Unsettled

Head Coach Tony Reno says the job right now belongs to Clemson transfer Morgan Roberts. But close on his heels is Logan Scott, yes THAT Logan Scott the guy who committed to Columbia and then changed his commitment to Yale a few weeks later.

Neither one has a lot of experience, but they’re total neophytes either.

My guess is that Roberts will hold the job if he stays healthy.

Yale Looks Stacked at RB

The next big question in New Haven is: “Will Tyler Varga be healthy for the season?”

So far, the answer seems to be “yes,” and that’s great news for the Bulldogs.

But Varga isn’t the only talent they have at tailback.

Columbia fans learned that first-hand last season when BOTH Khalil Keys and Candler Rich, (yes, that’s “Candler” without an “H”), ran for 100+ yards against the Lions at the Yale Bowl.

Keys is probably the better of the two, but it’s an embarrassment of riches at RB for Yale.

The O-line loses some talent, but is still mostly intact with three starters returning.

So why fret too much over the QB situation when the Elis have so much rushing talent?

I suppose the fact that the super-talented WR Deon Randall is back is one reason to worry about who will get him the ball. But hey, he can run a lot of reverses like he did last year and still do plenty of damage.

Lord knows Carm Cozza wouldn’t have hesitated a moment to run the ball 40+ times a game with this crew.

But will Reno be smart enough to do the same?

Don’t Be Fooled. Yale’s Defense is Pretty Good

So the Yale defense is very young.

Big deal… it’s also very talented.

The headliner on defense is still DE Victor Egu, who did not disappoint as a freshman last year. Egu was one of the most-hyped incoming recruits in Ivy history after de-committing from CAL, (we could call Yale the “All De-Commit Team” couldn’t we?), and he put in good numbers and impact for a freshman. That included a sack against Columbia. Now he’s a seasoned soph and I think he could have a big season.  

The linebacking crew is very experienced, and that’s a commodity on this team with so many sophomore starters. One of those senior LB’s is Will Vaughan who had a strong game against the Lions last year. He also made All Ivy Honorable Mention.

The secondary is filled with super young talent.

Foyesade Oluokun seems like the real deal at corner. The sophomore was All Ivy 2nd Team last year as a frosh.

The “old man” is junior safety Cole Champion who killed Columbia last year among a few other teams. He’s a rising star too.

It all comes Down to Reno

There’s enough talent and even experience on this Yale team for it do some serious damage this year.

But to do so, Reno needs to make all the right decisions at game time.  He’s proven to be a great recruiter, but not so great at using the talent wisely. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Welcome Fresh... Sports Fan People!

Orientation makes these kids happy!

With new student orientation now officially beginning, it's time to welcome all the new fans who might be reading this blog for the first time.

I'm sorry to say this sad review of what happened last season in the Orientation 2014 edition of the Columbia Spectator is dead-on accurate.

But here's a more complete Columbia Football Orientation for you:

I know probably NONE of the incoming non-athlete freshmen and freshwomen just arriving on campus today came here because of our sports teams, and that’s okay.

But those of you who are sports fans should at least know that Columbia has a football team that is filled with your hard-working fellow students. And the games are exciting and fun to go to.

Here’s my Columbia Football FAQ for incoming frosh, 2014 edition!

Who are You and Why are you such a crazy Columbia fan? 

I’m a Columbia grad from the class of 1992. That makes me an ancient 43-year-old to you. And that’s okay, I’m not looking to be cool, young, or your personal buddy. The idea is to make you aware of football and how much fun it is to watch your classmates play.

I even was the color commentator for Columbia's commercial broadcasts of its football games from 2007-2009. I left the booth because my two daughters wanted to sit with me in the stands at the games and who could refuse that?

Now, let's define "crazy fan." Do I go to just about all the games? Do I get happy and depressed based on the team's performance, and then write about it online?... I answer "yes" to all of the above. Do I wear a rainbow wig, paint my bare chest light blue, and beat up opposing team mascots? No, (well there was that incident with the Dartmouth kid who dresses up like a keg back in '89, but the charges were dropped).

Actually I never really realized it until after the fact, but I was pretty much destined to be a Columbia football fan even before I set foot on campus as a freshman in 1988. My grandfather was a close friend and pinochle buddy of Columbia and Chicago Bears great Sid Luckman. Wien Stadium is named after a distant relative of my grandmother's, Lawrence A. Wien. And I'm pretty sure, my mom, who isn't much a sports fan, was dragged to the Ivy League championship-clinching win over Penn at Baker Field in November, 1961 by her then-boyfriend when she was a first-year at Barnard College.

Haven't You and This Blog Been Beating Up on the Team and the School for the last Year?

Nope. I've have been highly critical of Head Coach Pete Mangurian and the Athletic Director Dianne Murphy, who hired him.  I don't believe either one of them deserves to keep their current jobs.

But that said, no one will be rooting harder for the Lions this season. If the team has a winning season and I am proven COMPLETELY wrong, then I will be HAPPY.

You Columbia fans make me sick. Why do you talk so much even though you haven't won a title in 53 years? You should just be quiet and leave us alone.

Yes, die-hard loyal CU fans tend to dominate Ivy Internet chat boards and the like. But we're usually not boasting; we're just talking about our team and the sport we obviously love. Also, thanks to Logic and Rhetoric classes, (you'll find out about these), we're pretty good at writing. 

Fans of super-successful Ivy football teams like Harvard and Penn just aren't battle-tested enough to take things to obsessive levels. We are. 

I follow just about all the pro sports and "big-time" college football and basketball too, but those sports have lost a lot in my eyes over the years. The average pro team has more turnover than a second-term White House administration, and many of the BCS football teams are filled with young men who work hard, but can't really be called "college students." Every Ivy football player is a true student-athlete. It's damn nice as a father to take my kids to a game where they can see players who have their priorities straight. 

I am sick of sports anchors on ESPN and sports radio getting all high and mighty about college athletes and leagues that are corrupt and then they don't spend even a minute focusing on the players and leagues who do it right. It's hypocritical and cynical and I won't have it. 

Anyone who says that the Ivy League "isn't real college football," should be reminded that BCS college football, for the most part, isn't really college. 

Okay we get it, you love the team. But why spend so much time writing about it on the Internet, and what are trying to accomplish here?

Writing is what I do anyway. It's the way I make my living and I actually enjoy it. The Internet gives you a built-in audience, however small sometimes, so if you don't hate your writing, why wouldn't you post it on the 'net? 

And the point of all this is to create a virtual meeting place for CU fans, players, etc. I wanted to prove that there is a large and vibrant Columbia fan base, it just needed a sounding board. As President Reagan once told his speechwriters in 1981: "The choir needs music."

Okay, so what do I get to see here?

On this blog you will get a definitely pro-Columbia slant. We are fans after all.

But this IS a FAN BLOG, not a BOOSTER blog. If all you want is cheerleading, this is not your place.
There will be fair criticism here. Coaches and the administration will be scrutinized at times and praised at others.

You'll get weekly predictions, (not including Columbia's games), including the betting lines. 

You'll get in-depth pre and postgame analyses.

When do you sleep?

I'm a dad of two young girls, so I still don't exactly bank on eight hours of sleep each night. But since I don't kill myself with as much meticulous editing as I should for this site, it doesn't take me too long to get these posts online. Seriously don't worry about me, this is not as time-intensive as it looks.

How will the Lions do this season?

I'll have my complete predictions for the Lions and the rest of the Ivies on this blog in about two weeks.

But here's a short preview:

Columbia has some very interesting individual players, especially former Stanford QB Brett Nottingham, who will try again this season after getting injured for the rest of 2013 before the end of the FIRST game. 

The best defensive player is a defensive tackle named Niko Padillla, who could get to the NFL. 

But CU is very questionable overall on the defensive and offensive lines. And that's where football games are won and lost. Our chances this season to win a game or more than one game seem slim, at least for now. 

All my orientation leaders and upperclassmen make snide comments about athletics. What's with that?

If I learned one thing after spending four years with a bunch of kids at Columbia who were obviously smarter and more motivated than I, it was humility. I put on my cap and gown STILL not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, and that made me feel pretty pathetic next to my friends who did know and were also ready to work very hard for it. 

I don't idolize athletes, even the student-athletes at Columbia who work much harder than the guys at big football factories.

But I do really admire the fact that a lot of these guys on the football team represent TRUE diversity and the ability to overcome adversity. They are kids coming from parts of the country where most people don't even know about Columbia. Many of them even have... GASP!!!... a different point of view about politics, religion and life in general than most Ivy students, (I kinda thought diversity was supposed to be about more than race, but that fact is lost on a lot of people, and Presidents of the United States). 

Okay, I know I'm ranting, but this is just one token shot against against the avalanche of anti-athletics sentiment you're likely to hear from your peers in the coming days. Do me a favor and find out for yourself.

Okay, but it's not like any of these guys are going to the NFL or anything. 

Wrong. Every Ivy team typically has at least one player in the NFL. Right now Josh Martin '13 is starting his second season on the KC Chiefs roster. He is a rising star.

Former All-Pro, Marcellus Wiley '97, is now doing NFL coverage on ESPN. Do you think he gets that job without an Ivy degree?  

What about the fact that the stadium is so far from campus? I heard about the free shuttle bus, but I might have to take the subway... 

Let me give you a little glimpse of your future. Within a year or two of graduation, you're either going to be working at a job that'll keep you cooped up inside for 10-12 hours or day, going to a job that requires you to sit in traffic for two hours each way, or both. So think a bit before you whine about a 15-minute subway ride or a 25-minute free bus trip. When I was an undergrad, I wanted to join the crew team but I balked because of those 6AM practices. Then I graduated and ended up working a graveyard shift in TV that required me to come into work at 2AM every day for seven years. What a dope I was in college!

But I'm here to help. Stay tuned for my guide to Wien Stadium coming up later this month.

For now, just remember that tickets for students are FREE! And for you adult students over the age of 21... there is FREE BEER for God sakes! Get up there!

I'm too busy texting my friends to go to football games.

Stop texting and start living.