Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Emperors of the City

A loyal reader recently pointed out to me that I've done a good job promoting the Ivies as a superior choice for college-bound athletes, but I haven't explained in a long time why Columbia is a superior choice among the Ivies. He was right.

First off, I have to say that I don't actually think Columbia is the best choice for every player. That should be obvious, but I wanted to get that out there in case someone doesn't understand.

Second, the following points are my list of what I would call Columbia's unique advantages. They are not the only great things about CU, but they're things a lot of people may not recognize or articulate well enough to be convincing.

1) "New York City" is a powerful thing to put on your resume

The obvious advantages of New York City as a great cosmopolitan center have been enumerated many times and in better ways than I ever could.

And many people have made the very important point that any career a student is interested in will provide much more numerous and convenient internship opportunities here in the city.

But the city life isn't for everyone... at least not forever. And that's where we need to make it clear that no matter where you go after Columbia, the fact that you lived in New York City will always be an impressive part of your professional and personal resume.

I can say that as someone who spent most of his childhood outside of NYC, then moved here for my late adolescence through college, moved away again before returning 18 years ago.

No matter where else I lived, even the people who claimed they hated or were scared of New York were impressed that I had lived there and could navigate the city confidently at any time.

Sure, you can be a Texas boy and talk a lot about how you long to return home for four years. But if you do it right, you'll be a bit of a local legend back home for the rest of your life because of your New York experiences and all the fun you had and challenges you conquered along the way.

And if you do decide to stay, being a Columbia grad will give you a very strong head start on all the other new graduates who flood into this city every summer.

At some point in your life, on and off the field, you're going to have the chance to prove yourself on the biggest stage. It will then be up to you to accept the challenge or stay in the minor leagues. New York is the biggest stage and is the place for people who want to excel at their chosen field at the top level.

2) New York City is an excellent "college town"

Actually, NYC isn't a "college town," it's just a great place to go to college. How many New Yorkers would jump at the chance to experience this city with the time even the most hard-working Columbia has on his or her hands? Most of us work 50+ hour work weeks and we can't realistically hope to enjoy all the things this city has to offer with any regularity. I figure even a student-athlete during the season has more free time than your average working professional.

Beyond that, New York is uniquely set up for younger people when it comes to getting around. The subway is an amazingly cheap way to get places much faster than driving. Walking and actually enjoying a city at less then 55 MPH is optimal here. Many Columbia grads who leave the city, (myself included), find themselves gaining some real weight because of all the walking they're no longer doing now that they're out of New York.

3) New York in centrally located for the Ivies

Columbia is basically right in the middle of the geographic chunk of the country populated by the Ivy schools. But with our train stations and airports, we're more conveniently located to. If you're coming to Columbia from anywhere along the East Coast, it will be an easy trip for you and your family.

This may not sound like much now, but talk to the parents of kids who go to the other Ivy schools and ask them what it's like to fly or drive to their sons' home football games.

4) The food is unbelievable

When I was a student at Columbia from 1988-92, the food choices immediately around campus weren't great. But that's changed in a big way. Of course, the food choices in the greater city are not even worth arguing about. Of course, NYC has the best restaurants. That's a big reason why almost every football player at Columbia talks about how their happiest moments off the field are when they have a post game meal with their families.

5) Cities are the future

Baby boomers and Gen X'ers grew up with the notion that America's large cities were crumbling and dying. Now it looks like more of our suburbs are in danger than cities. If economic success and quality of life are important to you, urban areas are a better bet. Now's your chance to get used to it.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Speculating in the Dark of Night (Games)

So if Columbia is going to play a night game on a Friday this coming season because of the structure of the expected NBC Sports Network deal, which game or games are most likely to get that spotlight slot?

Here's a breakdown of our schedule game by game

Week 1: at Fordham

This wouldn't be a bad choice for NBC since Fordham is becoming more of a national FCS power, but this is Fordham's Homecoming and I doubt the Rams will be able or willing to change the schedule of all their corresponding events from Saturday afternoon to Friday night.

Week 2: Georgetown

I can't imagine this game will be much of a draw for a national audience, but the real giveaway is that Georgetown's game the following week at Harvard is definitely scheduled for a Friday night. No way NBCSN is going to want to feature Georgetown two weeks in a row,

Week 3: Princeton

This would be one of my favorite personal choices for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that early season games at Princeton during the day can be scorching hot. The Tigers have a night home game the week before against Davidson, but Princeton is used to playing multiple night home games early in the season.

Week 4: Wagner

Wagner is actually a strong team with D-I transfers and lots of other weapons. But this is not the game NBCSN is going to want to feature.

Week 5: Penn

Now this is the game I'm sure NBC would LOVE to have as we have the much-awaited first meeting between new Lions Head Coach Al Bagnoli and his old Penn Quakers. The problem is this is Columbia's Homecoming game and I just don't think things can be moved to a Friday night to accommodate.

Week 6: at Dartmouth

It's an intriguing game for many reasons, but I'm not sure fans would appreciate a night game in Hanover in late October. Plus, I think there's a good chance the Dartmouth-Harvard game the following week at Harvard could be the featured game for NBCSN and I'm not sure it will want to put Dartmouth on two weeks in a row.

Week 7: at Yale

There are some reports that Yale is ready to bring in portable lights for the Bowl this season, so this is at least a possibility. But again, we have an overexposure issue. Yale is going to have its game at Penn the week before this game broadcast on NBCSN's Friday night schedule.

Week 8: Harvard

November 6th could be a chilly date for a night game in NYC, but the odds are it won't be too bad. And Harvard is the only team NBCSN probably does want to overexpose. So this could be the winner in the sweepstakes.

Week 9: at Cornell  

A night game on November 13th in Ithaca is an entirely different story. I would say this game has no chance of being moved to a Friday night slot.

Week 10: Brown

With NBCSN all locked in on the Harvard-Yale game Saturday, there's is officially no chance this game gets on the network,

So the bottom line is that it looks like the Princeton and Harvard games have the best chances of getting the Friday night treatment. Of course, that does not mean Columbia won't get another game broadcast on NBCSN on the regular Saturday afternoon slot. If we're talking afternoon games, then I think the Columbia-Penn game is not only the most likely NBCSN broadcast for the Lions, but also the most potentially lucrative for the network.

As for the argument that these night games on Friday disrupt tradition... well, I think one game out of 10 per year is not a threat to anything.

And we also need a preemptive strike against anyone in the neighborhood who will launch some kind of bogus protest about a 7pm kickoff. Granted, Columbia can make sure the recorded music and canned noise is kept to a minimum, but with the game likely to be over before 10pm, I just don't see this as a real issue. Plus, Inwood is becoming a home to more and more neighborhood restaurants and bars that will be open long after the game is over.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Florida Find

Matt Dame

The Palm Beach Post is reporting that 6-2 185 pound QB Matt Dame has committed to Columbia.

Dame speaks highly of Head Coach Al Bagnoli and says he chose Columbia in part because he wants to work on Wall Street.

Dame is about to start his senior year at Suncoast High School in Riviera Beach, Florida. He would be the first Suncoast grad to come to Columbia football.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Friday Night Lights... for Everyone!

It looks like every Ivy team will be playing at least one game on a Friday night this coming season.

Harvard is the first team to unofficially get this out there as it posts two Friday night home games on it's single game ticket schedule web page.

I suspect this is part of NBC Sports Network's plans to increase viewership for its Ivy football coverage by putting the games out of the very crowded Saturday college football schedule. And I think it will work, especially with some of the key games like Dartmouth at Harvard on October 30th.

Friday evening football has a history in Ivies. I should say it HAD a history until freshman football teams were eliminated in 1993. When Columbia fielded excellent freshmen teams in 1987 and 1989, it was not uncommon to see louder crowds in the stands for the frosh games on Friday nights.

I expect to see Columbia play at least one of these night games, but I have no idea if it will be at home or on the road. NBC might really want to televise the big Penn-Columbia game on Friday night, but that is Homecoming weekend for the Lions and I don't think all the Saturday festivities can easily be moved to Friday night. Perhaps the home games against Harvard or Brown will be more feasible. I can also see the road game against Princeton as being a Friday night possibility.

Bottom line, I think this will help the league. It will help our games stand out and perhaps send a message to the Ivy presidents that new traditions can be a good thing. Maybe if this works out they'll finally approve Ivy entry into the FCS playoffs.

A man can dream,

BREAKING: Yankees Sign Falcone

Really great news from the New York Yankees today as the Bombers have Joey Falcone to a minor league contract.

The all-time great Columbia slugger and Iraq/Afgan war vet will join the Yanks' Gulf Coast League affiliate in rookie ball and should be in the lineup as soon as tonight.

It won't be easy for Falcone as a 29-year-old rookie playing with a bunch of 18, 19, and 20-year-olds. But he's battle tested in more ways than one.