Monday, January 26, 2015

12 Committed Men

The powers that be in the Columbia administration and consultant Rick Taylor are counseling patience as the Lions head into February without a head coach.

This delay is unprecedented in modern Ivy history. The only team to find itself without a head coach later than this date had an untimely death as its excuse. 

Of course, I refer to Princeton's Ron Rogerson who died of a heart attack while jogging not much more than a month before the 1987 season. He was replaced by Steve Tosches, who I always thought was a very good coach. 

Columbia cannot blame accidental death for its lack of an athletic director and a coach, but perhaps patience will pay off. 

What isn't paying off is the fact that we still don't even have a "we're working on it" official statement from the administration. We don't even know if next month's meeting with the football alumni will yield any solid information. 

But we've all made the valid case against the university's lack of decent public relations before.

So, let's just update our list of committed incoming football freshmen for now with five new names:

Kyle Castner is a 6-2, 211 pound QB from Ben Davis HS in Indianapolis. According to my full database of Lion players and their high schools, Castner would be the first Ben Davis grad to come to Columbia football. Castner has an interesting story as he is a successful athlete despite suffering from diabetes. 

Adam Armesto is a 6-6, 235 pound OL/TE from Canton HS in Canton MICHIGAN, (not Ohio). Like many football players, he also spent some time on the wrestling team. Armesto is the first documented Canton HS grad to come to the Lions. 

Ryan Gilbert is a 6-0, 178 pound DB from Bellevue HS in Bellevue, Washington. Gilbert is only the second confirmed Bellevue grad to come to Columbia football and the first since Matt Weber '92. 

John Riley McLaughlin is a 6-1, 192 pound CB/WR from Alcoa HS in Alcoa, Tennessee. He is currently doing a PG year at Phillips Andover. McLaughlin is the first documented Alcoa grad to come to Columbia football, but one of many to do so via a year at Andover.

Sean "Jimmy" White is a 6-3, 220 pound DB from Friendswood HS in Friendswood, TX. White will be the first Friendswood grad to come to Columbia football, but not the first player from the town of Friendswood. That honor goes to Uche Osadebe '07, an excellent DL/OL for Columbia almost 10 years ago. White also looks like a good one. 

So, here's the list of our 12 confirmed players so far: 

1) Adam Armesto OL/TE 6-6, 235 lbs. Canton HS Canton, MI

2) Kyle Castner QB 6-2, 211 lbs. Ben Davis HS, Indianapolis, IN

3) Calvin Falkenhayn LB 6-2, 230 lbs. Loyola Academy, Wilmette, IL

4) Ryan Gilbert DB 6-0, 178 lbs. Bellevue HS, Bellevue, WA

5) Connor Halm DT 6-7, 270 lbs. Langley HS McClean, VA

6) Danny Hong QB 6-4, 215 lbs. Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas, NV

7) Brandon Krcilek WR 6-2, 185 lbs. Hamilton HS Chandlerm AZ

8) John Riley McLaughlin CB/WR 6-1, 192 lbs. Alcoa HS Alcoa, TN/Phillips Andover Academy Andover, MA

9) Luke Melsop DE 6-5, 220 lbs. St, Francis de Sales HS Newark, OH

10) H.T. Minor RB 5-9, 175 lbs. Woodberry Forest HS Woodberry Forest, VA

11) Jason Vravick LB 6-2, 225 lbs. Stevenson HS Lincolnshire, IL

12) Sean "Jimmy" White DB 6-3, 220 lbs. Friendswood HS, Friendswood, TX

Friday, January 23, 2015

Breaking: Bollinger & Taylor to Speak

Last night at the IFA Dinner, outgoing Columbia Athletic Director Dianne Murphy said that Columbia President Lee Bollinger and consultant Rick Taylor will meet and speak with the football alumni. 

This meeting will be sometime next month. 

Whether that means we will have hired a new AD and/or football head coach by then is, of course, not clear. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Belle of the Ball

Does anyone want to wager what the #1 topic of discussion will be at tonight's Ivy Football Association Dinner?

Will the talk be about Harvard's back-to-back titles?

How about the NFL draft prospects for Yale's Tyler Varga?

Or maybe the fact that Brown grad James Develin scored a TD in the AFC Championship Game?


Uh uh.


I guarantee you, almost everyone will be talking about the mess at Columbia, our lack of an Athletic Director and head football coach, and how the team is worse than anyone can ever remember.

There will be jokes, there will be questions, but most of all there will be pity.

That's what we're reduced to.

I hope that outgoing AD Dianne Murphy and the rest of the official Columbia delegation at the IFA dinner tonight is forced to hang their heads in shame.

Because they don't deserve to be there.

They have disgraced the Ivy League, disgraced Columbia, and disgraced themselves.

I also hope the other schools' former players and the former Columbia players there on their own dimes will not shy away from politely, but forcefully, condemning Murphy and co. to their faces.

They have no one but themselves to blame for Columbia's descent to ever lower lows since 2011.

Remember, there is a tacit acceptance of their failure among the well-heeled alumni.

This cannot continue.

Welcome Back to 2002!

Several sources tell me that the football team has been told they will be practicing with an entirely new offensive scheme, at least for spring practice.

The new offense will be an Oregon Ducks-fast paced set. And the players are excited to hear this.

This tells me that former Columbia head coach and current interim coach Ray Tellier is probably acting as the de facto offensive coordinator.

Ray would be picking off where he left off in 2002, his final season as head coach. Longer term fans will remember he instituted what he called a "Tempo Offense" that year to deal with the graduation loss of RB Johnathan Reese and Columbia's general personnel weaknesses that season.

If Columbia does bother to hire a new head coach for this coming season, perhaps he will scrap this offense. But even if he does, I suppose mixing things up a bit and getting the players moving faster couldn't hurt too much.

Meanwhile, we've continued to see the names of some new commits to Columbia coming in.

I will continue to list them and profile them in the coming weeks, but for now I want to wait until we finally hire a new A.D. as promised by President Bollinger. He's already three days late on his target date to announce that hiring and I just don't know what to make of the program until we get that news.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Just to be Fair... RELAX! And here's some "News"

Tim Pernetti

Earlier this morning on WFAN's "Boomer and Carton show" (#1 in the NY market for morning radio, and featuring our own Jerry Recco), Craig Carton said he "heard" that Columbia had hired a new AD from a "storied New York franchise who has an interesting personal past."

Craig Carton

Of course, Carton could only be referring to Tim Pernetti, my personal top choice to be our next athletic director.

Pernetti is currently working for a subsidiary of the New York Yankees, the new New York MLS club NYCFC.

Sadly, I cannot confirm Carton's source for this pronouncement, (IT WASN'T RECCO), and for all we know this could have been one of Carton's many jokes.

Brian Flores

On the coaching front, I have sources telling me Columbia is again interested in taking a look at New England Patriots safeties coach Brian Flores.

Flores was the Pats assistant Robert Kraft suggested Columbia hire back in 2011, and apparently he's back at it. Since 2011, Flores has moved up from defensive assistant to his current position with the safeties.

I like Flores for his Brooklyn pedigree and his overall experience. But my concerns are that he has no recruiting experience and he went to Poly Prep HS in Brooklyn, a fine place, but also the HS Alma Mater of some of the less-than-helpful football alumni on the infamous Columbia football committee.

Of course, I would be happy to give someone like Flores a chance if he is hired. As it is, he cannot be signed until after the Patriots play the Super Bowl in 11 days.

But these reports and rumors this morning are yet another example of how the information pipeline has broken down and this is only encouraging more rumors and speculation.

I don't think anyone reading this blog ever expects me to launch a defense of the Columbia administration and how it's handling the current athletics hiring situation.

And what follows isn't exactly a defense, but some words of encouragement to help Columbia's officials and trustees to relax, stop worrying, and open this process up just a little bit.

The only good reason to say absolutely nothing to the alumni and fans about where we are in the AD and/or the football head coaching searches is because President Bollinger and whomever is working with him are talking with truly great but controversial candidates.

The fear may be that by having their names leaked, the negotiations could be scuttled by misguided alums who would publicly bash those candidates.

BUT RELAX: Because I believe some of the candidates who would bring the most outrage are people I've already mentioned on the blog as some of my favorite potential AD's or coaches. And there's been criticism of them, but nothing severe.

I understand the administration's fears in this case, but I also want to make sure Bollinger, the Board of Trustees, and everyone else needs to understand something: RELAX!

So far, this blog, which attracts comments from the undeniably most passionate fans in the Ivy League, hasn't come remotely CLOSE to the kind of brutal attacks you see launched on big time college sports fan pages and blogs.

If we are indeed going after "big name" coaches or AD's, there is simply no truth to the theory that online comments would scare them away. Believe me, the "big names" in sports are used to MUCH worse and can handle it.

But the same perhaps cannot be said for Bollinger and the members of the Board of Trustees who I believe make up the athletics subcommittee. They reportedly include Judge Rolando AcostaJonathan LavineLisa Carnoy, and Dr. Paul Maddon (with of course a big assist from Board Chairman Jonathan Schiller)

I am here to tell Acosta, Lavine, Carnoy, Maddon, Schiller and Bollinger that they need not be afraid of the "what people will say" factor and press on. They also need not be afraid of giving the alumni and fans some kind of updates during this process.

Let me clue Acosta, Lavine, Carnoy, Maddon, Schiller and Bollinger into something: they could tell the world they're about to hire the resurrected souls of Lou Little and Vince Lombardi for these jobs and STILL some people would criticize them!

So just RELAX, and press on and accept that the criticism will come and it usually means nothing. Also know that if you DO hire a true big name, like Pernetti for AD, then this blog and its many fans will open a righteous can of whup ass on any alums or anti-athletics types in the Columbia world who try to blast you for it.

So while some people are urging the alumni and fans to relax, I am urging the administration to relax too.

If the administration makes the bold move and does the right thing for athletics, I and thousands of others will have its back.

On the other hand, if it's keeping this process quiet because it DOESN'T have any decent candidates and they want to shield themselves from deserved criticism... well, I can't help these people.

I understand that in the academic world failure is often rewarded, but the real world doesn't work that way and no one should hold back

So, it's okay to cool it with the silent treatment. Only the weak and the evil are harmed by the light of better public information.