Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Close Calls

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After 12 recruits visited campus this weekend, we were all hoping for a little more news about commited incoming freshmen for next year.

But there's nothing yet to add to our existing list of just six confirmed current high school seniors.

That should change quite soon.

Unfortunately, those recruits witnessed two very tough losses by the men's basketball team who dropped a pair of heartbreakers to Penn and Princeton.

Of course, losses in madening close games have been an all too famliar occurrence for the football team over the last three decades of Columbia football.

Just look at how the last three Lion head coaches have fared in the "close game" category.

Ray Tellier (1989-2002)

Overall Games Coached: 140

Games Decided by a TD or Less: 55 (39.2%)

Won-Lost Record in Games Decided by a TD or Less: 22-31-2 (.415)

Six of Tellier's 14 years as head coach featured seasons where half or more of all the games played were decided by a TD or less.

And it should come as no surprise that in Tellier's best season, the 8-2 campaign of 1996, the Lions were 6-1 in those close games.

Bob Shoop (2003-2005)

Overall Games Coached: 30

Games Decided by a TD or Less: 12 (40%)

Won-Lost Record in Games Decided by a TD or Less: 5-7 (.416)

Shoop was coaching the Lions into close games 50% of the time in his first two years before things went off the rails in 2005.

But even though his tenure was so short compared to Tellier's, he posted almost the exact same winning percentage in close games.

Norries Wilson (2006-2011)

Overall Games Coached: 60

Games Decided by a TD or Less: 18 (30%)

Won-Lost Record in Games Decided by a TD or Less: 5-13 (.277)

I was surprised that only 30% of the games under Wilson were decided by a TD or less; it really seemed like there were so many more.

In fact, there was even an entire season, 2007, where not ONE game was decided by fewer than nine points.

But what's eye-popping is Wilson's very weak winning percentage in those close games. In fact, it was much weaker than Tellier or Shoop.

So how did new Columbia Head Coach Pete Mangurian fare in his three years running the show at Cornell?

(Hint: I'm building this up for dramatic purposes)

Pete Mangurian (1998-2000 at Cornell)

Overall Games Coached: 30

Games Decided by a TD or Less: 15 (50%)

Won-Lost Record in Games Decided by a TD or Less: 10-5 (.666)

To say that Mangurian's tenure in Ithaca was marked by thrilling close games and his uncanny ability to win the lion's share of them is an understatement.

And when you realize that three of those close losses took place in his first season, you realize how quickly Mangurian learned how to get it right.

It all started with his very first two Ivy games as head coach with a 6-0 loss at Princeton, and a 19-12 loss at Harvard two weeks later. In between those losses, Mangurian guided the Big Red to a 34-31 win over

After the Harvard loss, Cornell won two closies in a row; a 23-19 decision over Bucknell and Mangurian's first Ivy win, a 14-11 victory at home over Dartmouth.

An incredible six of the 10 Cornell games in 1998 were decided by seven or less.

1999 saw the Big Red win three of the four one-score games played, highlighted by a two week span when first Cornell handed Brown its only Ivy loss of the year with a 33-28 win in Providence followed by a
24-23 win over Harvard at Schoelkopf.

In week nine of that season, the Big Red came back late to beat Columbia by a 31-29 score.

But Mangurian saved his best for last.

In 2000 Cornell was a perfect 4-0 in one-score games against Ivy opponents, beating Yale 24-23, Harvard 29-28, Princeton 25-24, and Columbia 35-31.

No, those are not typos. Mangurian and the Big Red won an incredible three Ivy games by one point each!

It might take some time for this to translate to Columbia, but it's encouraging to know that Mangurian was never below .500 in close games for a season.

And that's the kind of change we need to believe in beginning right now.


Unknown said...

Not to nit-pick, but your numbers are a little off, if you are using "a TD [i.e., six points] or less." Look like you're using a TD and an extra point/two point conversion or less. Either way, Mangurian still won more of the close ones than the Columbia predecessors.

WOF said...

latest Lion commit:

Jacob Ardron LB 6'1" 230 Pomona, CA

WOF said...

commit list up to 8: Here is most recent

Cameron Molina, RB/LB, 5’11” 185 Tuscarora HS, VA