Friday, January 6, 2012

Air Mangurian

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                                                      Bill O'Brien

The big news this morning is an Ivy alum has landed the Penn State head coaching job. Penn State head coaching job. Brown grad Bill O'Brien will replace Brown grad Joe Paterno in Happy Valley. Good luck Bill! 

                                                           Kevin Kelly

Yale Finalists

It looks like the finalists for the Yale job are UConn's defensive
coordinator Don Brown and Georgetown head coach Kevin Kelly.
Bob Shoop and Tom Gilmore appear to be out of the running... that is
if they were ever in the running.

The Shoop turndown, if true, is kind of a letdown for a lot of Lions
fans who would like nothing more than to beat our dear old head coach
on the field. Of course, it would also be a relief for those fans who
dread the embarrassment of possibly losing to him.

If Gilmore is not moving from Holy Cross, that's a relief to a lot of
people in the Columbia athletic department who would have been getting
tons of angry calls and emails from alums had Yale snagged the man
they wanted to be our new head coach.

If I had to guess who will get the Yale job in the end, I would go
with Kelly. He's a hot commodity now and the "now" factor seems to
count more and more these days.

Plus, my guess is that he comes pretty cheap out of a Georgetown
program that still looks like it's being run on the cheap despite the
team's big improvement this past season.

Wide Open at WR

One of the good things about keeping Aaron Smith on as wide receivers
coach is the fact that there is so much work to do at this position
and transitioning to a new man here would only slow things down.
The wide out position loses the most regular players to graduation
than any other. Mike Stephens, Kurt Williams, and Paul Havas are all
gone. And you can bet all the other Ivy football pundits will be going
on and on about how Columbia will be really hurting at this position
in 2012.

But that assumption ignore the fact that the man who will probably be
the #1 receiver for Columbia this fall is a tight end in junior
Hamilton Garner. Garner had a breakout season in 2011 highlighted by
six TD catches.

The returning wide receivers will likely be led by junior LouisDiNovo, who played in all 10 games last year and had 17 receptions.
Talent-wise, the best receiver may be sophomore Connor Nelligan, who didn't have a reception last season but was a big presence on the field with his speed and heads up play.

I'm also high on sophomore Dan Slivka, who got into six games and
caught three passes as a frosh. His 6-3 height set him apart as the tallest WR Columbia put on the field last season.

But the wide receiving ranks don't stop there. Junior Joey Andrada returns after impressing in JV play last season, sophomore Augie Braddock is a real talent, and I also like sophomores John Keefe and Ryan Flannery as potential breakouts.

But wait... there's more!

Senior Ian Cummins returns and brings considerable experience with
him. Fellow seniors James Burrell and Cameron Ross could also get back on the field too.

I'm not saying you can call Columbia's wide receiving corps one of the best in the Ivies... there just isn't enough varsity experience here to say that. But it will be better than everyone else thinks it will be in 2012 thanks to continuity from coach Smith and what I expect to
be a pass-centered offense from Head Coach Pete Mangurian.

Mangurian's Moves

When he was at Cornell, the Big Red's passed for 39% more yardage in his first season, (1998),  than theydid in the final season under Jim Hofher in '97.

The following year, they passed for 45% more yards than they had in '98. And the numbers went up yet again in Mangurian's final season in 2000.

It was people like Mangurian who led the late-90's move to the pass in the Ivies that lasted roughly a decade until it shifted to what we see now with most teams favoring QB's who run and pass.

With Sean Brackett at the helm as QB now, Mangurian may only make the move to a more varied passing attack after he graduates next year... but I don't put it past him to work with a big overhaul right away.

Brackett was one of Mangurian's biggest supporters during the interview process and with a willing student like that to work with, Mangurian doesn't have to wait.

The most alluring scenario is the idea of a Brackett-led offense that features him rolling out regularly with a genuine question of whether he'll throw or pass every single time. The point is, while you might be able to call
Columbia's receiving crew "the no name offense" right now... don't expect to be able to keep saying that 10 months from now.

It's the best of times to be a Columbia receiver with some talent, because I think Mangurian's schemes will make a star out of one or more of the young men on the roster right now.

                                                Joe Splendorio, #86

Splendorio's Rise

The WR at Cornell who benefitted the most from Mangurian's regime was Joe Splendorio, who is now a member of the Big Red Hall of Fame.

Don't get me wrong, Splendorio was a fantastic overall athlete. But no way would he have put up the numbers he did in Ithaca under Hofher or even Jim Knowles.

Splendorio was not a real deep threat; he always averaged about 14 yards per catch. He was that medium range target that a QB like Brackett could really use almost like a tight end. That bodes well for taller guys like Slivka who is still three inches shorter than Splendorio's 6-foot-6-inch frame. But you gotta start somewhere.

Incidentally, Splendorio enjoyed two of his three games against the Columbia varsity immensely. In 1998, the sophomore Splendorio caught seven passes for 85 yards despite the Big Red's bad offensive day in a 22-10 loss at Wien Stadium.

In '99, he had eight receptions for 126 yards and two TD's in Cornell's 31-29 squeaker win in Ithaca. But in 2000, he was held to just two catches for 19 yards in the Big Red's 35-31 win back in New York City.

Great Websites!

A subscriber sent me a great heads up yesterday about two websites that can serve as a great research tool for obsessed Lions fans like ourselves.
This one lets you look up Columbia's won-lost record for each year.

 This one shows the names of all the Columbia players drafted by the NFL.

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