Monday, April 30, 2012



Boise State's Tyrone Crawford and Jeff Adams squared off in the East-West Shrine Game, (see above). Now they're likely to scrimmage against each other once again as they both try to make the Dallas Cowboys. Crawford has an edge, he was picked in the third round.

The other Ivy free agent signees were Harvard OT Kevin Murphy going to the 49ers, Dartmouth RB Nick Schweiger to the Rams, and Yale DL Jake Stoller to the Steelers.

The highly toxic, (what else can you call him?), Yale QB Patrick Witt went unsigned. As did the highly respected Harvard DL Josue Ortiz. Ortiz was ignored despite the full force of the Harvard PR machine, which got articles about him placed in major papers all over the country in recent weeks.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Adams is a Cowboy!

The Dallas Cowboys scooped up Jeff Adams as a free agent not long after yesterday's NFL draft ended.

This gives Adams a chance to make a very high profile team that does need OL help.

It also puts him under the care of former Princeton-turned Columbia-turned back to Princeton star QB Jason Garrett who is still the Cowboys head coach.

Garrett's dad was, of course, the ill-fated head coach at Columbia in 1985. He was a very hard-charging guy that the administration couldn't stomach in the end. And some believe the program has suffered because of that ever since.

But getting back to Adams, for a young man who is graduating college and who JUST GOT ENGAGED to be married... this is great news. We wish had been drafted, but if he makes the Cowboys roster, no one will care this time next year!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Draft Day

Well, this is the big day for graduating senior Jeff Adams and Columbia Lion fans everywhere.

The final rounds of the NFL draft begin at noon Eastern Time.

Adams has been projected to be a 6th round pick by some, 7th by others, and a free agent by still another faction of prognosticators.

I'm not sure what is going to happen today, but I am firmly in the camp that believes that Adams getting drafted, (we'll worry about whether he makes the team later), will be a crucial boost to Columbia's recruiting efforts for years to come.

There have been a few free agent "taxi squad" signings over the years, but the last Columbia player to be drafted was Marcellus Wiley, who became an All Pro.

That was way back in 1997, and that's been too long to wait.

I will try to keep updating the draft situation here and on Twitter, (I'm at @jakejakeny) throughout the day.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Waiting on the Draft

One who got away...

Rising national BCS powerhouse South Carolina has been buzzing about a transfer from Columbia... no, not Columbia, SC, but our own beloved CU.

Punter Michael Williamson, who surprised us a couple of years ago by leaving Morningside Heights, is now considered the top punter for the Gamecocks and was even named the most improved player of the SC spring practice!!

You know you have to be pretty good to get that kind of recognition when you're a punter.

The good news for Lions fans is rising junior Paul Delaney was pretty darn impressive punting the ball for most of last season and was a standout in the spring game last week as well.

Coach Mangurian's assessment of the special teams overall should debut today on his personal blog.

Adams' Big Weekend

The way the NFL drags out the draft process these days, you have to think this is an excruciating time for Jeff Adams as he has to wait until Saturday to find out if he will be drafted in the final rounds.

Of course, we will all be watching carefully tomorrow and I will tweet and blog any Adams news as soon as it breaks.

Remember, getting a Lion drafted and on a real NFL roster in the coming months would be a crucial boost to recruiting and help Columbia's image immensely.

This is worth rooting for every but as much as a regular season game!

Ranking Recruits?

An outfit called "College Sports Madness" has ranked all the known incoming recruits for football.

The top Ivy recruit on the list, coming in all the way up there at #2 overall, is WR Cameron Countryman who is headed to Penn.

But the #3 Ivy recruit is Columbia's Alec Davison, the LB from Sugarland, TX.

Now Davison was one of my top-rated recruits as well, but as many people have pointed out this list is highly arbitrary and it's hard to figure the methodology.

And yet, you can't fault them for also recognizing very promising incoming Lions like OL Austin Stock, DL's Niko Padilla and Daren Napier, and QB Trevor McDonagh.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Not So Defensive Praise

Head Coach Pete Mangurian's assessment of the defense in his latest blog post was surprisingly even MORE extensive and revealing than his already content-rich look at the offense the day before.

And with all the proper qualifiers, it was also more effusive with praise. He explained that LB's Ryan Murphy and Zach Olimger and DL's Josh Martin and Seyi Adebayo were good enough in the short time they played to justify what is obviously the high esteem with which the new coaching staff holds them.

A number of other players you might not have expected to hear about were singled out for praise. One was rising senior DL Greg Lee who only got a little varsity playing time last season. The nice words about Chad Washington and Wells Childress were expected, but I was surprised to hear that Nick Melka is only just apparently in the mix and not as solid a lock on a starting job as Martin and Adebayo on the DL.

At linebacker, a surprise mention went to rising senior Devan Luster, whome we have hardly seen or heard much of in the last three years. The strong mentions of rising junior Brian East and senior Mike Waller were certainly not a surprise.

Mangurian went out of his way to say he's very excited about the incoming freshmen in the secondary, which is a good thing because that unit has lost a tremendous amount to graduation over the past two years. But he spoke highly of senior Brian DeVeau and converted WR Ian Cummins. Rising soph Mike Skalitzky was singled out as well. Another converted WR, Augie Braddock, was noted for his talent but also described as "out of control" at times.

The other comments that stood out included, "I trust these guys," in reference to the LB's, and "I like what we're seeing to this point," speaking about the entire defense. It seems like that praise was very well-earned.

What was left unsaid was the simple fact that defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa is probably the best hire any Columbia head coach has made in decades. He comes in with much more experience than any DC in Columbia history and he seems to have hit the ground running. It's most likely that the things Mangurian liked the most about what he saw Friday night were the result of Lempa's work.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Addressing the People

A clear, extensive message from the coach! Who knew we could expect that in the Ivies?

Head Coach Pete Mangurian'extensive blog about the spring game is just the kind of thing fans of our program have needed to see for a long time.

Like Norries Wilson, Mangurian is careful in each sentence not to sound satisfied with where the team is right now. But unlike Wilson, he provides a much more detailed description of what he sees and expects at each position. 

It's good to know that Mangurian's overall impressions are similar to our own. He felt the offense was too out of sync, the offensive line play was a concern, and the wide receiver situation is like the wild west with crowded competition.

I was a bit surprised with his concern about tight end play, especially since one of the Ivy League's best TE's - rising junior Hamilton Garner - was held out of the game for health reasons. But when you consider the fact that Mangurian wants to run an H-back style offense this fall, you can see why he wants as many options as possible.

The best thing about all of this is that Mangurian has promised us evaluations of the defense and special teams in the two days to come. 

This feels like an embarrassment of riches. 

Chelsea Janes on TV!

The more I think about it, the more I realize Yale Daily News columnist and Yale softball player Chelsea Janes isn't just a sports figure. She's really quite a courageous young woman to be so intelligently taking on the president of her university week after week.

And since so much of her case is based in finances, I've decided to book her as a guest on my show on FOX Business, Varney & Company.

Chelsea will join us this coming TUESDAY, May 1st. The show runs from 9:20am to 11am every weekday. Here's some more information about the show.

Adams Latest

Jeff Adams gets some kind words in this Sports Illustrated evaluation, but it still projects him as a free agent, not a draft pick.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Who Stays and Who Goes?

More Spring Game Notes

-While Marcorus Garrett looked great overall in the game, some critics tell me he still has what they call "happy feet" when hits the hole. This slows him down and affects his momentum. 

-Head Coach Pete Mangurian was on the field most of the game directing traffic. Norries Wilson used to do this too, but not to the extent that we saw Friday night. Mangurian was also very vocal when players didn't run routes the way he wanted them.

After the game, the coaching staff headed right out of town to mount a major recruiting trip for the class of 2017. There will be no games to watch of course, so these visits will be all about meeting with the recruits, their families and coaches. This is a crucial moment for the new Mangurian staff because it's the start of the first recruiting process where the first Columbia reps these kids will be seeing are Mangurian's people. 

Cruelest Cuts of All

We're out of "rumor territory," according to Mangurian's interview last week with Dalen Cuff, the coach is really looking to cut some players and get the roster size down. 

I've heard that as many as 15 players will go, but it's possible that high number is more of a motivational tool from the staff and in reality the real number lost will be a lot smaller. 

Remember, with only about 75 players on the roster right now, a 15 player cut would be a 20% reduction in veteran personnel. That also means that with 34 incoming freshmen, the total number of players on the team this fall should be about 95. 

But with depth always an issue, which players will get the axe?

A Chorus Line

Shall We Dance?

Maybe the most controversial part about the spring game was all the dancing done by the defensive unit after strong plays and series. 

I don't really have a problem with that kind of enthusiasm, but I can see why a lot of football purists hated it. 

Obviously, Coach Mangurian had no problem with it and he even sent out the above dance picture on his Twitter feed. 

Feel free to weigh in in the comments section.

Chelsea Janes Strikes Again!

Yale Daily News writer and graduating senior Chelsea Janes once again lays the Eli Administration bare with a scathing and on-target review of the book that so many Ivy academics clearly use as their guide to destroying athletics in the Ancient Eight. 

Sadly, Columbia's Jonathan Cole could easily be confused as the author of the same book as he has come to many of the same false conclusions in his calls to reduce recruited athletics at Ivy schools. 

The only crucial point Janes leaves out is the fact that since ancient times, the best scholars valued athletic ability and effort as a key component to intellectual stimulation. Healthy mind, healthy body and vice versa. 

Now, we face obesity epidemics and students of all ages lying around texting or buried in laptops instead of getting physical activity.

With the way their teachers denigrate athletes, is this any wonder?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Draft Shaft

Image provided by the Harvard PR machine, the best money can buy

Draft Update

The NFL draft finally happens at the end of this week and most of this weekend's ink about Ivy prospects was devoted to Harvard DL Josue Ortiz.

Ortiz certainly is deserving, but he's actually less likely to be drafted than Columbia's LT Jeff Adams.

But the Harvard PR machine is strong, and even Long Island's Newsday newspaper did a major article on Ortiz yesterday without even one mention of the local college product Adams. That's even though Adams is likely to be drafted by one of the two local teams here in New York, the Giants and the Jets!


More Spring Game Analysis

I want to focus on two aspects of the "game" today: the offensive line and the play of Nick Gerst.

Gerst may indeed be that "Wes Welker" rle player the coaches are looking for in this offense. His pass catching skills out of the backfield are quite stellar and we know about his speed. Plus, the fact that he was playing so well so soon after his hamstring surgery is very encouraging.

The problem with a player Gerst's size is that he needs a lot of help from the offensive line to be most effective. And while the OL's overall size is good, it's clearly suffering from the graduation of guys like Adams and Bob Hauschildt.

The OL's overall ability to move and work in sync was a problem and may take the longest time to develop compared to the other units on the team. This is not unusual, but Columbia needs to break this trend to be competitive this season.

Gerst's newly demonstrated ability to be a lethal second or third option receiver won't fool any defenses if he doesn't run the ball at times at well. And running Gerst behind this line as it is would be fruitless at best and dangerous at worst.

Quick Kudos and Concerns

More on all of these guys later but gold stars go to WR Connor Nelligan, who looked very, very sharp all night and I would be very surprised if he's not a starter this fall. Impressive for a sophomore.

QB Sean Brackett ran well, but ran too much. He needs to make us his mind faster one way or another.

Paul Delaney's punts were BOOMING.

The field goal drill was poor in general. Still not good enough blocking on kicks.

Much more to come...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Big Night

I know the above roster is too fuzzy to read, but the position changes have now all been documented on the regular roster page.

The positions changes were not as extensive as I thought they would be, but here they are:

-(As I previously reported), QB Kal Prince has moved to WR

-(As everyone expected), Josh Martin moves back to the DL from LB

-WR's Ian Cummins and Augie Braddock are now at DB

-LB Ben Walker is now a RB, (and Coach Mangurian seemed to take a very special interest in his play last night, especially after he fumbled!)

-DB Devan Luster moves to LB

No weights have been updated.

And it appears no team captains have been named.


I'll stretch the coverage of the spring controlled scrimmage throughout the week, but for today I have to add that RB Marcorus Garrett certainly was the star of the event last night with several spectacular big gainer runs.

If you remember, I reported way back in early 2010, that the Lion coaches were giddy when Garrett agreed to commit to the CU around Christmas time, 2009.

It seems like that holiday present may really begin to blossom in 2012, unlike like most presents that people tend to forget about six months or even six weeks later.

The well-attended post game BBQ!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The stage is finally set for tonight's spring game at Wien Stadium.

While we won't see a traditional "game" with kickoffs etc., we should get at least a hint of what to expect ths fall.

But the real star of tonight's show is new Head Coach Pete Mangurian. This will be his debut on the Lion sideline and hopefully he'll get a chance to meet and great the fans after the game.

In some brief comments to the Columbia Spectator, Mangurian made two interesting points. First, he praised what he's seens so far from Columbia's front seven on defense and second, he again alluded to the fact that he's deferring any real pronouncements on the team until the new freshmen arrive this summer.

That second comment is the latest evidence that this year's freshmen may have a better shot than most to contribute right away. But perhaps this is all a motivational tool.

I hope everyone who goes to the game tonight feels free to comment about their impressions right here for weeks to come!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cutting Room Floor

Look out for decoys!

I have reported many times about how Head Coach Pete Mangurian desires a significantly smaller roster than the current Columbia numbers, and that was the policy he enacted in his three years at Cornell when his teams were much smaller in total numbers that any other Ivy team.

I can now report absolutely no change in that philosophy, but I'm pretty sure some rumors I'm hearing about specific dates and numbers of players involved are just that: rumors. And they may be rumors intended on flushing out my sources. 

So just make sure you don't believe everything you hear about the roster until you actually go online and check the roster page roster page and see any possible changes.

Bye Bye Barnard Pool

Once upon a time, there were abundant athletic facilities all over the Columbia and Barnard campuses. There were tennis courts and a track where Ferris Booth, and then Lerner, were built. A replacement tennis court in front of John Jay. There were tennis courts where MacIntosh, and then some other new building now stand at Barnard. I know there's a lot more I'm leaving out, but you get the picture.

One more major athletic and recreational icon is going away as Barnard has just announced that it's probably going to close its pool probably going to close its pool and turn it into temporary offices for its professors.

Is it any wonder that obesity is running rampant everywhere in America, Columbia included? The convenient places out there where one can exercise keep going away. 

It's an issue that's plagued Columbia in particular ever since the proposed Morningside Gym was sacrificed in the debacle that became the '68 riots. 

It's just sad. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


The WR position is potentially even more crowded than it was just yesterday as Head Coach Pete Mangurian has listed incoming frosh QB Scooter Hollis as a "QB/WR" in his latest Tweet. 

This isn't exactly a surprise as I had written on this very blog months ago that Hollis would likely play another position than QB at Columbia. But competition at WR is going to be super interesting. Hollis' speed and smarts are going to make him a great weapon anywhere he plays. 

And that makes 18 potential WR's on the roster beginning this August!

The other position change I missed, but an alert reader pointed out concerns Max Keefe, younger brother of rising soph WR John Keefe. 

Mangurian lists Keefe as a linebacker, not a safety, and at 6-2 and 200 lbs., he could be perfect at that position.

License to Thrill

Senior Columbia administration sources tell Roar Lions 2012 that Mangurian has been given much more authority to fundamentally change the football program than any predecessor probably since Lou Little.

This is obviously a good thing, because the program needs an overhaul and without any micromanaging from Low Library.

It looks like the administration is finally coming around to the fact that its interference may not have done any good after all these years. 

But this new license comes with some drawbacks for Mangurian, particularly the temptation to control every little thing about the program and that can lead to madness when the inevitable mistakes and failures occur. 

Mangurian will need our support when those hopefully small little failures happen. Because any strong reaction he may have will undoubtedly be blown up by the student press and maybe even the NY Times, (the Times ignores Columbia football unless it can ridicule it). 

As I wrote yesterday, Columbia really needs to change everything about the way it does things in order to shake up its chances in the Ivies. 

This means heads will roll and there will be some angry people about that. They may speak out, they may undermine their successors. 

The players are "all in," the administration, (for now), is staying out of it, the fans?

Well, the fan base is almost all gone for Columbia football and will need to be revived. Winning is the only way to do that, so we'll have to wait until at least week two of the season for them to come back. But as I've said many times, the fans will come back more quickly at Columbia than any other Ivy school. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


In another good sign of improving conditions for fans, the athletic department has announced that this Friday night's spring game will be followed by a free barbecue! 

With the weather turning warmer in New York weeks ago, I think we're in for a great night all around. 

Welker Role Revisited 

One reader brings up the good point that one or both of the Gerst brothers could also be a good candidate for the "Wes Welker" role in the new Columbia offense. This could be one way to assuage the long-running worries about Nick Gerst that the previous coaching staff held about his durability as a 15-20 carry per game rusher. 

But with that in mind, and the fact that CU will try an H-back formation this fall, Marcorus Garrett might also fit into that role. The "rough and tumble" work is presumably going to a bigger tight end type, so reassigning the quicker Lion RB's could be in order.

Moneyball and Ivies

I finally saw the movie Moneyball this weekend and the parallels from Major League Baseball to Ivy League football seemed strong.

Billy Beane had to change the way his organization scouted and fielded his team to be successful against the big market teams. It worked for awhile, until all the other teams started using some of the same methods.

Columbia's recent history has a similar story to tell. 

In the early 1990's, Head Coach Ray Tellier decided to tear up the existing recruiting "rules" and he started an aggressive look at the entire state of California. 

That plan yielded star players, most notably Marcellus WIley who became the best Lion player of the last 25 years. 

More importantly, it yielded two of the three winning Columbia seasons in my lifetime: 1994 and 1996. 

Eventually, the other Ivy schools figured it out too and they ended the Lions' brief advantage in recruiting in new areas.

Fast forward to 2012 and Columbia is clearly in need of re-writing the book on the way Ivy football is played in order to get ahead of the entrenched powers like Harvard and Penn. 

Brown has done this for the last 18 years by committing to a pass-happy offense, (only adjusting slightly for the years when RB Nick Hartigan was on the team), and sticking with it. 

Why Columbia or Dartmouth haven't copied the Brown formula is beyond me... Cornell finally did it last season and it worked big time. 

But whatever the new Lion regime does, it needs to think like the guys in Moneyball who realized just trying to do what the big guys do won't work.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Who's Our Wes Welker?

With the Lions heavily studying the New England Patriots offense all spring, especially the role WR Wes Welker plays with the Pats, the question is: who will be Columbia's Wes Welker?

If Head Coach Pete Mangurian and OC Jamie Elizondo are lookig for someone roughly the same size as Welker, (5-9 and 180 lbs.), they have a couple of talented returning players who fit the bill.

First could be rising junior Louis DiNovo, who had a nice first season with the varsity last year and at 5-11 and 195 is just a bit bigger than Welker.

Second is senior enigma James Burrell. Burrell stands 5-10, weighs 180 and has good quickness. The trouble is he's been on and off the roster a few times in his career and he has to prove he's "all in" for the team.

Among the incoming frosh, there are a couple of potential candidates.

Trevor Bell is extremely quick, and at 5-7 he better be. If he can be trusted to get open underneath and take college-level hits... watch out.

Brandon Blackshear from Sherwood HS in Oregon is probably coming in as a cornerback, but he played plenty at WR in high school and he is the right size for the role.

Finally, Andrew Dobitsch from Northern HS in Tappan, NJ is another WR candidate with the right frame.

Of course, if the coaches decide actual size is not as important, the whole equation changes. Also, the position could be platooned.

This is just one subplot in the very interesting competition we'll see for playing time at the crowded position of WR this year.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Follow Me on Twitter!

Head Coach Pete Mangurian's Twitter feed, (despite the occasional hack... believe me, he's NOT sending you weight loss advice or gossip), is a great idea.  You can follow him at @PeteMangurian.

His latest legit Tweet promises info very soon on three recruits who have just put in their deposits. Hopefully we'll get those names today or tomorrow.

And while you're at it, follow ME too at @jakejakeny.  I will use Twitter from now on when I have breaking news and don't have time for or access to this blog. It'll be just a quick headline or two to keep everyone in the loop.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Wide Open

The Lions are seeing a lot of these guys lately

I'm sure there will be a few more position changes to report, but rising soph QB Kal Prince has moved to WR.

At 6-3 and 200 pounds, he could be a factor at that position, but it certainly is getting crowded at that position. As of now, there are 12 returning players at WR and five incoming freshmen who have at least some solid time at the position.

The bigger news out of camp is that with spring practice just about over, the players are still 100% bought in to Head Coach Pete Mangurian's system. The higher expectations and tough practices have been a real test, but it's working.

On the more enjoyable side, the coaches have using extensive tape of New England Patriot offensive plays featuring Tom Brady and Wes Welker and the players are responding well.

Thaw in the Iceberg?

The Harvard Crimson reports that the Ivy League is considering a plan to hold a postseason basketball tournament!

The plan would be for the top four finishers in the regular season to face off in a two round tournament.

I welcome any postseason tournament for basketball, but not one that doesn't sufficiently reward the regular season champion with a first round bye.

I say let the top SIX regular season finishers get in the tournament, with round 1 byes for the first and second place teams. 

Let's see how the proposal changes over time and if it ever happens.

But again, I'm FOR any tournament in any form! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

New Lions

Coach Mangurian's latest blog post served up three new names of incoming frosh.

Two of them are offensive linemen, helping to ease at least my fears about the Lions becoming too thin at the position.

One is Marshall Markham, a 6-5, 285 pound offensive lineman from the Kinkaid School in Houston, TX where he was once a teammate of rising junior Wells Childress. Markham become the second Kinkaid product to come to the CU football program. 

The other OL is 6-9 250 pound Bill Lawrence from St. Ignatius HS in the Chicago Catholic League. There's not a lot of info on Lawrence, but it won't come as a surprise that he is also on the basketball team. 

Here is Lawrence's highlight video below:

Could Lawrence, at 6-9, be a candidate for tight end? If he has decent hands, he would be uncoverable and I'd love to see the Lion coaching staff give that a try!

The most dramatic story among the new names belongs to 6-3 170 pound WR Isaiah Gross from Poway HS in Poway, CA.

Gross was a key member of Poway's, (that's in the San Diego area), undefeated championship team this past fall. He even caught two TD passes in the 56-0 win over Vista in the title game.

Gross is the first Poway student to join the CU football team.

Gross first committed to Columbia, then switched to Yale, and now is back with Columbia in what looks like a final shift. 

This will only add fuel to the fire in what has become a bitter recruiting rivalry between Columbia and Yale that began just a few months ago over recruits like Gross, Mike Gerst and Logan Scott. 

It looks like Columbia has won two out of the three battles so far, but let's see if that translates to a win this fall. 

Now here's the updated list of our 33 known incoming freshmen:

1. Oluwatoba "Toba" Akinleye DE 6-1, 215 lbs. Fort Hamilton HS Brooklyn. NY
2. Jacob Ardron LB 6-1 230 lbs. Diamond Ranch HS, Pomona, CA
3. Trevor Bell WR/KR 5-7 190 lbs. Hamshire-Fannett HS Hamshire, TX
4. Brandon Blackshear CB/WR/KR 5-10 170 lbs. Sherwood HS Sherwood, OR
5. Matt Cahal DB 6-0, 190 lbs. Brophy College Prep Phoenix, AZ
6.Chris Cicilioni G/DE 6-2 225 lbs. Valley View HS Scranton, PA
7. Mark Cieslak LB 5-11 235 lbs. St. Joseph's HS Montvale, NJ
8. Chris Connors WR 6-1 205 lbs. St. Edward HS Lakewood, OH
9. Alec Davison LB 6-1 243 lbs. Clement HS Sugarland, TX
10. Andrew Dobitsch WR 5-11 180 lbs. Northern Valley HS Tappan, NJ
11. Nick Durham DE/TE 6-4 228 lbs. Bishop Fenwick HS Franklin, Ohio
12. Josh Foster DB 5-11 170 lbs. Delran HS Delran, NJ
13. Michael Gerst RB 5-10 190 lbs. Bergen Catholic Bergen County, NJ
14. Isaiah Gross WR 6-3 170 lbs. Poway HS Poway, CA
15. Scooter Hollis QB 6-1 175 lbs. Bowling Green HS Bowling Green, KY
16. J.D. Hurt DE 6-2 270 lbs. St. Anthony's HS Melville, NY
17. Max Keefe S 6-2 200 lbs. Choctawatchee HS Fort Walton, FL
18. Erik Kuklinski OL 6-7 270 lbs. Arlington HS LaGrangeville, NY
19. Bill Lawrence OL 6-9 250 lbs. St. Ignatius HS Chicago, IL
20. Brett Leatherwood OL 6-0 220 lbs. Anderson HS Austin, TX
21. Marshall Markham OL 6-5 285 lbs. Kinkaid School Houston, TX
22. Kevin McCarthy, S 6-1 200 lbs. Hingham, HS Hingham. MA
23. Trevor McDonagh, QB 6-3 200 lbs. St. Louis University HS St. Louis, MO
24. Cameron Molina, RB/LB 5-10, 185 lbs. Tuscarora HS Leesburg, VA
25. Daren Napier DT 6-4 275 lbs. St. John's HS Houston, TX
26. Niko Padilla, DT 6-2, 280 lbs. Parish Episcopal School Dallas, TX
27. Darin Patmon S 6-1 180 lbs. Land O'Lakes HS Land O'Lakes, FL
28. Keith Ramljak OL 6-4 275 lbs. Westlake HS Westlake Village, CA

29. Travis Reim DB 6-1 185 lbs. Cedar Park HS Cedar Park, TX
30. Austin Stock, C 6-3 270 lbs. Solon HS Solon, OH
31. Hank Trumbull QB 6-4 210 lbs. Chadwick School Palos Verdes, CA
32. Julian Vigil DB 5-10 170 lbs. Mullen HS Denver, CO
33. Mike Zunica, FB 6-1 215 lbs. St. Rita HS Chicago, IL

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sweet Tweets

... And now for the flip side.

Just a few days after using Twitter to point out that some Lions were allegedly not playing as a team, Head Coach Pete Mangurian had these things to say yesterday:

"Best practice of the spring. Now, can we do it again Friday? Have to be able to string them together, but it's a start."


"Have a great feeling about this season, Go Lions!"

 Is the coach being a little mercurial here? I'd say no, because as everyone in sports knows, there are certain points when teams often just start to "get it," and things start to click in practice and hopefully in the real games too.

Perhaps that's what happened yesterday in the predawn workouts at Baker Field.

Just 8 days now until the spring exhibition!

Response to Pagels

Members of a group called the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee have written this response to Jim Pagels' misguided column calling for ending athletic recruitment at Columbia.

There are some good points, so please click on their piece and comment freely.

And in another good development, the campus blog,, has begun a series of short interviews with some of the top athletes on campus. It starts with star runner, Kyle Merber.

This kind of visibility is a key.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Paid Gigs

A sports columnist for the Virginian Pilot reports that UVA has replaced new Columbia tight ends coach Gordie Sammis with a full-time employee, (Sammis had been doing the tight end coaching as a graduate assistant).

The world of FBS football never ceases to amaze me. You'd think every major position coaching position would be a full-time gig at that level... but I guess not.

Baseball Win, Tennis Ascendancy 

I'm not sure if Columbia baseball will be able to pull off a championship in the tough Gehrig Division this year, but the Lions got another impressive out-of-conference win yesterday against St. Johns. That's the first time Columbia has defeated St. Johns since 2003.

After this past weekend's big wins over Dartmouth and Harvard, men's tennis is now ranked 37th in the country.

Fashion Victims

I think this has to be a hoax...

A site called the "Nike Blog" is reporting that Harvard will switch to a black helmet this fall.

I just can't believe the Crimson would sport headgear without any crimson in it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Spring "Game"

The Athletic Department now says it will not be a real scrimmage, but a spring football "exhibition," (my word), will take place on April 20th at 6pm.

Surveying the troops yesterday

Hard Truths

Head Coach Pete Mangurian is truly embracing the new social media technologies and he was quite prolific over the holiday weekend with his Twitter feed.

One Tweet obviously stood out for its candor:

"Hope everyone enjoyed their Easter. Week 3 of spring practice coming up, improving, but still to many players with personal agendas."

I don't expect Mangurian to name any names of course, but this is rare straight talk from a coach, especially at the Ivy level.

And while I feel for some of the players who may see themselves as being maligned at such an early stage, I still feel grateful for the openness and raw emotion Mangurian is giving us right now.

Most long-term Lion fans are used to anything but candor from our head coaches.

We can't say we haven't been "warned!"  

Monday, April 9, 2012

No Transfers

Transfer Talk... Over

Sources now tell me that all the talk about an incoming transfer this summer for football have been just that; talk. There is no one coming to the program this year other than current high school seniors.

Meanwhile, spring practice rolls on with the players continuing to completely buy in to Head Coach Pete Mangurian's tightly controlled system. Mangurian is truly looking like a net positive, so the only serious question will be how many wins do we think this will translate to in the fall.

Reality Check

It was a pretty good weekend for Columbia sports as the men's tennis team remained undefeated atop the Ivies with a big win over Dartmouth Saturday and huge upset over Harvard.

In the live blog of the match, newly controversial Columbia Spectator columnist Jim Pagels posted a comment, refusing to back down from his call to end recruited athletics at Columbia. Sad.

In some back-and-forth emails with Jim, he told me that his real goal was to try to end the "stigma" recruited athletes feel at Columbia by eliminating what the other students see as a preferred pathway to admission.

(That reminded me of a famous essay Jean Paul Sartre wrote about the Jews. The gist of it was: "everyone would stop hating the Jews if they would just stop being Jews." Thanks, but no thanks Jean).

But that somewhat garbled message gave way to the real reason for Pagels' stand a little later in our correspondence yesterday. He told me he doesn't like feeling like less of a student and writer because he wasn't recruited to come to CU like the varsity athletes.

Okay, NOW I see what's happening here.

Pagels is suffering from the end result of a full generation of "participation trophy" America. We've told our kids that they're all special for so long that when they start to see truly special people with rare skills being rewarded, well they get upset.

Let's hope this dose of reality leads young Jim Pagels to a new understanding of how life works.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Sharp Lens

The people responsible for choosing which photos of spring practice to release on the CU Football Facebook page are pretty shrewd indeed.

Check out this pic below to see what I mean...

In the foreground, you can see rising sophomore RB Alec Fisher, but the pic is cropped out to his right.

So you can't see who is the QB... is it Sean Brackett? Who knows? And thus, you don't know if Alec is with the 1's or the 2's on offense.

Pretty smart.

On defense, I can make out Wells Childress and Roy Schwartz on the DL and LB Mike Waller behind Roy.

Now check out this picture:

In this shot, you can see Brackett, but you only make out two if the OL's, Scott Ward and probably Dylan Leonard beside him. That seems like it must be the 1's on offense.

Check back for more photos as they are released this week.

Misguided Manifesto

Jim Pagels has been a very good writer for the Columbia Spectator so far in his college career, but he disappointed me yesterday with his call to end recruiting for athletes at Columbia.

Needless to say, Jim makes some factual errors and egregious omissions in the piece, and I urge you all to scroll down after the column to see some of the points I and others made in the comments section.

But again, the best answer to all these kinds of ridiculous columns is to start winning, especially in football and men's basketball. There is no substitute.

Friday, April 6, 2012

"If Randy Moss can learn this offense, then YOU GUYS can learn this offense!"

"If Randy Moss can learn this offense, then YOU GUYS can learn this offense!"

That's the money quote from Head Coach Pete Mangurian and he said it more than once to his young charges during the first two weeks of spring practice.

But it isn't just whit that marks the way Mangurian and the team are responding to each other so far.

The big story is that the players are embracing the tougher, more controlling Mangurian regime and they're proving it every day:

-The 4:45am bus every morning has been packed.

-The few players who are missing the bus are hustling into cabs to make sure they still make it on time.

-Several seniors are talking about how they wish Mangurian had arrived sooner.

Most importantly, Mangurian is showing a commitment to winning above any deference to the administration. That's a key fact that will serve the team well and right now, the players are "all in."

Any misgivings QB Sean Brackett may have had about all the changes with his personal coaches, (three different OC's in a matter of three months), have melted away and he is excited about the new playbook.

Getting back to Mangurian's style, the totally hands on approach includes some misgivings about the information stream about the team, and that includes this blog.

That's unfortunate, because this blog can and should serve as a great additional tool for Mangurian to assert his independence from the administration.

Let's face it, the most devoted fans are HERE, and he is always welcome to address us directly here as well as get fair but non-fawning questions in this space.

Realism Online

And that leads me to this point...

A reader commenting yesterday made an understandable criticism about how negative this blog appears to him at times. 

I accept the criticism, but I must insist that the realistic way in which I cover the Columbia football program has to continue. 

Serious fans deserve an outlet that goes beyond a cheering section.

The official Columbia A.D. website serves that purpose, when it isn't taking the entire summer off from publicizing the team like it did last year... or continuing to withhold key info, like when the spring game will be exactly.

The truth is, I am an unabashed "homer" who indulges in cheering section-like material on these virtual pages all the time.

But I also won't sugarcoat the truth and I truthfully have a lot of concerns about the Lions for this coming season... and I also have a lot of optimism about the team. 

Right now, Coach Mangurian is one of those reasons for optimism.

And for the record, I take no pleasure in reporting about players quitting the team or failing in any way. I'm not sure how anyone could believe that. 


New Brown AD

Brown's new AD comes from the campus just 5 minutes from my home, Hofstra.

Jack Hayes was probably the hottest commodity in the FCS world at his level. This is a big positive development for the Bears and I expect to see the results on the field and the courts if he sticks around for a decent amount of time. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Do we have some missing pieces?

It's not just the offensive line...

I'm talking about apparent shortages on the Columbia roster.

As I reported last week, the fact that there are just ten returning OL's right now, (and that's just what we know from the NON-UPDATED roster right now... the actual number may be smaller), is probably the biggest reason why a formal multi-squad scrimmage will NOT be played on April 20th. The spring "game" will probably be some kind of situational scrimmaging.

 But the O-line isn't the only position where the Lions look thin, even when you include our known incoming freshmen class.

First up is fullback, where rising senior Andrew McHugh and rising sophomore Steven Silvio make up the entire corps. I'd throw in incoming frosh Mike Zunica into that mix as a MAYBE. I also hear reports that McHugh may be switching positions... so we could be back to just two. 

Tight end is also a question. Rising junior Hamilton Garner may be the best returning TE in the league, but he is backed up by only fellow rising junior Zack McKown and rising soph Garrett DeMuth.  Incoming frosh Nick Durham makes four TE's but if Columbia uses an H-back attack, that may not be enough in case of injuries.

Columbia's thinner numbers up front, (OL and TE), will be much discussed when the prognosticators predictably pick us for 7th or 8th in the league when those forecasts start trickling out in about three months. They'll probably not mention our fullback situation, but they will pose serious questions about our running backs. 

The funny thing about the outside forecasters is that they often get all their facts wrong about CU and still pick our order of finish pretty accurately. 

For example, no one said that coaching was the reason why they expected the Lions to finish 6th in the preseason polls last season... but they should have. The wheels were coming off the train and most of us saw that as soon as the summer began.

This time, I expect the "swamis" to give us a shot of positive energy because of new Head Coach Pete Mangurian's arrival and perhaps we'll get an extra vote of confidence because our excellent QB Sean Brackett looks to have a healthy senior season.

But don't expect anyone to pick us higher than 6th, and issues like the OL, the running backs, and the numerous -- but still unknown WR corps -- will be the big reasons why. 

This time, I don't think I'll be able to argue with them. 

Baseball Update

Coach Brett Boretti continues to rework what's expected of a Columbia sports team.

It was another nice win for the baseball team yesterday afternoon as the Lions edged Rutgers at Robertson Field.

A huge test comes this weekend when Columbia travels to Harvard and wounded Ivy baseball superpower Dartmouth.