Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tickets TODAY!!

Today is an important deadline for the Football ticket office to lock down as many season ticket sales as possible.

I just got my four chairback seats myself.

It would be great to give new Head Coach Pete Mangurian a vote of confidence and a thank you for all his candor by reserving your seats today.

Click here to get started.

(No, I don't get a commission).

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Look at the Candidates

Will the H-Back Idea Survive?

In the summer of 2009 I learned that then Head Coach Norries Wilson and his staff were working on their version of an H-back offense called "Powerback." The hope was that it would bolster the still stagnant Lion running game by using plays that would give the ball carrier a good shot at gaining at least three yards per carry. 

But the centerpiece of that strategy was a H-back named Peter Holst-Grubbe '11, who sadly never overcame injuries enough to play. 

The scheme was scrapped.

But new Head Coach Pete Mangurian began devising his own H-back strategy soon after he came to Morningside Heights. He too, felt it would be a way to maximize the strengths and protect some of the weaknesses in the Lion offense.

H-backs tend to be relatively taller fullbacks or relatively shorter tight ends. Sometimes, very athletic QB's, (think Tim Tebow-types), fit the bill as well. 

So who does Columbia have who could likely fill this role?

Because there are some roster updates that I know about and are still confidential, I am just going to focus on the players that I know are still with the team. 

One good candidate is Zack McKown. Zack didn't get much playing time last year, and most fans probably remember that he caught a nice TD pass in the snow-covered game against Yale. At 6-2 and 224 pounds, he has some of the best tools to excel in this role. 

I also like the potential in Nick Durham from the freshman class. He's quick and seems like he's ready to take on some added responsibilities compared to the average incoming frosh.

But the best overall candidate may be another freshman.

The overall athletic ability of QB Hank Trumbull is undeniable. He makes people miss and the fact that he could always just pull up and throw instead of crossing the line of scrimmage is intriguing.  

Just for reference, there is an outstanding H-back currently playing in the Ivies. His name is Kyle Juszcyk. The senior had a monster game against Columbia with 118 yards receiving and two TD catches. Juszcyk goes at 6-3 and 240 pounds, in case you were wondering. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

First Test

Marist TE Anthony Calcagni is a big star

First impressions go a long way in this game.

How many of us gave Norries Wilson years worth of slack after that convincing 37-7 win over Fordham in his first game at Columbia's head coach in 2006?

I know I did.

But in retrospect, we know that the 2006 Fordham Rams were a very weak team and the real test for the Lions that year didn't come until week 3 when they hosted eventual Ivy champ Princeton. Columbia lost that game 19-6 and it wasn't really that close. 

Right now, new Head Coach Pete Mangurian and his staff are spending most of their time analyzing the 2012 opponents. And they're not going to be overconfident about the first school on that list. 

This September 15th, the Marist Red Foxes come in to Wien Stadium as Mangurian's first test and they certainly look superior to '06 Fordham squad.

Marist is certainly not going to be as tough a non-conference opponent as Lehigh in week four. But with a handful of top players and even a couple of preseason FCS All Americans, the Red Foxes are far cry from the lightly talented team the Lions mauled in 2007 for their only win that season. 

The bottom line is this: a win over Marist in week one would be an EXCELLENT achievement for Mangurian and the team. A loss would not be a disaster, and only a blowout loss would be reason for any kind of despair. 

The Marist game is followed by what look like the two easiest games of the year for Columbia back to back. Fordham and Princeton just don't look too menacing right now and the Lions really need to win both of those games if they want to be considered as contenders for the top half of the Ivies in 2012. 

We'll look more at the schedule later this summer, but I wanted to make some necessary points about the opening three game homestand as soon as possible. 

Remembering Bobby Ray

And there was sad news for the Columbia family yesterday.

I received this note from my friend Greg Abbruzzese '91 this morning:

Columbia Family-

I hope that all of the you well! I am writing to inform you of the unfortunate passing of a dear friend, classmate, and football alum; Bobby Ray (CC ’91). Some of you were aware of Bobby Ray's condition, ALS, and regretfully he lost his fight with that debilitating disease last night. Laurel and I were fortunate enough to visit Bobby and correspond with him through his family over the past few years. He was especially fond of his Columbia teammates, Sammy fraternity brothers, and friends that he made over the years. Everyone who knew Bobby had fond memories (and stories) to tell about him. I for one will miss him dearly. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who helped Bobby out financially, and in spirit, when he was in need; Durc Savini, Nabil Kassem, John Klosek, Javier Loya, Chris DellaPietra, John Alex, Chip Zinkle, and countless others. For that he and his family are forever grateful. I would also like to extend a special thanks to Will Knight (CC ’90) who would consistently spend Saturday nights with Bobby over the past few years. I know that especially meant a lot to the Ray family and shows us the character of our Columbia family.

At this point, I am unaware of any arrangements, but I will let you know once I hear anything.  Again, my many thanks to all of you for your thoughts and prayers for Bobby.

It was almost four and a half years ago that we first learned about Bobby's diagnosis and the efforts to help him and his family. 

We all wanted a better outcome for Bobby, but I thank all the people who supported him. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ranking the Schedules

With road games at Harvard, Penn and Brown there can be little doubt that Columbia has the toughest in-conference schedule in the Ivies this fall.

But is our overall schedule the toughest as well?

Yale has a good case to make that its overall lineup of opposing games is tougher. The Bulldogs have to face  Brown, Harvard and Cornell on the road, resurgent Georgetown on the road and a tough Colgate team at home. Only the Lafayette game at home seems a little easier than the other non-conference games, but can we really expect the Leopards to stay in the lower half of the Patriot League for long?

Princeton has to play super-strong Lehigh on the road, but gets Harvard, Brown and Penn at home. Lafayette will be a tough road game for the Tigers as will the Georgetown contest at home. 

Harvard has to go to Brown and Penn, but its out of conference schedule is weaker than usual. The toughest non-Ivy opponent is Holy Cross and that's a home game. Otherwise, the Crimson get to play a jet-lagged San Diego team at Harvard Stadium and Bucknell at home too. Yes, Harvard's three non-conference games are all at home.

By contrast, all of Brown's non-conference games are on the road. Holy Cross, URI, and Georgetown all look like tough games. The Bears have to go to Penn as well, but they get to host Harvard and Cornell. This is not an easy slate for Brown, but easier than the last 2-3 years.

Dartmouth gets to host Harvard, Brown and Penn and its toughest road game looks like the non-conference game at Holy Cross. This is a favorable slate for the Big Green this year for sure.

Cornell has to go to Harvard and Brown, but it hosts Penn and has a light non-conference road schedule against Bucknell and Fordham. The home game against suddenly strong Monmouth could be a real test.

Finally, Penn has to play non-conference powerhouses Villanova and William and Mary plus a road game against Lafayette, (who beat the Quakers last season). But the home games against Brown and Harvard take them out of the running for the title of "toughest 2012 schedule."

Overall, here's how I would rate the schedule strength this season:

1) Columbia
2) Yale
3) Cornell
4) Penn
5) Brown
6) Harvard
7) Princeton
8) Dartmouth


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hard Road

The times for all of this fall's games except the week five tilt against Penn are now posted on the athletic department website.

Just so no one is confused, I want to make it clear again that Columbia's schedule this coming season is tough.

A cynic could say that with a team like Columbia going 1-9 last year, ANY schedule would look tough the following season! 

But the 2012 slate is challenging any way you look at it. Here are some of the highlights:

1) Road games against the three strongest teams in the Ivies for the last several years; Harvard, Penn, and Brown. 

2) A road game against one of the best teams in all of the FCS, Lehigh. 

3) What? Numbers 1 and 2 weren't good enough for you?

But wait, there really is more. 

The new "Beyond Sports Network" preseason All America list is out and its chock full of names from Columbia's opposing teams in 2012.

It starts with Marist TE Anthony Calcagni, who makes the first team. His Red Fox teammates OL Phede Celestin and DT Terrence Fede made the honorable mention list.

Week two opponent Fordham has only one player on the list, but he is a 1st teamer... luckily it's just the punter, Patrick Murray.  

Week three foe Princeton has one player on the 2nd team, DT Caruan Reid.

Week four opponent Lehigh is loaded with TWO 1st teamers in WR Ryan Spadola and OL Mike Vuono. A third Mountainhawk, TE Jamel Haggins isn't far behind on the 2nd team.

Week five at Penn will be a tough enough, but only Quaker WR Brandon Copeland makes the list as an honorable mention.

Week eight at Harvard will feature four Crimson players on the list, led by kick returner Seitu Smith on the 1st team. H-back Kyle Juszczyk is a 2nd teamer and OL Jack Holuba and TE Cameron Brate are honorable mentions.

Cornell's QB-to-WR tandem of Jeff Matthews to Shane Savage are both 1st teamers. WR Kurt Ondash is a 3rd teamer, and OL JC Tretter is an honorable mention.

Finally, Brown has DB AJ Cruz on the 2nd team and OL Jack Templeton on the 3rd team.

No, Columbia didn't get a single player on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or honorable mention teams. But Dartmouth and Yale were also shut out.

But that doesn't mean we don't have some great MARKETABLE stars on this team.

I think of them appearing in massive banners hanging from the outside of Wien Stadium. (You know, like the massive banners they unfurled from outside of the A's stadium in Moneyball?).

I'd alternate each of those banners between offensive and defensive players and feature:

QB Sean Brackett, DL Josh Martin, TE Hamilton Garner, LB Ryan Murphy, OL Scott Ward, DL Seyi Adebayo. 

In general, I'm a lot more excited about our defense than our offense when it comes to genuine stars. Guys like Zach Olinger, Wells Childress, Nick Melka and Mike Waller are poster-worthy too. 

But other than Brackett, Garner and Ward I'm just not sure who the offensive team leaders and standouts will be. And unless 2-3 other offensive players really do break out, this is going to be another long season.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Getting Closer

54 Days until training camp begins

82 Days until Season Kicks Off vs. Marist

The first two sessions of the Pete Mangurian Football Camp were held this past weekend, with two more one-day sessions this coming Saturday and Sunday. I'm hoping Mangurian gives us another blog post very soon to tell us about some of the highlights.

In an interesting twist, the first couple of days of Buddy Teevens' football camp up in Hanover also took place this past weekend. So in a way, the recruiting battles have already begun for kids as young as rising 10th graders.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Parting Shot

For all our frustration about last season, it can sometimes be easy to forget that it ended on a good note.

But it was an agonizing long wait for a bright spot.

Not only did it take all ten weeks of the season before our Lions tasted victory, but the actual moment of victory was brutally delayed by a confused officiating crew.

What was it like to be in the stands at that moment?

Thanks to the gifts of cell phone cameras and YouTube, you can see for yourself:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Saving Football

57 Days until training camp (Aug. 18)

85 Days until kickoff (Sept. 15)

The chatter is growing about concussions in football at all levels from Pop Warner to the NFL.

My simple solution has always been: TEACH THE KIDS TO TACKLE!

Right now, so many players go head-to-head on purpose which not only is dangerous, but is a bad way to tackle.

The changes HAVE to be made from the top. NFL Commissioner Roger Godell is, flat out, a liar when he always says he wants to crack down on concussions. If he meant that, he would instruct the refs to IMMEDIATELY eject or at least severely penalize head-to-head hits WHEN they happen on the field. Instead, the league sometimes issues fines after the fact... not good enough.

Watch replays of the SF-New Orleans playoff game from January. Just about every tackle was a vicious head-to-head smash. The refs did nothing, and believe me that's what they've been instructed to do.

And now, there is another option thanks to medical science.

New UCLA-led technology can track brain damage in a player while it happens.

Hopefully this will help to save football.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What to Expect

Mangurian in his Cornell Days

One of the key differences about new Head Coach Pete Mangurian is that he's been here before.

Not Columbia exactly, but the Ivy League. 

I know I've written about how unique this makes him before, but I have rarely focused on the highlights of Mangurian's three year tenure at Cornell.

I've already talked about the stats: 16-14 overall record, impressive 2-1 record vs. Harvard, and the simple fact that he made the Big Red win games they had no business winning. I always thought Columbia should have swept all three games against Mangurian's teams, (remember that 1998-2000 were Johnathan Reese years), but the Lions only got one win against him.

But if we want to get an idea of what it's going to be like to follow Columbia under Mangurian, here are some more hints:

1) Straight Talk

Mangurian has already set a standard of candor with the fans in his social media and blog posts. 

Speaking of that his latest blog post is a good attempt at naming all the administrators who are so far cooperating with his plan to overhaul the whole football program. It's essential that those administrators stay on the same page and it's just as essential that the list grows. 

In the "olden times" of 12-14 years ago, he was candid too.

Comments like the ones he made after a 38-15 loss to Bucknell in the 2000 season opener, (a season that would turn out to be Mangurian's best at Cornell), tell the story. 

And check out this online chat Mangurian conducted with Big Red fans back in 2000!  

2) No Banging Heads Against the Wall

At Cornell, Mangurian rarely kept trying to make something work if it was obviously failing. His QB Ricky Rahne often ended up throwing the ball an ungodly amount of the time because Mangurian never ran the ball just for the sake of running it. 

3) Character Counts

Mangurian almost always chalked up wins and losses to the individual character on his Big Red players on game day. His recent blog posts about recruiting players with a specific kind of character tell me he hasn't changed. He's going to be pleasantly surprised, if he hasn't already, by the special character that just about every Columbia football player exudes. It takes a very special kind of person to persevere on Morningside Heights; I think someone with even more character than they typical young man in Ithaca. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Camp Followers

59 Days Until Training Camp

87 Days Until Season Opener

I keep trying to make the point that this upcoming Columbia training camp is going to be the most interesting and important preseason prep perhaps in all of Lion history.

In just 59 days, the 100 or so old and new Lions will come to the Baker Athletics Complex with so many questions to be answered that every day should be pretty eventful. 

For those of you not keeping score, here are just some of the plots and subplots, questions and mysteries, etc. guaranteed to make this camp different and special:

1) First training camp for Head Coach Pete Mangurian at Columbia

Obviously this is a big deal, especially for all the incoming freshmen who weren't coached by Mangurian during spring practice like the returning veterans. 

This is where Mangurian will set a tone that could last for years, decades, or maybe a lot shorter if things don't work out. 

2) Offensive Line

Columbia has a lot of questions to answer here now that graduation has taken away stars like Jeff Adams and Bob Hauschildt. And some other attrition issues have left the Lions with just 14 total OL's on the roster. 

The good news is that despite the lack of a lot of returning starters, a larger number of veterans than usual has real playing experience because of all the injuries last season. But other than Scott Ward, I think just about all the starting slots are up for grabs. 

That's a lot of drama on what is usually the most crucial single unit of a team. Coming from years of coaching O-lines in the NFL, I expect Mangurian's influence to be huge here, but we can't assume that will make it better. Norries Wilson was a former All Big 10 offensive lineman who took extra time to coach the group at Columbia and that didn't always translate to greatness. I do think having Ed Argast staying in his job as the coach of this unit will help overall. 

3) Wide Receivers

The starting WR's from 2011 are gone to graduation. So two or three of the 16 (!) WR's on the roster are going to step enough to earn the coaches' vote of confidence on the two-deep. 

4) Running Backs

It's not as crowded a field as the WR's, but there are still plenty of questions here about who starts. Columbia really hasn't had a lead starting RB since Ray Rangel '10 was injured midway through the 2009 season. If I had to guess, I'd say Marcorus Garrett and Nick Gerst are the front-runners for the starting spots, but that's pushing it a bit.

5)  Secondary

Like the O-line, this group is hit hard by graduation. The starting corners are gone, the standout safeties are gone, and there are a number of new members of the unit due to veteran position changes. The veterans from this group were coached well under John Gutenkunst the last two years and will get the special attention of Columbia's excellent new defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa. But I'm really at a loss to even guess the starters here and the suspense will build as camp goes on.

Of course the other units on the team like defensive line, linebackers, QB's, and special teams are filled with questions too, but the above are just the top five. And aren't they enough to get you hooked.

In his last blog post, Coach Mangurian talked about getting fans to attend some of the practice sessions during training camp. If that's for real, he's going to have more than a few takers among all of us who are just dying to know how all of these plots are going to shake out.  

Until then, let me know what YOU'RE biggest questions are and how you hope training camp will answer them... 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

All Purpose Hall of Famer

A highlight for me in the announcement of the 2012 Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame class is the inclusion of the great Des Werthman '93 in this illustrious group.

If you never saw Des play it's hard to describe just how dominant he was and how much he meant to a very struggling football program at the time.

Just ask yourself: when was the last time you saw a time rely on one player to lead the offense, defense, AND special teams? I don't think there are too many players in high school who do that anymore.

Reprinted below is my 2007 interview with Des that gives you some idea of what it was all about:

Des Werthman, 1992 (credit: Columbia University Athletics)

It's hard to describe just how much former Lions star Des Werthman meant and still means to Columbia fans. Des was a defensive standout at linebacker, but he also chipped in as a running back on short-yardage situations, and even helped out as a kicker from time to time. That all made Des a throwback-style hero years before people started selling old jerseys for five times the retail price. 

Werthman was a part of Ray Tellier's first recruiting class, playing on the freshman team in 1989 and then on the varsity from 1990-92. He made an impact in almost every game he played and Des' career stats are simply breathtaking. I don't think any Columbia player will ever top his 449 career tackles in just three years on the varsity. And what he meant to the team overall during those years can't be quantified.

But nothing can match his heroics in the final two games of his career against Cornell and Brown... both at home.

Against Cornell, Des helped shock the 7-1 Big Red with 16 tackles, two fumble recoveries, two rushing touchdowns, a 2-point conversion, two extra points, just missed a field goal attempt, and even threw a pass, which went incomplete. (There are also unconfirmed reports that at halftime, Des sold game programs in the stands). The final score was 35-30, and the loss eliminated Cornell from the Ivy title race. 

But Des was just warming up. The next week against Brown, he rushed for 114 yards, scored 19 points - three rushing touchdowns and an extra point - and had 15 tackles. With the Lions leading 34-28, Des missed a field goal that would have iced the game, but on the very next play he made an interception to end it. 

Des went on to a short career in the Arena Football League, something that suited his 5"11, 225-pound frame a little more than the NFL. 

For some crazy reason, Des was not included in the inaugural class of the Columbia sports hall of fame last year. It's a controversial decision to say the least.

Thankfully, he was named a part of the CU football team of the 20th Century and he was on the field at Homecoming in 2000, (when Columbia crushed Dartmouth 49-21), 

Des' playing exploits are never far from the minds of longtime Lion fans, but when Justin Masorti joined the Lions last year, his build and style of play reminded many of us of old number 49. 

Des contacted me via the comments section of this blog a few months ago, and kindly agreed to do an interview. 

JAKE: Walk us through the highlights of your post-Columbia life since you graduated in 1993, both personal and career-wise.

Des: Well, I lived in NY until 1998 and then moved back to Chicago. I came out of school and tried to play professionally, with a brief stint in the Arena League and some NFL try outs, but nothing ever materialized. I went to work in the investment field in late 1994 and have been there ever since. On the family front, I got married in 2001 and have two daughters, ages 4 and 2. Neither seem to be big sports fans, but I am trying to convert them.

Jake: Did your time as a Columbia football player play a positive or negative role in your personal life or your career? Did it ever directly hurt or help you?

Des: I don’t think it ever played a negative role. It didn’t produce any jobs when I came out of school, but I met with a whole bunch of Alumni which is interesting and hopefully Columbia alumni will help more with hiring others in the future. I think the years as a player at CU are a constant reminder that one is only as good as the weakest link. A great team can be a thousand times better than a great player. This carries into the real world as well. 

Werthman as a member of the Loyola High School Ramblers (Wilmette, IL), where he also excelled in Track and Field. 

Jake: You were one of the first players to shine during the Ray Tellier era. Did he and his team recruit you, or were the last group brought in under Larry McAlreavy? 

Des: It was interesting, I was originally contacted by one of McAlreavy’s coaches. I met him and then never heard from Columbia again. Several months passed and then one of Ray’s coaches came to see me, Sean McDonnell, now head coach at New Hampshire. I visited some other schools, but had pretty much decided on Columbia once I went to the campus. 

Ray Tellier

Jake: What were your impressions of Tellier and why do you think he was eventually able to find success at Columbia after so many had failed before him?

Des: Ray was very good on several fronts and this led to his success. He had been a winner at Rochester and brought several coaches that had been successful as well. I think Ray was very good at several facets of the game. He was a good recruiter, knew the X’s and O’s, and could also motivate people. I think what ultimately led to his success was that he was organized and stuck to a plan of action that ended up working. I think a lot of the success is based upon diligence, focus and planning.

Jake: How did it come to pass that you had to play so many different positions for Columbia, (sometimes in the same game)? Did you take the initiative, or were the Lions so shorthanded that they had to call on you so often? 

Des: I never initiated playing any other position except for linebacker. It is funny, but I tried to hide the fact that I kicked extra points and field goals in high school. I was like the super jock character toy with the straight shoe and you would slam the guy's head down to kick. Unfortunately one of the coaches remembered film of me kicking. It was the saddest day of my life…(laughing). 

In all honesty, Columbia had good talent, but lacked depth. I think this was the real reason I played several positions. Once the first guy or if we had a second guy, (highly unusual), went down, we would look for options at positions. I started playing running back as a junior in short yardage situations and then more frequently as a senior. This was a lot of fun and I think that was because I was kind of winging it on offense and the guys in the huddle were so serious that I would just start laughing and they would eventually loosen up. There were some really good players on offense; like Mike Sardo, who was a great possession receiver.

Jake: Give us your overall impressions of what it was like to be a Columbia athlete in the late-80's/early 90's. Were the non-athletes friendly or overly hostile to you? How about the faculty and the administration outside of the athletic department? 

Des: My experience may be different than others, but I had a blast. I never looked at it as "non-athletes vs. athletes," but to answer your question, the non-athletes were very cool. Sure you had some people who didn’t see eye to eye with you, but that is pretty par for the course. The student body was always friendly and never gave me any hard times about being on a team that lost more often than not.

I never noticed the faculty treating me any differently. But I can recall my senior year asking one of my teachers to let me take the final exam early so that I could attend football camp for the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena League. The guy shot it down immediately and didn’t seem to comprehend what football was. There was no language barrier so I'm not sure why he opposed. In hindsight, maybe he was right to stop me. But it would have been fun to have been there.

Jake: Did you live in the dorms or did you join the large segment of the football players who pledged and lived in the Sigma Chi house? 

Des: I lived in the dorms. I never understood why you would join a fraternity when the parties were largely open anyway. I lived in Carmen, Ruggles for two years, and then Wallach. 

Jake: How often have you been able to return to Columbia to either see the team play or just to walk around campus? During your visits, what changes have you noticed if any?

Columbia Football's Team of the Century, October, 2000. Des is the back row, third from the right. (PHOTO CREDIT: BEN ASEN)

Des: Honestly, I have been back to 2 Columbia games since I graduated. The last being when the Team of the Century was inducted. I honestly doubt I will ever see another game in person. 

Jake: Columbia fans will forever remember you as the guy who seemingly defeated Cornell and Brown singlehandedly to finish out the 1992 season. What are your memories of those games, and what do you remember about the efforts of some of the other players who many of us have forgotten over the years? 

Des: I remember the Brown game the most and this makes sense since it was the last game we were going to play. The Cornell game was fun to remember because it was one of the first and last times I got to see some of our players actually smiling on the field. When you lose a lot, smiling doesn’t come easy.

Brown was a really memorable game. My fondest memory combines two plays; the first was when we were trying to ice the game and they sent me in for a field goal. You have to understand that I just hated kicking these things. I would sit there cursing myself for ever having sent a film that had footage of me kicking in it. Needless to say that I missed the field goal, no surprise here right? The next play I pretty much knew the play they were going to run. Call it intuition or whatever, but they had been trying the whole game to run a shallow cross with a deep cross and for most of the day I had played the shallow cross. This time I just knew the QB was going deep and that was exactly what he did. We picked the ball off and the game was over.

We had some great players. Mike Sardo was one of the best receivers I have ever played with, Kevin Robinson was a great running back and moved to defensive back to help the team on defense. The defensive linemen Jim Daine and Bob Wolcott, were key reasons why I was able to do the things I was able to do. Others during my tenure that I got to play with were Galen Snyder, who was a very good linebacker, Bob KentGary Comstock... there were a lot of very good players.

Jake: You were one of the last classes to play freshman football. Do you think abolishing it has helped or hurt Ivy football and what are your memories of playing in your freshman year?

Des: Freshman football was an easy way to get acclimated to the school and the program. That being said, we lost most of our recruiting class during freshman football as a ton of people quit. I think that getting rid of freshman football has been a good thing. I think you mature faster as a player and then you avoid having to endure two years of a acclimating, where you get used to playing your first year and then the next year you have to acclimate yourself to the next team and summer camp.

Jake: The best Columbia ever did during your three varsity years was 3-7. How tough was it to play for a team that never really contended for a title?

Des: I guess it was hard since I am going to say that we were much better than our records, which means I still struggle with the fact that we didn’t win more. It was very hard to get up and go on those teams as the constant losses and heartbreaks made it hard to want to win. This is what happens when you loose, it debilitates your desire to win and wears you down a little more until you become apathetic. I don’t think we ever became apathetic ,because we had a lot of guys that just loved to play the game, but it certainly wasn’t easy. We went up to Cornell my junior year and we threw for a touchdown only to have the refs call it back for the QB being over the line of scrimmage. Our QB wasn’t even close when you looked at it on film, we should have won that game, but didn’t..those were the worst.

Jake: Do you think that Columbia was at some kind of unfair disadvantage during the time you played there? Did things like the long ride to practice, the administration's seeming indifference to athletics, or the quality of the facilities play as big a role as many long-time fans like me think they do/did? 

Des: I think Columbia will always be fighting an uphill battle as long as the practice field is so far away. You would barely make it back for dinner. I think people quit just because of that bus ride. I recall one game day when the buses didn’t even show up. We had like 70 guys hailing Gypsy cabs down on Amsterdam in order to be able to afford the ride and get to the field. Imagine playing a game after you did this and got to the field late!?

The facilities were, and maybe still are, just dated. You just can't compete with other schools if your facilities are so poorly kept up and don’t offer the same things that a Princeton or Harvard can offer.

And how can an administration be taken seriously when they have 3 head coaches on the payroll at the same time? I think when I was there they had Garrett, McAlreavy and Tellier on the payroll at the same time. The practice field was used as a parking lot during games, so you would come back to the field on Monday and be picking up glass and stuff like that.

If you want to win there has to be a commitment to the program and I don’t think that was ever there for football. If you aren’t paying to win then you shouldn’t even field the team. This isn’t high school where you are trying to get kids involved in different things so that they try new stuff. This is a college where you had a Rose Bowl championship team and a QB named Cliff Montgomery. Have a little respect and pride.

Jake: If you could do it all over again, would you come back to Columbia? 

Des: I loved going to school at Columbia. You have to look at the whole package and Columbia was a great place to be. I almost transferred out after my freshman year, but didn’t. So, I thought long and hard about this and stayed then and wouldn’t change my mind now.

That being said, I look now at the school and think that things could and should have been much better. It still bugs me to this day that there was such a lack of commitment by people at the University and in the Athletic department. I would classify them as dead weight and they are probably still there at the school. I have a sour taste with a lot of these people and some of the people today.