Monday, October 22, 2012

Shaking it Up, and the Importance of Truth

Bob Surace is taking the Tigers from worst to first

Despite all the shifting at the middle and the bottom of the Ivy League through the first five weeks, the 2012 season was unfolding mostly as predicted.

Until this past Saturday. 

One big surprise, and two minor surprises have changed everything and they provide lessons for Columbia that I hope our coaching staff is taking to heart.

First was Princeton's shocker of a win over Harvard at Princeton Stadium. It was a miracle comeback to be sure, but any win over Harvard is just something that no one could have seriously predicted. 

Let me take this opportunity to publicly apologize to TSN's Craig Haley, who I lambasted in the preseason for picking Princeton to finish higher than anyone else expected. Apparently, he really saw something everyone else missed.

But even he wasn't seriously thinking the Tigers could challenge for the title this year. And yet, after six weeks of the season, Bob Surace's boys are alone at the top with a 3-0 league record.

The other two games featured freshmen replacements making big differences in upset wins. 

Yale's 27-13 win over Penn was fueled in part by former Columbia commit Logan Scott at QB. He shared the passing duties with senior Derek Russell and finished 8-11 for 67 yards, a TD and no INT's.

And former bench warmer Jordan Reisner came out of nowhere to torch Cornell for 193 yards rushing in Brown's 21-14 win over Cornell. Just as shocking was the Bear defense holding the Big Red to under 20 points and picking off Jeff Mathews three times.

After seeing what transpired this weekend in the Ivies, it really seems like surprisingly good things can happen to anyone in this league... except Columbia. It's hard not to feel snake-bitten right now but what took place on Saturday was very good for a league that had been falling into a Harvard/Penn dominated stupor for the last several years. 

The Message is Key

I was in the tent Saturday to watch the very nice dedication of the Campbell Center and all the speeches in honor of Bill Campbell '62. 

And it was a really nice ceremony, but what was VERY disturbing was administrator after administrator talking about the "resurgence" or "renaissance" of Columbia sports.

I'll be the first to say the marketing, packaging, and the facilities for the program are much better, but it borders on criminal deception to say our teams are better than they were 15, or even five years ago.

We're not winning in football or basketball, period. We are doing much better generally in baseball and women's soccer, but it's not an every year kind of thing. We're not getting better where it counts, and it rubs salt in the wounds of the true Columbia fans to hear our athletic department administrators tell us the opposite. 

I really think the administration thinks there are so few of us that care whether we win or lose, that they can get away with it. Perhaps they're right factually about that, but I'm not so sure and I am 100% sure they're ethically wrong in that position.

It does add clarity though on why they were so very angry at my public call for Norries Wilson to be fired last year. It's not that they disagreed with my conclusions, or really wanted to defend Norries... it was because I said something negative PUBLICLY and wasn't marching to their "happy talk" empty agenda through and through.

Let me make this 100% clear: Columbia football will NEVER get better until we're honest about where it is right now. And for the Athletic Director to get in front of hundreds of top donors Saturday and talk about how there's a resurgence in the sport is disgraceful. I most certainly object.


oldlion said...

The two main sports we can agree are football and basketball. In basketball we have been picked as a first division team and a possible contender with two potential All Ivy first teamers. So I would say we are resurgent in basketball. In fact, our biggest problem in basketball is that Levien needs to be replaced by a new filed house on campus. In football, I think we are poised for a resurgence. I think the Campbell Center is a huge plus. I took a walk to the boathouse area and was very impressed by what is going on down there as well. As far as the actual football program, the coach is honest with us. He has said publicly that the current upperclassmen have made huge contributions but will not be here when the fruits of the enhancements will be seen on the field. We are getting closer to where we need to be, but it will take another two years to have a contending team. We need help on the OL and in the secondary, the two toughest positions to fill. Look, I admit that I am a huge supporter of Coach M, based upon one meeting, but I am impressed by his candor, his honesty, his intelligence and his grace under pressure. I really think he will be a fine coach.

CULionFanatic said...

Well, let's be honest here. Coaching is not an easy job. Coaching not only composes of the coaching aspect on the field but also of the recruiting aspect. Coach Mangurian should be free from criticism for the time being because:

1. He hasn't had a full 4 years to cycle his recruits
2. He was hired in late December, which means he hasn't had a full year to collect the recruits he wants
3. He has been occupied with trying to correct the losing mentality that is prevalent in the locker room and the school's athletic department

For too long, losing has been acceptable at Columbia University. The students don't seem to care, and neither does the administration. Even some of the athletes start to adopt this losing mentality, as we see with the close games that are frequently lost. These are the obstacles that Mangurian is battling with and I see improvement with the way Mangurian is conducting business. I'm not saying that he should be free from that would be unproductive. My main point is that we should look at all the positives that Mangurian has brought to Columbia Football, especially with the "pile of shit" (excuse my language) that Norries Wilson left for him to clean up.

On another note, I think it is common knowledge how athletics at any school works. Football is the center piece of college athletics. If Columbia wants to start becoming known not only for its academics but also for its athletics, then football should be the priority. Once football starts to pick up, then the other sports will naturally follow.

CULionPride said...

Recruitung starts with winning. Alabama, LSU... just reload. With many of the Ivy League athletes having a choice between schools, unless there is a compelling reason to come to Columbia over another Ivy, we may lose that recruit (I have no empirical evidence but rather a hypothesis)until we can prove that Columbia is a winning program.

Let's hope that this season brings more victories. After the season, let's hope the coaching staff and players can seel Columbia.

Anonymous said...

In Conference Ivy League Games Only

Scoring Offense: Columbia #8
Scoring Defense: Columbia #5
Total Offense: Columbia #8
Total Defense: Columbia #2
Rushing Offense: Columbia #7
Rushing Defense: Columbia #3
Pass Offense: Columbia #7
Pass Defense: Columbia #3
Sacks By: Columbia #4
Sacks Against Columbia #7
Time of Possession: Columbia #7

Individual in Conference Ivy League Games Only

Rushing: Marcorus Garret #2
Passing: Sean Brackett #5
Receptions: Conner Nelligan #3
Recieving Yards: Conner Nelligan #6
Total Tackles: Mike Waller #1
Solo Tackles: Mike Waller #1
Sacks: Will Paterson & Ryan Murphy #13
Tackles for Loss: Will Paterson #1
Losh Martin #10
Passes Defended: Marguel Carter #5
Brian Deveau #10
Travis Reim #10

Here's the link:

Roar Lion said...

Mangurian has a lot of good qualities, but the elephant in the room is that this season looks nearly identical to last season. NW went 1-9 with maybe a touch more talent than we have this year (Jeff Adams, the senior WRs). It looks like Pete is going to go 1-9. NW lost a lot of close games, often in stupefying fashion. Pete is doing the same. If he's a better coach, why do we look exactly the same as last year? Why has SB regressed as a player? Why did he think a super light OL was a good idea? True, he isn't playing with his own recruits, but he also isn't generating better results with NW's players than NW did. I think we all thought Pete would at least manage games better and get more out of his talent. Not clear he's doing either.

Anonymous said...

Bring back Tellier!

Anonymous said...

Jake is on point. To call what is happening at Columbia Football a Renaissance is unethical but given the school's football prowess its understood why the administrators are calling it such.

The administrators doling out the Kool Aid to make the alums feel good about the checks they've written. Bottom line.

The team on the field shows no improvement over last yr. But Coach M has three yrs before he will be put under the spotlight.

Measure stick...
1 win
3 close losses
2 blowout losses

oldlion said...

Coach is playing his best 22. It isn't that he wants a super light OL, it's that his best five OLs average maybe 250. He is also trying to cover for lack of speed at the WR spot, which is why the WRs do not get separation (Gross not playing doesn't help). SB has no time to throw and precious little time to run. He is only effective if he has some blocking. On defense, losing Adebayo was a killer, and we lack closing speed and some cover skills at the corners, which we are trying with limited expense to compensate for by putting pressure on the passer. Garrett is a stud who comes to play. If he had better blocking he would break the Reese rushing record. But I still say that Pete is doing a good job against teams which right now are deeper than us.

Roar Lion said...

Not trying to be hostile here, Old Lion, but Walker, Kosminskas and Gherghurovich all got significant playing time last year and have not seen the playing field this year. Parker is another big kid who looked like a prospect but rarely plays. Is the line really better this year? If we were a spread-the-field team, a small, fast line would make sense. But we're asking Sean to stand in the pocket. Why not protect him with some size?

For sure the line play was poor last year, especially considering Adams and Ward were (are) both very good. So maybe the returning players weren't good enough. I'm not a parent and I don't have an agenda. But the five he's playing struggle to protect the QB and yet he rarely substitutes even for a series.

PS -- he does seem to want a light line because all of our linemen are smaller than last year.

Anonymous said...

Football Weekly Release - Week 7

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jake's comments. However, I do not share the hope that the coach is going to do some tremendous job of recruiting. He just has not done that in the past. His recruits were nothing great at Cornell and why should one assume that they are going to be better at Columbia.
when I was a kid the coach always determined what kind of talent he had and then fit a scheme around that talent. Until he has his own talent on the field, he should be cognizant of the fact that the players, particularly this QB, may not be best suited for his scheme.
The line is small, the D is on the field too much, and whether or not the receivers can gain separation does not matter at this level. they need to catch the ball. When Tellier was the coach he had numerous possession receivers who caught the ball. They were not speed demons.
We should take notes from the fencing and track teams as they always seem to have good teams and good recruits. The track team suffered for years, but they have made headway with very little in the way of facilities.

oldlion said...

I have to assume that the objective isn't to have a light line, but to put the five best linemen we have on the field. We are running the ball better this year than last. Pass pro is weak, but I don't think it was any better last year. I do know that last Spring Pete told our linemen that they were too heavy and too slow and that he wanted them to work on lean body mass.

Anonymous said...

Jake- why hasn't the Ath Dept posted any pictures from the new Campbell Center? All that is out there is renderings...

Would be nice to see what all the hubub is about...

jock/doc said...

write a check and you will be invited to see it, anonymous!
getting tired of all the anonymous negativity.
go lions, beat Yale.
see all you "experts" there on Saturday

Anonymous said...

This blog offers a unique vehicle for talking about CU football. Personal relationship to the topic no doubt shapes what can be said, what is being said. Current parents and recent grads might well respond to the present moment very differently from older players/older alums.

There’s a history here into which the present moment fits.

Most of the comments about the present moment that appear to some as “negative” are neither na├»ve nor driven by anything other than deep hope.

The real negatives voices don’t appear in the stands or on this blog. They're silent on the topic because they don't care about it.

And yes, Beat Yale!


Anonymous said...

To the entire Columbia Lions Football Team,
Some of you may read or hear from others about this blog and get disheartened by some of the negative comments and harsh words that are often expressed here. Don’t get discouraged or think any less of the talent you bring to the game. Negativity is like a cancer that spreads faster than anyone would like it to unless you cut it out from within. Remain positive and you’ll conquer any adversity that comes your way. Many doubters will continue to beat the same drum and sing the same old song; their too small, they don’t have the speed or talent, they don’t know how to win and I sing back to them; bullshit, they will win, they do have the speed and the talent but more importantly they have the will, the desire and the heart to march onward to victory.

Roar Lion Roar, that’s your fight song. Your motivation has to come from one another and deep within yourselves. You control your own legacy. All your sacrifice, injuries, blood, sweat and tears you endured throughout your stay at Columbia combined with the hard work, devotion and dedication to the team will be with you forever. Believe in yourselves and trust in one another’s commitment to excellence and you’ll find that winning is a lot easier to do than you thought possible. You’ll beat Yale this Saturday because you believe you can and you know you will. Play like champions Saturday and prove to yourselves that you always had what it took to win. Good luck lions and make us all hear the roar.

Anonymous said...

As I've written before, having to fill about 10 slots, UCLA's' Wooden took about four years to build a winning team.
If fb doesn't improve next year after Pete has had more than more than 15 months to adjust, start recruiting when competitors do, that will the time to evaluate.

Anonymous said...

I thought that was a terrific statement to the football team that was anonymously posted. Thank you!

Mitch said...

I really enjoy this blog because I never thought there would be a site for connecting with other Columbia football devotees. I night have doubted they even existed.

Having participated in the site now for over a year, I've seen a couple of themes that strangely reappear. For example, sometimes there is a nostalgic enthusiasm for Ray Tellier. He was not a successful coach at CU except for a brief period when somehow some NFL caliber players appeared on the team. God knows how that happened. Was it him? They came and went. Otherwise his record was same old same old.

Also: the fact that CU lineman are not as big as the bad guys is a false issue. I know the game has changed since Saint Billy Campbell played at 170 pounds, but size by itself is not the problem.

One very wise comment here stated that if we are going for smaller quicker linemen, a drop back pro-style passing game is not congruent. For that you need what the great NFL DL Fred Dryer (220 pounds) called "fat bartenders."

But if our linemen are going to be smaller, they do have to be quicker. Otherwise they're just smaller.

Speaking of Billy Campbell, another pet peeve is the idea that a defense gets tired from being on the field too long. One reason CU with Billy C tied for the Ivy title in 61 was that under the rules at that time almost everyone had to play both ways. Those guys were in shape.

The idea of a defense getting tired started when broadcasters of pro games needed something to talk about. Players should be ready to play the whole game and that is by no means too much to ask. When Angelo Dundee was training Ali and Ray Leonard, one word everyone was forbidden to say was "tired." Anyway, I don't even think our players getting tired is the problem at all.

I'll tell you what really might be a problem: practicing football at 5:30 or 6 in the morning. Good Christ.

And oh yes: Go Lions. Beat Yale.

Anonymous said...

Columbia Men's Basketball is heading into the 2012-2013 season with two of the five pre-season First Team All Ivy League players on the Lions' roster, namely seniors Marc Cisco and Brian Barbour. Neither one of them was recruited by the current coach, Kyle Smith, who has done an outstanding job the past two years of helping them develop their all-around game. Our basketball team has also had two winning seasons despite a huge number of injuries. This year we are considered by most prognosticators as a top three team with a chance to win the Ivy League Champuinship. This suggests to me that it is wrong to suggest that a new coach cannot be successful until he surrounds himself with his own recruits. I feel that Coach Mangurian will develop our current players into championship quality players by next season.

Anonymous said...

Brian Barbour is a great college basketball player who was fourth in the nation last year in foul shooting percentage. He is a terrific all-around point guard with an uncanny ability to drive successfully to the basket.

Anonymous said...

let Brackett play coach!

Anonymous said...

Having read all the comments on this thread and others, it does not appear that anybody is suggesting the kids are not working hard toward a goal of winning. The general theme seems to be more that there is a lack of understanding plus a general discouragement that we are going back into the duldrums of yester year where CU was losing. I think it is more the dread that we arent moving forward given the nature of the losses recently.
There is an appreciation for Tellier because he won, even if for only a year or two, which is no small task given the number of coaches that have come and gone and have not won. That he had good players is a credit to his recruiting. I am not saying he is the end all, but he did win and recruit well.
I am a former player and I am of the viewpoint that I dont care how big/small/fast/slow a player is or how long the defense or certain players are on the field or whether we should run a pro style/bone/I/spread/ or wing T offense. There is only one thing that counts and as the saying goes, JUST WIN BABY.
All the other jabbering is just that, jabbering.

oldlion said...

I am a relentless cheerleader for the coach and the players and take issue with Jake's basic premise that we need to engage in criticism of the coaches in order to improve. This Coach has remained positive and supportive week in and week out. Just read his blogs and his tweets. He thanks all of us for our support and for coming out to the games. I for one think he is doing a great job which will soon be reflected in wins rather than the three close losses we experienced. I want to see the type of enthusiasm in the stands that we saw last Saturday every Saturday. Anybody who was there knows what I mean. So let's go out and beat Yale.

Anonymous said...

I generally agree with the oldlion, but I think he is missing Jake's point in this particular posting that it is misleading and not helpful to talk about a renaissance in Columbia athletics when there has been some improvement, but not much in the t performances of our athletic teams the past several years. Yes, we have improved dramatically in men and women track and field and cross country, men and women swimming and baseball, and men and women's tennis and golf, but after that our gains, the last few years have been mostly of an insignificant nature, with a few more wins than before, but few championships. Certainly, men's basketball appears to be on the right track, and softball and a few of the other women's sports are looking up, but there are some sports like women's basketball where the recent won and lost record has been dismal. By its nature any blog including Jake's will invite real criticism. Of course, there should be tons of positive publicity coming out of the athletic department, but it should be daily stories about the coaches and the players and not about cockeyed descriptions of non-existent renaissances.

CULionPride said...

I agree with the previous poster regarding blogs inviting criticism but the blog owner has the right to post what they wish. Similar to what is on television, if one does not wish for their children to watch a program, or one does not wish to watch a program, turn the channel or turn it off. I have not agreed with Jake on all that he has written, or for that matter all the posts. However, I receive more information here than any other source(s) from Columbia (unless one counts the daily fund raising email which today told me tomorrow is Columbia Giving Day). The information I receive on opponents and the Ivy League is fantastic as well. If this blog did not exist then we would likely be sitting on our hands talking to ourselves about what is up with Columbia. Thank you Jake for the hard work and hours you put into this for us to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I too am grateful to Jake for his efforts and sacrifices to provide this forum. We're lucky to have it.

Perhaps someone with more football savvy could tell me if the impression I've gotten from watching Princeton play a number of games is correct. It seems to me that Princeton's success is largely a result of their successful adoption of the "hurry up" offense. Ivy defenses simply can't handle a decent "hurry up" offense. Brown looked helpless when faced with it. Columbia certainly can't handle it. The 39 points Princeton put up against Harvard speak for themselves. This is all despite the fact that Princeton's offense doesn't seem particularly outstanding talent-wise.

I wonder if the "hurry up" offense is the future of Ivy football. Some of the best FBS teams in the country can't handle it. It's unlikely that Ivy coaches, even with an off-season to prepare for it, are going to come up with a solution. I don't see why every Ivy (for better or worse) wouldn't adopt it next year. I don't see it (notwithstanding last Saturday) affecting Harvard's continuing hegemony but it may be a way for a team with a recruiting handicap to close the talent gap a little through better execution. It will certainly make Ivy football more enjoyable to watch.

Anonymous said...

In response to the last post on the hurry up. there are going to be many answers, but the simplest and one i think is the most accurate is that most teams spend little time practising to defend the hurry up or running it for that matter.
it makes sense to run it because it is an immediate edge. that with many teams just not conditioned well enough to not be able to rotate players, makes it a nice niche.
that being said, i think by years end people can prepare much better for it as there is more film, etc on what an offense does with it.
take a look at the Oregon offense. it isnt always a hurry up, but they do try and be as fast as they can to get plays going. the faster they can do it there could be a higher probability that they can catch the other team unprepared.