Thursday, January 31, 2013

Scholars on the Gridiron

How "high quality" are the academic skills of football players in the Ivy League?

If the Victor Egu story out of Yale is any indication, the answer is: "pretty damn high."

In a nice coup for the Elis, the 6-3 217 lbs. Egu de-committed from Cal and decided to attend Yale last week.

The only trouble is, his academics need a little brushing up and he will attend a prep school for a year first.

So, just to reiterate: a player who was good enough to get into UC Berkeley, (one of the most selective schools in the country), needs help to be eligible for Yale.

It's just another reminder of how extraordinary you have to be to play Ivy League football.

The List: For now

Dwight-Englewood logo.jpg
Dwight-Englewood logo

The list below also includes, OL/DL Eric Mourkakos from the Dwight-Englewood school just over the GW Bridge from Baker Field.

Mourkakos committed to Columbia way back in November according to the Dwight school's Facebook page.

You can see his highlight video by clicking here.

Amazingly, Mourkakos would be just the second documented Dwight Alum to play football for Columbia. 

1. Keith Brady, LB 6-2 205 lbs. Lakota East HS, Liberty Township, OH
2. Toure Douglas, WR 6-4 188 lbs. Vineland HS, Vineland, NJ
3. Cameron Dunn, WR 6-3 210 lbs. St. Xavier HS, Cincinnati, OH
4. Kelly Hilinski, QB 6-6 220 lbs. Notre Dame HS, Sherman Oaks, CA
5. Tyler Kwiatkowski, LB 6-3 220 lbs. Mount Carmel HS, Mount Carmel, PA
6. Eric Mourkakos, OL/DL 6-3, 235 lbs. Dwight-Englewood HS, Englewood, NJ
7. Cameron Nizialek, K/P 6-3 195 lbs. Freedom HS, South Riding, VA
*8. Brett Nottingham, QB 6-4 212 lbs. Monte Vista HS, Danville, CA
9. Kendall Pace, OL 6-5 250 lbs. Bishop McNamara HS, Forestville, MD 
10. Will Peoples, S 6-1 190 lbs. Buckingham, Browne & Nichols, Cambridge, MA
11. Richard Wolff, OL 6-3 254 lbs. Crespi HS Encino, CA

*=Transfer from Stanford University, junior status.

Kwiatkowski Question

Obviously, I'm getting more than one conflicting report about whether Tyler Kwiatkowski is indeed a CU commit.

Truth be told, I think there is ANOTHER young man by that name who has committed to the Navy. So, I think the player from PA's Mount Carmel IS going to be a Lion.

But I'm just going to hold off on publishing our very partial list of commits for now.

Hang with me here folks, this has been an unusually quiet recruiting period as far as published reports about commitments is concerned.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hilinski's Columbia Connection

Kelly Hilinski

Call it a coincidence, but new Columbia football commit Kelly Hilinski has been inspired to achieve on and off the field for many years by his late grandmother, who died of Lou Gehrig's disease when Kelly was 11.

Incidentally, Hilinski will be the second documented Notre Dame HS alum to play for the Lions, following in the footsteps of safety Drew Abeyta '10.

Add One, Scratch One

A BIG QB has just committed to Columbia.

6-7 215 lbs. Kelly Hilinski from Notre Dame HS in Sherman Oaks, CA has decided to come to the Lions.

He had offers from Arkansas, Colorado, Harvard and Yale.

His highlight reel is below:

But Tyler Kwiatkowski has just Tweeted that he is "dropping off his papers for Navy at the Post Office."

Sounds like reports of his committing to Columbia were premature.

Sorry about that.

The Weight Debate

One that got Away 

The price of an Ivy League education was the stumbling block as Nathan Obinwa chose Colgate over Columbia.

Colgate gave Obinwa a full scholarship.

Game over.

We all know it's not easy to afford an Ivy education even with all the those and other programs available. Every Ivy school loses kids because of this and we just have to keep reminding people of the extra edge an Ivy degree gives its graduates. 

Weight Debate

I know I wasn't the only one who found it interesting that weight training was the centerpiece of the athletic department's weekly update on the football program.

Suffice it to say that Head Coach Pete Mangurian's "Grand Experiment," (my title, not his), will continue as he pushes lower body weights on most of the players on the roster. 

The best grade you could give the experiment this past season is an incomplete... but judging by the way our offensive line was pushed around I'd have to give it an F for now.I could be convinced to change that mark if it turns out 2012 was due to growing pains, (or should I say shrinking pains?), for the O-line. 

Don't get me wrong, I really WANT this experiment to work and not just because I want the Lions to win. I'm a big fan of keeping body weight down and I hate seeing athletes having to put on dangerous amounts of weight to play football. 

But one thing is for sure: unless Columbia's offensive line improves in 2013, the Lions won't even match last season's 3-7 record. 

Now here's something cool:

Embedded image permalink

Monday, January 28, 2013

PA Commit

Tyler Kwiatkowski

I'm feeling pretty good about the veracity of a few reports I'm hearing about 6-3 220 lbs. LB Tyler Kwiatkowski committing to Columbia this past weekend.

Kwiatkowski is from Mount Carmel HS in Pennsylvania and he would be the first documented Mount Carmel alum to play football for the Lions.

Tyler's coach, Carmen DeFrancesco, has this to say about him:

"Tyler's a very cerebral kid," DeFrancesco says. "He doesn't make mistakes. He studies the game. They both are the type of kids who accept everything you ask them to do. They never question. They just say 'What can we do to help?"

Sounds like the kind of player who would impress Columbia Head Coach Pete Mangurian.

Here's our list so far:

1. Keith Brady, LB 6-2 205 lbs. Lakota East HS, Liberty Township, OH
2. Toure Douglas, WR 6-4 188 lbs. Vineland HS, Vineland, NJ
3. Cameron Dunn, WR 6-3 210 lbs. St. Xavier HS, Cincinnati, OH
4. Tyler Kwiatkowski, LB 6-3 220 lbs. Mount Carmel HS, Mount Carmel, PA
5. Cameron Nizialek, K/P 6-3 195 lbs. Freedom HS, South Riding, VA
*6. Brett Nottingham, QB 6-4 212 lbs. Monte Vista HS, Danville, CA
7. Kendall Pace, OL 6-5 250 lbs. Bishop McNamara HS, Forestville, MD 
8. Will Peoples, S 6-1 190 lbs. Buckingham, Browne & Nichols, Cambridge, MA
9. Richard Wolff, OL 6-3 254 lbs. Crespi HS Encino, CA

*=Transfer from Stanford University, junior status.

In other news...

Yale's Tom Williams is staying in the coaching ranks this fall. He'll be the new linebackers coach at FIU.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Updates

Another St. Xavier standout may be headed our way this fall.

The hard-working Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Mike Dyer says LB Mark Jacob is wrapping up a visit on the Columbia campus right now.  Jacob is also on Dartmouth's radar and he has a scholarship offer from Buffalo.

Please don't ask me to comment on CU basketball's loss to Cornell last night... but I will say the crowd was amazing. Hopefully that impressed the visiting recruits.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fields of Dreams

Many Columbia fans know that football and baseball games were once played right on campus on what is still called South Field, (see below)

Fewer know that at one time, there was a plan to build a stunning Neo-Classical stadium right at the foot of the Hudson River and 116th Street in what is now Riverside Park. The artist's rendering of the plans for that stadium are below:

And then there's the scant handful of people who know about how close Columbia came to playing its football and baseball games in the Bronx.

That's right, a grass field and surrounding running track known as the Columbia Oval once existed in the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx near Gun Hill Road.

Columbia acquired the land probably sometime in the 1890's and started using it for some athletic events, (not intercollegiate), in 1896.

After the football ban was lifted at Columbia in 1915, an alum named M.L. Cornell, (oh, the irony), suggested that the Oval be used as the site for a permanent football stadium.

The site was accessible by subway, and it is still within walking distance of the Woodlawn Station, which is currently the last stop on the #4 line.

If Columbia had built a stadium there, getting there today would be more than a little annoying. It would require going down on the #1 train from campus to 96th Street, changing to the 2 or 3 train from there and taking that to 149th Street/Grand Concourse, and THEN boarding the #4 and going the remaining 12 stops to Woodlawn. More intrepid travelers could take the #1 Uptown train to the last stop at Van Cortlandt park and walk across the park to the Woodlawn area.

... imagine the fun of that.

But with the advent of World War I a few years later, the idea was shelved so that make-shift hospital buildings could be put on the site and injured troops returning from Europe were treated there.

By the early 20's the Baker Field location had already been donated to the University, and the Columbia Oval was eventually sold off.

The only vestige of the Oval today is a tiny street at the foot of where the Oval once was.

Kings College Place

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wednesday Quick Hits

How about we bring back the Jack Kerouac look?

Williams vs. Mangurian: No Contest

Former Yale Head Coach Tom Williams, (who was basically fired for stretching the truth about his supposed Rhodes Scholar candidacy), is out again, this time as an assistant at UTEP following the arrival of a new head coach in El Paso.

I've been thinking a lot about Williams lately, as he was the last Ivy coach to bring in a big-name transfer QB in Patrick Witt. While Witt's tenure ended disastrously  in New Haven, he did have some pretty good days for the Bulldogs. His biggest problem was he threw way too many interceptions, usually while trying to make too much happen.

A similar knock has been made on incoming Columbia transfer Brent Nottingham. But here's where I'm feeling a lot more confident about Nottingham's chances compared to Witt: I trust Pete Mangurian infinitely more than a guy like Tom Williams to bring out the best in an FBS transfer. Also, Nottingham will be working with a much better WR crew than Witt ever did... and oh, I just think Nottingham will be better anyway!

New Uniforms!

The athletic department announced yesterday that the Lions will be donning new uniforms this coming season. (I assume the helmets will remain the same?).

The last two times CU has changed its look, the result was a nice premium of added wins.

In 2003, the Lions switched to a Carolina Panthers-like look and won three more games than they did in 2002.

In 2006, Columbia switched to their current look and won three more games than they did in 2005.

Hey, if we win three more games this season we'll have a winning 6-4 mark!

Want to weigh in with your suggestions on what the new unis should look like?

Just click here and get involved in the discussion on Facebook.

Basketball Spotlight

I can't remember the last time Columbia football got a nice feature article in the NY Post, but the basketball team just got a nice piece written about them just before they beat Cornell Saturday afternoon. The Lions look to repeat that result and go to 2-0 in Ivy play this Saturday night at home.

In an interesting development, Villanova defeated #5 Louisville last night... yes, the same Villanova team Columbia stomped by 18 earlier this season.

Discuss away!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Buckeye Bonanza

As many readers have already noted, we have two more confirmed members of the 2013 recruiting class. Both are from the greater Cincinnati area.

First is 6-2 205 lbs. LB Keith Brady from Lakota East HS. He is indeed the younger brother of rising junior Lion LB John Brady, (who started to make a bit of an impact last year, getting into nine games and recording five tackles).  This would make the Brady brothers the only two documented Lakota grads to play for the Lions.

Next is 6-3 210 lbs. WR Cameron Dunn from the legendary St.Xavier HS, the same school where recent Lion greats Drew Quinn ‘09 and LouMiller ‘10 came from.  Dunn’s commitment means Columbia will not be without at least one St. X grad on the roster for the first time since 2004. Dunn would be the 9th documented St. X grad to play for the Lion football program.

Dunn is an intriguing pickup, spurning offers from AirForce, Navy and a preferred walk-on offer from Northwestern.

You can see his highlight video here:

Dunn didn’t put up huge numbers at St. X, but he has the size and skills to make an impact. Clearly, big programs saw a lot of potential in him, so I'm very excited about this commitment. 

And one from Cali!

It's not all Buckeye news this weekend as we also add Crespi High School's Richard Wolff to the Lion's den. His commitment is according to one of his HS coaches. Wolff is a 6-3 254 lbs. OL who seems to have come back stronger than ever after a knee injury his junior year.

You can see Wolf's highlight video by clicking here.

Wolff would be just the second Crespi alum to play football for the Lions, but he joins pretty good company in Ray Gerena '97, (Crespi '93), who was a very good player on Columbia's 1996 8-2 team.

So let's update "the list":

1. Keith Brady, LB 6-2 205 lbs. Lakota East HS, Liberty Township, OH
2. Toure Douglas, WR 6-4 188 lbs. Vineland HS, Vineland, NJ
3. Cameron Dunn, WR 6-3 210 lbs. St. Xavier HS, Cincinnati, OH
4. Cameron Nizialek, K/P 6-3 195 lbs. Freedom HS, South Riding, VA
*5. Brett Nottingham, QB 6-4 212 lbs. Monte Vista HS, Danville, CA
6. Kendall Pace, OL 6-5 250 lbs. Bishop McNamara HS, Forestville, MD 
7. Will Peoples, S 6-1 190 lbs. Buckingham, Browne & Nichols, Cambridge, MA
8. Richard Wolff, OL 6-3 254 lbs. Crespi HS Encino, CA

*=Transfer from Stanford University, junior status.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Needs Improvement

3rd down was not CU's friend in 2012

Starting with just a little Columbia coaching alumni news...

Former Head Coach Norries Wilson is being mentioned as the possible new offensive coordinator at Rutgers, which would be a promotion from his current job as running backs coach. His name comes first on this impressive list of coaches including former Columbia assistant John DeFilippo and former Brown Head Coach Mark Whipple.

And the bigger news most of you already know is that Chip Kelly, an assistant under Ray Tellier whom I've profiled many times in the past, is the new head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly's come a long way since he lived across the street from my dorm my senior year in 1991-92. But the cloud of possible recruiting violations at Oregon will hang over him for a while. If Oregon is eventually banned from BCS bowl competition, it'll hang even heavier. Here's hoping, nobody did anything wrong.


Thanks to those readers who indeed read carefully enough to see that the names I have been posting this past week are just players who MAY be on our final list this coming May. I stand 100% the five incoming recruits and one transfer I have listed, but everyone else is indeed just for speculation.

I'd say, "read the fine print," but that very clear distinction was made in the big letters.

Stat Attack

I like Coach Mangurian's "Moving Forward" mantra, but we want to move forward by recognizing what the team has to fix.

Let me just map out the top 3:

1) Pass Protection

The one area just about everyone agrees needs the most improvement is the offensive line, especially pass protection.

The Lions allowed a startling 40 sacks in 2012 for a total loss of 246 yards. And that was with a very mobile QB in Sean Brackett '13. Frankly, 40 seems like a small number when you consider how often Brackett was harassed in the pocket. Remember, the NCAA rules don't count every tackle of QB behind the line of scrimmage as a sack; if he starts to run or seems like he's starting to run it's counted as a run for a loss and not a sack.

So to be fair, Columbia gave up more like 50 sacks last season.

The Lions won't be able to improve much on their 3-7 record if they aren't able to get that number down to 30 or fewer sacks. It's as simple as that.

2) Touchdowns Scored

Columbia scored just 15 TD's in a 10 game season. Their opponents scored 35. A 20-TD disparity is shocking enough to ask how the Lions still managed to win three games last season. And even if you strip away the 69-0 loss to Harvard, CU still was outscored by 10 TD's in the other nine games.

3) 3rd Down Conversions

Columbia only converted 31% of their 3rd down chances, killing drives and putting their defense back on the field way too many times.

Fourth down conversions were even worse, as the Lions converted those 14 chance just twice for a 14% average.

In short, the offense needs to do better in clutch situations. An improved offensive line should help do about 90% of the work needed to get to that point.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

More Possibles

Jordan Fuchs

Here are 15 more names on our radar:

Joseph Markus, a 6-2 282 lbs. OL from Manhattan Beach, CA

Michael Minter, a 6-3 291 lbs. DT from Severna Park, MD

Caleb Johnson, a 6-4 215 lbs. LB from Slatington, PA

Gui Shepherd, a 5-9 165 lbs. CB from Austell, GA

Garrett Strohmaier, a 6-4 290 lbs. OL from Carmichael, CA

Nathan Obinwa, a 6-3 220 lbs. DE from Orlando, FL

Cristian Morris, a 6-0 185 lbs. "Athelete" from Sherwood, OR

Jordan Fuchs, a 6-6 220 lbs. WR from Middle Village, NY (Queens)

Bennet Habliston, a 5-11 177 lbs. K from Alexandria, VA

Tyrin Spencer, a 6-2 205 lbs. LB from Ocean Springs, MS

Ian Gory, a 6-3 190 lbs. QB from Dover, DE

Nick Firestone, a 5-10 175 lbs, CB from Pierce Community College, (would be a transfer from D-II and have to sit out a year)

Will Lucas, a 6-1 190 lbs. RB from Tampa, FL

John Hunton, a 6-5 235 lbs. TE from Fort Smith, AR

Walter Phillips, a 6-0 205 lbs. LB from Holland, OH 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Few More Names...

Kiefer Ketelhut

As we continue to await some more solid commitment news, here are a few more players Columbia is taking a look at for the fall recruiting class:

Chad Fanning, a 6-7 276 lbs. OL from St. Paul, Minnesota

Andrew Gikas, a 6-4 240 lbs. OL from Bloomfield Hills, MI

Tristan Cooper, a 6-0 175 lbs. WR from Tampa, FL

Kiefer Ketelhut, a 6-6 255 lbs. TE from Plainfield, IL

Michael Colubiale, a 6-3 205 lbs. WR from Port Orange, FL

Evan Hinkle, a 5-11 190 lbs. RB from Glen Allen, VA

Monday, January 14, 2013

Transfer Wheels Keep Turning

Tebucky Jones, Sr.

Another Columbia OPPONENT is making use of the transfer option.

This time, it's Fordham as a red shirt sophomore WR from UCONN is rejoining his former teammate QB Michael Nebrich in Rose Hill.

The player is Tebucky Jones, Jr., who hadn't been getting much playing time in Storrs.

Jones is the son of Tebucky Jones, Sr., who played for UConn Head Coach Paul Pasqualoni at Syracuse in the 1990's. The two men had issues back then, but no one says that led to Junior's decision to transfer.

Senior went on to the NFL, where he was a member of the 2001 Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

Admittedly, I missed this story when it first came out in December but I wanted to mention it because Nebrich is the presumed starter and Jones could be his top target when the Lions face the Rams in the Bronx on September 21st.

And of course with Fordham Head Coach Joe Moorhead coming to the Rams directly from a few years in Storrs as an assistant, the supply chain of future transfers may continue.

TV Time Coming! 

Considering I led the outrage over Columbia being the ONLY Ivy team shut out of a football game televised by the new NBC Sports Network, it's only fair to mention that Columbia's Ivy League basketball opener will be shown live on that same channel this Saturday at 3pm.

Two weeks later, the Columbia-Princeton game will be broadcast on NBSN at 6pm from New Jersey.

Apps up at CU, but not Everywhere Else

In a development that should at least be a little help to sports recruiting, the number of applications to the College and Engineering were up again this year by about 5%.

But Dartmouth's applications fell by 3%. I wouldn't make too much of this development as far as it affects Dartmouth negatively, but I would accentuate the positive for Columbia.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Stretch Drive

Head Coach Pete Mangurian tweeted this week that we have two more weeks of hard work to do before we complete the recruiting process for the freshman class.

First off, let's recap who we reportedly have coming in already:

1. Toure Douglas, WR 6-4 188 lbs. Vineland HS, Vineland, NJ
2. Cameron Nizialek, K/P 6-3 195 lbs. Freedom HS, South Riding, VA
*3. Brent Nottingham, QB 6-4 212 lbs. Monte Vista HS, Danville, CA
4. Kendall Pace, OL 6-5 250 lbs. Bishop McNamara HS, Forestville, MD 
5. Will Peoples, S 6-1 190 lbs. Buckingham, Browne & Nichols, Cambridge, MA

*=Transfer from Stanford University, junior status.

Now, here are a few names of players on our radar. Obviously, this is woefully incomplete.

The good news is we're poised for an avalanche of new names in the coming days.

-Lucas Holder, a 6-5 265 lbs. OT from Hicksville, VA.

-Kyle Hopewell, a 6-2 242 lbs. QB from Newport, NC

-D'Amani Grayer, a 5-9 170 lbs. "athlete" from Brophy Prep near Phoenix, AZ

-Eli Dawson, a 6-5 230 lbs. DE from Hudson, OH

-Brandon Cooper, a 6-2 260 lbs. defensive end from Grand Prairie, TX
(Cooper is being pursued by just about every Ivy school)

-Aidan McNamara, a 6-4 285 lbs. OL from Madison, WI

-Tom Spiteri, a 6-2 280 lbs. DT from Wyndmoor, PA

-Austin Loomis, a 6-1 225 lbs. LB from Edmund, OK

Nicholas Bookout, a 6-2 180 lbs. DB from Gulf Breeze, FL

-Luke Taffuri, a 6-2 215 lbs. LB from Scottsdale, AZ

-Micah Breland, a 6-2 218 lbs. LB from Tukwila, WA

-Trent Cortazzo, a 6-0 220 lbs. LB from Mesa, AZ

-Devon Dunn, a 6-0 180 lbs. QB from Mission Hills, CA

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Here Comes the Info!

Yesterday's announcement on about the regular football program updates we will receive is great news.

Long-time readers here will remember how many times I've urged the athletics department to at least come CLOSE to matching the efforts and frequency of this blog.

In all fairness, the recruiting news is not something the university can handle because of NCAA rules.

But I do hope this new initiative and promise will mean more profiles of the players, more updates on what the coaches hope to achieve in the coming season, and more analysis of what we need to do to eventually win an Ivy title in our lifetimes.

Another great part of the announcement was the long list of Columbia faculty who have pledged to be a part of Head Coach Pete Mangurian's plan to get more of the non-athletic department involved with the team in a positive way. Let's hope these people prove the conventional wisdom wrong when it comes to the faculty's reputed hatred of athletics.

And finally, the news that the Spring Game, (or at least the finale of spring practice), will be a little later than usual and is slated for May 4th is also good news in my book. The later the better, because I'd like to see the team evaluated as close to the summer as possible.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Yale keeps up with the Lionses

Logan Scott may never start against Columbia after all

It looks like Columbia won't be the only Ivy team with a transfer QB from a big-time FBS program this fall.

Morgan Roberts of Clemson is transferring and should be accepted to Yale in the coming weeks.

As someone who openly wrote last month about how I'd like to see more FBS transfers coming to the Ivies, I guess I'm getting what I wished for.

Although for the record, I think our incoming transfer Brett Nottingham is a cut above Roberts... but let the competition begin!

Of course we have been in a pissing contest with especially Yale ever since Tony Reno became the Eli head coach a few weeks after Pete Mangurian took over the Lions in late 2011.

First the Elis grabbed away our QB commit Logan Scott, and then we beat them out for RB Mike Gerst from Bergen Catholic. 

But the big win for us was getting WR Isaiah Gross away from Reno despite his earlier commitment to Yale.

And the biggest win was on the field, when the Lions beat Yale 26-22 at Wien Stadium on October 27, 2012.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Cornell Goes Young, REAL Young!

David Archer

28-year-old 30-year-old David Archer has been named the new Head Football Coach at Cornell.

Archer was the captain of the Big Red football team in the 2004 season and has been an assistant coach on East Hill for six seasons.

As someone who has often advocated for hiring older coaches in the Ivies and in the pros, I am a bit stunned by this choice.

It could be that the program feels so burned by the experienced Kent Austin leaving them after just three seasons that the administration decided to go with someone not likely to be poached unless he achieves tremendous success in a short time.

It could be that star QB Jeff Mathews advocated strongly for Archer and the immediate thinking was go with who the star wants.

Whatever the reason, this feels like a very risky choice.

Archer has never even been a coordinator at any level. And for those who are impressed with his recruiting efforts, (he's been recruiting coordinator since 2009), I have to emphasize that his youth is clearly something that sells to many of the high school kids he can relate to... but beyond that I'm not sure he's a regular rainmaker for the Big Red.

It's just hard to take this choice seriously right now.

Perhaps I will feel differently later.

I've been wrong before.

Thin Pipeline

Clifton Dawson was the #1 impact FBS transer to the Ivies in the last 10 years

Big Green Alert's Bruce Wood goes through the names of the FBS transfers to the Ivies over the years. He only really lists QB's, but he gets the big names. 

The list includes some impressive names, like Bushnell Cup winner Gavin Hoffman QB from Penn, and Penn's QB, Doug Rader. 

And Harvard's RB Clifton Dawson, who came to Cambridge from Northwestern and had a full four-year run with Harvard, was the biggest FBS transfer of the past 10 years.  

But the list is generally too small in my book. 

Why so many academically eligible, (and there are a lot of them), players choose to ride the bench in the FBS when they have a chance to really stand out in the Ivies is beyond me.

Of course, Brett Nottingham is coming from academic powerhouse Stanford. But when you come from the athletic program at an FBS school, even if it is Stanford, Duke or Michigan, employers still look askance at your qualifications.

Ivy is Ivy. No easy tracks. And the world knows it.

So why don't more FBS players make the same move?

I'm going to blame poor publicity, at least mostly.

Outside of our readership zone, how many college football fans have heard of Clifton Dawson, Gavin Hoffman or Doug Rader?

Had Dawson made it with the Colts in the NFL a few years ago, maybe things would be different. But he didn't.

And had Nebraska-to-Yale transfer Patrick Witt turned out better than a disaster, more people would have talked about that move in a more positive way.

But the Witt transfer DID get a lot of notice in the general press. Based on that model, there's a good chance the local sports media in New York will pick up on the Nottingham story as it develops.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Yeah it's a Big Deal

Brett Nottingham's HS highlights

Of course Brett Nottingham will not be just given the starting QB spot for the Lions this fall.

Of course nothing is guaranteed as far as wins and losses are concerned.

But as some readers have already pointed out, it's a HUGE deal that a player who was the presumed starter for a top 10 BCS program just six months ago has chosen to join us in Morningside Heights this coming

Coaches and athletic department staffers cannot recruit transfers unsolicited. But let's give some credit to Head Coach Pete Mangurian and his staff, who clearly said the right things to Nottingham after he made the initial inquiry.

 Columbia has had good transfers before, but no one was so highly regarded as a high school recruit and no one who was in line to take the QB position at a school competing for the national championship.

It's true most of us are biased in favor of the Ivy League for many reasons, but this is the kind of thing that should have happened before and should continue to happen at Columbia and the seven other Ivies.


Because, in case you haven't noticed, getting into an Ivy school these days has become harder than winning the Super Lotto. Any very talented college player with the grades should consider coming to this conference where they have a much better chance of standing out to the pro scouts and failing that, getting a degree that will be more valuable for them for the next 45 years of their lives.

And Nottingham, whose father is a highly-renowned back surgeon, should know the value of that kind of education.

It's as simple as that.

And remember that this is a player who isn't coming to us because of injury. Usually BCS-level recruits only consider Ivies after a knee issue.

Don't over-think this incredible news.

Columbia has a holiday gift to savor.