Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Enough with the Silent Treatment

The happy and optimistic feeling I’ve been enjoying ever since Columbia removed the previous football coaching regime is starting to fade as we continue to get no updates whatsoever on the Athletic Director job search.

To be clear: I DON’T think the administration should be required to give us the names on a possible short list, salary offers, or other intimate details.

But it would be very wise for Columbia to be a lot more forthcoming in this hiring process and in the hiring process for the new football head coach than it has been so far.

Remember, the secretive and unethical process used to hire Pete Mangurian in 2011 produced nothing but the predictable disastrous results. The administration should do whatever it can to prove to the fans and alumni that it’s keeping everything above board this time.

It’s still not too late to do that, especially since the students and much of the administration are off on vacation right now.

But if by the end of next week, we’re still completely in the dark about this process that will simply not be acceptable and a bad omen for the hiring decisions that will eventually be made. It will also be yet another signal from Low Library that the alumni and fans are not worthy of being informed or listened to.

Considering the defensive and petty bashing of this blog by the many people in this administration and its toadies, you’d think they would try to drown out its voice with some steady information of their own. I’m really not sure why these people have yet to learn the very first lesson of P.R.: "control the message."

As of now, there is no message and that’s not good.

On the bright side, I can report that some very strong candidates for both jobs have shown at least private interest to the appropriate people inside the administration. So it’s not like we’re not getting anywhere in this effort. And speed is still not a priority over making the best choice in personnel.

But we’re listening and waiting and we’re about a week away from becoming truly impatient. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

It’s Black Monday, Think Outside the Box

John Idzik and Rex Ryan

The fact that Columbia still does not have an athletic director or a football head coach is definitely not the best news at this very moment on the recruiting front.

But with “Black Monday” happening now in the NFL, it’s good to have many more options available to us now that the pro teams are making a lot of changes.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m clamoring to hire a bunch of just-fired GM’s and head coaches from the pro ranks. But remember that some of the top coordinators and other assistants will likely lose their jobs too when their bosses get the heave-ho.

The key is that Columbia should not hesitate to think outside the box when it comes to filling its open positions. And even though a former NFL coach really failed for us with our last hire, that should not preclude us from looking at the NFL ranks if there are truly some good candidates among them.  

This is truly uncharted territory, because I don’t believe Columbia has ever had these two positions still open post-Black Monday.

So far, Head Coach Rex Ryan and GM John Idzik have already been axed by the Jets. The Bears have fired GM Phil Emery and Head Coach Mark Trestman. The Falcons just fired Head Coach Mike Smith. Jim Harbaugh is going to Michigan, presumably leaving at least some of his excellent San Francisco 49er staff behind.

Are there any names on the staffs of the people fired just before 10am today that Columbia should consider? I would be shocked if there weren’t at least two or three.

I feel like even for Columbia, we are suddenly entering a true buyer’s market. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Another Name

Howard Endelman

I'm not the first one here to mention the name of Howard Endelman as good possible candidate for Athletic Director.

Here's a short bio.

Lots of schools, even very big schools, keep the A.D. job in the family of alumni. And as long as that person from inside the family has the chops to do the job, that's not a bad thing.

I think Columbia still needs to make a serious effort for an outside big name like Tim Pernetti, but if that effort fails, (and it has to be a serious effort), Endelman is the kind of exemplary guy who could get a lot accomplished.

A knock on Howie, (everyone calls him that), is that he was not a football player and came to Columbia as a tennis guy. But that alone should no disqualify him. MANY of the football players from the years Endelman attended Columbia have the highest regard for him. And many of those players are significant donors.

And the fact that Endelman is a good candidate is proof that not EVERYTHING the Columbia administration touches turns to dust.

The continued secrecy and lack of news on the A.D. search front is starting to get a little unsettling.

But I do know that at least phone interviews have begun.

Let's hope the right people are getting those calls.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Three Quick Hits

1) Don’t be surprised or alarmed if Columbia does not meet its self-imposed target of early January for hiring the new Athletic Director. Again, I don’t see this as a reason to panic. I’d be much more concerned by a rush to hire which has characterized most of our major hiring decisions in the past. Even though I am eager to see Dianne Murphy out the door literally and figuratively as soon as possible, we should take the time do this right and make sure all the best potential candidates have a chance to either be approached or approach us.

2) Columbia basketball is getting lots of attention lately thanks to good showings at Kentucky and UConn and a nice win at home vs. Hofstra. But the fans like to focus on star players, or just one star player and we really have one in junior Maodo Lo. His unconventional path to basketball and the Ivy League should serve as a lesson to the football program when it comes to recruiting. Most importantly, it’s just a joy to watch him play.

3) Classes resume on Tuesday January 20th and students will return to campus. Four days later, Cornell will come into the Levien Gymnasium for the Ivy League home opener, (the Lions play Cornell at Cornell the week before). That day and that game would be a logical time to introduce the new A.D. to the fans. A week later, the Lions have a home stand against Yale and Brown and those could be good games to introduce the new football coach. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Saying the Right Things & the Wrong Things

Coach Mac today

Stadium Journey interviewed former Columbia Head Coach Larry McElreavy and it included a large amount of Columbia content including Coach Mac's thoughts on the program right now.

It should be noted that McElreavy at one time or another, had close professional ties to two people who loom large on Columbia's radar screen right now: Rick Taylor and Joe Moglia.

McElreavy knows both of these men quite well and I know he would be a good source for them if Taylor's affiliation with Columbia continues and if Moglia decides to consider taking the coaching job here.

Some of the kinds of players and regions of the country McElreavy recruited well for Columbia have been ignored ever since, especially the New England preps. He also had a very good eye for offensive line talent. Any new regime at Columbia would be wise to look at all of those deficiencies and address them.

As far as Taylor's report, we do know that it was presented to President Lee Bollinger and presumably outgoing Athletic Director Dianne Murphy on Thursday. I agree with those who believe the general public will never see even an executive summary. But stranger things have happened.

For me, getting our hands on the report is not really all that important. Much more important is what I and so many others have been saying for months now, and that is what Bollinger says and does in the coming weeks.

We all saw and read the absolute garbage Bollinger said about football and athletics last year. His words had an impact as we all endured another terrible year for football as a result. We knew it was going to happen as soon as those words hit the Spectator's presses. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Take some time to read the 100+ comments on the post I linked to at the beginning of this paragraph to get an idea just how many of us knew what was in store this past season. It seems only Bollinger didn't see it.

When Bollinger made that statement it sent a strong message to the fans, the alumni, the potential recruits and our opponents that Columbia really didn't give a damn about winning or even a degree of respectability for football.

Smarter words and actions by Bollinger this time around can easily have the opposite effect. Yes, even the words alone could help. I have no problem if he waits to say those words until he hires a new A.D., but he has to say something substantive and positive soon. And he should talk at least in general terms about what Taylor suggested to him in his report.

Because Murphy is out and so is Mangurian, Bollinger's words and actions are more important than ever. Unless he wants to lean on Bill Campbell or Jonathan Schiller for help here, Bollinger is on his own.

Let's see what he says and give him a chance to say it.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Joe Moglia on NFL Films

You HAVE to watch this video about Joe Moglia from NFL Films.

Thanks to Bruce Wood for finding this and putting it up first on his site.

Give the People What they Want

Al Paul

The last three athletic directors at Columbia University have been Al Paul, John Reeves and Dianne Murphy.

It goes without saying that no amount of alumni or fans ever clamored for the hiring of any of these people. That doesn’t mean that their lack of popularity had anything to do with their well-documented failures, but it does mean that there’s ample evidence that the administration at Columbia has never taken a flyer on a fan or alumni favorite when it comes to filling this crucial job.

As far as the head football coaching position, the last time a fan/alumni favorite got that job at Columbia was when Bill Campbell was hired in 1974.

I know the conventional wisdom is that Campbell was not a success at Columbia, but that’s not really fair. His 1976 and 1978 teams were competitive during a time when Columbia, NYC, and Morningside Heights might as well have been Siberia. If Campbell had been able to ride out the storm of the late 70’s and remain through the city’s and the university’s financial and cultural rejuvenation in the 80’s, the story may have been very different.

But that’s not the main point. The point is since Campbell left the job in 1979, Columbia has hired no less than SEVEN COACHES who weren’t fan favorites and weren’t even on any real fan’s radar!

Here’s the list of those seven coaches just to prove the point: Bob Naso, Jim Garrett, Larry McElreavy, Ray Tellier, Bob Shoop, Norries Wilson, and Pete Mangurian.

Bob Naso

Sure, some fans and alums liked and supported the seven names above once they surfaced as candidates for the job. But none of them, not one, was someone fans/alums organically wished or lobbied for at all.

And that’s what makes the “we’ve tried everything and nothing’s worked” narrative we often hear from the administration so infuriating.

The fact is no they HAVEN’T EVER done what the fans have asked for when it comes to hiring. And it shows. Not every choice of the people is going to be a success of course. In fact, maybe most of them won’t. But never going with the people’s choice and failing every time sends a strong message and that message is: “Screw You.”

I suspect the evaluation of the football program just completed yesterday by Rick Taylor will go further to destroy the administration’s “we’ve tried everything” narrative. But just in case anyone is confused, remember that in the coaching and AD hirings alone, that narrative is ridiculous on its face.

Now I don’t pretend to represent most of the fans/alums. But I can tell you this: every serious fan, committed alum, and even the Columbia employees I have spoken to over the last few weeks believes Tim Pernetti would be a slam dunk excellent choice for Athletic Director.

And every serious fan, committed alum, and even the Columbia employees I have spoken to over the last few weeks believes that Joe Moglia or Tom Gilmore would be a slam dunk excellent choice for head football coach.

Does that mean we’re 100% right? Of course, no one can know that.

John Reeves

Still, I feel very confident saying that Pernetti and Moglia/Gilmore are solid fan choices that Columbia should pursue seriously and do it now. If the university does not pursue them and once again presents us with two hires for those jobs that no fan has ever even considered or supported, then let the record show that the onus for any failures by those hires is once again squarely on the shoulders of the administration and not due to “fan pressures.”

There are many other strong names to consider for these positions, and I’ve named them on this blog over the last few months. So, I don’t want to make this solely about Pernetti, Moglia,and Gilmore.

But after 53 years of football futility and 46 years without an Ivy title in basketball, it’s time for this administration to stop acting like it knows better than the fans, better than the alumni, or better than anyone.

Give us what we want for once, and then you can start acting like you know better. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lift Our Embargo Too

The pre-embargo 1961 Ivy League Champion Lions

The embargo against Cuba has been in place since 1961... just as long as Columbia football has had an embargo against winning championships.

Yesterday, President Obama moved to lift that embargo and resume ties to that Caribbean nation.

Today, or at least as early as today, Columbia President Lee Bollinger could make a similar move to lift our winning football embargo.

He could do that by hiring Tim Pernetti as our new Athletic Director, advising him to hire Tom Gilmore or Joe Moglia as our new head football coach, announcing increased and more aggressive financial aid packages for recruits, and issuing a statement of full-throated support for football and explaining why a winning program will benefit the entire university.

Bollinger has the ability to do all of the above and he would reap a net positive amount of moral and financial support for it.

Will he let the naysayers, the athletics-haters, and the defensive failures who dominate our administration dissuade him?

Or will he do the right thing by Columbia athletics... for once?

(To get an idea of just how long ago 1961 was, and how different the game was back then, take a look at this newsreel footage of Columbia's greatest win of that season.)

Important Cause

Please read this note from Bob Kent '92 and help his important cause:

Dear Fellow CU Athletics Alumni,

I am contacting this select group to ask your help in combatting a desperate situation that gets very little attention: modern slavery in Iraq and Syria. Human trafficking in this region increased exponentially after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. The Syrian conflict greatly exacerbated the problem, but the arrival of ISIS and their medieval slavery practices created a horror show-esque scenario.

There are minimal government services in the conflict areas and the slavers are unopposed. ISIS even runs a slave market in Mosul. CNBC interviewed me about this topic in August.

Hafaza International (Hafaza is a 501(c) non-profit organization, see here: Hafaza International) has begun to execute a plan to counter this tragedy. This fall, I traveled to Turkey and met with representatives from the Free Syrian Army and their former president, Ahmad Jarba. In January, I will travel to Kurdistan, Syria, and Iraq to coordinate counter-slavery operations with the Peshmerga General Command, the Southern Front, and Jaish al-Karma (all of these organizations are moderate and have some level of US government support). If these meetings are successful, we will build the only organization in the region capable of identifying, locating, rescuing, and restoring the victims of slavery. Hafaza will coordinate fundraising and public awareness campaigns, construct shelters, and provide expertise to train, locate, and restore the victims. Our partners will provide rescue forces, a support network, and protection for our shelters.

We need sponsors to help us fund the January trip. Any assistance you provide will be greatly appreciated.

You can make a difference - who dares wins!

Thank you,

Bob Kent
President, Hafaza International

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Push for Pernetti Picks Up

He IS interested... let's get him!

I now have more than one source that tells me that former Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti would be very interested in the Columbia A.D. job if approached by CU.

If we have not already approached him, there is no more time to waste.

Pernetti is rainmaker who would have an immediate positive impact on Columbia athletics. Everyone in the sports world I talk to thinks this is a no-brainer decision and is wondering what’s taking so long for Columbia to hire him already.

Again, I want to pre-emptively dispel anyone from thinking that the scandal at Rutgers that led to his downfall should in any way give Columbia any pause.

First off, while Pernetti did not do exactly all the right things in the Mike Rice incident, I and many experts on the Rutgers story believe Pernetti was unfairly ousted in the whole affair.

This column puts everything about Pernetti and that incident into the fairest light.

But just as importantly, we should all consider strongly Columbia’s current status as a severely wounded brand. How ludicrous it would be if we attempt to ride on some kind of high horse after what our administration has done to athletics in general and football in particular.

Columbia would offer Pernetti a chance to get back into a profession he was born to do and do much better than 99% of his athletic director peers. Columbia also offers Pernetti the glow of an much more elite academic institution than any of his peers could ever hope to associate with.

In return, Pernetti would give Columbia a shot in the arm and announce to the world that this university isn’t just paying lip service to the dream of competitive athletics.

If you are going to the men's basketball game vs. Hofstra at Levien Gym Saturday night, do all of us a favor and seek out anyone from the administration you can find and talk Pernetti up. This is not the time to stay silent. Let them know we're being vigilant and we don't accept sheepish failure. 

I want to hear reports of Pernetti visiting campus in the coming days. I want to hear that Pernetti is being considered seriously by the administration.

I want to hear that Columbia has hired Tim Pernetti as our next athletic director. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How We Blew it With Joe

Just in case anyone is wondering why I'm so insistent on making sure Columbia doesn't blow its hiring opportunities... just read this.

I know some people may doubt that Columbia had a chance three years ago to hire Joe Moglia.

But we did, and here's what happened:

In his fourth and likely last hiring season—“As much as I want to spend my life coaching, I did not want to spend the rest of my life looking for a job,” he told me—Columbia University, Florida Atlantic University and Fordham University all showed interest in him. Columbia blew him off after a phone interview. FAU hired another coach (Carl Pelini, who has since been relieved of his duties). And Moglia withdrew his name from consideration for the Fordham job when it became clear the school was going with another coach. (He did so reluctantly; Fordham is his alma mater.)

Of course, we all know why Columbia blew him off: Dianne Murphy had already decided on Pete Mangurian even before the phony search committee was formed.

We hired a guy with a long history of player relationship problems instead of Joe Moglia!

Joe Moglia!

For those who think Columbia is just cursed and there's nothing our leaders could do to fix that curse, the Moglia story is a very important example of how poor management, and not our location, facilities, or funding is our true curse.

With Rick Taylor scrutinizing the program right now, Murphy out and some of the usual suspects also in the doghouse, maybe that curse is in the process of reversing itself once and for all.

Meanwhile, there's only one way to make this right: CALL MOGLIA BACK!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Go Big or Go Home

Tim Pernetti 

Forgive me everyone, I’m still basking in the glow of what looks to me like the best chance in my lifetime to change the culture of Columbia football for the better.

The destructive coach is gone. The football-clueless, public relations-clueless, and defensively combative  destructive-coach-hiring Athletic Director is out.

A true non-politically correct football expert is currently assessing the Columbia program and will produce a no-holds-barred review in three days.

If Columbia didn’t already have a long track record of screwing up chances to do things right, I’d be a lot more optimistic to be sure.

But I am still optimistic, because so many of the usual administrative road blocks are gone. And the few alumni types who usually do nothing but serve as yes-men for the bad decision-makers have truly been shamed over the past year. They are unusually silent and withdrawn right now. That’s a good thing.

This is the time to be bold, because we’ve silenced the usual suspects who like to try to sound superior when they poo-poo the desires of true fans and alums.

Thanks to their silence, we can and should make a bold play for Joe Moglia as our next head coach. As great as he is, I don’t think he’ll ever get an honest offer from a big time FBS program like Michigan. Nebraska already passed on him, and that was very telling. Money is not an issue for him, he’s worth $150 million. What he wants and deserves is notoriety and he’ll get that here in NYC even if it is while helming an Ivy League team. And as one reader reminded me this morning, Moglia is a New Yorker through and through. Since money is not the issue with him, Columbia should be bold by offering him as much free reign as he wants to run this program.

Columbia should be similarly bold with the other excellent coaching choices out there. I’d hire Tom Gilmore away from Holy Cross in a moment, despite his recent contract extension. And there are many other great coaching names out there that could come to the Lions if given the right, bold offer.

The same goes for the Athletic Director search. I’d be bold and offer the job to Tim Pernetti in a second. Pernetti is the real deal and also worth giving a big salary and free reign to do his job the way he sees fit. I believe Pernetti was made into an unfortunate fall guy in the Rutgers men’s basketball coaching abuse situation a few years ago. He did make some mistakes there but his response was definitely more appropriate than the president of the university,  who I think did nothing until the media caught wind of the story. I also think that given that history, Pernetti may be the best guy to insure nothing like that ever happens at Columbia. He wants redemption on that score and I’d trust him to get it. More importantly, he’s a rain maker who knows how to win.

Moglia, Gilmore and Pernetti aren’t the only bold choices out there for our open jobs. But if we go out and just hire another pair of candidates who no one has ever really heard of with no real gravitas, it will again be evidence that President Lee Bollinger sees athletics as nothing more than an annoyance that needs to be kept out of sight. Losing too much is bad for someone like Bollinger, but bold and exciting winning would be too. However, if we get two nobody people to fill these slots I think the losing will continue and get worse. With that in mind, we might as well win! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Calling Joe Moglia...

Head Coach Joe Moglia's Coastal Carolina Chanticleers just fell in a valiant effort to the North Dakota State Bison in Fargo. 

Time to give this man a call and see if he'd like to come back to the Ivy League and coach Columbia. 

Tim Pernetti for AD

HColumbia is fortunate to have a shot at an excellent candidate for Athletic Director: Former Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti.

I believe Pernetti, who now works for Major League Soccer, would love to take the job if we were smart enough to approach him. 

This is a guy with a proven record of success who I believe was unfairly ousted at Rutgers when he was made into a fall guy for an abusive basketball coach. 

These kinds of opportunities don't come around too often. And if Columbia hires some crony like Ted Gregory when gems like Pernetti are out there, then shame on us. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Time Tables

Based on what I’m hearing and what I admit is a bit of speculation, here’s what I think we can expect in the coming weeks:

A.D. Hire

I can’t think of a more secretive process in Columbia history other than this search process for a new Athletic Director. The usual leaks and sources of info have either decided to shut up or we have a completely new set of people in the loop.

Either way, I do expect us to hire a new A.D. the week of January 5th.

Coaching Hire

I think the new A.D. will be able to quickly pick up the search process for the new football head coach. And since I don’t expect him or her to be starting truly from scratch, I would expect our new head coach to be hired the week of January 26th.

So, just focusing on football for the moment, that gives us about six-and-a-half weeks to wait before we name the new head coach.

I think that could be a very good thing. Despite some headlines and stories that suggest the contrary, the longer we wait on this decision, (within reason), more good candidates will become available than the number of possible applicants who will go off the table.

I realize there have been some media reports indicating some of our favorite possible candidates are off the table, but they are not necessarily what they seem.

So, the next 45 days are likely to be more interesting and will definitely be more rewarding than the entire 2014 season surely was.

After what we’ve been through the last year, Columbia fans deserve to spend these coming six weeks or so daydreaming like people who have just bought a $500 million Powerball ticket. 

As long as we’re not disappointed right off the bat with a bad A.D. hire, this should be a fun period with at least the chance for all of us to be pleasantly surprised maybe more than once.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Well Represented

A loss is a loss, but the nice job the basketball team did last night against #1 Kentucky at Rupp Arena was finally a positive representation of Columbia athletics on national TV.

What I liked more than the score and more than the fact that the Lions led at halftime, was the fact that you'd never guess Columbia was an Ivy League team just by looking at the way they moved around on the court.

Long gone was the slow, plodding play that teams like Princeton made an Ivy League staple.

The Lions looked fast, agile and ready for anything.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

BREAKING: Tellier, Rippon to Share Interim Duties

Columbia football appears to be digging in for a longer coaching search process.

Former Columbia Head Coach Ray Tellier and current defensive coordinator Chris Rippon will share the leadership positions for the football team on an interim basis. Rippon has been named as the nominal interim head coach.

It's standard procedure to appoint a person to lead the team through the off season and recruiting events while the new head coaching search goes on. But the decision to add Tellier as a "special advisor" to the program tells me there is going to be more work than usual because the search could last a while longer than previous searches.

But the real headline from outgoing Athletic Director Dianne Murphy's letter, (see below), might be her wording at the end where she writes that "It is my understanding that the search for a new Head Football Coach will not begin until the new Athletics Director is selected."

I certainly hope that means she is as out of the loop on this search process as it sounds. After the debacle of the Mangurian hiring and the way it was handled, Murphy needs to stay far away from all things football.

I am writing to update you about our football program, as we work through our leadership transition.

I want to let you know that we have appointed Defensive Coordinator Chris Rippon as Acting Head Football Coach. Chris will be responsible for all day-to-day football operations, and supervising our assistant coaches. I have also appointed Ray Tellier as a Special Advisor to Columbia Football as we work through this transition. Ray will work closely with Chris and provide strategic input, advice and counsel during this period of transition.

Chris has more than 29 years of college football coaching experience. Prior to coming to Columbia, he served as the defensive coordinator at Marshall University. Chris has also coached at Rutgers, Syracuse, Ole Miss, Boston University and Western Connecticut State.

As you know, Ray was the Head Football Coach at Columbia from 1989 through 2002, and later served as our Associate Athletics Director for Intercollegiate Sports Programs, where he oversaw football, prior to his retirement in June. Few people, if anyone, understand Columbia Football better than Ray.

Chris and Ray are charged with ensuring the continuity of our football program operations, including on-campus official visits and off-campus recruiting. They will also work together to plan for spring practice. Chris and Ray will also work closely with Strength Coach Bob Gilmartin to oversee our off-season strength and conditioning program. Chris will also manage all other off-season football operations, and will work closely with our student-athletes to make sure they are fully engaged.

As you know, Columbia is in the middle of a national search for a new Athletics Director. It is my understanding that the search for a new Head Football Coach will not begin until the new Athletics Director is selected.

I look forward to keeping you updated throughout this leadership transition. Your continual support of our football program is most important at this time.

I know that I can count on your support. Thanks so much.

Best regards,

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Three More Names

I thought I'd add to the list of possible coaching candidates at Columbia with three more names from the top three finishers in the Ivy League this season. 

Remember you can see my original short list of my favorite candidates, led by Tom Gilmore and Joe Moglia, here.

Joel Lamb

Lamb has been the #2 guy under Tim Murphy at Harvard for nine years and has consistently produced potent scoring teams as offensive coordinator.

A few things give me pause about Lamb: we don’t know how he’d perform without the powerful Harvard name as a recruiting lure. And it seems like he is truly trying to wait his turn at Harvard as his first choice. Someone like that could bolt back to Harvard at a moment’s notice even if he was already working at or committed contractually to Columbia.

He’s also not a New York guy by any stretch. And I think getting someone at least familiar with the city and/or Columbia is ideal.

Those scenarios aside, Lamb is still an impressive candidate who should be looked at closely if he is interested in the job.

Joe Conlin

Conlin is coming off a great year as the Yale offensive coordinator. And he spent a number of years at FCS powerhouse New Hampshire before coming to New Haven. He’s young and ambitious.

But did the Elis excel because of his work or because of Bushnell Cup winner Tyler Varga and super WR Deon Randall? Both of those players were guys he did not recruit. ‘

Conlin also has no experience with Columbia or NYC. 

Don Dobes

I’ve already flagged two other Dartmouth assistants, Keith Clark and Cortez Hankton, as good possible candidates for us at Columbia.

But Don Dobes, the Big Green defensive coordinator, is certainly worth a look.

You can’t really find more experience than what Dobes brings to the table, and his work with the Dartmouth defense these last few years has been impressive.

He doesn’t have NYC or Columbia experience, but experience is not really his Achilles heel no matter how you look at it.

I suppose a lot of people would question his age and wonder if he’s past his prime as a head coaching candidate.

But I’d still give him a long look. 

About Time

Despite Columbia’s rocky history, lack of an A.D., etc. I can report that there is indeed serious interest from a lot of candidates for our vacant football head coaching job.

Rumors of Columbia being a place no one wants to go have been greatly exaggerated.

The truth is, Columbia pays and houses its football head coaches very well. And if President Lee Bollinger adheres to Rick Taylor's report due at the end of next week, I believe there's a good chance we're about to pay our future offensive and defensive coordinators pretty well too. 

I'm a little more concerned about what's going on with our A.D. search, especially since news on that front has been so scarce. Closed-door or under the radar searches don't have a very good track record on Morningside Heights. So beyond my own personal curiosity, I think we all have a stake in finding out a little more about where we are in this process. 

I don't know if those pushing for Ted Gregory to get the job are still pushing, but I still don't think he's the right choice for a lot of reasons. I think Ted is a very good person, but not qualified for this position. Plus, Columbia really needs to eliminate any semblance of cronyism in its hiring process for Athletics. I don't see any reason to hire Gregory other than to please his friend Bill Campbell... and we don't even know if Campbell wants Gregory for the job anyway. 

I think there have been a lot of moves in the football program made by people trying to please Bill Campbell even though they had no idea what would or wouldn't please him anyway. A better policy is to make the best moves and the best hires and trust that a smart person like Campbell will be pleased by that alone. 


It is now December 9th. For the record, Pete Mangurian was officially hired on December 8, 2011. So the argument to get someone in this early is much diminished in my eyes. 

That doesn't mean I WANT to wait a day longer if the best candidate is out there now. 

But I also think that in Columbia's case, we need to take our time and get these hires right. 

I know the recruiting race is still going on for 2015, but you have no idea what a new coach will bring to that party. For example, when we hired Norries Wilson in late 2005 he brought with him some recruits we previously hadn't even looked at. One of those recruits was the great WR Austin Knowlin. 

Any current head coach or top assistant at another school is likely to be close with some top recruits who he could easily lure to Columbia when he's hired here. That goes double for potential transfers. 

The fact is, I'm still in a euphoric state as the "100%, no doubt, we're going nowhere" cloud has finally been lifted off this program. 

A late, but good hire for head coach and A.D. is more than a fair trade in return for finally getting the ruinous former regime out of the way. 


So how did former Columbia Head Coach Larry McElreavy do in his first year as a the head coach of the Newport HS (New Hampshire) Tigers?

Check out this video to find out.

Friday, December 5, 2014

UPDATE: Mangurian Officially Out

Columbia President Lee Bollinger sent out an email at 1pm today confirming Pete Mangurian's resignation as head football coach.

I am relieved for many reasons, but mostly because I can now cease criticizing Mangurian and my favorite football team.

I have already weighed in on my favorite choices for a new head coach with this list.

But I remain committed to allowing Rick Taylor to complete his review of the football program and hopefully give us some strong suggestions for a new head coach.

Most importantly, now that Columbia is officially without an Athletic Director and a football head coach I believe the chances are much greater that Bollinger will actually listen to and enact Taylor's suggestions. And the chances that Columbia will again conduct a fraudulent and unfair search process for Mangurian's replacement are now much lower.

This is a good day for the players, the program and the university.

BREAKING: Mangurian Stepping Down

Multiple sources tell me that Head Coach Pete Mangurian is stepping down as of 10am today.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Taking a Break

Everyone should feel free to comment here, but I'm going to take a break now from blogging and allow Rick Taylor's evaluation to go ahead. 

Let's see what he recommends or if President Bollinger has the decency to implement those recommendations. 

I believe Taylor's report will be completed in two weeks. 

As for me, I continue to say what I have for more than a year: there's no way Columbia football will ever win another game with Pete Mangurian as coach. 

Until he goes, I consider this program to be in a virtual coma. 

Waiting for...

Based on several reports sent to me, I believe the meeting yesterday with Rick Taylor and about 20-25 football alums went generally well.

Outgoing Athletic Director Dianne Murphy was not in the meeting, a positive sign, and there seems to have been little meddling from anyone in the administration.

I also believe based on reports from those inside the room that Taylor will indeed deliver a thorough and accurate assessment of the football program.

But here’s the problem: Taylor’s report is only being sent to Murphy and  President Lee Bollinger.

That fact does not induce much confidence at all that any of the substantive changes Taylor will recommend will be implemented. Judging by Bollinger’s and Murphy’s track records, I suspect nothing more than cosmetic will be done at all.

Either way, we can only hope for the best anyway. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Patience, Courage and Fear

In just a few hours, several of our best former players with absolute selfless dedication to Columbia football will bring their suggestions and observations about the program to Rick Taylor.  

Getting their message across will likely take patience and courage.

I say patience, because there will be those in that meeting who will likely waste valuable time making useless, self-serving or defeatist comments. It will take patience to not let those useless statements agitate those who are prepared to get to the point and the core of the problem.

And I say courage, because as illogical and inappropriate as it seems, it appears certain members of the Athletic Department including outgoing Director Dianne Murphy herself will be in the meeting. It will take courage to tell the truth about the current situation and indict many of the people in room for their complicit responsibility for the problems. Taylor MUST hear about how Murphy unethically hired Pete Mangurian in the first place. He MUST hear that many of the core supporters of the program have doubts about the effectiveness of his review as long as Murphy is even nominally involved with it.

And that's just the beginning.

So take a moment if you can now and make a wish that our honest representatives at Faculty House take as much courage as they can with them.


Over the last decade, I've noticed an increasing level of fear coming from the players and their families when it comes to discussing inherent problems with the football program.

Players who have been physically and emotionally abused have in just about every case decided to clam up about it and simply quit the team rather than bring their concerns and legitimate complaints to the administration or to the public.

In many cases I understand and respect that, but what I don't condone or respect is the climate of intimidation and fear that the last two coaching staffs have used on the players and their families in hopes of keeping them quiet.

The biggest weapon in their arsenal is the misconception they perpetuate that a student-athlete can lose his or her financial aid package if they report coaching abuse or misconduct to the administration.


The second weapon they use is simply leaning on the cachet of the university name to make in tacitly clear that no football player and his non-Ivy educated parents can do anything to threaten such a great institution such as Columbia.


Columbia cannot successfully cover up or suppress legitimate complaints. That's why the Chief of Investigations, Deirdre Fuchs, is now looking into the serious allegations made by a large number of current players.

It's true that internal investigations are usually mostly meant to protect the company's or the institution's leaders, but that could simply mean that President Lee Bollinger will be protected by the ousting of Mangurian, who is the primary offender anyway.

I'm okay with that and so are the players.

And whenever a coach, or a program leader of any kind has to use fear to impose a Mafia-like policy of "Omerta," you know you have a problem, Loyalty has to be earned, and Mangurian has done little to earn anyone's loyalty.

The Columbia football program has not been generally healthy for decades, but it's never been sicker than it is now.

The obvious move is to remove the cancer than is causing the most immediate damage. But even though this is so obvious, it's going to take patience and courage to make it happen.

Monday, December 1, 2014

No Meddling

For this review by Rick Taylor to really make a difference, Athletic Director Dianne Murphy must recuse herself from any involvement whatsoever.

That starts with the football alumni meeting with Taylor this Wednesday.

The fact that Murphy tried to control the attendance at the meeting by only inviting a select few people is disturbing enough. Hopefully, our publicizing of the invite has helped un-stack that deck at least a bit. I know some of the initially non-invited alums have now been allowed to attend.

But just as importantly, the alumni attendees at the Rick Taylor meeting MUST demand that Murphy not attend or be anywhere near that room! Taylor needs to hear the most candid comments and suggestions from the alumni and her presence in that meeting would likely intimidate many of the participants from laying a good deal of the much deserved blame at Murphy's feet for the football fiasco.

The false narrative Murphy and the rest of the administration are pushing is that Pete Mangurian looked like the perfect hire after an exhaustive search and that there has been a massive and competitive increase in funding, improvement of facilities, etc for football.

Taylor needs to know the truth about those claims and here they are, once again, in concise form:

1) Mangurian was not hired as the result of any kind of legitimate search process. He was chosen unilaterally by Murphy in an extremely irresponsible move that should have resulted in her immediate dismissal and removal from campus.

2) Yes, Columbia has improved its football budget and facilities... relative to ITSELF, not the rest of the league. We are still woefully behind the rest of the league in most of those departments. Our recruiting budget is decent, but considering New York City travel and accommodation prices, it's not as great as one might think relative the to rest of the league. In short, our program spends and acts as if its mission is to defeat the 1985 Columbia Lions, not our Ivy opponents of TODAY.

3) Alumni outreach STINKS.

It's disgusting, but oh so telling, that a program with a 21-game losing streak is much more concerned with avoiding blame and real change instead of winning games.

It's really up to us whether they'll get away with it. The time for debating this under the Queensbury Rules is long over. These people are stealing our donation funds, robbing our scholar-athletes of a rewarding experience and good coaching, and destroying the potential to grow a new and loyal alumni fan and donor base for decades to come.

In short, they're not being polite or fair. They do not deserve to be treated better than they treat us.

Friday, November 28, 2014

List for Rick Taylor

We WILL get the truth to Mr. Taylor, no matter how hard the department tries to cover it up 

John Alex '89 has asked us to come up with some key bullet points that should be presented to Rick Taylor when he meets with the very select few football alumni invited to speak with him next week. 

Below you can find my list, which I have tried to put in order of importance and urgency. 

I urge the rest of you to chime in as I know John is listening.

Please also do not ignore the serious turn of events I enumerate below involving Columbia University Director of Investigations Deirdre Fuchs. 

1)      Why Mangurian Has to Go (5 reasons)

-Win-loss record/21 game losing streak speaks for itself. BUT, for those who think this is just another bad Columbia team you can’t blame on the coach, consider the fact that the 2013 and 2014 Lions were statistically the WORST two teams in Ivy football history. Only ONE of the 21 straight losses was by less than two scores. By mid-2014, most of Columbia’s opponents were either starting their backup players or putting them into the games very early on. We all know Columbia has struggled for decades, but this is particularly bad on every level. The team went from going 4-6 in the Ivies and placing many players on the 1st Team All Ivy list in 2010, to back-to-back seasons of no wins and NO ONE on the All Ivy 1st Team.

-Growing player revolt. Many players, (more than 20), have signed a letter saying they will quit the team if Mangurian isn’t let go by January. The letter also details abuses by Mangurian that are currently being investigated by Columbia University Chief of Investigations, Deirdre Fuchs. HOW CAN MANGURIAN CONTINUE TO COACH WITH THE PLAYERS’ CONFIDENCE EVEN IF HE IS CLEARED IN THE INVESTIGATION?

-The student body, from the Spectator to the casual fan, considers Mangurian to be an object of ridicule. The Spec called for his firing over a year ago and is incredulous that he has not yet been let go.

-The alumni fans are furious and incredulous that Mangurian is still here. Many of them are speaking out in letters to the administration, to Spectator, and of course online.

-“Garbage in, Garbage Out.” Mangurian’s hiring was not above board or even ethical to begin with. The “search committee” did not vet him because Dianne Murphy had already decided to hire him before it was convened. Mangurian’s long history of problems with players and colleagues has continued here, along with his long-standing odd belief in slimming down linemen. This philosophy led to his well-documented problems with the NY Giants, Atlanta Falcons, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All of this is easily found on Google and was just as available there in 2011. There is no doubt the “search committee” never bothered to become aware of any of this. We also know they never bothered to talk with his former players from his three years at Cornell. The results have been disastrous.

2)      It Will Not be Very Harmful to Hire a New Coach in January or Use an Interim Coach, So do it!

With or without a new coach, Columbia will not be a very competitive team in 2015. So it’s wrong to argue that it will be harmful to the won-loss record if we hire a coach very late in the recruiting and preparation process for next season.

The only hope is to make some kind of positive progress this year. And if we get a new A.D. in place or hired by late January, he or she can still hire a very good coach and start the recovery process.

3)      Re-establish the JV Team and Emphasize it

Columbia needs to restart it’s JV team in order to develop its young talent. Again, if the varsity were competitive and needed the raw younger players now to actually win games, we could see the argument for suspending the JV program for a season. But it’s been three seasons now without a JV under Mangurian and the results are clear. Our younger players never looked prepared to play when thrust into the varsity games. Contrast that with Brown, which has emphasized its JV program for years and reaps the benefits by seemingly re-loading key skill players at the varsity level. They invest in their future, we do not.

Additionally, some of the older players who are dedicated enough to give their all in practice deserve a chance to play in competitive games if they aren’t able to play for the varsity. Last season, Mangurian actually made several active players sit in street clothes in the stands for HOME GAMES even though they attended every practice and worked hard each week. It wasn’t until this outrage was reported that Mangurian changed that policy.

4)      Hire New Coordinators

Mangurian actually did hire one very good coordinator when he first arrived at Columbia in Kevin Lempa. He made a difference with the CU defense right away. But he left after that first season and his replacement, journeyman Chris Rippon has overseen a shocking decline in Columbia’s defensive skills.

Jamie Elizondo, the current OC, has not been effective at all and apparently had some kind of mental breakdown after the Monmouth game this season. The players, and the other coaches do not respect him and they show that disrespect publicly.

Mr. Taylor’s first order of business when he evaluated Dartmouth was apparently to get new coordinators for the team. It worked.

5)      End the Cronyism, Secrecy, and Defensiveness

The public persona of the football program, and the Athletic Department in general, is frankly hostile to the alumni and the longtime fans. The current football committee appears to be made up of Bill Campbell admirers and hangers-on with a personal social/career agenda that very much trumps any concern for improving the football team.

Note how THIS meeting was handled. Dianne Murphy ONLY contacted a select few football alums in what looks like a weak attempt to stack the deck and shield Taylor from hearing from anyone but sycophantic types who will whitewash the situation at Columbia. 

This has to stop. For Columbia football to be more successful in recruiting and fundraising, the doors must be opened much, much wider. The football committee should be expanded and host more events than just a dinner or two and the golf outing. It and the new coach must endeavor to communicate with ALL the football alumni and donors, not just a select few. This list of ways to improve alumni and fan relations could go on and on, but the first priority is to make it a priority and not just focus on a small number of people who have pledged some kind of allegiance to the current regime.