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.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Are YOU Invited?

This morning, outgoing Athletic Director Dianne Murphy sent the following email out to a select few recipients:

On Thursday, November 20, President Bollinger announced that the University would begin a comprehensive review of our football program. The review will be conducted by Rick Taylor, a former NCAA Division I head football coach at Boston University and athletics director at BU, Cincinnati and Northwestern.

The comprehensive review, commissioned by President Bollinger and myself, will include a thorough appraisal of all aspects of our football program. Columbia is committed to success in football – and we believe that this comprehensive review of our football program will pay significant dividends in our future success.

During the week of December 1, Rick will be on campus in New York City meeting with many individuals involved with our football program. Rick is also interested in talking to a diverse cross-section of football alumni, to get their insight on how we can make our football program better.

I am writing to you to let you know that because you are a former football player, you are invited to participate in Rick’s review. I know how much you care about Columbia and the success of our football program – and getting the insights of our former Columbia Football players will be very helpful.

On Wednesday, December 3, Rick will be meeting with some Columbia Football alumni on campus from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. to discuss our football program. This will be a group meeting of football alumni.  Your perspective will be incredibly helpful and I sincerely hope that you are willing to be involved. If you are interested in participating in this group meeting with Rick, please let me know by noon on Monday, December 1.  The meeting will be held at Faculty House in Garden Room 2 from8:30 – 10:30 a.m. Please note, we will be begin promptly at 8:30 a.m. and end promptly at 10:30 a.m., as there is another event in Garden Room 2 immediately following our meeting.

The success of this comprehensive review is dependent on Rick receiving candid feedback. Rick will not identify the names of individuals associated with specific comments or observations related to our football program.

All of us want the best for Columbia Football, and we know that together we can build a winning program of which we can all be proud. I know how long we have all waited for Columbia to build a winning football tradition. Your helping us by participating in this confidential review will go a long way in making our team successful.

Thanks so much!

Best regards,

If all you did was read this email, you might think this is a nice gesture. But so many of the most outspoken and dedicated former players were NOT invited. So the truth is, this is an attempt to stack the deck and keep Taylor from likely hearing what he really needs to know.

This is beyond an outrage, but not a surprise.

I keep telling all of you: the #1 goal of this administration is to reduce and kill off honest criticism of this administration. Even after the President of the University orders this outside review, Murphy and some of the minions are hoping to mitigate and cover up the reality this consultant needs to see and hear.

If Taylor's review is hampered in any way by this defensive group, the entire exercise will be compromised. And if that happens, the people responsible for hampering it are guilty of theft in my opinion since we're certainly not getting Mr. Taylor's review for free.

So, if you are an ex-player I urge you to contact Murphy directly as soon as possible and ask to be invited to talk to Taylor.

Obviously the first and most repeated thing Taylor needs to hear is that Mangurian must go... now! But there are other issues that we all know about and I leave it to you to enumerate them.

Right now, it's important to make sure the existing failed leadership in the Athletic Department does not succeed in its attempts to censor the truth.

I'll do it myself if I have to... even if I have to go to Mr. Taylor's house, hotel room or book the seat next to him on the plane to tell him.

So folks in the athletic department, please save your breath and energy. Taylor is going to find out the truth.

Oh and Coach Pete Mangurian, stop embarrassing yourself by trying to find out the names of the players who have had the courage to tell the proper authorities of your ineptitude and misconduct. You might find out, but not before it's too late anyway. Everyone already knows anyway. We know because of a little something called 0-21.

All Ivy Pity

It says a lot about the 2014 Columbia Lions that we only had three All Ivy honorees and still that was probably due to overwhelming generosity and pity on behalf of the coaches voting.

The Lions had two 2nd Team members in DT Niko Padilla and RB Cameron Molina. Padilla really deserved the honor, and Toba Akinleye stepped it up this year and deserved his honorable mention.

Molina was certainly the best overall Columbia offensive player, but that’s all relative and I doubt he would garner much if any playing time on any other Ivy team this past year.

Molina gained 335 yards rushing all season while taking more than 60% of all the carries on the year. To put that in perspective, Columbia’s opponents gained 420 yards just off of their interceptions of Lion passes last season. So, opposing defensive backs gained 25% more yards running against Columbia than Columbia’s best offensive player gained running FOR Columbia.

And this was Columbia’s best offensive player!


We were told we were going to see much more improvement than this. We were told the offensive line was going to be better. We were told the wide receiver corps was the best unit on the team.

And yet not one OL or WR even came close to any All Ivy recognition.

Pete Mangurian cannot recruit adequate talent, cannot manage and improve talent, and considering the growing revolt against him by the current players, he cannot retain talent.

And yet, we’re presumably going to keep this guy on for another year.

What purpose will that serve? I understand the logistical problem of hiring a new coach without a new athletic director in place, but that’s not a good enough reason to keep a cancer like this guy around for one second longer.

Look at the NY Jets this season. It came out today that Head Coach Rex Ryan has known all along that he was going to get fired at the end of the year. The result has been a disastrous 2-9 season. It’s true that the Jets were probably not going to set the world on fire this year anyway, but this season has been a lot worse than anyone expected.

The situation screams out for an interim coach. Mangurian is death and a guaranteed 0-10 for 2015. Keeping him here makes no sense.

Elitist know-it-alls like to dump on the fans here; accusing us of harboring conspiracy theories about an administration that wants to kill off football.

But what else should one think when this coach is being kept on? It’s really obvious that the next season is already being sacrificed before we even hold spring practice.

No one thinks Columbia will be a contender next year either way, but why not make the season a stepping stone and a positive move forward?

With lots of veteran players quitting on a cancer of a coach, that isn’t going to happen.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


In the few days since the 2014 season ended, something of a revolt has been brewing among the players on the Columbia football team.

Many of the players presumably returning for 2015 have made their extreme dissatisfaction with Head Coach Pete Mangurian known to the proper authorities in the administration.

Coach Mangurian has apparently caught wind of this and he is now conducting a witch hunt to find out who these players are by name. At the same time, in hopes of mitigating their legitimate grievances, Mangurian is encouraging some other players to make a statement to the same authorities supporting him.

Hey high school seniors and their parents, is THIS the kind of football program you’d like to join next fall?

Folks, this player revolt or possible civil war is the latest blatant example of how we absolutely cannot allow Mangurian and his staff to remain at Columbia. This was true last year at this time and as many of us warned, it led to another 0-10 total embarrassment of a season.

Most of the players know this too. They're not stupid. 

Rick Taylor or no Rick Taylor. A.D. or no A.D., we’re in for more of the same or worse in 2015 if Mangurian stays. He can’t keep the team together, period.  

Monday, November 24, 2014


I could analyze the ins and outs of Columbia's 41-7 season-ending loss to Brown, but it's all so depressingly the same as all the 21 straight games the Lions have lost that I just don't have the heart to do it again.

The truth is, 90% of these 21 straight losses haven't been games at all. Columbia has been over-matched from the opening kickoffs, essentially a junior varsity team taking on opposing varsities.

The real news is that as of now, Columbia is saddled with Pete Mangurian as its head coach. And Columbia will never win another game with Mangurian at the helm.

Since President Lee Bollinger's infuriating announcement that he is hiring the excellent consultant Rick Taylor to assess the program but will not fire Mangurian, (what's the point?), there have been two interesting developments:

1) Mangurian is now boasting publicly that Bollinger is in his corner. This is hard to stomach.

2) The player attrition rate if Mangurian indeed stays on will be steep. I don't have any exact numbers, but we are likely to see more players leave the team in the coming days.

While we can hold out hope that Taylor will find a way to clean house, I just don't see how he can do that with Mangurian hanging around. And Bollinger's email last week really would make it hard for the school to do an about-face and let him go now.

The result is this: purgatory.

Columbia University technically has a football team. But realistically it does not.

Columbia University technically has hired someone excellent to fix the football program. But realistically he is unlikely to fix the biggest immediate problem.

Columbia University technically is the #4 ranked college in the nation and a tremendous prize school to attend for non-athletes and athletes alike. But realistically its football program is toxic to any potential recruits with this coach and this duplicitous administration in place.

Columbia University technically has very devoted fans and alumni who, on this very blog, have warned and begged the administration not to continue down this path for years. But realistically, those devoted fans and alumni have been ignored, threatened, and smeared.

I'm not prepared to shut down this blog or stop caring. But I am resigned to at least another year, and probably two, of not really having a real team to root for, write about, and discuss with my fellow fans.

You should be prepared too.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Brown Game Day Open Thread

Please comment here on today's game. Brown is a 27 point favorite and the game is televised nationally on Fox College Sports. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Here are the good, the bad and the ugly results we can expect from yesterday's announcement by President Lee Bollinger that sports consultant Rick Taylor will review the Columbia football program but Head Coach Pete Mangurian will be retained.


-Taylor is the real deal. There's a reason I specifically called for him to be hired a week or so ago on this very blog. He's a very tough, no-nonsense guy and he won't let Mangurian stand in his way. If Buddy Teevens wasn't able to overrule him at Dartmouth where Teevens is a legend, Mangurian will be powerless against him here.

-Taylor's immediate impact will likely be the removal of our current offensive and defensive coordinators. They will also likely be replaced with the kind of coordinators it costs a little more money to retain. That should help.

-There's a chance that after a few weeks of trying to work together, Taylor and Mangurian will not be able to coexist and Mangurian will get out. It's just as likely that Taylor will be the one to bolt, but this is the optimistic part of our presentation for today.

-Taylor is likely to shock the insular athletic department staff just by showing them something they've never seen before: a headstrong manager who actually knows what he's doing.


-Mangurian gets to stay another year, and that means we're guaranteed another 0-10 season in 2015. There are many reasons for this. But most of it has to do with the fact that the rising seniors don't want to play for him and many will quit the team in the coming weeks. Columbia will never win another game under Pete Mangurian. I don't know how many times I have to write that, (I have been for over a year), before enough people get it.

-A few of the very strong candidates to replace Mangurian as head coach have already responded to the news by saying they are no longer interested in Columbia whatsoever. That's too bad, because as I wrote above, there's a chance Mangurian will find working under Taylor's power unacceptable and he will leave on his own by late January. Now, even if he does quit early our choices are more limited.

-The sports journalists and humorists who have been making fun of us for weeks will have a field day with the fact that a team with a 21-game losing streak isn't even going to fire its coach. Be prepared for more dirt thrown onto the Columbia name.

-Why would any recruit currently on the fence agree to come to Columbia now under this cloud of mystery? Do we have a lame duck coach? Will the new consultant be in charge? If the current coach tells me to switch from QB to TE should I listen? What's the deal?

-Why would any fan other than a player's parent come to the games next season? 2015 will be an 0-10 year and whatever progress the team makes other than winning is not likely to stick with a new head coach on the way. In other words, it's a complete re-run of the wasted year we're currently experiencing in 2014.


-Much of this is about money. Mangurian has not one, but TWO years left on his contract and the university doesn't want to eat that much money in salary. But this is the same university that just gave Bollinger a whopping $700,000 per year raise! Somehow, I think we can come up with the money and/or a good lawyer to argue that Mangurian is only due 30%-50% of his remaining contracted salary considering his 3-27 record.

-Even MORE of this is about ego. Bollinger's outrageous letter to the fans last year not only insulted all of us, but put him in the position of backing Mangurian way too much. Now, he's unwilling to even allow the appearance of admitting he was wrong and we have to endure another lost year.

-For the current players on the team, this is the ugliest situation. They have to play another winless year for a terrible coach. What a waste of their time, efforts and their parents' money.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Columbia President Lee Bollinger has just sent out the email below.

While I like the hiring of Rick Taylor as an outside consultant, (something I specifically called for last week), the end of the email indicates that Pete Mangurian will be retained as head coach of Columbia football.

Folks, this is insanity. There's no way this will work. Unlike when Taylor came into Dartmouth and advised Coach Buddy Teevens, Mangurian is not someone who can be taught new tricks.

I suppose the only hope is for Taylor to take a few days and inform Bollinger that Mangurian cannot stay on for Columbia to turn a corner. But I doubt Taylor will be at liberty to do so. Once again, the Columbia administration is cutting the improvement process off at the knees.

Read it for yourselves below, but if Mangurian stays on as coach I'm effectively washing my hands of this program. This is truly a disgrace and a perfect example of the kind of mistake that has made Columbia football the national laughingstock that it is.

From: Lee C. Bollinger []
Sent: November 20, 2014 3:41 PM
Subject: Columbia Football

Dear members of the Columbia Football Players Club:

It goes without saying that the results of this football season have been disappointing, not least to our dedicated players who continue to commit so much of themselves to excelling as scholar-athletes.

Many people throughout the University have worked very hard over the past decade to provide every level of support for all Columbia sports.  The results for almost all of our sports have been spectacular.  Our teams now regularly win championships, vie for Ivy championships, and often compete on the national stage.  Columbia Football should be, and must be, competitive within the values of Ivy League athletics.  The several obstacles to success that have been noted over the years have now been removed.  We have new and renovated facilities, generous support from loyal alumni, an impressive recruiting effort that includes faculty and deans, and thoughtful support on campus for our student-athletes. 

Yet the fact remains that no one has yet succeeded in building a sustainable, competitive football program at Columbia in several decades.  But you can be sure that as I speak with candidates who might succeed Dianne Murphy as Athletics Director, this is a key topic of conversation.  We must, therefore, ask ourselves whether the changes instituted still need time to manifest successes on the field and whether there is still more we can do to help our students be competitive.

To help us answer those questions, I have asked Dianne to commission a review of our football program by respected former coach and athletics director Rick Taylor, who performed a similar review several years ago at Dartmouth as it began its own long-term effort to turn around its football fortunes.  Rick coached football as an assistant at Lehigh and Dartmouth and was head coach at Boston University.  He served as athletics director at BU and Cincinnati prior to ten years at Northwestern.  Importantly for us he was part of demonstrated football improvement at each of those institutions.  He will begin immediately to talk to coaches, current and past players, administrators, alumni, and others, as well as working with Coach Pete Mangurian to see if there are steps that can be taken immediately with our current program.

When Pete started as coach, he was candid in saying that it would not be an easy or short process to institute fundamental change in a long-standing culture that had failed to produce success.  I know there are some frustrated students, alumni, and fans who understandably feel we should hire a new coach and start yet again.  It is my belief, however, that this is a moment when we will benefit most by enlisting a new superb Athletics Director and engaging in serious self-reflection, while maintaining our course in helping an extremely young team grow, recruit top-flight student-athletes to bolster our depth, and ultimately work with the new Athletics Director to do everything we can to make Columbia football every bit as competitive as the rest of our thriving intercollegiate athletics.


Lee C. Bollinger

Final Week Picks

The spreads are STILL killing me, while my straight-up picks are STILL getting better.

Last week I went 6-0 straight up, but 3-3 against the spread.

My record so far this season is now 51-16 straight up, (.761) and 30-34-1 ATS (.468)

On to this week’s games:

Cornell +9 over Penn

I like the Quakers to eke out a 3-point or so win.

Dartmouth -5 at Princeton

The Tigers are phoning it in now.

Yale +12 at Harvard

The Crimson will win, but not big.

Fordham -3 1/2 over Army

The Rams are for real. And this is almost a home game.

Stony Brook -3 at Albany

Should be a great game, but I like the Sea Wolves running game to chill the Great Danes and win.

Monmouth -7 1/2 over Gardner Webb

The Hawks will bounce back after the Coastal Carolina loss.

Very Well Said

So you think suffering with Columbia football as a fan or alum is tough?

Imagine if you were a student at CU broadcasting the "games" for the last four years!

That's the rough story Ryan Young tells in this column in today's Columbia Spectator.

Some good quotes:

"Even for somebody who regards Ivy League football as a glorified exhibition, the situation has become unacceptable to the point where it is serious."

"The burden of this losing streak is tough for the student-athletes to deal with, but it can be eased with the appropriate new hires. So please, Columbia, disregard the financial hardships that come with hiring a new football coach. Take your time with this decision. Do not use the search for a new athletic director as an excuse, and form an independent committee if necessary. Please be open to outside advice and understand the implications of this decision."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Brown Formula

Mike Kelleher

It’s particularly fitting that Columbia will be playing Brown this Saturday as it tries again to reset its football program and get it on a winning track.

It’s fitting because since 1993, Brown has achieved everything Columbia has not by turning around a seemingly hopeless program with myriad historic, administrative and infrastructure disadvantages.

In 1992 Brown went 0-10, hitting bottom in a four year slide that came after a very strong 12-year stretch that began in 1976.

The next year the Bears went a respectable 4-6 and after remaining in the top half of the league for the following five seasons, Brown won a share of the title in 1999.

Since then, Brown has finished in the top half of the league every year but two and also won two more championships.

And the Bears do it all with terrible facilities, weak alumni and student support, and probably the worst school name recognition in the Ivy League.

In short, whenever people tell you about all the impossible hurdles Columbia faces with its football program or all the reasons why we’ll never have a championship team here the simple answer to those comments is, “Look at Brown.”

This year is no exception. With graduation losses equivalent to a small nuclear bomb going off in the Bears locker room, Brown is a respectable 4-5 and 2-4 Ivy coming into this last week of the season. That means the Bears will go 5-5 and 3-4 in the Ivies even though just about all the key starting positions are manned by newcomers.

Another fitting piece to this weekend’s game is the fact that Brown Defensive Coordinator Mike Kelleher would make a strong new head coaching candidate for Columbia.

During this strong era for the Bears, Brown has been best known for its offensive firepower. But the Bear defense since Kelleher took over in 2001 has been stellar overall. Kelleher took over a defense that allowed more than 30 points a game in 2000, and immediately shaved a touchdown per game off that total the following year. Brown gave up just 19 points per game in their 2008 championship year, and in 2012 the total was down to 16 a game.

Kelleher is just one of the many “miracle workers” at Brown who have made that football program a true model for Columbia to follow. And as a former CU assistant coach, he knows this town and this school.

We can keep sticking our heads in the sand or we can look across the sidelines on Saturday and at least try to emulate a winning recipe in the face of serious challenges.   

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Start HERE

With the firing of Pete Mangurian already a done deal, I urge the search committee to conduct and ethical and open hiring process this time. 

Below is a list of seven head coaching candidates that I have discussed before. I have several sources that tell me just about every name below would be happy to come to Columbia. Some of my sources are these coaches themselves. 

Start here if you want to achieve the dual goal of getting a better coach AND getting the justifiably angry alumni off your backs. 

Hire some other no-name candidate and be prepared to suffer the consequences of more losses and more national humiliation. 

Tom Gilmore

Tom is just as good a choice for Columbia as he was three years ago, despite Holy Cross’ difficulties in that period. The truth is, HC is deliberately not keeping up with its Patriot League opponents in the new athletic scholarship financial race. And yet, the Crusaders are still a very tough team. Gilmore turned this program around 7-8 years ago, but is now better-suited to do his magic in the Ivies. He’s a tough coach, but someone who has the deep respect and admiration from his former players. Mangurian does not have that in case you hadn’t noticed.

Joe Moglia

Moglia would have taken the Columbia job in 2011 if CU had been smart enough to offer it to him. Now, it’s not so clear but Joe would still get a step up in media attention and visibility if he came up north. Right now, he’s still doing miracles with Coastal Carolina and probably would like a shot at a big-time FBS team very soon. But I think he would still entertain an offer from Columbia very seriously. A big bonus here is we wouldn’t have to pay him.

Keith Clark

The Big Green’s offensive coordinator has weathered the graduation of two once-in-a-generation quality RB’s in Nick Schwieger and Dominic Pierre in the last couple of years and still has his offense moving well. Clark was our O-line coach for our 1996 8-2 season and he knows what Columbia is all about. He is more than ready to be a head coach.

Cortez Hankton

A totally outside the box choice, except he’s not. The Big Green WR coach is universally acknowledged to be on the fast track to stardom. He’s a killer recruiter, great teacher, and has the personality to move mountains. No one at Dartmouth can believe he came back for a third year there and they are thanking their lucky stars. He’s worth taking a very long look at.

Mike Kelleher 

The D-Coordinator at Brown. He was with CU for 4 years and has a great resume. Remember, Brown's defenses have been underrated for years.

James Perry

The Princeton OC and former Brown QB and asst. coach was vehemently hated by Roger Hughes’ players when he came to the Tigers with Bob Surace. Now he’s universally loved as he’s turned Princeton into a scoring machine. And it didn’t take long.

Jim Margraff

Margraff has made Johns Hopkins into a consistent winner and has been on the CU head coaching radar for years. He has the admiration of the many players he coached as an assistant at Columbia under Ray Tellier and he also worked with the first few very good teams at Penn in the 1980's.

Chris Wilkerson

Wilkerson was at Dartmouth for nine seasons before going to the University of Chicago last year. He's made a quick turnaround for the Maroons and he certainly understands coaching in a tough academic, urban environment. He also recruits the NYC area.

Under a Cloud

The 95 young men still playing football for Columbia University are in the midst of a 20-game losing streak and are the butt of jokes across the country.

However, this apparently isn't enough for the administration. It seems bent on also adding the torture of uncertainty to the team's plate.

Right now, the Columbia locker room is divided and angry. The players don't have the foggiest idea whether the coaching staff is staying in place.

I believe the staff will indeed be let go in five days, but the players have been told nothing by anybody in the administration and they don't know whom to ask.

Right now, the juniors and seniors on the team are generally in favor of getting rid of Head Coach Pete Mangurian, while the sophomores and freshmen generally want him to stay. However, I don't sense anyone will shed a tear when the firing comes.

What really stands out is the atmosphere of fear on this team. I have never encountered a group of Columbia football players this generally afraid to speak out.

The reason is simple: this coaching staff has worked harder than any other imposing a code of silence on these players. From Day One Mangurian has promoted an "us vs. them," "in the family vs. outside the family," terminology and attitude. The players are intimidated and confused about where to turn.

If only the coaches worked as hard on winning as they did on imposing that code of silence, we might not be 0-20.

The Documented Problems

For those of you who are new to this blog, please remember that even before the end of last season I have been calling for Mangurian's dismissal. It was clear even in his first season in 2012 that he was a very bad match for this program.

Here's a detailed list of 17 Red Flags I documented in this blog well over a year ago. Since then, things have only become worse. And yet the administration and Bill Campbell boast that they never even considered firing Mangurian at the end of last season. They should be ashamed.

The point is this: I never claimed to be a prophet and I'm not. But it's been very clear for a long time that Mangurian has had to go. The administration's pure disdain and lack of concern for the players in this football program is painfully evident.

Monday, November 17, 2014

National Laughing Stock

"If you're not trying to be the best, then you will be the worst." 

The above line should be the motto for the Columbia Athletics Department and the administration in general.

A department that allowed sub-par coaches to be hired via sub-par and even fraudulent hiring processes has now become the butt of the jokes in the national sports media.

A department that is always reactive and not proactive when it comes to offering the best financial aid has now become the butt of the jokes in the national sports media.

A department that pays some of its head coaches well, but does not spend an adequate amount on coordinators and other assistant coaches has now become the butt of the jokes in the national sports media.

A department that exists mostly at the whim of just one person, generous and well-meaning as he is, has now become the butt of the jokes in the national sports media.

A department that is insular, defensive, and dismissive of outside advice or consulting help despite the worst record in organized college football has now become the butt of the jokes in the national sports media.

An administration that has always set the bar low and seen mediocrity as an acceptable goal for football has now become the butt of the jokes in the national sports media.

Here are some of the jokes appearing in today's column in the Washington Post by Norm Chad:

"Columbia football has been bad since Ulysses S. Grant was in the White House. In November 1870, the Lions lost their first game to Rutgers, 6-3."

"In the third game this season, Columbia actually led Princeton in the second quarter, 6-3 — due to the fact that most of the Tigers’ offense was finishing mid-term papers on the biology of hydrothermal vents — then Princeton scored 35 points in a row for a 38-6 win."

"Brown’s school motto is, “Nos Autem Mali Sumus, Qui Malus Columbia,” which, translated loosely to English, means, “We’re Bad, But We’re Not Columbia-Bad.”

Yeah these are all cheap shots. But that's what happens when you lose 20 in a row. Watch what the reception will be if the Athletic Department, (what an oxymoron that is by the way), expends more energy complaining about the teasing in the news media than it does on actually conducting an above board and decent coaching search.

A more telling piece out today comes from Dave Caldwell at the Wall Street Journal who does a good job of showing how Head Coach Pete Mangurian continues to throw the team under the bus with not even a hint of personal contrition.

Columbia football, even if the losing streak is still 23 games shy of hitting the 44-game mark again, has fallen back to the place that even the most cynical longtime fans never thought it would be again. We are at absolute bottom again. An already weak program made a terrible coaching hire and that's how we got here. It's as simple as that.

Speaking of that bad hire, I've documented many things the "search committee" missed, (and I believe deliberately missed because the decision was made before the committee even had its first meeting), about Mangurian from his violent feuds with fellow coaches and players to his curious lack of close connections to his former players.

But now we have even more specific information about why he lost his last job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL. Again, all of this info was easily available on Google if anyone at Columbia had bothered to care about who Athletic Director Dianne Murphy was pushing for the job from the get go.

Here's what the line was on Mangurian in Tampa from the top insider Buc website, (see if any of it sounds familiar):

“One of the reasons the Buccaneers fired offensive line coach Pete Mangurian is that the team didn’t feel he was specialized enough to install pass protections. A case in point was that in Jon Gruden’s last year as the team’s play-caller, Tampa Bay only allowed three unblocked, free-hitters to hit the quarterback on blitzes. In 2009, when Mangurian replaced Bill Muir as the offensive line coach, that number swelled to over 40 quarterback hits, which the Bucs knew was unacceptable. So offensive coordinator Greg Olson installed the protections himself instead of Mangurian and the number of free hitters coming on blitzes resulted in only six hits on quarterback Josh Freeman – a massive reduction. That’s one of the many reasons why Mangurian was replaced with Pat Morris.”

Ask Sean Brackett and Brett Nottingham if Mangurian ever got better at teaching players to protect the QB.

A lot of people are really confused when it comes to the kind of coaches Columbia has hired for the last 50 years or so.

Some of the hires have been honest mistakes, like Bob Shoop who wasn't quite the guy he is now as Penn State's defensive coordinator. Plus, he had a personal conduct issue that made his firing a necessity.

Some of the hires were good recruiters, like Ray Tellier and Norries Wilson, who weren't the best at getting a decent amount out of that talent on most game days.

But some of the hires have been garbage from day one, and everyone knew it. Rutgers alums were shocked when Columbia hired Bob Naso in 1980. And Bucs, Giants and Falcons fans and players were surprised that Columbia hired Mangurian to actually do the more mentor-based job of coaching Ivy League football players.

No one should be shocked that Columbia is 3-26 under this coach, and no one should blame his failures on other factors. You just don't lose 20 games in a row in the Ivies unless you have a very bad coach.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mishandled Moment

Columbia fans must look at what victory looks like from afar

Cornell 30 Columbia 27

Why Cornell Won

RB Luke Hagy rushed for 148 yards, had 167 total yards, and scored three TD's capped off by the 63 yard game winning run for the final score of the game. The defense had three interceptions and stepped it up on Columbia's final drive of the game.

Why Columbia Lost

The Lions dug themselves an early 21-0 hole, stormed back to a 27-21 lead, before bad luck and bad play calling doomed their fate. 11 penalties, including four false starts, didn't help either.

Key Turning Points

-This game turned on a bizarre play. After Columbia energized the home crowd with a tie-breaking TD by Cameron Molina, the extra point attempt was blocked and returned for a two-point conversion by Cornell. As many fans pointed out, that missed point plus the two gift points for the Big Red were the difference in the game.

-Leading 27-23 and moving the ball well on the ground, Columbia opted not to go for it on 4th and half a yard from their own 43. Instead, the Lions just tried to draw the Big Red offside on the first play of the 4th quarter. Three plays after the ensuing punt came Hagy's game winning 63 yard TD.

-Now trailing by 30-27 with 8:55 left in the game, Punter Cameron Nizialek pinned the Big Red all the way down at their own six yard line with a 42-yard boot. But Hagy accounted for 28 of Cornell's 32 yards on the ensuing drive and even though the Big Red had to punt, they had shaved more than four minutes off the clock and flipped the field position when their punt went 44 yards to the Lion 18.

Columbia Positives

 -Molina finally had a complete game, getting 118 yards rushing on 29 big carries and scoring two TD's.

-The defense actually held the Big Red to under 300 total yards. That and a big interception in the third quarter helped the Lions take their brief lead.

Columbia Negatives

-The Lions looked sloppy to start the game, falling behind 21-0 and committing five penalties, (one was declined), including a drive-extending face mask violation on a Cornell 3rd down.

-Columbia's 4th quarter possessions went as follows: delay of game on a 4th and a half yard, (see above), interception, punt, and a loss on downs. In that 4th quarter, the coaches seemed mercurial when it came to relying on Molina. Nowhere was this more evident than on the Lions' penultimate possession of the game where Molina gained 24 yards on the first three plays to bring Columbia to the Cornell 48. But then the coaches went with two straight pass plays that both fell incomplete and the Lions had to punt.

-Columbia finally faced an opponent at home with equal talent, but still couldn't manage the game properly and were out-coached. The Lions have now lost an incredible 20 games in a row. This however, was the first of those losses by fewer than two scores.

Columbia MVP

Cameron Molina

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

538 Blog Weighs In

There's nothing like a pathetic Columbia football losing streak to get the kind of negative attention our beloved Alma Mater doesn't need.

Now the data wonks at 538 Blog have decided to weigh in on tomorrow's game against Cornell.

Here's the money quote:

"So, if you live in the New York metro area, are a big fan of punting and want to see two teams that cannot score or stop anyone else from scoring, you’re in luck. It’s sure to be a riveting affair in a city that just doesn’t care."

You can read the whole thing here.

The Right Message

The following is the text of a letter written to Columbia Board of Trustees Chair Jonathan Schiller:

Dear Jonathan,

I'm from the class of '70 and played on Bill Campbell's first freshmen team. I'm also from the same law school class as you.

I don't know if you've been sitting on the sidelines for this ongoing horror show; but, if you have, the time is long past due for you to enter the scene and lead the charge for change. Bill Campbell whom I have enormous respect for and regard as a friend has failed in this respect. As for President Bollinger, his public position on this issue is concrete evidence that he either does not understand this issue or doesn't think it is a priority. As for  Dianne Murphy, her  record of failure speaks for itself.

At this point in time, many of the most loyal of Lions have finally given up. They no longer attend games, contribute money to the team or even don CU football gear (to avoid public ridicule). Of the dozen or so guys from my class who played and regularly attended games, there are only three of us who still go to the games. And most have stopped giving money to the program. This abandonment is not limited to my class either. It permeates throughout all the football classes.

We need a new AD and coach as soon as possible. Of equal importance, we need the selection process to be outsourced to professionals. Our past efforts to do this internally have failed time and time again.

I have been pleased to observe you in attendance at most basketball games. I'm  sure you will agree that the  wonderful energy and excitement that our successful  basketball team  has brought ( and will bring) to the Columbia community is a joy to experience, a boon to school spirit,  and enhances the public perception of Columbia. Can you imagine the excitement and joy a winning football team would bring to the Columbia family?

I hope you will bring your good offices to bear and bring this sadness to an immediate end. In this connection, we don't have to move mountains, we merely need to bring in an experienced AD and talented coach. The sooner the better! The current and future players deserve no less as does the entire Columbia community.

I wish you the best of luck in your new position.

Peter Stevens '70C '73L

The Toilet Bowl

Cornell Big Red vs. Columbia Lions

Empire State Bowl V/Senior Day

Location: Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium/Baker Athletics Complex

Kickoff Time: 12:30 pm

Gametime Weather Forecast: 41 degrees, sunny, light wind.

The Spread: Cornell is favored by eight points


The game will be broadcast on Fox College Sports. Here's a channel finder based on your zip code and cable company. 

Make sure you get the audio and superior commentary from Jerry Recco and Sal Licata on the Ivy League Digital Network.

Lead Stories/Questions

1) Which One of these Winless Teams Wants it More?

I'm convinced Cornell is a much more fundamentally sound team, but if you're one of those folks who thinks there's not much difference between these 0-8 teams then it will come down to who wants to win more. 

2) What Will be the Response in the Stands?

If the game does not go well for the Lions, will the fans start to get angry and make their voices heard as the game goes on?

3) Who Will be the Hero?

We keep hearing about the handful of truly great players on both teams who don't get proper recognition because there isn't enough talent around them. At least one of those players should emerge Saturday as a real hero.

Streak Watch

Columbia has now lost 19 games in a row, continuing the longest losing streak since the record 44-game slide from 1983-88. Columbia has not won a game since 11/14/2012 or 731 days ago.

Columbia's wonderful new athletics website is still not working or formatting properly. It hasn't worked right in 14 days. 

Players to Watch

-Cornell RB Luke Hagy is a very talented runner and he could have a big day against a Lion defense that is giving up 300 yards on the ground almost every game. 

-Cornell sophomore LB Miles Norris is a developing force on defense. He can be a big disruptor.

-Columbia QB Trevor McDonagh is getting the start, but he or backup QB Anders Hill SHOULD be able to put up some decent numbers against a Big Red defense that's been just awful against the pass. 

-Columbia DE's Niko Padilla and Toba Akinleye or LB Alexander Holme should be able to get some sacks as Cornell is allowing more than three sacks per game coming into this contest.  

Columbia 3 Keys to the Game

1) Stop Dropping the Ball

The only way Cornell will be able to stop any opponent's passing attack is if the WR's drop passes. Columbia's WR's are very, very good at that. So if they want to win, they need to hang onto the ball.

2) Key on Hagy

Luke Hagy is the best weapon Cornell has, so the Lions can't let him beat them on his own. 

3) Don't Abandon the Run 

Columbia doesn't have much of a running attack, but against Cornell it might look a lot better. The Big Red have given up 15 rushing TD's this year so far. When the Lions used a two-back set against Yale, they had some success. They need to try that again and not suddenly stop trying it after halftime.