Tuesday, February 17, 2015

5 Things We’d Like to Know

Ready to hear his words? 

We’re now less than a day away from the big public forum big public forum on Columbia football hosted by President Lee Bollinger and consultant Rick Taylor.

The event is only scheduled for an hour, so I’m not sure how much ground they will be able to cover or if they’ll field questions.

But I can say it would be a disappointment if we don’t get the answers to the following five, (some of them compound), questions:

1)      Have we hired a new head coach, and if not how close are we to doing that?

2)      If we haven’t hired a new coach, has the administration decided that an acceptable Plan B would be to stick with Chris Rippon as interim head coach through the 2015 season?

3)      After the questionable way Pete Mangurian was hired, do you think the hiring process this time should be more open and above-board? And if so, how do you hope to achieve that? While we certainly support Peter Pilling in his new position, his hiring process was just as unnecessarily secretive. Why don’t we allow any kind of alumni/fan input like so many other schools like Princeton?

4)      Can you explain your positions on Columbia’s financial aid packages, facilities, and all the other factors that people often believe play a role in hurting our recruiting efforts? And if there are things that you believe can be improved, do you have a timetable and plan to do that?

5)      Do you believe that the biggest reason Columbia football fails is because so many alums and even administrators don’t believe it can ever really succeed? If so, what can you do now to shock even those people into fostering some real hope in the program once again? And do you think you’re doing some of those things right now?

Pre-Emptive Statement

And since this blog was mentioned so prominently in the meeting with Mr. Taylor in December, I believe I need to once again clarify the facts about this blog and its real effects.

The negative things about the football program documented by me on this blog over the years are miniscule in comparison to the positive statements, historical reminiscing, and boosterism you’ve seen here as well.

But the reason to harp on the negative aspects was always the same: to warn the program of its failings and get it to stop repeating them.

It’s be agonizing to see those warnings ignored and the worst predictions of failure that I’ve made come true. But I don’t think I would be doing anyone a favor by keeping them to myself.

As far as the charge that this blog is used as a negative recruiting tool by our Ivy opponents… well that’s laughable isn’t it? This is a program that’s had three winning seasons over the past 44 years. This is a program currently on a 21-game losing streak where only one of those games was decided by one score or less. This is a program that has been famous for its futility for longer than my lifetime.

To blame this blog for recruiting issues is stranger and more pathetic than blaming the scoreboard operator for making us look bad too.

The "Anonymous" Head Fake

Finally, Bill Campbell and others beholden to him have often primarily complained about this blog because I allow anonymous people to comment.

With all due respect to Campbell and the people in the administration, including Taylor, who have parroted this absurdity, this is a particularly erroneous complaint.

As we learned via the James Dolan vs. the Knick fan email incident last week, too many people in power simply don’t want to allow criticism at all, whether it’s anonymous or not.

And as the one person who has consistently NOT hidden behind aliases to level my criticism of the program and its enablers, it’s especially irritating to hear this complaint.

Failing regimes need to hear criticism no matter how it’s disseminated. The fact that this administration has exerted so much energy in hopes of trying to silence this blog and denigrate its commenters is more than telling. It’s downright indicative of yet another regime that values quieting criticism over actually doing the things to make things better.

And we know that the effort hasn't even been conducted in the right way. Instead of complaining about me, the administration should have made more information available to all the fans and alumni. It should have provided more forums for open discussion. 

I'd really rather NOT be the #1 source of information and the #1 place to discuss everything about Columbia football.

And I don’t just say this to sound high and mighty; it’s the way I carry myself in my personal and professional life.

Not only do I allow people to criticize ME on this blog, but I also have the #1 recurring column on CNBC.com where the thousands of comments I often get on each piece usually run 90% against me.

Do I cry about this? 


I’m grateful for it because many of those comments, (all anonymous by the way), help to keep me honest and more humble. 

I pity the kind of people who can’t brook even this level of relatively benign criticism. I've also noticed most people like this tend to be a part of academia or government in some way.  

No wonder this administration hasn’t yet shown the inner strength to field a winning football program; it can’t even muster the strength to weather online comments!

Meanwhile, let me clarify one more thing. This blog’s M.O. for 10 years has been the same: insisting that the football program succeeds and accepting no excuses for continued failure.

Yes I DO know that this football program CAN win. And everything this blog has done has been based on that belief and everyone knows it.

I support Rick Taylor, Peter Pilling and Lee Bollinger and take them at their word when and if they say they are also committed to making this program a winner.

But they will have to continue proving this over time and they must grow a thicker skin and listen to the criticism along the way. 


Chick said...

For God's sake, Columbia once won the Rose Bowl and played--and defeated--some of the nation's best teams. It
was then allowed to become not only an abject loser but a national laughingstock for the past half-century. It's a travesty that any critic, especially Jake, has to defend himself for pointing out reality.

We now play an insular mini-schedule including schools that didn't exist or were junior colleges 30 years ago, and we still are thrashed and trashed continuously, as in the current 21 game game losing streak.

The onus is certainly is not on the alums and other supporters of Columbia football. This is the amateur hour but not the type that's put on television. And it has to end.

alswingman said...

Mr. Campbell is a man completely absorbed in his ability to wield influence. I have researched him over the past year and people who have worked with him say he takes over every situation he is involved in. He's no "coach" he's a control freak, end of dossier.

Never realized this before but that is the worst hairpiece I have ever seen on prez. That is a truly ridiculous look for anybody. How do donors not spit their drink when conversing with him?

Jake said...

As a proud bald man, I actually think Bollinger's hair is real -- frighteningly juvenile in style for a man over the age of 13 -- but real.

alswingman said...

Any idea why his hair on the side is a different color from on top?

Coach said...

1. Are we getting a waiver from the league regarding admissions.

Coach said...

From Rick Taylor, I would like to know what specifics he would implement immediately.

WOF said...

I could not attend but phoned in. Sounded like a nice event. A little bit of a pep rally but positive. Pilling sounds sharp.

Taylor said no coach worth anything would take the job without knowing who the AD was and the approach was to get that right first. I agree with that. Financial commitment for both facilities and coaches is there now, too, as well as admissions. Taylor said the AI inherently favors HYP but otherwise we are as competitive as anyone for admits and financial aid.

Taylor said he was very surprised and impressed with the quality of people interested in head coach position, Pilling said ETA of new coach is mid March...

I think they passed the test for this round, coach hire is next and also crucial, very anxious to learn how next few weeks play out.

Zero Dark said...


I found the criticism directed at you to be unfair. I am glad someone stepped up at the end to address those comments as I was only able to join by phone.

It just sounded very juvenile (and personal) from Mr. Taylor. The administration fails to see what a positive this blog could be for the program IF they provided something positive to write about. As far as the implication that you need to better research what you write, the administration could easily solve those issues by providing more transparency and removing the need to rely on other sources.

If this blog is "toxic" purely because of the way it is run, it wouldn't have the dedicated base of readers/participants bleeding light blue that it does. You are a passionate and loyal fan of Columbia Football. Thank you for what you do.

There were many good things said this morning. Now we all anxiously await the result of the search for a new head coach.

Jake said...

Thanks for saying that Zero Dark...

Believe me, I am used to this. If one aspires to be a public writer, then one must be ready for the criticism, whether it's fair or not.