Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Enthusiasm Factor

"The Pope? How many divisions has he got?"

-Josef Stalin

That famous Stalin quote has been on my mind lately as I assess the undeniable leap in enthusiasm and optimism in the Columbia football program. We've seen ups and downs on the optimism scale in the Lions Den over the decades, but rarely has it spiked so high and so quickly.

Yet in the end, how many "divisions" will all this enthusiasm be worth on the field on game day? Will it get the team some wins? Will it get us better players and make our existing players better?

The answer is "yes," albeit a qualified yes.

Currently riding a 21-game losing streak, there's little hard core evidence or stats to hang our hats on. Al Bagnoli and his coaches know that and they must therefore mine all they can out of this existing roster by getting the players to buy in with their heads and their hearts much more than they did under the previous regime, (and with good reason).

Anyone who saw the way the Lions slept-walked through a number of games knows that waking the team up could be worth one or two wins this coming season. With Bagnoli at the helm, I have confidence that the proverbial and inevitable "air out of the tires" loss will not have as much of a lasting effect as it did for guys like Pete Mangurian and Jim Garrett. 

But in the end, it will come down to talent. And here too, the growing enthusiasm has a tangible benefit.

The coaches are now very much engaged in recruiting the next freshmen class for fall 2016. The positive and excited Tweets about Columbia and NYC we're seeing from them are as much for the benefit of recruits as the existing players. This is serious business and with so many former Ivy players finally doing the recruiting for us, I'm seeing our chances of netting top recruits increase by the day.

Not enough former Ivy players recruiting for us in the past has led to a weakness in the entire sales pitch. There are plenty of coaches not from the Ivies who can recruit for Ivy schools very well. But if your staff is almost completely devoid of people who can make the personal case for how going Ivy changed their lives for the better, you're at a disadvantage.

With guys like Mark Fabish and Joe D'Orazio on board, Columbia has already increased its number of Ivy grads on its coaching staff by 100%, but don't forget that recruiting coordinator Jon Poppe is technically an Ivy guy with a dad and brothers who played for the Ancient Eight and since he actually played at the very Ivy-like Williams College, I say he counts.

A great deal of the real work of recruiting for the 2016 freshmen will be over BEFORE the 2015 season starts. So this enthusiasm campaign is really our coaches' best weapon in the recruiting battle right now. If they do it right, it will net at least two or three impact players we wouldn't have grabbed with the old crew. Remember that until we actually play some games under Bagnoli, there's no other way to really measure this new group's success.

Well there are two more ways of course, and one part is connected to this enthusiasm and one part isn't.

The first part that is that recruiting for this coming fall's group of new players is still on in a way when it comes to possible transfers. Players considering transferring to Columbia are going to want to see a fun and enthusiastic program in place. Given that hard core recruiting of potential transfers is not allowed, this is our biggest calling card.

The second part is what the coaches will be doing to re-jigger the roster and change the overall playbook. Emotion will have to actually stay out of that process for the most part as the coaches will have to make cool and calculated decisions based on the hard facts at hand. I think the old veteran coordinators we have in Mike Faragalli and Paul Ferraro are especially well cast for that job. Not that they're unenthusiastic guys, but they weren't hired for their cheerleading abilities.

So far, we don't really know the full details of the changes in place and no one probably will until spring practice is over. But I do suggest that everyone going to the scrimmage practices bring whatever you like to use best to make several notations and changes to the roster.

And finishing up back where I started with Stalin vs. the Pope. What Stalin, and the Popes while Stalin was alive, failed to realize was that the enthusiasm and personal hope that Popes can instill in people could have been a great threat to the terrible regime Stalin was creating and running at the time. It wasn't until John Paul II that we saw a Pope who fully realized how many "divisions" he truly had.


Coach said...

There are some interesting posts in Voy Forum regarding the HYP advantages in football, relating to the AI and financial aid.
I would love to hear Coach Bagnoli's position on this matter, since he has a vast amount of experience with this issue.

Chick said...

It didn't stop him from getting a bunch of championships, did it, nor Dartmouth, which has the most?

Coach said...

Chick- it did stop him and the Penn program tha last few years.

Columbia_Fan said...

With all the happy talk about open practices, where is the feedback from you guys that were so anxious to attend?