Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Rant, a Recruit, and a Rough Runner

Is Penn the new Columbia? I ask because this column in the Daily Pennsylvanian published today sure sounds like the kind of thing we're used to hearing Columbia fans say. I think the column does prove how much pressure there is on Ray Priore and his staff to produce a winner in the first year post-Bagnoli.

This column makes it as good a time as any to let Columbia fans know about the very real split that exists among big-time Penn fans and donors about Al Bagnoli and some of this assistants who have now landed in Morningside Heights.

I've spoken to a number of people close to the program who believe Bagnoli was way past his prime a couple of years ago and are generally glad he's gone. And I've spoken to an equal number of people close to the program who don't like the way Bagnoli was treated in general and they believe he's going to be an enormous positive for Columbia in a way that will make a lot of Penn folks very disappointed. This rift extends to the Penn people who had positive impressions of Mark Fabish and Jon McLauglin. 

I'm hearing lots of Penn people say great things about Fabish and McLaughlin and just as many saying the opposite, or at least expressing some level of disappointment in them. I'm not saying this is a full blown or angry rift. But this kind of split is not uncommon when someone who's had so much success over a long tenure at one entity switches over to a competitor. The only reason there isn't more outrage right now is because Columbia is not seen as a threat to Penn football. But no program can lose a legend like Bagnoli and two longtime assistants to boot with some kind of debate over the turn of events. And a lot of the relative friendliness over the Bagnoli move between Columbia and Penn fans will change as soon as Columbia starts winning some games.

My take is that Bagnoli seems emotionally and physically energized by this move in a big way. If anyone is saying that he's not going to be effective anymore because of fatigue or age is just plain wrong and tasting the sour grapes. The debate over whether Bagnoli still has the strategic smarts and can stay current enough to really help Columbia contend is another matter. I'm in the camp that says he can, as are many of his supporters back in Philadelphia. But not everyone is in this group.

If Columbia has a win or two under its belt when the Lions and Quakers meet at Columbia's Homecoming Day game on October 17th, the tension not just between the Penn fans and the Columbia fans but also between the Penn fans themselves may be palpable.

Let the Competition Begin

Trey Neville

A Williamsburg, VA area tight end is getting Ivy offers, including one that was just discussed in a published story in a local paper. Trey Neville also has offers from Princeton and Harvard.

Diabetes Lesson

I'm preparing to move this summer, (just 2.5 miles away from my current home), and so I'm going through a lot of the things in my attic.

One great item I came across is the 1996 Dartmouth media guide and after I read it, I thought a lot about incoming Freshman QB Kyle Castner. 

I'll explain.

Catner has a lot going for him, but he also has diabetes.

That doesn't mean he can't be a real impact player.

A impact transfer from Missouri who helped Dartmouth go 10-0 and obviously win the Ivy title in 1996 suffered from severe diabetes. His name was Greg Smith, son of NFL Hall of Famer Jackie Smith, who came to Hanover in 1995 from Columbia... Columbia, Missouri that is.

Smith rushed for 839 yards on just 183 carries in '95, including a 94 yard performance on 17 carries against the Lions that season. In 1996, he rushed for 885 yards and 10 TD's and he had 92 yards and a TD in the game against Columbia that basically clinched the championship.

Smith did this all while needing three daily injections of insulin. And the management of his diabetes was discussed in that '96 media guide and was the subject of documentary filmed while he was in Hanover.

I don't believe Castner's case is as severe, but the Lions would certainly be happy if Castner boosts Columbia as much as Smith did the Big Green,


I remain, very truly yours, Richard Szathmary said...

It's an excellent, if highly speculative, column. My compliments.

And for what it's worth, I took saw an enrgized Bagnoli at that barbecue they held at the end of spring practice. The only surprise was in seeing just how relatively (relatively, mind) "tiny" he seems.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure the topic of Bags energy level was discussed on this board after the hire. He just needed a breather. Coaching takes the life out of you if you don't have balance. Actually any job will do that where it becomes the foundation for one's existence. Bags openly lamented his inability to get a round of golf in due to job commitments. Personally, I can't imagine not having any free time to do non-job activities. Not once in a while - every day. If someone is in a job that is their existence then it is time to re-evaluate priorities. Hopefully Bags takes a more balanced approach and stays in the game for years to come.

oldlion said...

Jake, Penn alums from the 1960s into the 70s have a special hatred for Columbia because Penn's reputation during those years was that it was a safety school and the Ivy of last resort. Because we were regarded as so much stronger academically people from Penn were always envious of us. That has carried over into years of the most mean spirited blogging about us, sometimes ugly (foehi, a Columbia reject) and sometimes either insidious or damning with faint praise (Asia Sunset).

Peter Andrews said...

A brief note on Castner's diabetes, which is a disease I have as well. It is difficult to understate how far diabetes treatment has come in the last 20 years -- even in the ten years since I was diagnosed. In particular, the insulin pump (which replaces shots) and the continuous glucose monitor (which gives real-time information on blood sugars) have made tight control of blood sugar levels much more possible -- which, in turn, makes it easier to engage in regular athletic activity.

Playing sports with diabetes is a real challenge; I can say that from experience. But it's a challenge that medicine is making easier, year-by-year, and I certainly will be rooting for Castner to make his mark for the Lions.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea foehi was a Columbia reject. The few times I venture on to Voy you can tell he is bitter in a troll kind of way, looking to get people's dander up.

Coach said...

Does Ray Priore have the political clout to get it done at Penn? Perhaps- he has been there a long time.
We will find out in a year or two simply by the amount the support given by financial aid and admissions.