Monday, August 31, 2015

Weighty Weight Data

Sorry for the delay, but here are all the new weights of the players and their corresponding gain or loss in parentheses. Some of the most interesting changes I have put in bold and I have some highlights in the comments below:

Brandon Blackshear 177 (-6)

Trevor Bell  178 (+3)

Cameron Dunn 209 (+10)

Chad Washington 259 (+7)

Alan Watson  176 (-2)

Cameron Nizialek  206 (+13)

Trevor McDonagh  207 (+3)

Toba Akinleye 254 (+24)

Toure Douglas 204 (+1)

Dylan Weldon 164 (-4)

Denzel Hill  196 (+4)

Anders Hill 214 (+6)

Nicholas Annabi  193 (+3)

Kyle Castner  203 (-12)

Ryan Suitt  164 (-16)

Jacob Young  185 (+5)

Colinn Early  174  (+7)

Daniel Hong  215 (+5)

Ben Kaplan  191 (-1)

Hank Trumbull  236 (+35)   

Scooter Hollis  175 (+3)

Matthew Cahal  198 (+9)

Jared Katz  200 (-2)

Brock Kenyon  199 (+4)

Cameron Roane  193 (+3)

Leander Cutler  215  (+13)

Kevin McCarthy  207 (+7)

Willie Peoples  199 (+9)

Lucas Faria  223 (+33)   

Tre Gabriel  151 (-6)

H.T. Minor  173 (-5)

Landon Baty  183  (+3)

Ryan Gilbert  176 (-4)

Cameron Molina  200 (+7)

Chris Schroer  209 (-6)

Tyler Holmes  174 (+4)

Gianmarco Rea  232 (+15)

Parker Tobia  225 (+10)

Christian Conway  205 (-10)

Joshua Foster  178 (+3)

Turner DeMuth  205 (+13)

John Hunton  243 (+12)

Travis Reim  193 (+1)

Ian Tyler  231 (+28)

Logan Waters  213 (+3)

Hagen Patterson  223 (+1)

Max Keefe  230 (+14)

Tyler Kwiatkowski 223 (+12)

Jackson Conway  235 (no change)

Sean White  228 (+3)

Nick Durham  254 (+17)

Mark Cieslak  237 (+14)

Clay Caruso  226 (+6)

Keith Brady  230 (+17)

Greg Washington  232 (+17)

Cal Falkenhayn  223 (-7)

Jason Vravick  227 (-3)

Charles Melka  251 (+21)

Justin Aimonetti  272 (+21)

Mike Hinton  224 (-3)

Tyler Schonewolf  260 (no change)

Markham Paukune  303 (+13)

Nathan Gibbs  288 (+8)

Reid Stables  282 (+13)

Patrick Eby  230 (-10)

Cole McDonough  307 (+17)  

Bewley Wales  300 (+12)

Michael McGrath  318 (+16)

David Donovan  237 (+19)

Patrick Denny  275 (+14)

Benjamin Robbins  298 (+10)

Liam Talty  245 (+5)

Connor Halm  280 (no change)

Billy Lawrence  296 (+21)

Marshall Markham  282 (+12)

JD Hurt  285 (+27)

Kendall Pace  297 (+24)

Peter Szymanski  268 (-12)

Brock Anglin  240 (-5)

Charlie Flores  293 (+10)

Isaiah Gross  183 (no change)

Marcus Briscoe  211 (+6)

Brandon Krcilek  172 (-13)

Chris Alleyne  185 (no change)

Matt Munsil  191 (-4)

Adam Armesto  223 (-17)

Luke Melsop  219 (-1)

Andrew Dobitsch  175 (-1)

Bailey Popeck  234 (+5)

Zach Dansby  240 (+20)  

Dominic Perkovic  259 (+23)

Matthew Panton  215 (-5)

Alexander Holme  265 (+50)

Connor Heeb  262 (+12)

Niko Padilla  294 (+6)

William Carson  276 (+6)

Lord Hyeamang  277 (+25)

Hunter Little  255 (+1)

Collin Breckenridge  271 (-15)

Parker Thome  200 (+8)

Noah Zgrablich  190 (no change)


It's important to remember that not all weight gains and losses are by coaches' design, (orders), and not all the gains and losses mean the players were working hard over the summer.

But for the most part, these changes are indeed by design and I think generally positive after the previous coaching regime made a deliberate total mess of the players' weights for three years.

Offensive Line 

Every year, Columbia fans fret mostly over the weights of our often undersized offensive line. This year, the average weight of the 11 returning O-linemen is 293 pounds, up 14 pounds per player. Every veteran O-lineman gained weight. This is very good news.

Projected starters like Billy Lawrence and Kendall Pace added more than 20 pounds each. Charlie Flores and Marshall Markham both added 10 or more each.

Defensive Line

Before you even talk about the weights for what most believe is the most talented unit on the team, you have to marvel at the potential depth. The D-line has 16 returning veterans and three freshman for a remarkable 19 players.

15 of those 16 returning D-linemen gained weight. The one exception was Collin Breckenridge who lost 15 pounds and I think there may be more to that story. The average weight gain for the veterans was 16 pounds per player. (Strip out the outlier Breckenridge's weight and the average gain is 18 pounds per veteran). The biggest gain or loss on the entire team was Alexander Holme's 50-pound gain as he made the move from linebacker to the D-line.

Really notable though was the big 25 pound gain by Lord Hyeamang, who you might have caught on one of the Instagram or Twitter videos the football program has been posting during training camp. You might have also noticed that Hyeamang doesn't have a bit of belly fat on him and huge arms. For a player who made a good impact as a frosh last year, you have to be excited by his bigger size and better weight lifting stats as well. I stand behind my prediction that Hyeamang has a great chance to be a breakout player this year.

And don't sleep on the guys we expect to have big years anyway: Niko Padilla and Toba Akinleye. Akinleye's 24 pound gain seems like a big warning bell for the rest of the Ivies. Padilla's added six pounds are all muscle or my name is Orson Welles.

I also think the coaches have decided that the strength of the D-line should be boosted as opposed to maybe reassigning some of the better athletes up front to other areas of the team where they might fill a talent gap. This was Head Coach Al Bagnoli's M.O. at Penn, where he often overstacked already strong units of the Quakers and tried to make them as dominant as possible as opposed to diluting the strength.


Don't overlook the big changes for the 10 returning linebackers. Each of them gained weight over the summer and the biggest gains seem to be coming from the most likely starters. On average, the weight gain for the returning vets was 12 pounds per player led by Ian Tyler at 28 pounds. Key players who I think are going to really start or contribute, like Gianmarco Rea, Max Keefe, Mark Cieslak, and Keith Brady all gained at least 14 pounds each.

This was a unit we all knew needed to get bigger and stronger and it appears it has.


The average weight of the 11 returning defensive backs only increased by three pounds. But the average weight of the veteran secondary is 188 pounds with a lot of projected starters either at or knocking on that 200 pound level. If the d-backs can keep up with receivers at that weight, we could be in for a season of some heavier hitting from the secondary.

The Freshmen

A few of the freshmen at both ends of the weight scale should be noted.

Tre Gabriel was fast at 157 pounds, maybe he'll be a blur at his current weight of 151. Don't let his weight fool you though, he's all muscle.

If DT Cole McDonough's 17 pound weight gain is all about gaining strength and power, then he has a chance to be a very special player in this league.

The weight losses for QB Ryan Suitt and DE Mike Hinton lead me to believe some kind of position change may be in store for them. Both of them are super fast and could make more of an impact elsewhere. Suitt mike make a great WR and Hinton could excel more at LB. This is just my speculation.

I have to think Lucas Faria's weight gain is all about gaining some bulk for the college game.

Friday, August 28, 2015


Some of the football staff is using the hashtag #fullpadsfriday to title today's practice which is indeed the first day in full pads for Columbia's 2015 training camp.

Of course the first hope is that none of the players gets injured now that the hitting is getting real. But we also hope whatever the coaches need to learn about the players gets learned right now so the best game planning can begin as soon as possible.

More Predictions

Lynchburg, VA-based journalist Chris Lang has just published a short Ivy League preview where he picks Harvard to win the title and correctly lists Al Bagnoli's move to Columbia as one of the most compelling stories of the year.

He also makes a good case that Harvard has the easiest schedule of any team in the Ivies. This is something that's happened a lot recently with the decline of some of the Crimson's traditional non-conference opponents and the scheduling of new opponents who are just plain weaker.

With a road game against the powerful Fordham Rams and another game against a very strong Wagner team loaded with FBS transfers, you could argue Columbia's overall schedule is much tougher than the defending two-time Ivy champion.

Illini Coach Canned

The University of Illinois just fired Head Coach Tim Beckman at least in part over allegations that he shamed injured players into playing anyway.

Hmm... where have I heard that before?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rocky Addresses the Lions

Since the team has been getting so many inspirational speeches lately, I thought I'd add one here that also serves as a nod to all the Philly and South Jersey natives on the new coaching staff. 

No more excuses and blaming others. This team has to prove it can come back from two brutal years of getting hit hard, get up, and start moving forward!

Craig Picks the Crimson

The man who has been covering the Ivy League for the general news media the longest, Craig Haley, is picking Harvard to win the Ivies followed by Dartmouth and Yale.

Haley is putting a wise amount of confidence in Harvard's O-line which appears to be the best in the league.

Unlike a number of pundits who think Columbia will climb out of the cellar, Haley puts the Lions back in last.

Respect has to be earned.

Herschel's Visit

Herschel Walker did more than just make an appearance at Lions training camp yesterday. He talked about fighting for respect, sometimes quite literally.

Obviously, training camp isn't about celebrity appearances but we seem to be enjoying an upgrade in that department from the days when the only visitors to our camp were Governor George Pataki.

A longer long at Walker's visit can be seen on the Columbia channel on the Ivy League Digital Network.

Fordham Update

There are 23 days before the Lions season opener at Fordham, but the Rams are just eight days from starting their season at Army.

We've learned a few new things about Fordham in the last few weeks, and not all of them are bad from a Columbia perspective:

-The Rams broke training camp Tuesday with an intrasquad scrimmage that did NOT feature their best player, RB Chase Edmonds. There was no explanation as to why he didn't play very much. But if Edmonds is hurt in any significant way the Rams are in serious trouble, so being cautious and keeping him healthy was probably the reason.

-The #1 starting QB is Kevin Anderson, a transfer from Marshall who was on the team last year and only saw very limited duty despite Fordham's need for a decent backup when Michael Nebrich was often hurt. When the Rams announced they were picking up another transfer this summer, Luke Medlock from Florida International, I thought there was a chance he was being brought in to start.

This all means that other than Edmonds, most of Fordham's offense remains a big mystery. But it's hard to believe it will be as good as the Rams O was in 2013 and 2014.

You can click on the highlight video to see the Fordham scrimmage summary.

Joey Falcone Update

Falcone wasn't being used very much for the Gulf Coast Yankees ever since he joined the team in late June. He was hit by a pitch in one of his first games and I can only guess he was injured. But that changed last week when he was re-inserted into the lineup as a regular starter on August 21st.

He immediately starting tearing the cover off the ball after that. In five games, he went 9-for-15 with an incredible 11 RBI including a homer. He was promoted to the Charleston Riverdogs last night and he went 1-4 with a single and an RBI in his debut.

Including tonight's game, the Riverdogs have 12 more games to play in their 2015 season.

You can follow Joey's daily progress here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Heisman Herschel in the House!

Happy Reports

Coach Poppe Tweeted this pic of George Mahoney speaking to the team

Yesterday the reports from training camp went from happy impressions of the better attitude to actual concrete positive assessments about player talent and effort.

I’m not going to single out any player by name, especially not before the first real scrimmage in eight days, but here’s what I’ll say:

1)      Look for a new source of strength coming out of the backfield with the kind of player Ivy defenders have historically not been able to tackle very well.
2)      A new WR is already giving the defense fits
3)      Another new player is displaying a lethal combo of blistering speed and extremely smooth hands
4)      Team size is much better across the aboard and appropriate for college football
5)      Camp is being catered better than some NFL facilities, (yum).

I have to add that the reports I had yesterday are the best I’ve heard coming out of a Columbia training camp since 2009 when we last had a truly competitive team.

It did get a little hotter on the field yesterday than the forecasts led us to believe, but today we're assured it will be cooler and even less humid. 

Motivational Speech

After practice, George Mahoney ’00 spoke to the team about perseverance. I don’t know any of the other details about the speech, but I do know a little something about Mahoney and how he stepped up for a another Lion he never played with years ago. Mahoney came to Columbia from Staten Island’s St. Joseph by the Sea just in time to be a freshmen member of the best Lion team in many decades. By his senior season in 1999, he was a team leader on the field and also off the field as a leader of the players’ Christian prayer group.

In the spring of 1999, the Columbia family was shocked by the story of Mike Sardo ’93, a star WR for the Lions in his playing days who had been hit with spinal cancer. Mahoney helped organize some of his teammates and worked with some coaches and other campus advisers to help set up a fund for Sardo and his new wife, former Lion basketball player Kathleen Johnson.

Again, I have no idea yet if Mahoney used Sardo’s story as part of his speech on perseverance last night. But he certainly could have because Sardo remains a very inspiring story. He lives today in Northern Virginia and is fighting the good fight for himself and others who have to go through everyday life in a wheelchair.

Mahoney is now an executive at Merck. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ranked Out

I haven’t had a chance to comment on the Ivy League preseason media poll that came out two weeks ago.

For those of you who missed it or forgot, the poll came out this way:


First-Place Votes in Parentheses
Harvard (11)
Dartmouth (4)
Yale (1)
Brown (1)

I don’t want to spend too much time going on about a poll that means almost nothing and will mean even less when the season starts.

So I thought I’d just  write 1-2 sentences on whether I think each team is overrated, underrated, or accurately rated.

That’s about all the time a poll really deserves.


Rated right. I think you have to favor the Crimson to win the title again based on the offense alone. It also doesn’t hurt that Harvard plays its toughest Ivy opponent this year at home.


Rated right. The Big Green have a great shot to win the title and I think they have the best overall player in the Ivies. But that road game at Harvard gives me a lot of pause.


Overrated. I will write a longer piece explaining this later on, but you just don’t replace a player like Tyler Varga in the Ivies.


Overrated. I’m still not convinced Bob Surace can field a truly contending team without Caraun Reid.


Underrated. How the heck this team went 5-5 last year with all the rookie players is a question that can only be answered by the fact that Phil Estes is the head coach. Last I checked, Estes was still there and his players aren’t all rookies this year.


Underrated. Ray Priore has probably the best motivation to succeed in year one than any coach in Ivy history. And the two transfers he picked up this off season could make a huge impact.


Rated right. No one is going to give a team on an 0-21 losing streak a vote to go higher than seventh. As it is, not voting the Lions last is actually a big sign of respect for Al Bagnoli.


Rated right. The Big Red’s hard fall the last few years hasn’t gotten enough attention because everyone’s  been focused on the worse problems at Columbia. I see no real reason to believe a big improvement is near.

My more complete Ivy League preview for the 2015 season is coming in September. 

On the Field

Full team exercises pic from the @gocolumbialions Twitter account

Today marks the second day of on the field work for the Columbia Lions 2015 football training camp.

The athletic department provided some good color from day one with a brief video with Head Coach Al Bagnoli and several Tweets and Instagram pictures and videos throughout the day. 

I like having some guessing game fun with the pictures, and sometimes they really do solve minor mysteries. 

For example, there's a player with a #17 red jersey on the CU Football Twitter feed that must be freshman QB Kyle Castner based on process of elimination... unless I'm wrong. 


Obviously, the hope that we'd see the new uniforms on or about August 10th has faded but there's nothing like building up anticipation. 


For those of you wondering about the weather, it's been pretty good for August in New York City so far and the rest of the week is shaping up to be a bit cooler and a lot less humid... which is excellent news.


I don't have all the details, but Columbia will scrimmage Kean College on September 3rd in the late afternoon. I believe the game will be at Wien Stadium but I am not sure about that. I'm just happy that the Lions are scrimmaging somebody after about five years of not scheduling any work with other teams in preseason. Most of us took the decision to nix scrimmages as a very bad sign.

Practice Times

Also for those wondering, the Bagnoli team has told the players that the early AM practices the endured for the last three years during the season will be no more. 

The one thing I liked about the early morning sessions was that they helped avoid class conflicts that in the Ivy League, are actually important issues for the real student athletes to tackle. But I was wondering how Columbia was going to make the pre-dawn practices work when they had been so unpopular and unproductive at Yale under Tom Williams. Sometimes you have to let the other guys fail so you don't have to. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Schwarzer Commits to Navy

Just to follow up on my story from yesterday, Temecula, CA LB Jake Schwarzer did indeed make his commitment announcement today and he chose Navy.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

UPDATE: Another New Lion

Michael Murphy

5-11, 194 pound LB Michael Murphy from Plant HS in Tampa, FL has just committed to Columbia for next season.

You can see Murphy's highlight video here.

Based on that highlight, I have a feeling Murphy will be slotted to play safety in college football, but decide for yourself.

Murphy would be the third Plant HS grad to come to Columbia football and the first since John Shepherd '97.

Yesterday's committed recruit, Hogan Irwin, will be the first grad from that school to come to the Lions.

1) Parker Coogan OL/DT 6-2 270 lbs. Kingwood HS Houston, TX

2) Matt Dame QB 6-2 185 lbs. Suncoast HS Riviera Beach, FL

3) Alex Gibson RB 5-10 195 lbs. Central Bucks High School East Doylestown, PA

4) Hogan Irwin RB 5-10 180 lbs. Central Cathedral HS San Diego, CA

5) Michael Murphy LB 5-11 194 lbs. Plant HS Tampa, FL

6) Lamine Nouck-A-Nwal DE/OL  6-4 250 lbs. Central Bucks High School East Doylestown, PA

7) Hunter Petlansky QB 6-2 225 lbs. Modesto Central Catholic HS Modesto, CA 

8) Alex Robin DT 6-0 260 lbs. Vestavia Hills HS Vestavia Hills, AL 

9) Tanner Thomas RB 5-10 183 lbs. Farragut HS Knoxville, TN 

10) Jonathon Webster DB  6-0 180 lbs. Eastside Catholic HS Sammamish, WA

Good Start

All reports from the preliminary two days of training camp are filled with details about increased enthusiasm and excitement among the players and the coaches.

Many of the players look much bigger to the naked eye but we won’t have updated weights probably for a day or two more at the earliest.

There are also some unlucky injuries at a few key positions, but no reason to hit any panic buttons on that score yet.

Perhaps most important of all was Head Coach Al Bagnoli’s inspiring address to the players and their parents where he laid out his vision and his coaching philosophy.

This truly feels like the start of something big.

One small update: Nicholas Annabi is back with the team and now wearing #13, and now Brett Nottingham is back off the roster. 


Now that the current Lions are all present and accounted for and starting camp, I’m a bit wary of paying too much attention going forward to the newly committed recruits. But recruiting news is such a great way to increase attention for our program that I think it’s still worth it. Of course as the season and real games begin, less attention will be paid to the future in favor of a fair amount of info on the present.

So that said, here are two interesting bullet point notes from future Lion and potential future Lion world:

-RB commit Tanner Thomas from Farragut HS in Knoxville had a MONSTER game to start his senior season Friday night. He scored four TD’s in Farragut's 49-6 win.  

-This is an odd one, even for me, but a potential future Lion who looks really good on film to many of us is going to do make a bit of an event out of his commitment decision. Sometime tomorrow, we’re told LB Jake Schwarzer will announce where he intends to play in college next year. He’s publicly narrowed down his four choices to San Jose State, Navy, San Diego and Columbia. 

I hate falling prey to something like this, but I have to admit I’ll be really interested in learning his choice tomorrow when the time comes. Call me a sucker. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

One More

The San Diego Union newspaper reports that speedy RB/DB Hogan Irwin is coming to Columbia in 2016:

Irwin will be the first Cathedral Catholic HS grad to come to Columbia football. 

His highlight reel is here, (he may want to change his shirt in his profile picture):

Friday, August 21, 2015

It Begins

With players starting to officially report for training camp today and tomorrow, the 2015 football season has finally officially begun.

Not to make too big a thing of it, but this Columbia football season is more than just a football season for the players, fans and the administration.

It’s a grand experiment and a real execution of the major financial and moral commitment to football so many of us have wanted from the administration for decades.

For Head Coach Al Bagnoli, it’s an important chance to show that life isn't over when you hit your 60s, and that he has several good years of coaching and program building ahead of him.

For some of his key assistants, it’s a crucial chance to prove they are worth the investment and a big loss to the programs that lost them or let them go.

For the 76 returning players on the Columbia roster, especially the 21 returning seniors, this is their last chance to prove that they are much better players than the previous coaching regime allowed them to be.

And for all Ivy League football fans it’s a chance to show that the “have nots” in the league can start the process of reaching the top,  one rung on the respectability ladder at a time.

I’ll have my complete preview for the Lions 2015 season ready to publish in a couple of weeks, but I will say now that I’m not expecting Columbia to be a contending team right away. I don’t think any fair thinking fan or true football expert does. But the player talent level has been improved about as much as it reasonably could be in fewer than six months. The player attitudes have improved markedly. And the level of professionalism in the staff and in the Athletic Director’s office is exponentially greater.  

And perhaps most importantly, I do think CU football will be fun and exciting again this fall. And anyone who suffered through the last two seasons knows how very important that is.

Aggressive agitators like me, Rich Forzani, and so many of the readers here finally got what we wanted with the Bagnoli hire and the serious money and support from President Bollinger that went along with it. We asked for this, we demanded this, and now we have it. If this works out like we’ve always insisted it would, we’re going to look pretty good even though none of us will ask for any credit or care more for that than we will about seeing the team win. If it doesn’t, (and it will take much more than one year to know either way), we won’t be able to avoid a lot of criticism whether we like it or not.

So everyone has a lot at stake in this season from inside and outside the Columbia football world.

It’s time to put it all to the test.

I’ve never been afraid, and you can bet Al Bagnoli’s never been afraid, to take a very public test with very public results.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Miles Austin's New Swag

The 2016 Commit List

Alex Robin

Just a couple more updates on the two most recently confirmed 2016 commits:

Both Jonathon Webster and Alex Robin will be the first grads from their high schools to come to Columbia football.

1) Parker Coogan OL/DT 6-2 270 lbs. Kingwood HS Houston, TX

2) Matt Dame QB 6-2 185 lbs. Suncoast HS Riviera Beach, FL

3) Alex Gibson RB 5-10 195 lbs. Central Bucks High School East Doylestown, PA

4) Lamine Nouck-A-Nwal DE/OL  6-4 250 lbs. Central Bucks High School East Doylestown, PA

5) Hunter Petlansky QB 6-2 225 lbs. Modesto Central Catholic HS Modesto, CA 

6) Alex Robin DT 6-0 260 lbs. Vestavia Hills HS Vestavia Hills, AL 

7) Tanner Thomas RB 5-10 183 lbs. Farragut HS Knoxville, TN 

8) Jonathon Webster DB  6-0 180 lbs. Eastside Catholic HS Sammamish, WA

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

BREAKING: Robin Commits

24/7 Sports is reporting that 6-0, 260 pound DT Alex Robin from Vestavia Hills High School in Birmingham, AL has committed to Columbia.

Good defensive tackles are just about the hardest thing to find in the Ivy League. Robin could be a rare find. 

Getting Real

See you in six days

We still don’t have a totally updated roster with new weights. But now every player has a number, (except QB Kyle Castner for some reason. Castner did have surgery in July, so it’s possible he’s on some kind of PUP list).

Also, every player named on the roster now is actually on the team. There have been some losses. Officially gone are DB Nicholas Annabi, LB Jacob Ardron, OL Anthony Bonadies, DB Lorenzo Bradford, WR Chris Connors, OL Keith Ramljak and DB Devin Williams.

For those of you who were fans of Connors, I believe injuries played the biggest role in his departure from the team. Injuries also forced Ramljak to go and I assume they played a role in some of the other losses too.

And as I reported earlier this year, DB Brandon Blackshear, WR Isaiah Gross, LB’s Mark Cieslak and Parker Tobia, and of course DL’s Chad Washington and Charles Melka are back on the team.

LB Jake Young, who was recruited by the wrestling team at CU is also now officially on the roster.

That makes 103 players on the roster as of now.

Getting back to jersey numbers, DL Toba Akinleye has changed his number to 8, which is also the number given to new QB Skyler Mornhinweg.

The season officially starts in six days as training camp begins. Hopefully by then we’ll get a few more details filled in like those weights and a look at the new uniforms.


And right on cue, the football program has just released this video titled, "Preseason Pump Up."

Schedule Quirk

And this might be the oddest reason for a late start time that I’ve ever heard.

Bruce Wood at Big Green Alert reports that the reason why the October 24th Columbia-Dartmouth game in Hanover is at 3pm is because there are classes scheduled for that morning for many undergrads. Why are classes scheduled on a Saturday? They’re to make up for classes that are being canceled at the beginning of the semester for Rosh Hashanah.

I know Harvard moved a night game a few years back because it was the same night as the beginning of Yom Kippur, but this is really something new.

Another Commit

With 32 days until kickoff for the 2015 season, it still seems amazing that Columbia already has about 10 committed recruits for 2016. 

We know the names of seven of those players right now. The seventh and last name came to light last night on Twitter. He's Jonathon Webster, a Free Safety from East Side Catholic High School in Sammamish, WA. 

Webster will be the first East Side Catholic grad to come to Columbia football. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Field Marshalling the Fans

Alma Mater will get the best seat in the house

I’ve been busy moving my family into a new house this week, but that’s given me a lot more time to think about the decision to hold football practices right on South Lawn on Fridays during the season.

This is a significant development for three very important reasons:

1)      It proves the new regime really is listening and really is different

The request to put some kind of practice or game run-through right on the main campus was made publicly and privately by people not usually associated with the financial power base in the football program. Not only did the athletic department and the football office listen, they made it happen in year one. For those who kept excusing the previous administrations and coaches and insisting they were doing all they could to improve the program, this group has proven them wrong in the bat of an eye.

2)      This makes Columbia #1… in visibility

We can complain about the fact that our football stadium and training facility is 100 blocks north of campus all we want. But the fact is that football, and just about all athletics, are out of sight and out of mind at every Ivy school. Columbia was just the most out of sight and out of mind. Now with these practices, Columbia will become the most “in your face” football program in the Ivies in a good way. There’s a tremendous amount of people walking along Columbia’s campus, especially on Fridays when there are few classes scheduled for undergrads. A lot of Columbia students these days did not grow up in the U.S. and they’ve never even seen football. This will bring the experience to them. Alumni will also come to check out the spectacle, especially on the Friday before Homecoming.  Essentially, this could turn into a nice pep rally every week.

New Athletic Director Peter Piling came to us from a sports marketing firm and this guy understands marketing. It’s as simple as that.

3)      It’s one less schlep to worry about

No, the bus ride and time spent up at the Baker complex really isn’t such a big deal. But one less trip is one less trip, and the players are going to love the extra time and freedom this gives them.  Practicing and eating on campus the day before a game will give the team an extra shot of physical and emotional energy just when they’ll need it most.

On the history, I was wrong about this being the first time since the 1920’s that the team practiced on the main campus. Lou Little’s teams did some infrequent workouts on South Lawn into the 1950’s. But that was a time when the campus also had several tennis courts and a track right where Ferris Booth Hall replaced those facilities and that’s where Lerner Hall now stands. Little’s successor, Buff Donelli, ended the on campus practices when he took over the program in 1957.

Bottom line, this is really a major positive development that should be celebrated and supported as much as we can. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Breaking: South Lawn Practice Scheduled

Giving the true fans what they want seems to be the watchword of Athletic Director Peter Pilling's administration. 

Football will practice on the main campus on Fridays this fall. The team hasn't done anything like this for many decades. 

The First Rule of Ivy Football is YOU DON'T talk about Ivy Football

Today is the Ivy League Football media day and the release of the preseason poll. 

But unlike other recent years on the Ivy League Sports website, there's no mention of the event or how to hear it online. 

Has there been a change in staff at the League offices or do they all just want to keep things quieter this year for fear of attracting new fans?

If we ever do learn how to follow the Media Day coaches teleconference, expect all too many jokes about how everyone thought they had said goodbye to Head Coach Al Bagnoli last year. 

Other than that, we usually get a decent idea of where the teams stand regarding their depth charts. 

Hopefully, I'll have an update later. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Last Liberty

Training camp doesn't start until all the players have to report on August 21st, (on the field work will probably not start before the 24th), but this is the last weekend before certain groups of players have to report for some assessments.

It all starts with the returning seniors who will be back this coming Monday. When they enter the locker room, the new jerseys will be hanging in their lockers. And the work will continue.

Some of what we can expect to learn in the coming days includes new weights for the players. Several sources tell me that just about every starting offensive lineman will be at 300 lbs, a welcome change from the ultra light policy of the previous regime that left our players at a tremendous disadvantage week in and week out. No one should be surprised by some big changes in that part of the roster.

The real mystery is the depth chart. And we're probably still almost 40 days away from really knowing who's getting the starting jobs at many key positions including QB. On the other hand, this coaching staff has been much more open and communicative and they may decide to let us know a little early in hopes of juicing up the fan base and boosting those starters' confidence. I have a good feeling Al Bagnoli's crew will handle the dissemination of this information in the best way to get fans, players, and maybe even some non-athlete students interested.

Now in other news...


Columbia's coaches aren't being shy about going after some very high quality and much sought after players.

One offer made this week went to Kyle Johnson, a 1st team all state Mike linebacker from the Bolles School in Jacksonville, FL. Johnson is racking up the offers from Army, Lafayette, Lehigh, Navy, Air Force, South Alabama, Ohio U., and probably a few more by the time you read this.

Another offer this week went to another Mike linebacker, Jalen Williams, from Hewitt-Trussville High School in Trussville, AL. Williams also has offers from Yale, Tennessee-Martin, Davidson, Middle Tennessee State, and Navy.


The three-time Ivy League defending champion Columbia Baseball team announced the names of the incoming freshman class yesterday. I would expect some walk-ons to be added to roster in the coming months.

One thing that caught my eye is the fact that incoming freshman Chandler Bengston also got some recruiting attention as a center for his high school football team. His football highlights are pretty good! With Columbia football particularly hurting at the center position, does this mean that baseball Head Coach Brett Boretti is a better football recruiter than the previous Columbia football coaching regime? I'll let someone else answer that question.

One question about coaching has been answered. That would be the one about how long could Boretti hold on to his assistants after so much consistent success?

Pitching Coach Peter Maki has indeed left Columbia and taken the same position with the Duke baseball program. We wish him every success. Columbia is putting out a search for Maki's replacement. Take my word for it, with the great talent the Lions have on the mound coming back for 2016 this is going to be a great job.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Polls are in

The first FCS poll is out and I'd say the biggest surprise, or injustice in my book, is the fact that Dartmouth didn't get any votes. Fordham coming in ahead of Harvard is another mistake in my estimation, as is Yale getting four votes.
Also, when did Bucknell get so good? I was really surprised to see the Bison get nine votes. But a closer look shows that Bucknell just barely came in second in the Patriot League preseason media poll, only three votes behind Fordham for first place.

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