Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Scouting Princeton

Kurt Holuba

I admit it. When it comes to preseason predictions, I have been just terrible at getting a handle on the Princeton Tigers. I usually underrate them, but have also overrated them at times too.

But now that we’ve seen Princeton play two games, even hopelessly Tiger-blind guys like me have an idea about what kind of team they are.


Former great Brown QB James Perry has been the OC at Princeton for six years now and he really knows what he’s doing. If you’re an opposing defense, you have to pick your poison with this offense that has so many weapons and looks that it’s really hard to keep track.

Right now, the more potent poison is the running game which is averaging a monstrous 276 yards per game. Three runners are doing the job led by DiAndre Atwater. Atwater has the most total yards, but Joe Rhattigan and Dre Nelson have really been just as lethal. When you have multiple RB’s doing this much damage it usually means you have a great offensive line, and the fact that Princeton has allowed zero sacks makes it official.

At QB, Chad Kanoff is mostly living up to expectations and seems like he might get better over time. But with Quinn Epperly gone to graduation, Perry has given sophomore John Lovett the chance to occasionally, throw, run, or catch the ball depending on the situation. Lovett already has one TD rushing and one TD passing.

Injured through much of 2014, WR Seth DeValve is looking good, but with that Tiger rushing attack he hasn’t had to rack up big yards just yet. He had 10 catches including a TD reception.


Princeton has been a bit better against the run than the pass, but the Tigers do have seven sacks and have only allowed two TD passes. On the darker side, Princeton is allowing opposing QB’s to complete 70% of their passes and allowing almost 300 passing yards per game.

Sophomore DL Kurt Holuba is starting to live up to the tremendous hype he received when he committed to Princeton from Bergen Catholic HS. He already has two sacks and a forced fumble. Safety Dorian Williams has upped his game from an impressive 2014 and is leading the team in tackles. He also has two forced fumbles and one recovery that he returned for 39 yards. Senior CB Anthony Gaffney is quietly leading the traditional pass defense and can be close to a shutdown corner.

Junior LB RJ Paige appears to be a breakout star this season and should be watched closely.

A surprise potential breakout player on the D has been DL Henry Schlossberg. He has two sacks and a pass breakup. My guess is he’s benefitting from the needed attention opposing lines have to give Holuba, but he’s getting the job done.

Special Teams

This is probably the best special teams unit in the Ivies. Kicker Nolan Bieck has been perfect on PAT’s and FG’s, including a 45-yarder. Punter Tyler Roth has only had to punt twice thanks to this offense, but he’s averaging more than 50 yards per boot. Kickoff returner Dre Nelson has taken over those duties from the lethal Gaffney and all he’s done is average 34 yards a return. Punt returner Max Lescano averages more than 11 yards per chance.  

Will They be Good in the Rain?

It looks like Friday night’s game at Princeton Stadium will be a major washout. That part of the forecast is easy. The harder part is trying to figure out which team that will help more. In recent years, bad weather games have helped Columbia narrow the gap against better teams but not get them over the hump. One would think that with all the fast moving and precise offensive looks, Princeton would be in bigger trouble during a windy mess of a game. But that offensive line could negate most of the bad effects from the weather. Either way, this seems like it’s going to be a fun game to watch… on TV at home.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Defining Moment

The Princeton game has not always been the Ivy opener for both teams, but at least for Columbia, the annual game against the Tigers often seems to set the tone for the entire season for better or for worse.

The last Columbia-Princeton game that really mattered was in 2012. Under then-new Head Coach Pete Mangurian, the Lions were looking pretty decent at 1-1 heading into the Ivy opener at home versus an 0-2 Tiger team. Princeton responded by returning the opening kickoff for a TD and basically never looked back en route to a 33-6 win. The Tigers proceeded to make a serious run for the Ivy title and grab a tie for that title a year later. The Columbia win was the launching point for Princeton and the beginning of a rude awakening for Columbia.

But other games in this series have also been extremely meaningful. Here are just 10 off the top of my head:

The 1961 Ivy championship team missed out on league perfection because of a late collapse against Princeton.

The 1971 “Cardiac Kids” team got their winning season rolling with an incredible victory at home over the Tigers.

Columbia’s legendary QB John Witkowski ’84 had one of his finest games ever in the 1982 Lion win at what was the last Homecoming at the old Baker Field stadium.

The 1988 team ended the infamous 44-game losing streak against Princeton.

The 1994 team that secured the program’s first winning season since 1971 won a definitive Homecoming game against the Tigers.  

The 1995 blowout Columbia loss at Princeton Stadium was lowlighted by the injury that ended Columbia QB Mike Cavanaugh ‘96’s career.

The 1996 team that finished 8-2 started 6-0 before losing at home to Princeton.  

The 2003 Columbia win at Princeton Stadium ended with a miracle Hail Mary TD pass from QB Jeff Otis ’05 to TE Wade Fletcher ’05.

A year later, Princeton ruined Columbia’s 25-th anniversary celebration at Homecoming by winning in OT thanks to a missed Lion PAT.

The 38-0 Columbia win in 2009 at Princeton effectively ended Tiger Head Coach Roger’s Hughes career at Old Nassau.

This year, the chance to make any kind of defining statement in this game seems to be solely Columbia’s opportunity. I would argue that with two definitive wins under its belt already, Princeton has already made a statement that it’s back in business after a very disappointing 2014 season. Columbia is the team that, after a disappointing loss to Georgetown, can send a defining message with either a win or a very competitive game against the heavily favored Tigers. The national TV audience watching Friday night on NBC Sports Network would be just the gravy.

Monday, September 28, 2015

On the Bright Side…

We can all focus on the tough and disappointing loss to Georgetown Saturday or we can leave the problem-solving to this very new coaching staff and focus on what I think is the best news of the year so far for the Lions.

I hope you’ve all noticed we have a really good quarterback.

There were high hopes for junior Skyler Mornhinweg when he transferred to Columbia from Florida earlier this year. I would argue that despite the 0-2 record, he’s surpassed those expectations.

Some of this shows up in the stats. Mornhinweg may not have a TD pass yet and he does have two INT’s, but he also has a 70% completion rate and has run for two TD’s on the ground.

Some of this does not show up in the stats, like the gutsy way we’ve all seen him play through the first two weeks of the season, the quick release and accuracy in his throws, and the way he’s been improvising and keeping plays alive when the first two or three options break down.

In short, Mornhinweg has done all the things we hoped to see from former Columbia transfer QB Brett Nottingham and more. That is not meant to be a slam on Nottingham, it’s just meant to emphasize how much Mornhinweg has already delivered.

He’s a real dual threat QB, and has shown better consistent passing ability than recent Columbia QB’s like M.A. Olawale and Sean Brackett. Olawale was bigger and faster, but didn’t have Mornhinweg’s accuracy. Brackett was much faster, but also didn’t have Mornhinweg’s accuracy or his better relative size. To be clear, Mornhinweg hasn’t delivered the wins that Olawale and Brackett did yet.

It’s not clear if Head Coach Al Bagnoli will continue to make Mornhinweg share the QB duties with sophomore Anders Hill as we head into Ivy play. Hill has played well, especially running the ball. But he left the Georgetown game after getting injured early and it’s not clear yet what his status is. As good as Mornhinweg is, I like the idea of giving him a bit of a rest and protecting him from injury from time to time.

But in many ways, Mornhinweg’s real debut is this Friday night at Princeton. The Tigers will be heavily favored and their potent offense will get most of the pregame attention. Mornhinweg has a chance on a national TV stage to show what he can do against Ivy competition. I like his chances. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Stomach Punch

Georgetown 24 Columbia 16

Why Georgetown Won

The Hoyas played virtually error-free football while taking full advantage of almost every Columbia mistake. Georgetown QB Kyle Nolan had one of his best games ever, throwing and running well enough to keep the Hoyas in control. The Georgetown defense bent but got tough in the red zone.

Why Columbia Lost

The Lions made crucial errors at the worst possible moments. But Columbia's defense was also not able to play consistently enough to win. The Lions also lost too many points because of an inaccurate kicking game.

Key Turning Points

-After the Hoyas tied it at 10-10 with just 29 seconds left in the half, Columbia fumbled the squib kickoff and Georgetown recovered. The Hoyas scored moments later to take an improbably 17-10 halftime lead.

-The Lions looked like they were going to answer on the opening possession of the second half with a brilliant drive, but a holding penalty negated the tying TD, and after a missed FG a blown coverage gave Georgetown an 80-yard TD pass on the very first GU play after the FG miss.

Columbia Positives

-QB Skyler Mornhinweg showed good ability to move the offense, at least in between the 20's. He threw and ran extremely well and shows lots of calmunder pressure. He's particularly comfortable with WR Scooter Hollis who had a career day with 10 catches for 131 yards.

-RB Cameron Molina showed good durability with two TD's and a solid 79 yards on 19 carries.

-Columbia kept fighting to the end. It was a good sign that after falling behind 24-10, they did not allow another score and kept moving on offense. 

Columbia Negatives

-Crucial special teams problems basically let the game get away. The Lions missed two chip shot FG's, a PAT, and the squib kick fumble all led to 14 points given away.

-The Columbia defense had its moments, but blown coverages and the inability to adjust to the scrambling Nolan cost the Lions dearly.

-The red zone offense needs to improve. While the FG misses hurt, TDs on those drives would have avoided the need for chip shot kicks in the first place. 

Columbia MVP

Scooter Hollis was on fire for most of the game. Now, he just needs to find the end zone.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Game Day Open Thread

Comment here on the game 

Down on the Farm

Central Catholic QB Hunter Petlansky threw for one TD and ran for another in the Raiders 59-14 win over Weston Ranch.

RB Hogan Irwin had 131 yards on 25 carries in San Diego Central Catholic's 24-10 win over Liberty.

In a game played on Monday, QB Matt Dame threw five TD passes and had 363 yards in the air in Suncoast’s loss to South Fork.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Happy Ending?

The new field is ready

Georgetown Hoyas (1-2) at Columbia Lions (0-1)

September 26, 2015

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

Kickoff Time: 1:00pm

Game Time Weather Forecast: 72 degrees and partly cloudy

The Spread: Georgetown is favored by 5 ½ points. The under/over is 42.


The game will be broadcast live on the Ivy League Digital Network with play-by-play by Jerry Recco and Sal Licata as the color analyst.

Leading Storylines

1)     THIS IS THE GAME. Columbia hasn’t had a chance this good to end its now 22-game losing streak. The Hoyas are not a strong team, and the Lions seem to have just the tools to take advantage of Georgetown’s biggest weaknesses. That said, a loss here would be a tremendous disappointment and a bad early setback for the Al Bagnoli era. Will the new buzz surrounding the team because of the Bagnoli hire and the added media attention translate into a larger and more enthusiastic crowd? Only winning can make the game day experience at Wien Stadium better, but the people there Saturday could be the first group to see it happen in three years.

2)     The New New York Sack Exchange. Columbia’s D-line lived up to the advanced billing in week one with five official sacks against Fordham, (in college football, the real sack total is usually deflated in the stats). Columbia had 15 sacks all season last year, so the improvement here is clear. Georgetown’s offensive line is banged up and a far cry from the size the Lions faced against the Rams last week.

3)     Hoya emotion. With senior LB Ty Williams still battling paralysis as the result of a terrible injury in Georgetown’s first game, the Hoyas played with a lot of emotion in their week 2 win over Marist. That emotion seemed to flag against Dartmouth last week, but could easily resurface in this game. A different kind of emotion could also motivate Georgetown as no one wants to be the team to help Columbia end the 22-game losing streak.

5      Columbia Players to Watch

1)     Senior DT Niko Padilla #93. If the Columbia D-line dominates like it should, Padilla’s play will provide the early signs. If he’s drawing his usual double teams and extra-help blocking, then you’ll know that plays a big role in sacks and TFL’s by the other defensive linemen.

2)     Senior RB Cameron Molina #31 had somewhat abbreviated duty in week one, but when the Lions really needed yards on the ground last week they went to the senior co-captain. I expect Molina and junior Alan Watson to split the running duties again this week, but Molina should be given a more starring role this time.

3)     Freshman LB Cal Falkenhayn #54. Falkenhayn broke into the two-deep this week after sophomore LB Hagen Patterson suffered a serious ankle sprain against Fordham. Junior Keith Brady did a great job against the run and rushing the passed in Patterson’s absence last week and he will start here, but I’ve been expecting to see Falkenhayn to see the field early and it looks like it could happen in this game. This is the kind of player who could make a four-year impact on the team. As a  leader for the great Loyola Academy north of Chicago, Falkenhayn is used to pressure. He evenplayed a big game at Soldier Field in Chicago last year.

4)     Senior WR Scooter Hollis #19. Hollis came close to having a breakout game last week, and established himself as a key target for both Columbia QB’s. He feels like a good bet to be the first Lion to score a TD pass this season.

5)     Senior CB Trevor Bell #2. Fordham picked on Bell all day last week and Georgetown will try to test the 5-8 veteran. But Bell is a very good player who could have a huge day if the Hoyas underestimate him and go his way too often.

5 Georgetown Players to Watch

1)     Senior QB Kyle Nolan #10. Nolan looks pretty scary at 6-6 and 235 pounds, but he threw the ball too inconsistently to get serious FBS interest when he was in high school. That’s still the case today, but he can burn you with his arm and his legs on a play or two here and there. The thing is, if he suddenly does get hot for more than a quarter at a time no one will be prepared to stop him.

2)     Senior RB Jo’El Kimpela #35. Kimpela is another guy who is just too erratic and inconsistent to deliver a decent number of wins for the Hoyas. But like Nolan, he can sometimes have a big game. Columbia’s run defense was not able to wrap up superstar RB Chase Edmonds enough last week despite containing him for much of the game. Georgetown may want to test the Lions run defense with a lot more carries for Kimpela and the Hoyas have been talking all week about improving their running game stats after last week’s awful ground numbers vs. the Big Green. Win or lose, I think Kimpela may have a good game.

3)     Junior WR Justin Hill #5. This is sounding like a broken record, but Hill is yet another one of those inconsistent GU skill players who can only hurt you sometimes. Georgetown will surely want to test the Lion pass defense and he’s the most comfortable target for Nolan. Simply put, Columbia cannot allow Hill to have a big game.

4)     Senior LB Matt Satchell #44 is a big tackler who will probably be the guy charged with stopping both Columbia QB’s from running and scrambling too easily. He’s going to have his hands full and his ability to cope with the dual QB’s will play a huge role in the Hoyas’ chances to win this game.

5)     Sophomore Center Matthew Houpert #75. Columbia knows all about putting inexperienced players in the crucial Center position. Luckily for the Lions, it worked out generally okay last week. It didn’t for Georgetown as the Hoyas couldn’t do much insise against Dartmouth. Houpert needs to have a much better game against the Lions if the Hoyas hope to win. He’ll have his hands more than full going up against Padilla and will likely need a lot of help.

New York Sack Exchange II: Going for 50 in ‘15

Columbia had just 15 sacks in all of 2014. The Lions had five sacks against Fordham and so now the goal I’m setting for 50 sacks this season is right on track.

Streak Watch

Columbia has now lost 22 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 1,046 days ago. 

Penn's Big Win

Kudos to the Penn Quakers for shaking off a bad start against Lehigh and bouncing back to beat Villanova 24-13 last night. It was a stunning win for the Quakers, who haven’t been able to beat their local rivals since 1911.

In a nod to the odd scheduling of the game forced by the Papal visit that apparently helped Penn, Quaker Head Coach Ray Priore was heard saying "thank you Pope Francis!" as soon as the final gun sounded.

Villanova was without their excellent first string QB for the entire game, but the Penn offense was efficient and the Quaker D much stronger than we’ve seen in years.

One major play in the game was a 98-yard fumble recovery for a TD that turned what looked like it was about to be a 17-14 game into a 24-7 Penn lead. The fumble on that play was caused by Syracuse transfer Colton Moskal. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

"The Season" Continues

Here's the latest edition of the WNYC/NPR series "The Season," which is following the Lions week by week.

This week's episode features the discovery of a long lost Holy Grail of a video so many of us have been trying to track down.

More Hardware!

Lou Little

In a nice nod to history, Columbia and Georgetown are going to make their newly-solidified annual game a contest for the Lou Little Trophy.

You can see the picture of the trophy and more about it here.

The bio of Lou Little in the article leaves out the fact that the 1934 win over Stanford was in the Rose Bowl.

Little was a titan of his time and a major personality on campus. In fact, he was one of the biggest reasons Dwight Eisenhower agreed to become Columbia's president in 1948.

A Fan's Guide to Attending Columbia Football Home Games


One of our best spies is "Inwood Tiger," a family man who lives steps from Wien Stadium and always does us the courtesy of updating fans on eating and other choices near Baker Field.

So, I will now publish Mr. Tiger's updated tips on transportation and eating on TOP of my own annual guide to getting to and enjoying game day.

Neighborhood restaurant update for this year, in order of distance from the stadium:

Indian Road Cafe - absolutely charming, and has proven itself again and again to be the best restaurant in the area.  Great beer list too.  W. 218th St near Indian Road.  Note - gets busy on weekends.

Park Terrace Deli - still sparkling after their recent renovation, great sandwiches.  On W. 218th near Broadway

Twin Donut - A classic, if you like stale donuts.  But it has its uses.  Broadway near W218th.

La Essencia - Small cafe with authentic Dominican menu.  Broadway near W. 218th.

Brown Sugar - new Cuban restaurant at Broadway and W. 215th, opening soon.  Extremely controversial in the area as no one knows if it will open as a legit restaurant or as a stealth nightclub.  
Food Universe - supermarket under "the arch" at Broadway near W. 216th, handy for snacks.

Cavala Cafe - more of a hookah lounge than a legitimate restaurant.  Broadway and W. 214th.  Avoid!

Rebounds NYC - small sports bar on Broadway near W. 214th.

Carrot Top Bakery - perfect for bakery treats, on Broadway near W. 214th.

Liffy II - The last of the old Inwood Irish dive bars.  Broadway near W. 213th.

Cafe de Broadway - another hookah lounge on Broadway near Isham posing as a restaurant.  Avoid!

Yummy Thai - Cheery Thai restaurant on Broadway near Isham.  Can't go wrong.

Garden Cafe - Local fave with an excellent all-weather back patio, on Broadway near Isham.

Inwood Local - solid beer selections and a big screen in the back, on Broadway near Isham

Pipers Kilt - rock solid pub, a fixture for years.  TVs, ancient wood booths, and outstanding burgers.  Broadway near Isham.

Pizza Haven / Grandpa's Pizza - both Inwood institutions for a slice, take your pick.  Across from each other on Broadway between Isham and 207th.

VS Berry - Frozen yogurt treats, Broadway and Isham

Inwood Bar and Grill - Probably the most impressive sports-friendly restaurant, with many big screens, on Broadway near W. 204th.  Currently closed for renovation but will re-open this fall.

Finally, if you are looking for more meal options head further south to the dozen or so restaurants concentrated along Dyckman Street.  Park View and Fort Tryon Pub in particular are recommended.


Remember this Sign...

... and remember this train!

The football home opener is THIS WEEKEND!

Time to start planning NOW!

I am here to help.

Every year, I publish my guide to getting to the Columbia home games at Kraft Field at Wien Stadium at the Baker Athletic Complex.

And this year, you REALLY need to pay attention to the guide because there are some significant updates you must know about, so read through it carefully:


Every year, the top headline is the same: if you are coming to the game from Manhattan, TAKE THE SUBWAY!

The #1 train and the A train are both great choices to get to the stadium. I have more details on that a little later.


To accommodate fans living or staying on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a FREE shuttle bus will leave from the corner of East 86th Street and 3rd Avenue at 11am on home gamedays.


In 2010, they moved the pregame tailgating/picnic area to the concourse right in front of the stadium and it worked well! It was a little crowded at times, but the crowd was lively and close-knit.

And they are still serving free soft drinks and beer!!!

What could be better???

Now, here's more on how to get there:

Step one: DON'T PANIC

Getting around New York City, and Manhattan in particular, is all about your state of mind. If you're an overly aggressive or too passive driver, you will either drop dead of a tension-induced stroke or become the victim of a panic attack, respectively. The city is fraught with double-parkers, Kamikaze cabs with no regard for life and limb, and people who routinely make right turns from the left lane.

But fear not! The road to the Baker Athletics Complex is filled with special advantages and other options that can make the whole experience livable, decent, and even fun.

The key to avoiding disappointment, dyspepsia, and dismemberment is to LEAVE YOURSELF A LOT OF TIME.

Other than the Homecoming game which starts at 3:30 this year, the Columbia home games will begin at 1pm this season. With another season's worth of great pre-game activities in the works, (like free beverages, even some beers for those of you over 21), the best thing that could happen is that you show up an hour or so before the game and enjoy a good time in the picnic area. Is that so bad? And if you just make it in time for the game, well then you made it. Either way, going early is the way to go.

Inwood or Morningside:  Make Your Choice Now

Before we talk about getting to the actual game by car, ask yourself where you'd really like to keep your gas-guzzling SUV for the day. Do you want to park it up at the very tip of Manhattan, or do you want to keep it near the Columbia campus where you can spend a very pleasant morning and late afternoon/evening before and after the game? This is not exactly a rhetorical question, as there ARE things to do and see not far from Wien Stadium... but it's not exactly a culinary hotbed, in fact it's quite residential, (in the Baker Field neighborhood of Inwood there are actually a few houses... detached houses in Manhattan!). There are new choices lately. Just over the Broadway Bridge north of the stadium there's a strip mall with an Applebee's and a Starbucks!

See above for more food choices.


You can park very close to the stadium at many of the parking garages within 1-6 blocks of Baker. Most of them are on 10th Avenue between 205th and 215th Streets. I usually use the garage right at the corner of 10th Ave. and 215th.

You can also park the car near the Columbia campus, which is only 100 blocks or so from Baker Field, There is still more to do, see, and definitely eat around there.

A path in Inwood Hill Park... yes, this IS Manhattan!

BUT definitely choose one game, and check out Inwood and its environs during the season. Parts of Inwood Hill Park are the only pieces of Manhattan that still look as they did in 1524 when the Dutch explorers arrived.

A few blocks South of Inwood is Washington Heights a very resurgent neighborhood with lots of interesting Latin restaurants and shops.

The Cloisters... an excellent "Marital Bargaining Unit" if I say so myself

One Washington Heights highlight about 30 blocks South from the Baker Field is the lovely Cloisters. Most Columbia students get sick of the Cloisters after a few years, (some classes make you go there too many times), but it's a great place for the uninitiated. It's also not a bad date spot. So, if you have a wife or girlfriend who's none too pleased about being dragged to a football game, the Cloisters can be your olive branch. No need to thank me if your lady ends up thinking you're a romantic genius; like Billy Flynn, "All I Care about is Love."

But How Do We Get to Neverland?

The directions provided by the athletic department are very good. You can use them with confidence... but don't ignore the key section of those directions for people coming from Queens, Long Island, Eastern Brooklyn via the Belt Parkway, and that includes JFK Airport and La Guardia. If you are one of those people, I'm about to save you anywhere from 45 minutes to 7 hours by urging you to never, never, even if you're a Penn fan, NEVER take the Cross Bronx Expressway!

The Cross Bronx Expressway... dear Lord, why us?

The Cross Bronx Expressway was designed by Robert Moses a brilliant but evil man whose disdain for ordinary people was well documented by Robert Caro in The Power Broker. If you live in New York, drive in New York, or are thinking about driving in New York, you owe it to yourself to read this book. One great section details how the Cross Bronx Expressway was poorly designed from the outset, destroyed good middle class neighborhoods like East Tremont, and virtually guarantees traffic jams at the drop of a hat. And the kicker is, a lot of other urban planners in the 40's, 50's and 60's emulated this man and his designs. Robert Moses is a big reason why driving in America sucks.

So avoid the Cross Bronx, take the Grand Central Parkway to the Triboro Bridge, (now named the "RFK Bridge," presumably to honor the old home of the Redskins), follow the signs to MANHATTAN, (DON'T MAKE The Bonfire of the Vanities mistake), and THEN take the Harlem River Drive North. Take the HRD to the 10th Avenue/Dyckman Street exit. Do NOT take the ramp going up to the George Washington Bridge, stay in the far right lane. Take the HRD to the end and  make the first right at the first light that will take you onto 10th Avenue. If you stay straight, (you'll be driving under an elevated subway track). 10th Avenue runs parallel to Broadway and will take you straight up to 215th Street, 218th Street, or wherever you want to go in the Baker Complex vicinity.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Harlem River Drive is officially a parkway, so if you're driving a U-Haul or a big bus of people, you can't take it. Otherwise, you and your sedan, SUV, pickup truck, etc. can enjoy it. IF YOU'RE TAKING A CAB FROM THE QUEENS AIRPORTS... MAKE SURE YOU TELL THE CABBIE TO TAKE THE TRIBORO/RFK BRIDGE TO THE HARLEM RIVER DRIVE. DON'T LET THE DRIVER TAKE YOU INTO MIDTOWN MANHATTAN!!!

Parking: The Odyssey

Option 1: Donate to CU!

Now if you're going to park near Baker Field, your options are limited, but there ARE options. Your first option is to send a fat check to the athletic dept. and grab one of the sweet spots in the Baker Field complex itself reserved for generous donors. Seriously, I can think or worse ways to spend your money, and having a spot at Baker Field is like being a shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway during "Buffettstock, you get to enjoy your investment in a party atmosphere!

Option 2: Parking Garages Ahoy! 

They are all around the stadium now, especially on 10th Avenue. FYI: in the past, parking has cost fans about $15 for the whole game.

Option 3: Street Parking, or "The Hunt"

Of course, you can try being really sneaky and try to park for free on the residential streets around the area. This is really something for early-birds, as the spots fill up fast. In fact, there aren't a lot of spots to begin with because Inwood is really residential and the local folks like to keep their spots for the weekend. BUT, the eagle-eyed among you may be able to find a nice spot and enjoy knowing that you're a winner even before kickoff by saving a few bucks with a free spot. There are a couple of important pitfalls to avoid:

a) If you aren't really good at parallel parking, don't even think about parking on the streets of Inwood. The hilly terrain makes even seasoned parkers a little nervous, and all those scratched bumpers and fenders on the parked cars are proof of the "goofs" people make from time to time.

b) Inwood is not really a high-crime area, especially during the day, but you should never tempt fate. Lock your cars. DO NOT keep any packages or valuables in plain sight in your car, and you probably should leave them out of the trunk too if you can. This is especially true if you are driving a car with out-of-state plates.

c) Make sure to check the street signs to see if you're parking in a legal spot. Saturdays are usually immune from alternate side of the street parking rules, but not always. You cannot park within six feet, either way, of a fire hydrant, and you also need to give a lot space for bus stops. You cannot block any driveways. And if there's a yellow stripe painted on the curb, you can't park there either. A good M.O. is to eye every open spot with EXTREME SUSPICION, the chances are more than likely that the spot is there because it's not a legal spot.

d) You may be hampered even further in your quest for free parking if the NYPD blocks 218th Street at Broadway which they often do on game days. To be safe, just find your way to Seaman Avenue, which runs parallel to Broadway on the WEST and start looking for spots there. You might consider printing out a Google Map of Inwood, NY to learn to navigate the local streets better. Remember to look out for one-way streets and the occasional street fair which often pops up and further kills parking opportunities on the weekends.


Manhattan is a great and unique place. One of the things that makes it so unique is that every inch of land is super-valuable and the chances of any institution setting aside lots of space for occasional parking is not likely or even sane. Most sensible people living in all parts of Manhattan do so without a car, regardless of their economic stature. A day or two driving around here will tell you why.

That's why we have the best, (but still too expensive), public transportation system in the world. And luckily, there are a number of more relaxing and reliable ways to get to Baker Field.

Public Transportation Option 1: From Columbia Campus

You can ditch your car at one of the many parking garages near the Columbia campus, or try to find free street parking, (it's not much easier than Inwood, but doable), and then take the free shuttle bus or public transportation.

To get the subway somewhat direct to the stadium you can 1) catch the uptown #1 train at 116th Street all the way to 215th Street. Easy.

You CAN 2) walk down the hill at West 110th Street, get on the uptown C train and switch at 168th Street for the A from there. That transfer does not involve the creepy elevator and is much better, but still not ideal.

I love taking the A train from start to finish.

Getting the A directly is a lot easier from Midtown Manhattan, where most hotels are located anyway. From the Columbia campus, you can also take the #1 DOWNTOWN to 59th and then get on the A train UPTOWN from there. It's not too terrible to do that actually.

If you're in Midtown Manhattan, I recommend taking the A at the 59th Street and Broadway station. It is a VERY short ride, (less than 20-25 minutes), from there. The A train runs on the far West side of Manhattan, through Brooklyn, past JFK airport, and all the way to a neighborhood where I did a lot of my growing up called Far Rockaway. The uptown or Manhattan bound A takes you the 207th Street stop, which is the last stop. Exit at the 211th Street exit and then you can either walk the seven blocks along Broadway, (about 35% of a mile), to Baker Field or better yet, enter Isham Park on your left and enjoy a nicer trip that will take you to Seaman Avenue along the left side of the park and you will see Wien Stadium right in front of you at the end of the avenue. This is a more scenic walk and will give you a better idea of what Inwood is like.

To ride the NYC subway you will need a Metrocard. Go to the ticket booth at the station or the automated Metrocard machines and buy a two-trip card. The machines take cash, credit and debit cards.

When you get to the platform, again make sure that you are on the UPTOWN side awaiting the UPTOWN train.


If the subway isn't for you, for the last several years Columbia has been running free shuttle buses to and from Baker Field on game days. They usually run from the 116th Street and Broadway entrance, but ask the security guards at the gate to be sure. I'm not sure how long it takes for these buses to reach the stadium, but they will always be slower than the subway. (There is no faster way to get around Manhattan than the subway... none).

And  there is now a bus running from the Upper East Side! It leaves from 3rd Avenue and East 86th Street 90 minutes prior to kickoff. 

A number of NYC buses, (not free, you need a Metrocard), run to the Baker Field area, but I really don't recommend using them. They are extremely slow, (what do you call it when you have sex on a NYC bus? "Joining the 3-mile-an-hour club"), and erratic on the weekends. BUT if there ever is a fire on the subway or something, it's good to know they're there.

The Marble Hill Station on Metro North

One of the most beautiful ways to get to a Columbia game is on the Metro North commuter railroad. Take the HUDSON RIVER LINE to the Marble Hill stop and simply walk over the footbridge to Baker Field. The views of the Hudson that you will get if you're coming from the North, (if you're looking to go this way from Grand Central Terminal, it's not a terrible idea, but much more expensive than just taking the subway from another station on the West Side), are just great. is the website to find the schedules for Saturdays from Grand Central to Marble Hill. Note the reliable 19-20 minute travel time and the many, many options you have for trains all the way through game time. If you are staying on the East Side of Manhattan, this is a GREAT option.

Cab Anyone?

You can always try to hail a yellow cab and tell the driver to take you to WEST 218th and Broadway, (don't say "Baker Field," there's a very good chance he won't know what you're talking about), and go that way. I expect the trip will cost about $15-$18 in cab fare not including tip... but it varies.

In NYC there are also non-yellow so-called "gypsy" cabs that may honk their horns at you and offer you a ride. The official rules in the city say that you can't take a ride with them without arranging it in advance, but I have found they are usually reliable. The price should be about the same as Yellow cab, but they don't use a meter... so make sure you agree on the fare before you get in.

What if I'm coming from New Jersey, and I want to take Public Transportation?

New Jersey Transit trains take you to Penn Station where you can get the A train, or a cab. I'm not sure about the reliability of NJT trains or buses on weekends, but perhaps some of my readers would like to chime in about that in the comments section.

Isn't the Subway Dangerous?

Not really. It's dirtier than it should be, but in general it's fine. Basically, keep your wallets and valuables secure, try to ride with or near larger groups of people, and try not to telegraph the fact you're a tourist by pulling out a map every two seconds. It's okay to ask fellow riders directions; most New Yorkers like proving they know the City.

I'm Coming from JFK, LaGuardia, or Newark Airport. What should I do?

A cab from Newark directly to Baker Field is actually not that terribly expensive. But from the other major airports, I suggest you get into Manhattan via a cab and then take the subway, unless you have lots of bags which will make the whole day a pain. In that case, try to get to your hotel first, dump the bags and then follow the directions above.

What if I get Lost?

Go into almost any store you see and ask for help. Store owners can sometimes seem surly, but they'll probably help you. Cops on the street will be good too.

Can't I Just Come with You?

I'd love the company, but I don't think that will work. I am with you in spirit, I promise.

Week 4 Picks

I was 5-3 straight up and 5-3 against the spread last week. Not terrible. My record overall so far is 8-5 straight up and 7-6 against the spread.

Penn +27 at Villanova (this game is TONIGHT)

I think the Wildcats will beat the shaky-looking Quakers, but not by this much. Penn usually puts up a good fight in these games.

Cornell +26 at Yale

Yale should have little trouble winning this game, but I think the blowouts and huge scoring games of the Varga era are over.

Brown +19 at Harvard

I like Brown’s chances to make this a great game. Harvard will likely pull away late, but I don’t see them winning by more than 17 points or so.

Dartmouth -14 vs. Sacred Heart

I believe the Big Green are anxious to play a more dominating game after starting slowly against Georgetown last week. Sacred Heart is hard to read, but will have a very tough time Saturday.

Lehigh +10 ½ at Princeton

I think the Tigers are overrated after the win at Lafayette. Lehigh will win.

Fordham -14 ½ vs. Monmouth

The Rams are looking to show their power after getting a bit of a scare from Columbia. Fordham will cover.

Wagner -3 ½ vs. Lafayette

The Sea Hawks are desperate for a win. The Leopards got really exposed last week vs. Princeton. I like the home-standing Wagner to cover.

And for those of you wanting to know about Columbia’s line, it’s shrinking. Georgetown was originally favored by more than 7 points earlier this week, but now the spread is down to 5 ½.