Friday, September 18, 2015

The First Test is by Fire

Jack Coffey Field

Columbia Lions (0-0) at Fordham Rams (1-1)

September 19, 2015

Location: Jack Coffey Field 

Kickoff Time: 1:00pm

Gametime Weather Forecast: 80 degrees and sunny

The Spread: Fordham is favored by 40 points. The under/over is 59


The game can be seen for free on the Patriot League Network

But superior audio commentary will be provided by Jerry Recco and Sal Licata on the Ivy League Digital Network. 

Leading Storylines

1)     The Al Bagnoli era begins at Columbia. I and many others have spent much of the last seven months detailing all the aspects of this huge move, but I haven’t yet made the important point that the overall “Bagnoli era” continues and so does his chase to overtake Yale’s legendary Carm Cozza as the winningest coach in Ivy history. With 148 wins as an Ivy coach, Bagnoli still trails Cozza by 31 total wins, (Cozza coached at Yale for 32 seasons compared to 23 seasons so far as an Ivy head coach for Bagnoli). But in wins against rival Ivy teams, it’s closer. Bagnoli currently has 112 Ivy wins to Cozza’s 135. Bagnoli grew up in the shadow of the Yale Bowl during the height of the Cozza era and there’s no way he isn’t mindful of the history. If Bagnoli surpasses Cozzas wins in either category, it will be clear who is the greatest coach in Ivy football history.

2)     Fordham has become a Division I/FBS football program in all but name. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it creates a stark disparity between these two teams even if Columbia were coming off a series of winning seasons. This sours the game experience somewhat even before it starts and ruins it entirely when the games turn out to be horrific blowouts like we’ve seen the last two seasons. This is likely the final game in the series between these two teams for a long time. Meanwhile, the question on the other side of the field is what is the end game for Fordham in this massive football program upgrade? A jump to FBS would require a major stadium change of venue. Achieving that in NYC will be much harder than recruiting a winning football team.

3)     In any other setting, the fact that the son of a former NFL head coach is starting or splitting time as the starting QB would be big news. But the debut of Skyler Mornhinweg at Columbia after transferring from the University of Florida is still an intriguing story. So is the fact that Columbia is starting both twin brothers who saw their offers at Yale rescinded by Head Coach Tony Reno three years ago. Jackson Conway gets the start at fullback and Christian Conway is starting at one linebacker slot.  

5 Columbia Players to Watch

1)     Who will take most of the snaps at QB? Will it be the junior Mornhinweg or the sophomore Anders Hill? They will almost definitely split the job, but I expect Mornhinweg to take about 80% of the snaps.

2)     Senior RB Cameron Molina made about as much of his season last year as he could considering the circumstances. Will he have a truly breakout season with a better supporting cast starting now?

3)     5th year senior DE Chad Washington is not officially listed as a starter in the two-deep, but don’t let that fool you. He should be a menacing presence even against Fordham’s huge offensive line.

4)     Senior DT Niko Padilla has been the best overall player on this team for at least three years. With some real talent on all sides of him now on the D-line he could start to truly shine.

5)     Junior LB Gianmarco Rea is likely in for a very busy day as the Mike linebacker defending against Fordham’s dual threat RB Chase Edmonds. But if Rea makes Edmonds at least work for his supper, it would be an important statement by a player who needs to have a good season for the Lions to greatly improve in 2015.

5 Fordham Players to Watch

1)     Bagnoli says RB Chase Edmonds #22 is probably the best back the Lions will face all year. He dominated the Ram win over Army in week one before getting stymied by the heavy rain and the Villanova defense last week. He will be looking for a big bounce back game.

2)     QB Kevin Anderson #14 has done well in his first year as a starter. He too was stymied by ‘Nova’s D and that rain last Saturday, but he’s proven to be more than competent in the role. He hasn’t yet really gotten into a grove with his receivers, and that could be the team’s #1 offensive goal in this game.

3)     WR Cory Caddle #2 is showing signs of being Anderson’s biggest air target. He’s a short and fast kid who can be very hard to cover. Look for Anderson to try to make a statement early with him.

4)     LB Stephen Hodge #43 is a 5th year senior on a mission to make up for missing last year to injury. He’s well on his way.

5)     LB Niko Thorpe #18  is a sophomore 1st Team All Stater from Pennsylvania just like Chase Edmonds. He’s starting to have a breakout year.

What’s a “Moral Victory?”

A number of realistic Columbia fans are attuned to the fact that Columbia and just about every Ivy team of the last decade would not be playing anywhere near its league against this Fordham team. So what score or scenario would entail a good result for these Lions? The last two games against the Rams resulted in losses by 45 and 42 points. Staying within three TD’s of Fordham and avoiding the kinds of devastating injuries Columbia suffered in the 2013 contest would constitute a victory of sorts as the Lions prepare for much more winnable games the following four weeks.

Streak Watch

Sorry to do this, but it’s still happening. Columbia has now lost 21 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 1,039 days ago. Columbia has also not won a road game since 11/14/2009, or 2,134 days ago.


2 manno said...

Fordham is only an FBS program if the 18 teams ranked ahead of it are as well. May as well throw Yale in as well, since they beat Army last year, and we did not... and since Harvard beat Yale, they are FBS too. Ofc, if they're all FBS programs, then what is FCS? Any team that can't win 9 or 10 games a season? CU fans seem to have sunk so deep, sea level looks like Everest.

As for Fordham's "massive" program upgrade... we hired a new HC. The scholarships awarded now roughly equate to the same amount spent on merit aid previously. That's about it.

Fordham didn't increase the football budget by 50%, like Columbia. SO... the real question isn't what Fordham's endgame is, rather what is Columbia's? Will the Lions drop the sport if legendary Al can't win either? What truths will the OP overlook next?

oldlion said...

Two years ago, before Nottingham went down, we played Fordham pretty much even up in the first half. We lost our best DE and our QB and then the roof caved in. So I expect that we will show up and play tough.

Jake said...

I don't think you get it: I am praising the effort at Fordham.

Over the last two years, the Rams have beaten not one, but two FBS teams on the road. That makes Fordham on a par with the FBS by any objective measure.

TO become officially FBS, Fordham literally needs a bigger stadium. Those are the rules. I have a feeling someone at Fordham has a plan to address this, but it's never been made public.

That's the deal. None of the above is an insult and I'm not sure why it was taken as such other than the usual online rancor that many take as a given.

2 manno said...

Calling Fordham an FBS program isn't insulting. What's insulting is pandering to stupidity.

Beating Army, basically a glorified FCS team, and Temple, who went 2-10 the year we beat them, (one of those being... you guessed it, Army), hardly qualifies anyone to be FBS.

Calling the turnaround at Fordham a 'massive' upgrade is also ridiculous. It shows zero understanding of the strides the HC has made, despite of having no actual upgrades to the program. A reallocation of merit aid to scholarships in 2009. No new stadium. No new locker room. No new weight room. No new anything other than coaches since 2011's 1-10 debacle.

I'm not trying to be offensive, rather showing frustration at how far off the mark you are given these schools are a few miles apart, in the same division, and play every year.

My hope for CU is that Al Bagnoli, can do the same for the Lions. Sometimes it really just takes the right leadership, with the right attitude.

Jake said...

Mano, you have multiple legit 1st team all staters on your team now because of full athletic scholarships. I like Moorhead a lot, but eventually it's more about the Jimmies and Joes than it is about the X's and o's in schollie football.

2 manno said...

Agreed 100%, but that doesn't make Fordham an FBS club. Not by a long shot. It does however, make us much better than CU... at the moment anyway.

Anonymous said...

Yale beat Army last year because of Varga and Varga alone. Army is a lousy FBS program, let's face it, near the bottom.

Well, those 30 some odd wins to overtake Carm Cozza will take some doing. I'd say a longshot at this stage.

They need to cut anchor on the Fordham series. It has served it's purpose but only serves Columbia football getting off on the wrong foot nowadays.

oldlion said...

I hope we get a good turnout. Fordham is an awful place for visiting teams and their fans without a visitors' side of the field. As far as the wisdom of dropping Fordham, it is pretty much a no brainer because they offer scholarships and can recruit players who the Ivies cannot touch because of the rigorous academic requirements for admission. So we are not philosophically aligned.

2 manno said...

What's funny about your post oldlion, is that you left out the flipside.

The Ivies can recruit players Fordham can't touch. A kid that can go to Yale or Harvard... (maybe Columbia if it can ever be turned around) isn't going to pick Fordham. Your facilities, academic reputation, and 'merit aid', or whatever you're calling it these days, more than does the job.

Jake said...

Now that is a very good point indeed, Mano.