Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Finishing What He Started

The losing streak is over, but no one I know is satisfied with just one win for the season.  Another streak is still very much alive, as Columbia has not won a Homecoming game in 15 years. The last win was in 2000, a 49-21 thrashing of Dartmouth highlighted by Jonathan Reese’s ’02 breaking of the Columbia single game rushing record with 237 yards.

And guess who has the biggest hand in this Homecoming streak?

If you guessed it was  Al Bagnoli and the Penn Quakers, you nailed it.

It was Bagnoli and the Quakers who started this dry spell in 2001 with a 35-7 win over the Lions. Bagnoli and Penn would go on to win six more of the 14 straight Homecoming games Columbia has lost. The other seven losses have come to former Princeton Head Coach Roger Hughes and the Tigers (2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008), and  Buddy Teevens’ Dartmouth Big Green, (2010, 2012, and 2014).

Only one of the Bagnoli wins over CU during this Homecoming streak was really close. That was the infamous 2011 game where the Lions imploded near the Quaker goal line at the end of the game with a flurry of penalties, had to settle for a tying field goal and then watched Penn take a short kickoff to start an easy drive to win 27-20.  The average score of all seven games was Penn 35 Columbia 14.

But now the man who started this streak for Columbia 14 years ago is on our side of the field and fans of symmetry everywhere would love to see Bagnoli finish it.

Of course, Bagnoli beat the Lions 18 straight times no matter where the game was played from 1997-2014. The Penn winning streak over Columbia is the longest head-to-head winning streak one Ivy team has ever held over another, (although Dartmouth did not lose to Columbia for 26 straight years between 1972-1997 but there was a tie in the middle of that streak that kept the consecutive Big Green wins to 11 and 14 on either side of that tie). And all of those losses came against the man who has taken over the Columbia program now.

From a fan’s standpoint, Homecoming games against Penn have a different feel than against other opponents. More Penn alums seem to turn out for Columbia games at Wien Stadium than the fans of any other Ivy, except Cornell. There’s a majority of Lion fans in the stands for sure, but there’s just a good feeling about looking over to the other side of the field and seeing more than a handful of people on the visitor side.

Will there be a big crowd at the game this Saturday? The weather will play a big role and right now the forecast is for a beautiful, sunny and 57 degree day. If that holds, we should see some good numbers considering a lot of people flagged this game before the season started as the intriguing battle between Bagnoli and his former team. Plus, Columbia’s win over Wagner should coax some of the more beaten down Lions fans to check out the team again.

But the drive to get a good crowd isn’t really the battle this time. A win Saturday would be an enormous boost to the program on the biggest possible stage at this moment. 


oldlion said...

Jake, your reference to Dartmouth makes me wonder: from 2000 until around 2010 we were pretty much on a par with Dartmouth. In fact, there was a homecoming game against Dartmouth a few years ago that we barely lost on a late Dartmouth drive. I know how we got so bad during the Mangurian years, but how did Dartmouth get so good?

Jake said...

Teevens started to step back a bit and allowed better coordinators to be hired and let them manage the game. That's a big part of it.

But honestly, this is mostly about Dalyn Williams. He is the best total package QB probably ever in Ivy history. He runs better than any running QB and passes almost as well. And he's been in the mix since he was a frosh, which has helped elevate the program as he improved.

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

I remember k be Homecoming game, the rain was so incessant that my underwear was soaked through. Made for an uncomfortable passage home, you betcha. "It's alright,: my comoanion that day said to me. "We're Ivy League graduates. We're still smart." Yes, you betcha.

On the other hand, staying away from Homecoming because of a little rain always brings to mind Tom Paine's scornful dismissal of "the summer soldiers and the sunshine patriots."

Speaking of Buddy Teevens, by thew way, anybody else see his appearance last week on TV with Stephen Colbert? He was demonstrating that new robotic tackling dummy Dartmouth uses, and he did in fact say that if you play for Dartmouth, you'll never, ever have to tackle another Dartmouth players. He was quite charming in a rascally sort of way.