Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Our Pitch, Our Story

We sell New York. New York sells us

The Columbia football coaching staff is preparing to head across the country next week to seek out new 2017 recruits and solidify relationships with the many players we’ve already offered.

I’ve seen a number of totally questionable assessments of our 2016 class ranking it very high compared to all other FCS schools. I say questionable because it’s such a stretch to rank classes before any of the players even hit the field.

What I like best about our staff is that they have really chosen to be at Columbia and are true believers in the program and New York City. I wrote about that last year and I think whatever successes we will see from the 2016 class are a result of the staff’s unique experiences.

I think this year, the basic pitch has to be a little different. I would emphasize that Columbia was probably one of the worst college football teams of all time in 2013 and 2014 and it immediately became at least competitive in almost every game last season. I think Head Coach Al Bagnoli and the new staff have proven they can squeeze out a lot more from the existing personnel, but they’re just now building the talent to become a winning program.

Also, if I were on the staff I’d include a lot of positive personal stories about what it’s been like for them living in New York City during this first year on the job. This is a VERY important mutual experience they will share with all the recruits who decide to commit to Columbia. New York City and the area around Columbia overall has improved so massively since I was a student from 1988-92, that it really has to be seen to be believed. It’s a great place to be a young person right now. The question should be asked about why Columbia’s Ivy rivals, especially the rivals in urban areas like Harvard, Penn, and Yale, never seem to tout their home cities very much. It’s not that those cities are bad, (although New Haven is one of my least favorite places), it’s that those schools don’t look at their cities as essential educational tools for their respective college experiences. “Columbia is where you’ll learn to be a student, New York City is where you’ll learn to be a man.” Just try inserting the words “Boston,” “Philadelphia,” or “New Haven” at the end of that sentence and listen to how flat and out of place it sounds.

That said, there has to be a realization that for some recruits and their families New York will be a negative factor and nothing will change their minds about that. It’s important that our recruiters recognize that quickly and move on.

I like our chances of grabbing some very good players in the coming weeks and months. But there’s a lot of work ahead. 


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

I wouldn't say this abut Penn and Philadelphia. (Maybe not even about Cornell and Ithaca.) But the host cities for the other Ivy schools seem a bit more "womb-like than NYC. Princeton, for example, always seems a nurturing sort of place. But in "Gotham" if you want nurturing, many will tell you to simply go back to your mommy.

I'd agree this is an exciting time to be in NY. but I also still think it takes a certain sort of person to succeed at Columbia. I really do remember several guys (and only guys during my single sex years) who I met during orientation week. They grew their beards and their hair Two even dropped off the freshman football squad rather precipitously) and I fundamentally rarely or even never saw them again for the next 4 years. Yet when I checked the graduation rolls, their names were there.

I can only wish Coach Bagnoli an his staff uck in their travels. Bring a few choice candidates back alive, Coach.

LionAlum76 said...

Agree with all of this. There will be a recruits who commit to the slightly more prestigious HPY and the few recruits who want to be out in the woods at Dartmouth or Cornell. Other than these outliers, I can't imagine any recruits passing up Columbia and NYC. We simply have too much to offer now with the new facilities and coaching staff.

RLB said...

Jake, you wrote: I say questionable because it’s such a stretch to rank classes before any of the players even hit the field.

But, you evaluate teams before the season starts, partly on their incoming group.

oldlion said...

I think the biggest impediment to our prestige is the existence of GS. While we have one of the most selective colleges in the country GS advertises for students, has very lax admissions standards, and -- apart from the vets -- sometimes attracts pretty offbeat students who detract for the Ivy atmosphere that I think is a major plus in selling the school.

Jake said...

A little yes, but an ENTIRELY group of brand new players? Very difficult.

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

I think, oldlion, that the baseball team in particular would disagree with you about GS. A few ithefr teaams, too, I believe, have GS students.

In any case, General Studies does not t all "pull down" Columbia's prestige. To maintain it does is silly and sounds elitist. Many if not most of our veterans studying at Columbia are in fact at GS, and it's one of the most welcome changes to the caampus atmosphere in many years. Eventually perhaps even a football player will arise from the GS ranks.

alawicius said...

Agreed, Richard. Old Lion, time to stop being Old Snob.


Chen1982 said...

I don't think that a number four national ranking and 6.2% acceptance rate that anyone can really argue that GS is turning anyone away from our school. Much more obvious factors like city vs rural

Mr. Gelegenheit! said...

Astonishing comment from the usually perceptive Old Lion. "Offbeat students?" "Ivy atmosphere?"

Um, dude....

In John Jay hall there's a beautiful motto engraved in gold on a wall: "Hold fast to the spirit of youth, let years to come do what they may."

Is you is or is you ain't?

Mitch S.

Jay Dee NYC said...

GS is an asset, far from a liability...