Monday, July 11, 2016

Prediction Market

So what do I think about the Football Gameplan prediction that the Lions will come in 7th in the Ivies?

The only thing to say about these predictions is: “what else is new?”

As I’ve written many times over the years, Columbia will not get favorable preseason predictions until it starts winning a significant number of games in the actual season. This is a point that escapes many, especially in the heady and optimistic days leading up to the start of a new season.

But, below in bullet point form, are the key factors anyone looking to accurately predict Columbia’s 2016 season:

-Columbia was worse than just 0-10 in both 2013 and 2014. Even by Columbia’s generally terrible standards, those two seasons were more terrible. Almost none of those 20 games was competitive and by 2014, most teams were pulling their starters early against the Lions. The fact that Columbia went 2-8 last year was not the big story. The big story was that the Lions were competitive in nine of the ten games, representing a massive improvement that only people who can fathom the depths of 2013 and 2014 can understand.

-Head Coach Al Bagnoli has a more time to implement his system at Columbia and that’s bound to pay dividends most “experts” won’t be able to predict as far as wins and losses goes. In 2015, the “Bagnoli effect” manifested itself in restoring competitiveness. In 2016, there’s a much better chance it will result in more than just two wins.

-The 2016 schedule has its advantages. Playing Cornell at home, (a team the Lions would have beaten last year had the game not been on the road), is the biggest plus. But so is the fact that the Lions get to play some a relatively weaker slate of Ivy opponents at home. Columbia gets Princeton, Dartmouth, Yale and Cornell at home. In each of those games, the home field advantage could make the difference between winning and losing. But against Harvard, Penn, and Brown I don’t see home field advantage as being as much of a factor… well, at least against Harvard and Penn.

-Columbia’s offensive line improved markedly last year and that improvement was gradual as the season wore on. Just about the entire O-line comes back for 2016, including a top player in Charlie Flores who was out all of 2015. This doesn’t guarantee great things for 2016, but this is the best O-line Columbia’s had going into a season since at least 2009, but possible since 1996. Most years, Columbia has been forced to start 3-4 new guys on the front five. And Tight End starter John Hunton is an underrated returning player.

-QB’s Skyler Mornhinweg and Anders Hill should both be better with another year of experience and working with that improved offensive line. But Mornhinweg missed spring practice with an injury. The Lions desperately need to improve at Wide Receiver, but at least do have 5th year senior Scooter Hollis coming back.

-The loss of several talented players on the defensive line is definitely a concern, but it appears the coaches the believe the strong linebacking crew will be up to the challenge of neutralizing opposing running games. But one of those returning linebackers, Hagen Patterson, is now NOT returning due to injuries. Their bigger worry appears to be whether the secondary can stay healthy, deep, and strong. Columbia has two very good starting corners, but their backups could be an issue.

-Special teams were generally a problem for Columbia last year and really should be better. But there’s no way to factor that in right now.

-Don’t get too hyped about that that “3rd ranked” recruiting class. I like this freshmen haul A LOT. But I don’t expect an immediate impact from more than 3-4 of them right now. No one should when it comes to Ivy League freshmen.

-The rest of the league, with one exception, is dealing with a lot of hard questions. Penn seems very poised to continue last year’s strong turnaround. Harvard will of course be strong and the Crimson will be motivated to avenge last year’s surprising loss to the Quakers. Dartmouth is losing way too many players to feel confident of winning another title, or even achieving a winning season. Princeton could surge, as the Tigers seem to awake from two-year slumbers with good season every third try or so…  but that’s hardly anything to bank on. Yale has a lot of promising young players, but a huge question mark at QB. Brown will be better, but they were awful at times last season. Cornell lost their best player to graduation and doesn’t seem loaded with fresh talent. In other words, every slot in this league from 3rd to last place seems pretty much up for grabs.


oldlion said...

I have heard excellent reports from an unimpeachable source that our weight program has been paying huge dividends and that we have had significant recent gains in strength and size. We have a large number of players on campus working out this summer.

Anonymous said...

Really nothing other than 7th makes sense for the Lions in a pre-season ranking. It will be interesting to see how fast the team comes together and pulls off an upset or 2 or 3.

DOC said...

That is great news oldlion, and if you combine those gains with what another year under the Bagnoli "system" will mean, I believe we can rise above what the experts predict.

oldlion said...

Ontiveros (the WR/sprinter who once appeared as an incoming FB recruit) is now listed by T&F as an incoming member of the first year T&F class. There is a reference to his being a three sport guy, so maybe he will be playing FB as well. Very good 200 and 400 times.

Chen1982 said...

Something eerily familiar to this commentary relative to many if the last decade (other than cro Mangnin era).

No matter how promising the potential, no sports prognosticator will ever get out in front of Columbia football. Only a solid 5 win season will change next years predictions. Anything fewer than 5 and we will again be picked for 7th or 8th

oldlion said...

Coaches are tweeting about a new high end commit from NJ.