NEW YORK - In just two weeks, Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Pete Mangurian has assembled an impressive coaching staff on Morningside Heights. The seven coaches now on staff have diverse backgrounds in experience within NCAA Division I football and in the National Football League, as well as diverse geographical ties.
"We have brought in an outstanding staff that is diverse and rich in experience," Coach Mangurian said. "I'm excited for the energy, work ethic and knowledge they will bring to our program every day."
Mangurian named former Denver Broncos quarterbacks coach Ben McDaniels offensive coordinator, while Kevin Lempa, a veteran NCAA Division I defensive coordinator, who also coached the top-ranked defense in the National Football League while with the San Diego Chargers, was named Columbia's defensive coordinator.
McDaniels will coach the quarterbacks in addition to serving as the offensive coordinator.
"Ben and I share the same offensive philosophy," Coach Mangurian said. "Ben comes from a football family. His father is a highly successful high school coach in Ohio, and his brother and I worked together at the Patriots. Ben is dynamic young coach. He is the kind of teacher and person we wanted to lead our offense."
McDaniels was the quarterbacks coach for the Broncos in 2010, and an offensive assistant for Denver in 2009. He also spent two years as a graduate assistant football coach at the University of Minnesota. McDaniels played quarterback at Kent State from 1999-2002.
Lempa, a 30-year veteran of both the collegiate and professional ranks, who has coached some of the best defenses in the nation in both the NCAA and the NFL, spent the 2011 season as the defensive coordinator for Central Connecticut State. Lempa will coach the defensive secondary while coordinating the defense.
"Kevin has extensive experience at all levels of college and professional football. He brings a level of experience and knowledge of Ivy League football that I felt was unique," Coach Mangurian said. "He has had success at every level - both as an assistant and as a coordinator."
Prior to his time with the Blue Devils, Lempa spent four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Maryland. In his time with the Terrapins, Lempa coached the secondary. In his first season in College Park, Lempa helped direct an impressive pass defense as the Terps yielded just 210.7 yards per game. They ranked 33rd in the country in national pass defense.
Veteran coach Ed Argast will remain on Coach Mangurian's staff as the offensive line coach. Argast came to Columbia in 2009 and mentored three-time first team All-Ivy League standout Jeff Adams to an All-American senior season. In 2009, as an offense, Columbia finished in the top three in the Ivy League in rushing offense (second), total offense (third) and points per game (third) for the first time since 1994.
"has tremendous experience and the demeanor I was looking for in an offensive line coach," Mangurian said. "Ed is a great football coach, which encompasses being a teacher, mentor, and a student of the game. He is the kind of coach that every staff needs. Attitude of an offense begins up front and I have tremendous confidence in Ed's ability to create the attitude we need."
Aaron Smith, who has coached the Columbia wide receivers since March 2007, will continue with the wideouts and serve as recruiting coordinator. Smith has coached two All-Ivy League honorees, including Austin Knowlin '10CC, Columbia all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards.
"is one of the brightest, hard-working young coaches I've ever been around. His work ethic and attention to detail were evident at every point in our transition," Mangurian said. "We are very fortunate to be able to keep him as part of our staff. Aaron has tremendous potential and a bright future."
Alvin Smith, a former All-Pac 10 defensive tackle at Oregon State, will coach the defensive line. Smith was signed by the San Diego Chargers after Oregon State, and also spent time with the Cleveland Browns and in NFL Europe. Last season, he was a defensive graduate assistant at Arizona State, and prior to that he worked with the defensive line at Portland State. Smith also interned with Oregon State's football program in 2009.
"Alvin Smith brings experience from the highest levels of college football. He is a high-energy young coach with a tremendous work ethic and a relentless drive to be the best," Mangurian added. "Coaching the defensive line is about attitude and discipline, and I see both those qualities in Alvin. He was a great player and he will be a great coach for our defensive linemen."
Chad Nice joins Mangurian's staff as the running backs coach. Nice comes to Columbia after coaching at the United States Merchant Marine Academy since 2008. For the past two seasons, Nice served as the offensive coordinator for USMMA. Nice was a three-year starter and letterwinner at running back/wide receiver and kick returner for Cornell from 2001-2005.
"Chad Nice understands what we are about to go through in rebuilding our program. He went through it with us at Cornell. Chad was a tough, smart player who loved football," Mangurian said. "He has worked as a young coach to take advantage of his opportunities. Chad's experience as a coordinator adds unique depth to our offensive staff."
Gordie Sammis joins the staff from his alma mater, the University of Virginia. He will coach the tight ends and also serve as the assistant offensive line coach. Sammis spent the 2010 season as an on-field graduate assistant at Virginia. In 2011, he coached the Cavaliers' tight ends. Sammis was a two-year letterwinner at Virginia, playing on both the offensive line and on special teams.
"I have known Gordie Sammis since he was a player at the University of Virginia. I know how he was coached and the program he grew up in. He is a product of a system that will have strong similarities to our own," Mangurian said. "For the last two years, he has coached the tight ends and worked with the offensive line. Gordie has the kind of work ethic and attitude that will serve as a great example for our players."
"We still have two coaching positions to fill," Mangurian said. "But with seven coaches now on board, we are at full recruiting strength, which is our top priority."