NEW YORK—Columbia opens its 2016 season and 126th year of football when the Lions host St. Francis U (0-2) on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. from Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium. It is the first-ever matchup between the Lions and the Red Flash. St. Francis U plays its third game of the season, while Columbia lines up for the first time in 2016.
WHERE TO WATCH
The contest will be broadcast live on the Ivy League Digital Network with Jerry Recco and Sal Licata calling action.
BAGNOLI ENTERS SECOND SEASON
Patricia & Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Al Bagnoli enters his second season guiding the Columbia Football program. Bagnoli enters his 35th year as a head coach with a 236-107 overall record and nine Ivy League titles at Penn. He has turned football programs around at both Union College and Penn, where he guided the Quakers to nine Ivy League championships. He hopes to lead Columbia to its first winning season in 10 years as the Lions went 5-5 in 2006.
ABOUT THE LIONS
Columbia returns All-Ivy League defensive back Jared Katz and punter Cameron Nizialek, along with eight starters on offense and six on defense. Seventy-five letterwinners return to the squad. Columbia also added 39 newcomers to the team, the No. 3 ranked recruiting class in the nation. Those newcomers account for 37 percent of its 2016 roster. The Lions were competitive in every game in 2015 as six of their eight losses were decided by 10 points or less.
ABOUT THE RED FLASH
St. Francis U will play its third game of the 2016 season. It enters the contest with an 0-2 record, having lost to No. 13 Montana during its road season opener (41-31) and falling at Towson on Saturday (35-28). The Red Flash were competitive in both games. St. Francis went 7-4 in 2015, taking second in the Northeast Conference with a 4-2 record.
COLUMBIA VS. THE NEC
The Lions enter 2016 with a 2-2 all-time record against opponents from the Northeast Conference. Last year, Columbia picked up its first win of the season against cross-borough foe Wagner at home. That win marked Columbia’s first victory against an NEC opponent since it defeated Duquesne, 23-13, in 2005. St. Francis, Pa. is the first of two NEC opponents on Columbia’s schedule as the Lions play at Wagner on Sept. 8.
The 2015 season saw a tremendous leap in defensive efficiency, as Columbia went from the 115th best team in total defense in 2014, to the No. 8 ranked team at 291.1 yards per game a season ago. Columbia also yielded just 19.8 points per game, which ranked as the FCS’s No. 17 best tally, while holding opponents to 13 points or less four times. It also ranked No. 2 in the Ivy League in total defense and led the conference in pass defense (186.9 yards per game). In addition, Columbia ranked No. 8 nationally in rushing defense (103.4 yards per game), No. 5 in third down conversion defense (.265) and No. 3 in first down conversion defense (148). The defense also accumulated 23 sacks for 140 yards, which ranked No. 4 in the Ivy League.
Defensive coordinator Paul Ferraro returns six starters from 2015, including one defensive lineman (Dominic Perkovic), all three linebackers (Gianmarco Rea, Christian Conway and Keith Brady) and two defensive backs (Jared Katz, Brock Kenyon).
NEW OFFENSIVE MINDSET
Columbia is looking to play a more up-tempo offensive game in 2016. Last year, Columbia led the Ivy League and ranked No. 5 nationally in time of possession (33:31 minutes per game). According to Coach Bagnoli and Offensive Coordinator Mark Fabish, the Lions plan to play at a faster pace with improved speed on the field, two second-year quarterbacks (Skyler Mornhinweg and Anders Hill) and experience in the offensive line. Last year, the Lions ranked No. 103 nationally in total offense (296.7 yards per game) and No. 111 (14.3 points per game).
LIONS RECRUITING CLASS EXPECTED TO MAKE IMPACT
Columbia brought in a large 39-member recruiting class this offseason. The 2020 class was ranked No. 3 in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and No. 2 in the Ivy League (behind Yale) by 247Sports.com Saturday Blitz.
The class features 14 student-athletes who earned all-state honors and 10 that won state championships during their high school careers. According to national recruiting websites, six were three-star athletes and four were two-star players.
The Class of 2020 is comprised of student-athletes from 19 states. Florida and Pennsylvania each have four representatives, followed by California, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas with three each. Columbia put an emphasis on the offensive line and the front seven on defense, bringing in six offensive linemen and eight defensive linemen to go with five linebackers. The new Lions’ “hogs” check in at an average height of 6-3 and weight of 275 pounds. The defensive linemen weigh-in at an average of 241 pounds and stand at 6-2. The Lions also brought in five defensive backs and five wide receivers to lead the positional breakdown.
FRESHMAN IMPACT PLAYERS
Of Columbia’s freshman class, several will make immediate contributions. At the skill positions, Tanner Thomas and Lynnard Rose will see action at running back, while Josh Wainwright and Christian Everett will play receiver. Ten freshmen are listed on the first week’s depth chart. Wainwright is the listed starter at one receiver position. He is the only offensive/defensive starter listed on the depth chart. Other freshmen listed on the depth chart include Wainwright (KR, PR), Jalen Williams (LB), Christian Everett (WR), Parker Coogan (C), Oren Milstein (PK), Tanner Thomas (RB), Lynnard Rose (PR/KR), Michael Murphy (LB), Hunter Lunsford (SS) and Arman Samouk (DL).
BILL CAMPBELL NO. 67 FEATURED ON JERSEYS
Columbia will wear a No. 67 patch on its uniform in honor of former Lion player, coach, confidante and friend Bill Campbell, who passed away in April, 2016 at age 75. A four-year student-athlete, Campbell captained the 1961 Ivy League Championship football team, which was inducted into the Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010, and earned All-Ivy League accolades as a senior. In 1963, Bill and a group of football and rugby alumni founded the Old Blue Rugby Club. He returned to Columbia to coach the Columbia Football team for six seasons between 1974 and 1979.
Campbell made his mark in the business world and became known as the “Coach of Silicon Valley.” He was vice president at J. Walter Thompson, an advertising agency based in New York, and then moved on to become general manager of consumer products for Kodak Europe. After Kodak, he joined Apple Computer in 1983, and rose to the level of executive vice president; he went on to found and served as president and CEO of Claris Corporation, a spin-off software developing company created and owned by Apple in 1990. Campbell assumed his role as chairman of Intuit, the maker of Quicken, QuickBooks, and Turbo Tax, in 1998 and served as its CEO until 2000. As an executive, Campbell’s marketing and strategic acumen helped build Claris, Apple, and Intuit alike into remarkable Silicon Valley success stories.
Because of his tremendous leadership and passion for Columbia Athletics, the University dedicated the Campbell Sports Center in his honor in October 2013. In fall 2014, the athletics program retired uniform number 67 – the number Campbell wore as an offensive lineman and linebacker for the 1961 Ivy League Champions - for all 31 of Columbia’s varsity teams. At the 2015 Varsity C Celebration, the athletics program introduced a new award, the William V. Campbell Performer of the Year to be presented annually to the top male and female student-athletes of the academic year.
BAGNOLI VS VILLARRIAL
The head coaching matchup between Al Bagnoli and St. Francis’ Chris Villarrial will be the first meeting between the two coaches. Villarrial, who is in his seventh season as the head coach of the Red Flash, spent 11 seasons in the NFL on the offensive lines of the Chicago Bears (1996-2004) and the Buffalo Bills (2004-06). Bagnoli enters year 35 as a head coach with nine Ivy League titles to his name, along with a career 236-107 record.
IN THE BEGINNING
Columbia’s last victory in a season opener came on September 15, 2012 when the Lions topped Marist, 10-9. The Lions are looking to snap a three-game losing streak on opening day.
Columbia selected three captains for the 2016 season: wide receiver Scooter Hollis, quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg and linebacker Christian Conway. All three are seniors and two are transfers from the FBS level. Mornhinweg completed 58.7 percent of his passes (148-252) for 1,321 yards and six touchdowns in 2015. He ranked eighth in the Ivy League while leading the Lions in total offense with 158.7 yards per game and averaged 132.1 yards passing per game. Last year, Hollis led the Lions in receiving with 51 receptions for 515 yards and a touchdown. He ranked seventh in the Ivy League in receptions (51) and 10th in receiving yards per game (51.5). Over his four-year career, the Bowling Green, Ky. native has made 75 catches for 759 yards and two touchdowns. In his first year at Columbia after transferring from Duke, Conway led the Lions and ranked tied for 19th in the Ivy League with 57 total tackles (28 solo). He also finished sixth in the conference in tackles for loss (9-22).
OFFENSIVE LINE IS TEAM’S MOST EXPERIENCED UNIT
Offensive line is Columbia’s most seasoned and experienced position group. The Lions return four starters, including three starters from the 2015 season. Columbia’s four returning offensive line starters are senior left tackle Kendall Pace, junior right tackle Bewley Wales, senior right guard Nathan Gibbs and sophomore Charlie Flores. The four veterans have combined for 54 career starts.
A three-year starter and leader of the group, Pace enters his senior year after having played in 29 games at Columbia. Wales, who started all 10 games at center as a sophomore last year, will make the transition to right tackle. Gibbs started all 10 games last year at right guard. Flores is back at left guard after a one-year hiatus. As a freshman in 2014, he started in five of 10 games played at guard.
COLUMBIA-CORNELL PRESEASON SCRIMMAGE (SEPT. 3)
Columbia’s traveled to Union College and Schenectady, N.Y. to play Ivy League rival Cornell in a preseason scrimmage.
The Columbia-Cornell interleague scrimmage was permissible based on an approved Ivy League waiver which was supported by both teams. The Ivy League granted the scrimmage to be played based upon those grounds in the waiver. The scrimmage is being played at a neutral site and there is no overnight travel involved. Union College serves as the halfway point between the two schools.
Head Coach Al Bagnoli and John Audino greeted numerous Union College fans, friends and family members both pre-and post-scrimmage. It was a Homecoming of sorts for Bagnoli and Audino, both former coaches at Union College. Bagnoli spent a total of 15 combined years at Union, including 10 as the head coach from 1982-91, where he guided the Dutchmen to an 86-19 overall record, advanced to two NCAA Division III title games and earned six NCAA Division III Tournament playoff berths.
First-year Columbia tight ends coach and passing game coordinator John Audino spent the past 24 seasons as the head coach at Union, where he replaced Bagnoli in 1992. Audino posted the most wins in Union football history with a 152-89 record, won eight more games on nine different occasions and coached 16 All-Americans, 145 Liberty League All-Academic student-athletes and 146 all-conference players.
LIONS PICKED SEVENTH IN IVY LEAGUE
Columbia was picked to finish seventh out of eight teams in the Ivy League’s annual preseason poll, voted upon by media members covering the conference and announced on August 9, 2016.
Harvard was picked to win the league with seven first place votes and 126 total points, followed by Penn at No. 2 with nine first place votes and 119 total points and No. 3 Dartmouth with 83 points.
Here is a look at the predicted order:
1. Harvard (7 first place votes) 126 points; 2. Penn (9) 119; 3. Dartmouth 83; 4. Yale 81; 5. Princeton 79; 6. Brown (1) 61; 7. Columbia 43; 8. Cornell 20.
Season ticket sales are ahead of pace from last year. Columbia Football season tickets are still available for as low as $45. Click here to purchase tickets today at gocolumbialions.com/tickets or call 888-LIONS-11. Columbia Football season tickets are one of the most affordable, fan-friendly entertainment options in New York City. Single game tickets for Columbia’s season are also on sale and can be purchased for as low as $10 for reserved seats and $25 for premium chairback seats.
COLUMBIA FOOTBALL ON THE TUBE
The Ivy League announced its TV Schedule for the 2016 season, as Columbia will be featured on national televison five times. The Princeton game on Oct. 1 will be on FOX College Sports, the game against Yale will be on NBC Sports Network, while the games against Penn, Dartmouth and Harvard will be on One World Sports. All home games can still be viewed on the Ivy League Digital Network, with the Sept. 24 game at Georgetown live on the Patriot League Network, and the clash with Wagner on Oct. 8 being broadcast on NEC Front Row.
A total of nine Lions were named to the College Sports Madness preseason All-Ivy League team, headlined by cornerback Jared Katz, who was a first team selection. Wideout Scooter Hollis and linebacker Keith Brady picked up second team honors, while punter Cameron Nizialek, offensive linemen Kendall Pace and Bewley Wales, defensive lineman Dominic Perkovic and linebacker Gianmarco Rea were honorable mention picks.
COLUMBIA CONCLUDES PRESEASON WITH ALUMNI DRAFT AND KICKOFF BARBECUE
Columbia University concluded its 2016 preseason camp with its annual Columbia Football Players Club Alumni Player Draft and Kickoff Barbecue Saturday at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Columbia Football Players Club held its Alumni Player Draft. Members of the Columbia Football Players Club draft freshman members of the team to mentor throughout their four years at Columbia. On Saturday, 39 freshmen were “drafted” by 35 attending alumni members. Players were selected through a mock NFL Draft and several alumni members attended the draft via conference call. Following the conclusion of the draft, alumni attended the team’s Kickoff Barbecue and met their draftees.
Former Union College Head Coach and current Tight Ends Coach/Passing Game Coordinator John Audino will return to the sidelines at Columbia in the 2016 season. Audino spent the 1977-81 seasons with the Lions, before going on to post a 152-89 record as head coach at Union, leading the Dutchmen to four Liberty League titles and five trips to the D-III playoffs. He took over as head coach at Union after Al Bagnoli departed for Penn.
Ricky Santos takes over as the Quarterbacks Coach at Columbia for the 2016 season. Santos was the 2006 Walter Payton Award winner as the FCS Player of the Year at New Hampshire, before launching a career in the CFL. He then spent the 2013-15 seasons at his alma mater, guiding first team All-American R.J. Harris as the Wide Receiver Coach and Punt Return Coordinator.
Seniors Jackson and Christian Conway fall in a long line of brothers that were once teammates at Columbia. Junior Turner DeMuth spent two seasons alongside his brother Garrett DeMuth ‘15CC, while senior Keith Brady played on the same team as his brother John Brady ‘15CC.
This year marks the 145th anniversary of Columbia’s first intercollegiate football game against Princeton in 1870. 2016 is the 126th competitive season of Columbia football.
FRIDAYS ON THE LAWN
Columbia continues its tradition of conducting a Friday walk-through on the university’s main campus lawn. The event is open to the public.