A lot has happened since I last posted.
Let’s start with the post 2014 season status quo of the Columbia University administration. Despite a woeful record of accomplishment by head coach Pete Mangurian and his staff, the administration continued to verbally give him support. In truth, the administration passively overlooked Mangurian’s steady but sure sinking of the football program. Suddenly, all of that changed when a half baked player revolt perked the ears of University President, Lee Bollinger. It’s one thing for bloggers to voice opinions but when player safety and compliance issues are brought to the attention of University officials, it’s a big deal.
All of this led to the resignation of Mangurian with a contract payout. That means Mangurian can comfortably retire. See, didn’t that work out well? Coach Pete didn’t have to do anything except lose games, further embellish and embarrass the reputation of Columbia football, alienate players, alumni, his own coaching staff and anyone else in his path.
How many of you wish you knew you could become a millionaire with an astonishing record of failure to your credit – AND the support of your employer?
Next, President Bollinger hired a consultant, Rick Taylor to help “fix the football problem.” Mr. Taylor has an impressive track record of success as both football coach, athletic director and Ivy league football consultant.
The holidays passed and the new year unfolded while the remaining assistant coaching staff did a fine job at recruiting. The incoming class is not stacked deep in talent but they have some numbers on their side. A few of them just might break through as contributors. It seems amazing in itself that student athletes would choose to go to Columbia not knowing who the coaching staff will be. Yet, the assistant staff managed to backfill the roster nicely.
Step one was to bring in a new Athletic Director, which Bollinger did successfully. Not bad. Score one for PrezBo. Mr. Peter Pilling is seemingly more competent than the person he is replacing. Things seem on track except for the problem of timing. Hiring a new head coach so close to Spring camp is risky. It would be a a major adjustment for the players, there is little time to assemble an assistant coaching staff (unless they keep the existing group). On top of all this is who is available to be head coach of the program that is not already in a job under contract? Unless they dig into the over 60 club where there are plenty of experienced head coaches available if you can pull them off the golf course.
If it isn’t clear already, to make any serious change in culture would require a complete overhaul. That means jettisoning the current assistant coaching staff. They are good guys but not what the program needs in order to progress. The problem is it’s a little late in the off-season to poach other programs (though not unheard of).
Too many questions to answer here at the moment. The trio of Taylor, PrezBo and new AD Peter Pilling addressed football alumni and interested parties in an open forum to try and build a bridge with the fanbase. The result was PrezBo could’t resist the opportunity to make a fundraising pitch while his new sidekick, Mr. Taylor, just comes across as a yes man. It is not surprising this is the case. It makes perfect business sense for Mr. Taylor to parrot his employer’s stratagem rather than address the longstanding problems that would help revitalize Columbia football. I was hoping Taylor’s involvement would help the program understand what it needs in order to become competitive. Silly me for thinking so.
So while hiring a consultant was the right action to take, Mr. Taylor has not yet offered up much in the way of how to go about achieving conclusive results. His best idea thus far is to raise funds to hire a better assistant coaching staff. As if Columbia needs a fundraiser to do that. Worse, Taylor claimed Coach Mangurian was “on the verge” of success before he was forced to exit. That was the palm slapping the forehead moment for me. There isn’t the slightest bit of truth to Mangurian having a positive effect on the program. The truth is Mangurian guided the program to the verge of collapse. Avoiding this fact is not going to help the program rebound. In life, the best action you can take is to admit failure and perform due diligence so you can work through the issues. It is painful but how else can you fix a problem unless you face the fact that there is a problem?
Without having seen the written report Mr. Taylor provided to PrezBo, I’m not seeing the value of his yes man role at the moment. Maybe he is not letting us know what the main core of his ideas are or maybe he has nothing to offer except empty claims. It is also open to speculation if new and untested AD Peter Pilling can recruit a worthy candidate to be head coach at this juncture. Then he needs to give that person the latitude to hire a credible assistant staff along with lots of other authority to get things going. The entire coaching staff has to have the means to live and work in New York City in order to confront the difficult challenge of turning around a moribund football program. That’s the easy part believe it or not. Then the real work begins.