The Columbia football team should wear Columbia blue uniforms

As any longtime reader will know, this blog is pretty much exclusively limited to topics that are so myopic that they are only interesting to me.

This particular post is probably the ultimate example of that vision, as I’m going to rant for a bit about the color of Columbia’s football uniforms.

Last year, in conjunction with the beginning of a “new era” in Columbia football, the Lions introduced a radical redesign to the traditional Columbia blue shirts that the team has worn for eons. The home uniform is a color called “anthracite,” which is a fancy word here meaning “really black-ish gray.” The road uniform is white, but the main trim color is also “anthracite” rather than Columbia blue.

This morning, I woke up to this tweet, announcing that this weekend Columbia will wear an alternate uniform for the first time.

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Setting aside the misspelling of “Wien Stadium” — which, as the location where Columbia plays its football games, is a word you’d think the appropriate people would spell correctly — these new navy alternate uniforms are not horrible. In fact, they’re perfectly good alternate uniforms. They have an appropriate amount of Columbia blue (sleeves, numbers) and aren’t “anthracite.” That’s enough for me.

But that doesn’t change the overriding point. I hate this entire uniform set so much, because none of the uniforms are Columbia blue.

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Which one is my favorite? I hate all of them.

In these seven uniform combinations, Columbia blue is the fourth most prominent color after white, “anthracite,” and navy. I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but the color Columbia blue is literally named after Columbia University. It should be one of the predominant colors that a team representing the university wears on the field.

There is no such color as “Columbia gray.” Though I do have a friend from Columbia named Gray. I suppose I could call him Columbia Gray.

There is also no such color as “Columbia navy.” There is a color called “Yale blue.” This color is basically navy blue. Columbia should not look like Yale, which is a different school, located in Connecticut.

I believe that head coach Al Bagnoli and athletic director Peter Pilling sanctioned these sacrilegious strips because they wanted to encourage a clean break with a losing past. And they’re certainly right that the Columbia football team has been very bad. In the 6.2 seasons of Columbia football I’ve had the burden to witness, the team is 10-52.

It might even have made sense to get a new uniform design. The Lions wore their last set for twenty games in 2013 and 2014, and the Lions lost all twenty of those games.

But to cut Columbia blue — the color that represents the University, the color named after the University — down to a mere accent, just because “anthracite” is more menacing or masculine or whatever stupid justification the marketing people at Nike cooked up for the athletic department, is insulting to the school, its alumni, and the entire point of the football program.

(After all, wearing Columbia blue didn’t stop the basketball team from winning the CIT.)

Frankly, I would rather the team never win another game than to continue to dress like a parody of a “serious” football team. Columbia football does not lose because they wear Columbia blue. They lose despite wearing Columbia blue.

I hope that Bagnoli and Pilling realize this and change the primary uniform in time for the 2017 season.

Columbia’s uniform history (2010-present)

It may not be worth tracing Columbia’s recent uniform history, but I’ve already done the research so I’m going to write down what I found.

Going back through the Columbia Spectator’s football archives is truly one of the saddest journeys a person can make. It’s filled with hilarious-in-retrospect sentences like “Pete Mangurian brings a wealth of experience to Columbia” and “it’s no secret that the Lions had a difficult 2013.”

As far as I can tell, the Norries Wilson Lions (2010-11) always wore monochrome at home — Columbia blue tops and Columbia blue pants — while alternating between blue and white pants on the road.

After large screaming man Pete Mangurian took over the program, the 2012 Lions stopped the monochrome look. Columbia blue tops were matched with white pants at home, and the team wore the reverse at home.

As part of Mangurian’s plan to restore the team to respectability, the Lions unveiled beautiful new uniforms before the 2013 season. For two years, the Lions wore Columbia blue tops with no crazy striping and piping paired with sleek white pants trimmed in navy accents at home, with the mirror-image white tops worn with either white or blue pants on the road. A subtle stripe added to the helmets completed the look.

This was a gorgeous, simple set of uniforms, and Columbia never won a single game wearing them. In two seasons, the team went 0-20, culminating in the resignation of athletic director M. Dianne Murphy and the dismissal of Mangurian. In three seasons, the man who said he wanted to use the “W” word — “win” — won exactly three games, finishing on a 21-game losing streak.

In 2015, Al Bagnoli broke out the current gray monstrosities, accented with navy and Columbia blue and with the word “LIONS” written on the pants for some reason. The Roar-ee Lion logo replaced the letter C on the white helmets — the only positive development of this uniform set.

Making matters worse, the team only wore gray pants, so at home the Lions looked like a team of lead pencils while on the road they looked like led pencils with a really, really sharp point. So far this year, though, the Lions did break out white pants for their road matchup against Georgetown, easily the best possible combination. And this weekend against Princeton they’ll wear navy blue for the first time, prompting this fun rant from me.

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Game 9: Columbia v. Cornell

The Game, in One Word: Preposterous.

The Game, in Four Words: Columbia 27, Cornell 30.

Was It At Least A Good Day For A Football Game?

“Football weather” is really an ambiguous term, if you think about it. I mean, technically all weather is “football weather,” in the sense that there are very few types of weather in which it is completely impossible to play football. Theoretically you could play football in a hurricane, though I think it would make the passing game a challenge. And when I say “football weather,” what I mean — between 40 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit, minimal wind, not a cloud in the sky — might be completely different from someone from Wisconsin — so cold that individual fingers start to fall off — or someone from Seattle — so rainy that our bodies begin to swell as we must absorb the moisture in the air — or someone from Florida — does anyone actually watch football in Florida? — and so on. Regardless, when I say that the fifth edition of the EMPIRE STATE BOWL took place in perfect football weather, I trust you will know what I mean.

So, Columbia Lost Again?

Yeah.

How Many In A Row Is That Now?

Twenty straight games. The last time Columbia won a football game, the number one movie in America was the instant classic Twilight: Breaking Dawn: Part II. It was a simpler time.

Surely There Was Nothing Especially Bad About This Loss?

Hah! Of course there was! For starters, Cornell came into the game at 0-8, and had submitted a series of woeful performances on the gridiron so far this year, so they’re certainly the worst team the Lions are going to lose to this year. FiveThirtyEight even previewed the game as the worst college football game of the year.

But, more entertainingly, the Lions lost the game because they couldn’t do the simplest thing in football — kick an extra point. After a powerful Cameron Molina run gave the Light Blue a 27-21 lead, Columbia lined up to kick the automatic point after. Of course, the kick was blocked. And, of course, the blocked kick was returned all the way to the other end zone by an alert Cornell defender. Confusion reigned in the stands while fans tried to figure out how many points that action was worth. Turns out Cornell got two points for the PAT return, and it was those two points — coupled with the one point dropped by Columbia — that accounted for the three-point margin of victory for the Big Red.

The Norries Wilson “When Will Pete Mangurian Be Fired?” Death Watch

It would be a massive shock if Mangurian survived more than three minutes after Brown beats the Lions this weekend. Mangurian has been a complete and total failure as Columbia’s head coach, somehow managing to produce a worse and worse team every year. His teams were woefully underprepared and equipped with some of the least intelligent schemes ever concocted by a professional football coach. On top of this on-field futility, he has proved to be a malignant presence in the Morningside community, rude and disrespectful towards journalists while blaming almost every on-field failure on his players. His public Twitter presence disappeared soon after the 2013 Tweeting scandal, and his continued silence says more than the empty platitudes he favored ever could. #PunishMangurian, indeed.

(And yes — if Mangurian is fired consider me a candidate to replace him. #HirePete.)

Is Brett Nottingham Injured?

I hope not. The Stanford transfer got out at exactly the right time — and I don’t blame him for doing so. Mangurian’s penchant for yanking quarterbacks back and forth has been just one of millions of things he’s done wrong (one reason he needs to be fired is to make sure he doesn’t ruin talented freshman Anders Hill). Nottingham worked his ass off for the Lions, sacrificing a full year of his life to get ready for the season and being recognized for it by earning the captaincy. Mangurian gave him three and a half games under center.

Best CUMB Joke of the Day

“As well as the power of Spec’s executive editor going up, the comment count on Bwog going down, and attorney general Eric Holder at an all time sorry for persecuting journalists, the band now presents an all-star halftime gala salute to investigative journalism!”

The joke here is that Holder, a Columbia College and Law School alum, was actually at the game. Why he was subjecting himself to this football game is beyond me, but my understanding is that he was quite a good sport about it with the Band afterwards.

Stray Thoughts

  • You’ll notice I’m light on actual football analysis this week. To be honest, there’s not much to analyze. These two teams are both very, very bad and run very, very basic schemes very, very poorly. The only minor notes I’ll offer are: (1) Hill scored on a bootleg touchdown which was probably the only creative play the Lions have pulled off all year, and (2) the playcalling on the last desperate drive was ridiculous, as it seemed designed to get the Lions to the end zone by about 10:00 left in the sixth quarter.
  • For some reason, one of the giveaways at the game was pink foam whale hats. Surprisingly comfortable.
  • Shout-out to the Park Terrace Deli — located at the corner of 218th and Broadway, it makes some pretty excellent sandwiches at a much better price than you’ll find at Baker. I remain partial to the “Godfather,” which is hot roast beef, provolone, and horseradish — I tell them to hold the onions.
  • This is probably the last thing I’ll write about this team for a while, with the exception of my upcoming application for head coach. Not much more to say except good riddance.
  • It’s time for basketball season. Roar Lion Roar.