Posted by: petemangurian | May 9, 2013

This Is Not Who We Are

Earlier today Dianne Murphy and I wrote a letter to the University community. This is my opportunity to share my personal thoughts on my blog.

I am offended and disappointed with the remarks made by our players online. This is not who we are.

Right now I’m concerned with who is just saying incredibly inappropriate things and who has a real social problem. The outcome is the same, the perception is the same, but my concern is the cure may not be the same. I want to cure this illness. There is no place for it on our team or anywhere else. I will not single out anyone; that has already been done. The actions of a few affect everyone who touches this program. When the headline reads “A Columbia Football Player”, that includes everyone.

Obviously we have addressed the players and their twitter accounts. It is not the first time we have addressed this issue. We met as a team during training camp, and were very clear about our expectations and standards. The team was addressed by the sports information staff. I was present and signed off on the presentation. The majority of the team understood, and did, what they were asked to do. Others did not. I didn’t feel that it was necessary to check back that our players understood our expectations for them. Obviously, I was wrong.

The inappropriate nature of the comments is second to the motivation and social perspective that generated them. I really think there are two issues here; the response to each should be different. There are circumstances here that are important to keep in mind. While there is a penalty component to these actions, there is an educational component as well.

Regarding the offensive tweets: some of these statements were made before these players were part of our team. It would seem that our team meetings concerning appropriate use of social media and being responsible members of the University community were effective with those young men. Some of these tweets were made by players, that for reasons other than this particular incident, are no longer on this team. Finally, there are some players that are a part of our team and therefore warrant our immediate, and from this point on, ongoing attention.

I do not believe that it is my place – or that of anyone at the University – to monitor everything our players say privately or publicly. I thought that I could expect our players to use much greater responsibility in how they speak and act. This is what is so disappointing to me.

I want to make sure whatever action we take is meaningful. I believe we can and should address this from a team wide perspective in addition to dealing with individual cases. There are programs that address and educate on these types of issues. I am reluctant to use a “cookie cutter” approach. I want to find the most effective program I can. I want there to be a human element to these actions. Respect is born from humility. Obviously in some cases we have lacked both. As individuals we need to interact with, or directly involve ourselves with, the community of people to whom we have shown such insensitivity. That will be far more effective than a lecture program. I am currently in the process of making sure that happens. Finally, I have taken disciplinary action in cases that I feel involve a legitimate social issue as opposed to the immaturity and bad judgment that goes along with making highly inappropriate and disrespectful statements.

I apologize to the Columbia community for this embarrassment. Some will see this as a referendum on our entire team. What I say or do will not change their opinion, and that is alright. I am more concerned with this program’s responsibility to produce young men that reflect the values of the Columbia community as a whole. I have said before that our program will ultimately be judged by the kind of people we send out into the world. I remain committed to that statement. If we do the things to make sure that happens, the rest will take care of itself.

Posted by: petemangurian | March 25, 2013

A Note to Our Fans

A note to our fans:

We will never be satisfied.

Our players whole-heartedly buy into the philosophy of “good, but not enough”. At an early weight session a couple of weeks ago, an unknown player wrote on the board in the weight room, “good enough isn’t good enough any more”.

I have heard the concerns that we don’t promote the program enough. I understand that you want to know more. What you hear and read is the message that we want to send. Remember, our players and recruits read too. My interests, loyalties and responsibilities rest with our players and recruits.

While I appreciate your enthusiasm and want for information about our program, I have no desire to write scouting reports for our competitors. That in mind, your interest in “why” we do some of the things we do, can and will not always be answered. There are facts and information that go into making each decision that I feel may be inappropriate to let you know about for various reasons. In this regard, the decisions that are made based on what you know, may be hard to understand. 

We make objective evaluations of our team and our program. None of these evaluations are based on hearsay, scouting services or second hand information. We watch, we listen, and we communicate. Our players believe in what they are doing; they get it, they are living it, we are doing our job, they are doing theirs.

As I mentioned when I arrived at Columbia, we will no longer address the issues of the past.  This program is one year old. Team #122 was our first, we live with the results, we continue to watch and re-live the good, the bad and the ugly. We will learn from it, we already have. Team #123 is bigger, stronger and faster. There are incoming players who may help. Not one single person or player will get us where we want to go, not one single person or player got us where we are. We are not emotionally invested in anything before team #122.

I believe that we will win, and soon. There is no “four-year plan”, there is a “win every game, every year, plan” that is reevaluated and refined before during and after every season. Team #123 and I will ultimately be judged by how many games we win. I’m all for that accountability, that is the way it should be. Every season is different, every team is different, every year the competition is different. What you can be sure of is that we have our plan, it is built for our program, and we are executing it.

Posted by: petemangurian | February 28, 2013

Fundamentals: Experience, Work Ethic, Communicator

Our team got better today. Chris Rippon brings tremendous experience and new ideas. Coaches are just like everyone else, the more stable and organized the environment, the better they do. Chris has an extensive backround in a program that in many ways is consistent with how we operate here and now. Our philosophies are similar, our teaching priorities are similar and our work ethics are similar. Chris will not only fit in, but will reinforce our message to the players. We will accept nothing but our best from each other, and every decision will be based upon what is best for the team.

Our entire defensive staff met together today. We have about six weeks until spring ball starts. We will keep our call system the same. Chris will adjust. We will evaluate and implement new ideas, but we will do so using the “language” that our players understand.

Change is part of football, it happens every year. Our players have continued to work through this period of change. It wasn’t their job to adjust and fix it, it was mine. Now we move forward, learn from the past, improve what worked and fix what didn’t. No flinching. Moving on.

Posted by: petemangurian | February 12, 2013

Offseason 2013


We were lucky to have Kevin Lempa on our staff. To be honest, had Kevin been at the level of football he belongs in, we wouldn’t have gotten him last year.

It was inevitable that he would get a better opportunity. It was just a matter of when. I wanted two years, but it was Boston College that came looking, a place that Kevin had been twice before, and a place that was closer to his family.

If it had not been Boston College, I don’t think he would have left.

Coaches move up when they can. I’m not afraid to hire the best people available just because I know they might not stay forever. As our staff develops, these issues will all be answered from within.

We have a system, our players know it, and we will continue to use it. Whomever we hire will put his mark on our team within that structure.


The most important recruiting meeting of the year is the one right after the season, when you evaluate your current players. If you are not realistic and objective about what you have, you don’t know what you need.

We feel we have created competition at every position.

This won’t be over until March 1st.

We are not allowed to talk about specific recruits, so no one involved in our side of the process does.

Certain positions can play sooner than others. Player development is part of the process.

Next year our team will be different, and so will our needs. We can target certain positions, but this is not an exact science. Things will change as the season progresses.

We have standards and they elevate as our team gets better. We have a system.

As usual, there are always things we can evaluate and improve. We have started that process already, and have begun on next year’s class.

Posted by: petemangurian | January 17, 2013

Great Start to the New Year

Just as the 2012 college football season concluded, we announced a new football endowment from an anonymous donor for the benefit of our program. The new $250,000 endowment honors three members of the Columbia Football Class of 1981.  What a great way to kick off the new year.  Truly a selfless act by our generous donor to recognize the contributions of three great Columbia Football alumni: Bob Conroy ’81CC, Bill Donley ’81SEAS, and Rich Ruzika ’81CC.

It is great that we get to honor these alumni in this way – and even better that we have alumni who are incredibly invested in our future success.

 Moving foward.

Posted by: petemangurian | December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays

The holiday season is a time for family, and a time for giving.   I know many of you choose to give to Columbia Football, as part of the family of alumni and friends, and I am grateful for that. Thank you.

There is no shortage of places where you can give your money—I’m sure you’re as buried in mail and email as I am.

Every dollar you give to Columbia Football is a dollar that goes toward the creating an environment conducive to winning and doing what is best for the development of our players on and off the field.  It all comes back to the W word.

You heard from me earlier this summer about the Football Benefits Program.  You will no doubt get something in the mail from our Development office before the 12/31/12—the deadline for making a benefits-eligible gift.    Visit the Athletics Development website for information about giving:

Happy Holidays to you and your family, from me and mine.

Posted by: petemangurian | November 26, 2012

Season Review and Sticking With the Plan

When it’s all said and done, three and seven are the only numbers that matter. The quality of people we bring into the program, our record, and the quality of the people who come out of our program, in that order, will determine our success.   

Over the off-season we will drill down into 3-7 and analyze “why” and “how.”  We will analyze what we did well and what we did poorly. We will analyze every situation, red zone, third down, backed up, 4-minute and 2-minute.  Within each situation we evaluate philosophy, plan, execution and personnel.

When we have finished studying ourselves, we will study the best teams outside the Ivy League in each situation. We will work to implement the ideas that will improve our system. In some cases we will set aside time to travel to those places to spend time with coaches in programs and organizations that we can share information with. We will set aside time for study of our Ivy League opponents as well as Fordham. Results of these projects will determine the practice objectives for spring practice. We never stop learning, when you think you have all the answers, you don’t.

What do we know about our team coming out of the season? We have at least one solid leader on each side of the ball. We expected a lot from our current freshman class, and for the most part they did not disappoint. We need to get stronger and increase muscle mass. We have reduced body fat to acceptable levels. Unlike last year, we are at an overall conditioning level that will allow us to work hard enough to maximize our efforts in the weight room and the running program. Our morning practice schedule was effective, we practiced with our whole team everyday and we stayed healthy.  Preliminary indications are that we have done well in school, but we will see over the next couple of weeks.  We will not compromise in any area.

Offensively, our system is in, and we became more efficient in its execution as the season progressed. We have to replace a quarterback, which is a challenge, but I feel confident in McDonagh, Hollis and Trumbull. We will continue to recruit quarterback prospects. I’d like to create competition in every class. The primary goal in our recruiting is to create competition on the practice field and ultimately improve the competitive nature of our team. Our offensive line was overmatched almost every week. We finished the year with three freshmen starters, Lawrence, Ramljak and Kuklinski, down the stretch. For those three young men it was tough on-the-job training, but we will reap the benefits moving forward. Garrett will lead our running game, but our young backs like Molina, will have to develop and contribute. Our receiving corps must continue to improve with more speed, more explosion, better route running by  catching a “million” balls. At all positions, our football I.Q. must improve, and with a year in the system, I believe it will.

Defensively we started fast, from the beginning  “running out of gas” was a concern. We played hard, chased the ball and played good team defense early. We need to be bigger and stronger in order to match up. If we are going to play smaller and quicker, we need better depth. Guys like Sommers and Lee played solid. Losing Adebayo hurt but Patterson was effective. Martin was a force up front and very effective when he aligned over the guard. We will miss him. Young linemen like Toba and Niko will have to step up, and I believe they will. Both Waller and Murphy were good players, and we will miss their leadership as much as their playmaking. The truth is we had a number of seniors on defense that were committed to our goals. They bought in, they worked hard, and they taught the younger players. Everyone on our roster has the same opportunity to contribute. Each players role, whether he starts, plays special teams, makes the travel squad or dresses at home, it is all decided based on practice performance. This is college football.  You are given nothing, and if you want something, you have to earn it – that is the way this program is going to be run.  Those have been our standards and will continue to be our standards moving forward. 

Olinger will lead our linebacker corps. Pugliese and Pesanello should step in, but there will be competition in the spring and training camp. Our secondary was our biggest concern going into the season. We had a bunch of players in the secondary who were injured during spring practice last year. We will be further along going into next season. We need more speed in the secondary, but Reim, Patmon, Cahal, McCarthy along with Carter, Mingo and DiTommaso will improve this off season. You can never have enough corners, but we need to strengthen our safety position also.

Our special teams units were the training ground for our younger players. We improved on both return teams. Bell, Blackshear and Reim all contributed in both phases of our return game. Fisher improved his average from last year and was our best punt returner, but our freshmen returners will create competition in the spring and in training camp. Our kicking battery can and will improve, but I thought we responded in some “got to have it” situations down the stretch. I thought our punting was solid and coverage was good. We improved on balls downed inside the 10 yard line. This year, field position was a big weapon for us, but next year may be different. We are always trying to find those five to six non-starters who can be “core” special teams players. As our roster improves, those core players should come from a variety of positions.

Ryan Cidzik will lead our off-season strength and conditioning program. We will start immediately. We remain committed to our standards for body composition. We will not carry fat as a substitute for muscle mass. Our players will work to maintain optimum body composition, not maximum weight. As our program improves we will bring more players into the system that can be “big” enough and still live within our guidelines. Our conditioning level got us through the season relatively injury free. The way we practice and condition during the season was effective. With a full off-season, we will be bigger, stronger, more disciplined and better prepared to sustain the intensity level we expect for the whole season.

For the next few weeks, the emphasis will be academics and recruiting. This off-season will be more demanding than last. Expectations will, and should be, higher for each individual, the team, and the staff as a whole. Our message to the recruits will not change. We want smart, tough players, who love the game. Players who are motivated to be part of a team, players who are willing to help us build upon this season, and players that are competitors. What happened before last December will have less and less to do with the team that will report for training camp in August. We will continue to improve our roster, put the right people in the right spots. Nothing is assumed, nothing is promised, nothing is guaranteed. Everyone is accountable. We will move forward with those who believe in our mission and those who are willing to do the work necessary to complete that mission. We will move forward with people who want to be the solution. We know what the issues are.

 We will build this team with quality players and people. We have created, and will continue to create, an environment that will develop each member of our team, both athletically and academically. We remain committed to the long-range career development and success of each of our players. Year two.  Everything for the second time. Time to win. Now is the time


Posted by: petemangurian | October 1, 2012

A Letter To Our Fans

A Letter To Our Fans:

The highlight to last Saturday’s game versus Princeton was YOU. You came, you yelled and you were into it – don’t quit now. Don’t be haunted by those people who live in the negative, have all the reasons why it can’t be done, isn’t being done and has never been done. Don’t allow their voices to be louder than yours. There will be growing pains.  There are a lot more issues here than dropped passes and missed tackles. You guys be the constant.  You guys keep coming, keep screaming, keep painting yourself blue (that was awesome), and keep expecting more from us.  We will deliver and you are helping. The “ghosts” out there tell me you won’t come.  I believe they are wrong.  I’ve seen it in person and it was great.

The day is approaching where everyone will want to be a part of what we are doing. As crazy as it sounds, we need your help more now than we will then. Our seniors will not be here to realize the full reward of their work, but they are a huge part of this effort. Some of you may not be around to see it all come together, but rest assured your presence is instrumental in these efforts. Keep coming to the games.  Keep screaming.  Have fun and be a part of our efforts.

We are all in this together.  Our players need to learn to not only play for their teammates, but to play for Columbia, and that’s you.

See you at Dartmouth!

Coach M

Posted by: petemangurian | September 7, 2012

“Do What is Best for The Team”

I’ve told this story many times. It was a defining moment in my development as a coach and a person. It was the first Saturday of football in September 1984, on a bus from Ocala Florida, heading for Gainsville to play the University of Florida. Charlie Pell was the Florida coach, they were good, and I mean “really good”, huge offensive line, big and fast on defense, and they had this back named Emmitt Smith. I was 27 years old, had my dream job, coaching the offensive line at LSU. Bill Arnsparger was the head coach. Bill was the defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins and Don Shula when they were “really good”. Bill knew how to make the complicated seem simple, it’s a talent that great coaches have, and he did it better than anyone I’ve ever been around. The head coach always sits in the first seat on the right side of the bus, I believe I was sitting right behind him. He looked through the seats and said, “well, what do you think?” I said I felt good about everything but one, I didn’t know what we would do if we got behind early, I wasn’t sure how we would respond. Bill didn’t hesitate and said, “what are you going to do?”

We never stop preparing, there is always something to work on. Camp is over, we could use three more weeks, you never have enough time. Everyone wants to speculate, single out individuals, talk about the keys for our success, and what we should or should not do. We had a good camp, the players worked hard, they spent every minute together from 6:00 am until 11:00 pm. They ate, met, lifted, slept on the floor between practices, but most importantly they did it together, no distractions. As coaches we pushed and pulled, yelled and reasoned, talked constantly about personnel, who did well, who was getting it, and who we could count on. We worked on tackling, leverage and ball skills. We met as a team, met in small groups, the players met on their own between practices,leaders emerged. We learned the system, offense, defense and special teams, we are still learning. We learned to practice our way, to practice fast, good on good, take care of each other, to get better without having to scrimmage. We came out of it healthy for the most part, we have some rookies who haven’t quite figured out that you will never be 100 percent, you are always sore.

The season is a marathon, not a sprint,the truth is it started last December. In all honesty, I’ve changed my opinion concerning individual players in a lot of instances. We know each other now, the past will rear it’s ugly head, we will short circuit back to who we were, and I mean who we were yesterday or last week, not years ago.

But when it goes well, or it goes badly, when we are up big, or down at halftime, each of us have to ask, “what am I going to do?” The message is the same for everyone who has a stake in this program. As this season unfolds what are you going to do? There is no room for personal agendas, if you are a player, do your job and be a good team mate. If you are a fan be supportive, you have the right to be disappointed if we do not perform, we will be too. I can assure you we will show up the next opportunity and get it right, that’s our commitment to you.

I won’t talk openly about what we do, who is doing it, and individual players. It’s not everyone’s right to know everything we do, the product on Saturdays is what will define us. I can assure you there is a good reason for all that we do. I can also say with certainty that no one really knows what or why unless you are a player or a coach, and we aren’t talking.

Problems mostly occur when someone fails to be all they can be or tries to be more then they should be. We all have a role to play, to prepare, to lead, to support, to encourage, to work, to never be satisfied, to expect and demand our best. As this season begins and you speculate about how it will go, ask yourself, in all those scenarios, “what am I going to do?”

(By the way, we did fall behind 14-0 versus Florida. As a result of my conversation, I didn’t flinch and the players ended up tieing the Gators. They went undefeated in the SEC that year, we were the only blemish. Regardless, they had the best record in the SEC, but were sanctioned for recruiting violations. Coach Pell was fired, and Galen Hall took over.)

Posted by: petemangurian | August 14, 2012

Start the Climb

My silence for the last two months may seem like “the quiet before the storm.” Trust me, it certainly hasn’t been “quiet”, but the “storm” part is accurate.

After thirty-two years of training camps at every level, it still is exciting. We all start at the bottom of the mountain. We have been preparing for the climb, schedules, play books, policies. As coaches we prepare the environment and evaluate the competition, but most importantly, we create a plan for our team. Right now it doesn’t matter what the other guys are doing. The challenge for us is to be as good as we can be first.

This weekend, 90 players will report to training camp 2012. Thirty-one of those 90 will be freshmen. The remaining 59 will be those upper-classmen who displayed a commitment to our team in the classroom last semester and on the practice field during the spring. There will be other members of our team who will report on the 1st of September with something to prove. There is a small group of upper-classmen, who were injured during the off-season. They will be returning on this weekend. These young men will have roughly the same amount of time as their classmates did to demonstrate their abilities. The train is leaving the station, we are moving on.

We had roughly a third of our team stay here over the summer, including thirteen incoming freshmen. Those numbers are not near good enough, but it’s a start. We have hired a new strength and conditioning coach for Football, Ryan Cidzik. Ryan will work exclusively with football and direct the new weight facility in the Campbell Center. Few people know the Team as well as the strength coach. Work habits, attitude, toughness and confidence can all be evaluated and developed in the weight room. “Coach Cid” is going to have a huge impact on our team and he already has. Ryan comes to us from Memphis State where he was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. Prior to Memphis, Ryan was with the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns. Ryan also served as the Head of Strength and Conditioning Coach for NFL Europe. Cid is smart, tough, experienced, detailed and demanding. Most importantly, I trust him with our Team. I know they are getting the same message from Ryan as they do from us.

Working along with Ryan is our nutritionist Tara Ostrowe. Tara works with Columbia Health Services and is the nutritionist for the New York Giants. Tara spent a considerable amount of time with our team last spring, both as a group and in individual meetings.We were interested in the body composition of our team. Obviously the goal is bigger, stronger players, and it all starts with nutrition. We set target weight and body fat parameters by position. Everyone was given a reporting target weight, body fat and lean mass goal. At considerable expense, Football purchased a machine that determines body composition. It’s an important piece of equipment. We keep it in the training room in Dodge so every team in the department can take advantage of it, if the coaches choose to do so. We want to be surrounded by winners; we are all in this together. When it comes right down to it, there is nothing more important than the individual health of each of our players. Without them, we have no team.

We have strengthened our operations staff. We hired Jansen Petagna as our new Director of Football Operations. John Cavalier will move up to Assistant Athletic Director in charge of Football and Special Events. John enters his fourth year with our team and has been instrumental in our transition. John will handle the “big picture” administration of our program, budget, alumni relations and events, summer jobs, university relations. Our program has grown. To manage our responsibilities with players, alumni, faculty, administration and staff, we needed to strengthen our administrative team. Jansen Petagna is a recent LSU graduate with four years experience as an intern with the New Orleans Saints, where he worked both with player personnel and operations. Jansen will handle our day-to-day operations, including housing, travel, meals, training camp and practice organization. Jansen will also serve as the liaison with public and media relations as well as marketing and the NFL.

Our academic, student support and career development, which falls under our Enrichment Services office, may have progressed as much as anything we have done to this point. We have reached out to the faculty concerning a number of areas and events and their cooperation has been great. It is amazing what honest communication and a common goal can do. We have confronted the perceptions and found that they really aren’t what we thought. The University community is behind what we are trying to create. We are all working for the same thing, the development of productive successful people. We have a plan for career development. We have the resources and the alumni community right here in New York to make it happen. What we are offering is an opportunity.

Now the emphasis changes; It has always been about developing an environment conducive to winning. That environment really has no boundaries, everything is important. But now it is time to stop focusing on the big picture, we have done what we can this first off-season. We have plenty left to do, next year will be just as important to our development. Now we start to live one day at a time, one practice at a time, one period at a time, one play at a time, one situation at a time. Can we string two good plays, two good periods, two good practices together? When that one play presents itself and the game is in the balance, can we nail it? Can we handle the grind of training camp? Can the freshmen handle all the distractions of orientation and still execute like we need them to? Will our upperclassmen sustain their commitment to who we have said we want to be?

The playbooks are done. The practice scripts are completed. The schedules have been finalized. Every detail has been reviewed, and reviewed again. We are at the bottom of the mountain, with everyone else. We will fight our history, our opponents, and more importantly, our own limitations, to see how good we can be. We are moving on.

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