By now, you may have heard that we have not been selected to play on TV as part of the new Ivy League deal with the NBC Sports Network this season. Is anyone really surprised? I’m not.
The underlying, fallback position from those involved in this decision was our won-loss record last season. Regardless of what we think, they can always justify their decision with our record. Now what?
We will not be defined by our past.
When I said that at my press conference in December, I was talking about how we defined ourselves. How other people define us is of no consequence. We must remain committed to change from within. Now we are faced with what is perceived by some as a “slap in the face” or a “lack of respect,” or, my own personal favorite, that “it’s not fair.” How we respond to this situation will speak volumes about who we are or how far we have come.
We are what our record says we are. We were a 1 and 9 team last season. There is no curve, no “should have” or “could have.” You either win or lose. We have one chance each week to get it right. It comes down to one play, when you “got to have it,” do you nail it or not. As soon as we leave this reality, we start down the road to the past, all the reasons it won’t work here, all the excuses that have mired us in the past.
Do I think this is all NBC Sports? No – I believe there is more to it, but that’s just my opinion. For those of us who have been around this league enough, these things rarely happen in a vacuum. The bottom line is that this will have nothing to do with our winning or losing this year. This does not hurt our team, it just hurts our feelings.
Our alumni are mad. I can’t blame them. The people who support our program are mad, and that’s O.K. In fact, it’s a good thing. What is our answer to this insult? Are we going to pull together and push back as a group, or are we going to point fingers and complain?
We all have a job to do to make this program what we believe it can be. I can’t do yours, and no matter how badly some of you want to, you can’t do mine. Fill the stands, support our players and coaches and be a part of something special. Meet the buses when we come off a road win, come watch practice during training camp, help us build a program that is different from our competition. We need our fans to come to all of our games – TV networks don’t like broadcasting from empty stadiums.
The people who touch this program everyday are doing everything they can. I’m not saying that it’s easy; it’s not. Changing a culture is difficult, but we have recruited the right players. The players that are here have the toughest job, and they have accepted the challenge. Most importantly, the young men out there that we are currently recruiting are already seeing what we can offer and want to be part of it. Columbia has so much to offer, we will continue to get better from within.
It’s easy to blame everyone else for our challenges, but it won’t work. If there is something wrong from within – trust me, I will identify, challenge and fix it. You have heard me talk about goals and methods, our goal are clear: be the absolute best we can be in all areas.
How can you help? The methods are for each of us to do what is best for the team, no matter what that is. Be accountable, be part of the solution, not part of the problem. We say we are committed to winning; we need to be committed to change. Recreating the past, good or bad, will never work. Every year, every team, every challenge must be looked at and acted upon within the current context. I’ll tell you what I’ve told the current players: leave all your baggage in the hall when you show up in August, we are moving on.
If we want things to change, each of us has to change. Put the team first.
Someone outside the family has rejected us, taken a shot at us, is trying to keep us were we have been, keep us in our place. We can focus on them, or stay focused on us. Our energies are better spent focused on us, don’t be distracted. The first shot has been fired, there will be more.