Roar, Lion, Roar

Football Snaps Streaks

Columbia’s football team “got that 800-lb. gorilla off our backs,” coach Al Bagnoli said after the Lions beat Wagner 26–3 on October 10 to emphatically end a 24-game losing streak that stretched back to November 19, 2012, when Columbia beat Cornell 34–17.

Three weeks later, Columbia ended two more streaks — 18 consecutive Ivy League losses and 22 straight road losses — by traveling to New Haven and defeating Yale 17–7 in the Yale Bowl. “This is important as the next step as we try to establish credibility,” said Bagnoli, who took over as Columbia’s coach on February 24 after 23 years and nine Ivy championships at Penn.

A football team celebrating

Lions celebrate following the win over Wagner.

COURTESY COLUMBIA ATHLETICS

Those wins gave the Lions a 2–8 record (including 1–6 in the Ivies) after two winless seasons. Equally important, even though Bagnoli is quick to say there are no moral victories, is the fact that Columbia was competitive in every game except one (Homecoming against Penn), and Columbia’s defense, which allowed 38.9 points and 494.5 yards of total offense per game last season, cut those numbers dramatically this year to 19.8 points and 290.3 yards per game.

“I think by most people’s standards, we’re heading in the right direction,” Bagnoli said after the final game. “We’re far more competitive. We’re playing people for 60 minutes. It’s just one year. I’m not sure what people’s expectations were. But we’re making progress — it just never comes as fast or as seamless as you want it to come.”