Columbia Lions football

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Columbia Lions
2016 Columbia Lions football team
Columbia Lions football logo.png
First season 1870
Athletic director M. Dianne Murphy
Head coach Al Bagnoli
2nd year, 2–9 (.182)
Stadium Wien Stadium
Seating capacity 17,000
Field surface FieldTurf
Location Manhattan, New York
NCAA division Division I FCS
Conference Ivy League
All-time record 373–633–43 (.376)
Bowl record 1–0 (1.000)
Conference titles 1 (1961)
Colors Columbia Blue and White[1]
Fight song Roar, Lion, Roar
Mascot Roaree the Lion
Rivals Fordham Rams
Cornell Big Red
Penn Quakers
For information on all Columbia University sports, see Columbia Lions.

The Columbia Lions football program is the intercollegiate American football team for Columbia University located in the U.S. state of New York. The team competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and are members of the Ivy League. Columbia played in what is generally regarded as the fourth college football game on November 12, 1870 against Rutgers in New Jersey. This was the first interstate football game ever played. The fist three college football games were played between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869 and 1870. The team plays its home games at the 17,000 seat Wien Stadium in Manhattan, New York.


The beginning (1870–1899)[edit]

Sometime in early November 1870 – while November 12th is most cited, others claim November 5 or 11th – Columbia's intercollegiate football journey began with a short trip to New Brunswick, NJ to play Rutgers, which they lost 3–6 in the first college football game between schools from different states. The school struggled for most of the 19th century, and it was not until after the turn of the century to which the team would have any success.

The 20th Century[edit]

The program was much more successful in the first half of the 20th century, and was at times a national power. The 1915 squad went undefeated and untied. The 1933 Lions won an unofficial national championship by upsetting the top-ranked Stanford Indians 7–0 in the Rose Bowl on New Years Day. Lou Little, who coached the team from 1930 to 1956, is in the College Football Hall of Fame.

The Streak[edit]

Between 1983 and 1988, the team did not have a win in 47 games and lost 44 games in a row, which was the record for the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision until Prairie View A&M broke the record en route to 80 consecutive losses from 1989–1998. In the fifth game of the 1983 season, they won 21–18 over Yale. After that game, they did not win a game again for almost five years. The streak began with a tie with Bucknell in the following game, and ending the season with a loss to Holy Cross, a tie with Dartmouth, and losses to Cornell and Brown. One notable loss during the streak was in a 1985 game vs. Harvard, where the Lions led 17–0 with 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, only to see the Crimson score 7 touchdowns in the remaining time to lose 49–17. After their 35th loss, they set the record for the longest Division I losing streak in history (beating Northwestern's 34 game losing streak from 1979–1982). After this game, Larry McElreavy, the current coach at the time told reporters, "I'm realistic; there's not a lot of talent here." ESPN rated the 1983–1988 Lions teams at 4th in its list of the top 10 worst college football teams of all time.[2] The streak was broken on October 8, 1988, with a 16–13 victory over archrival Princeton after a missed field goal attempt by the Tigers late in the game. Matthew Fox most notably played on the '88 team. That was the Lions' first victory at Wien Stadium, which was already four years old, having been opened during the streak.[3][4]

Notable Lions[edit]

Pro Football Hall of Famer Sid Luckman played his college ball at Columbia, graduating in 1938. Luckman is also in the College Football Hall of Fame. Other Lions to have success in the NFL include offensive lineman George Starke, the Washington Redskins' "Head Hog," during the 1970s and 1980s, quarterback John Witkowski in the 1980s, and defensive lineman Marcellus Wiley in the 1990s. One famous Lion that had limited success on the field but more success in life was writer Jack Kerouac left school and went on the road after one injury-marred season as running back at Columbia. Another Lions back who became legendary for his accomplishments off the gridiron was baseball great Lou Gehrig, who was a two-sport star at Columbia.

Notable players and coaches[edit]

College Football Hall of Fame members[edit]

Name Years Link
Paul Governali 1940–42 1986
Percy Haughton 1923–24 Coach 1951
Walter Koppisch 1922–24 1981
Lou Little 1930–56 Coach 1960
Sid Luckman 1936–38 1960
Cliff Montgomery 1932–34 1963
Bill Morley 1899–1901 1971
Frank "Buck" O'Neill 1920–22 Coach 1951
George Sanford 1899–1901 Coach 1971
Bill Swiacki 1946–47 1976
Harold Weekes 1899–1902 1954

Notable alumni[edit]


Conference championships[edit]

The Lions have just one Ivy League conference title, which they won in 1961.

Bowl game appearances[edit]

Season Date Bowl W/L Opponent PF PA Coach Notes
1933 January 1, 1934 Rose Bowl W Stanford 7 0 Lou Little notes
Total 1 bowl game 1–0 7 0


Fordham Rams[edit]

Main article: The Liberty Cup

Cornell Big Red[edit]

Main article: The Empire Cup

Beginning in 2018 Columbia will play New York State Ivy League rival Cornell in their final game.


External links[edit]