Thursday, March 5, 2015

Columbia Lions (1996)

In honor of Columbia snagging Al (.649 winning percentage) Bagnoli as its new coach, we take a look at the last Columbia team to have a winning record, which you can read all about here. (You know it's Columbia when a second-place team is inducted into the school's hall of fame.) 

The '96 Lions rarely won big, but they relied on their defense to squeak out win after win and started 6-0, the first time that had happened since 1945. The only blemishes were a 14-11 nail-biter to Princeton and 40-0 steamrolling by Dartmouth, which ran the table that year with a 10-0 mark.

A 1997 Columbia schedule, which I presume
shows game action from '96.

Columbia wore the same light blue pants (I'm resisting the urge to say electric blue) for every game, but oddly wore Champion jerseys at home and Wilson shirts on the road. The roads have slight differences in the font and striping. In '97, the Lions wore Wilson home jerseys that matched better with the roads.

The "CU" helmet logo is a longtime favorite of mine; I'm a sucker for interlocking letters. It was used from 1986 (I think) through 2002. 

Yes, a splendid time was had by all in 1996.
The pix here are from the Columbia Spectator archives.

The most famous name on this team is Marcellus Wiley (No. 5), an All-America defensive end who also moonlighted as a 6-4, 270-pound running back in NYC. He went on to a 10-year NFL career and has enjoyed a nice career as an ESPN personality. I like how he actually hosts a show and is not the usual garden-variety "SportsCenter" talking head that blathers on about how the Colts need to improve their red-zone defense or whatever.

Marcellus Wiley gets it done on offense ...

... and defense.

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