Columbia University football kicks off their season with unexpected success


Columbia University’s football program is not usually known for being competitive in the Ivy League, but the team is making history with its current record of seven wins and two losses. However, Columbia’s alumni community is also voicing their different viewpoints about the recent athletic success of the University.
In the last two decades, Columbia football has not had a significant triumph. This year is the first time since 1996 that the team has had a winning season, according to The New York Times.

Columbia University’s 2017 team and their new head football coach, Mr. Al Bagnoli. Mr. Bagnoli helped the football program achieve a successful season. Courtesy of 

The addition of Columbia’s new head football coach Mr. Al Bagnoli in 2015 has contributed to the unexpected victories of the team. Mr. Bagnoli previously coached at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and won nine Ivy League titles there. After his work at UPenn, Mr. Bagnoli announced his plans to retire but later decided to go to New York instead and coach at Columbia University, according to
Given Mr. Bangnoli’s achievements in the Ivy League, it was Columbia’s hope that he could help them win a title of their own.
“This, to me, was the ultimate challenge,” Mr. Bagnoli said in an interview with “But I knew that a lot of people had to get involved for us to ever have a chance.”
In the mid-1980s the Columbia football team was in the midst of a 44 game losing streak, which it broke on October 8, 1988, after a victory against Princeton University. This was a shock to collegiate football fans as well as the citizens of New York City. “Columbia Wins! That’s Right, Wins!” according to a headline in The New York Times. Since 1988, Columbia has only won 82 out of 290 games.
Columbia takes pride in their academic mission and their intellectual reputation. Columbia is among the top five Universities in the country according to college.columbia.eduIts lack of athletic achievement has led the University to be viewed as solely intellectual.
The team’s most recent success has caused a stir among both current students and alumni.
Mr. Eash Cumarasamy graduated from the Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Science in 2008.
Columbia University’s football team enters the Robert K. Kraft Stadium October 14. Courtesy of

“Columbia’s reputation since its founding over 250 years ago has been carried on the back of the academic fortitude that it steadfastly maintains,” Mr. Cumarasamy said. “That our football team is now catching up won’t take anyone’s eye away from the real prize.”
The usual defeat and surprising turnaround has left some alumni unaccepting of the results, especially as it raises questions relating to the academic and intellectual standards of the University.
“When I went to Columbia, we prided ourselves on being anti-football and pro-intellectual. Can’t we retain our pride in being anti-athletic intellectual nerds?” Columbia Alumna Jill Levy said, in an interview with The New York Times.
Although some alumni are critical of athletic success, Mr. Cumarasamy recognized the separation between academics and athletics.
“I don’t think that the academic standards of the University are in any way connected to the success [or lack thereof] of its athletic programs,” Mr. Cumarasamy said. “Columbia’s academic program has always been strong, and by many metrics has only improved since I graduated in 2008.”
Sacred Heart alumna Sofia Barbosa ’16 and current student in the Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Science commented on the positive effect the wins have had on the students this year. 

“I am so happy to be part of the Columbia community. The recent victories have encouraged school spirit and pride throughout the campus and beyond,” Sofia said. “Ultimately, the athletic developments show that Columbia is a strong school in many aspects, not just one.”

– Amelia Sheehan, Staff Writer
Featured image courtesy of