Just a quick mention of the Band. Newsday, 11-6-96, page A84, by Steve Jacobson. Nattering? (checking dictionary) Nattering negativism, my ass. We've always spread mirth no matter how the football team was doing, and even more so in the '96 season. We never forget the streak because it was a memorable time. It makes our current football juggernaut even more poignant. Any bandie can tell you the date (10/8/88) and score (16-13) of the legendary streakbreaker. We've incorporated the memory into one of our most popular songs. We'll always support the team, even when they suck again.
The Ivy League Ideal
This is praise by faint damnation. Well,
nobody expected Columbia to go undefeated,
did they? These are guys who played with
guys who played with guys who lost 44 in a
row, which the nattering negativism of the
band never lets them forget.
Since when does Columbia have a football
player who is good enough to blame himself,
as Marcellus Wiley does, for costing the
perfect season and slowing the growing
reputation as the juggernaut of football in
New York? Marcellus Vernon Wiley, as he
sometimes calls himself, not only blames
himself, he takes it on himself to reverse
the flow at Dartmouth on Saturday in a game
for first place.
Columbia plays its biggest football game
in years Saturday - except for the first
game of the season in most of those years,
which may sound sarcastic and demeaning to
the naked ear, except there is no naked ear
at Columbia. "We understand where we've
been," said Ray Tellier, the coach who is
responsible for unusual times. In the Ivy
League's 40 years, Columbia has tied for the
championship once. It has not won at
Dartmouth in 50 years.
Wiley is not the usual football player
for this time and place. "For a while, I
thought, `There goes my perfect little
dream.' Now we have to respond. This is a
great university and to a lot of people, the
presence of football was a blemish," Wiley
said yesterday. "Some people expected the
loss; they thought that was going to be the
end. As a leader, I'm not going to let the
team get that way."
Wiley is 6-5 and 255 and if he hadn't
been sick in training camp, he might be 275,
which makes him stand out in the Ivy League.
He has run the 40-yard dash in 4.71. He can
eat an egg sandwich on the way to lunch.
"If I got to the pros where there was a
training table and I could get a steak more
than once a year, I could be 290 and just as
fast," he said.
More to the point, he said: "I'm more
than meets the eye. I'm more than a guy who
assaults someone for a leather ball."
Wiley came to Columbia from Los Angeles,
from three years at an all-black high school
and one broadening year at Saint Monica. "I
wasn't reared to be an Ivy Leaguer, as so
many people here were," he said. That is to
be taken as both a positive and a negative
He said he had never heard of Columbia
or the Ivy League until Tellier knocked, and
the only thing his friends know about
Columbia is the scores that run across the
bottom of the screen of the Notre Dame game.
"I didn't want to be just another number,"
he said. "So many others wanted me to be
`the new safety' or `the new running back.'
I'm Marcellus Vernon Wiley. Guys I played
with laughed; now I've heard them say they
wish they had my depth of experience."
Besides, where else could a young man
learn to play defensive end and after 16
games attract pro scouts, and play running
back and blocking back in short-yardage
situations, protect the kicker for punting
and placements, and play on the "hands team"
against an onside kick?
Columbia and Princeton were scoreless
Saturday in the second quarter on one of
those perfect autumn afternoons at Wien
Stadium. Princeton was first-and-15 on the
Columbia 36 when Wiley forced the
quarterback to eject the ball an instant
before the collision. Wiley lingered,
straddling the quarterback for a moment,
turned to the Columbia side and beat his
chest as if he were aloft on the Empire
State Building. He was penalized 15 yards
for excessive exultation. On the next play,
Princeton ran 21 yards for a touchdown, and
Columbia never fully recovered, losing,
"I was trying to get the crowd and the
team into it," Wiley reflected. He is the
team's conductor of emotions. "I'm not
perfect, but I look at myself for things
that will do no wrong to the team. I know I
hurt this team. That cost."
Late in the game, he made a marvelous
play, deflecting a pass and intercepting it,
which led to Columbia's touchdown and made
the outcome a gasp. He was named to the Ivy
League honor roll for his work. "I didn't go
into the tank after the mistake," he said.
He was proud of that. He likes that he sees
"bubble eyes" across the line when the
offense searches out No. 5.
He is proud of the relationships he has
formed playing football at Columbia and that
he is headed for a degree in sociology in
the spring, which will be a notable
accomplishment, especially when he considers
the shock of his arrival with B grades in
"I wrote a paper that was better than
anything in my life and got a D," he
recalled. "My goodness! I looked at the
papers that got Bs and Cs and I didn't
understand them. I thought, `How am I going
to fake this?'"
The background of his father being both
Wiley's role model and a role model for
other Little League and high school players
who had none was "good background" in Los
Angeles. He was "the man" in high school.
In the Ivy League, suddenly, his background
was "bad," as he put it. He thinks, if he'd
gone to UCLA, he'd be tutoring other players
and here he needed the tutor. Here he was
expected to know about Plato and Socrates.
"I had chemistry and physics in high school,
but it wasn't the chemistry and physics they
He spent last year away from Columbia,
picking up his grades at a junior college in
Los Angeles and working at a center for
youth at risk. He said he feels values
beyond the lure of professional football or
the "green of the Ivy League education."
Here they ask why does it take 2,001
Columbia students to change a light bulb?
One changes the bulb and 2,000 protest. It
is a school of enormous diversity. "They
respect diversity," Wiley said. "I've lived
diversity." Who can be certain he'll feel
that social responsibility if he has access
to football riches, or even if he means what
he says now? I believe he says too many
right things to have made them up on the
"Too many people are saying, `Look at
me,' instead of `How are you?'" he said.
That's a rare concept in the era of the
pampered athlete. Then again, the guys play
football at this level for the purest of
reasons, and the big guy appreciates them.
"I truly love the guys," Wiley said.
"They're putting in their best. Some guys
might put $20 in the pot and some are
putting in a nickel, but they're putting in
everything they have."
They can teach that in senior philosophy. [sic?]