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Those Poor, Poor Lions

Columbia football coach Pete Mangurian lectures offensive lineman Marshall Markham during last weekend's game in Hanover. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

Columbia football coach Pete Mangurian lectures offensive lineman Marshall Markham during last weekend's game in Hanover. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

I’ve watched a lot of football in my 42 years. From high school and Dartmouth College games while growing up in the Upper Valley to five seasons as a student manager at the University of Minnesota and 19 years as a sports writer.

But I’ve never seen a college football team as overmatched as the Columbia Lions (0-6) were last Saturday during their 56-0 loss to the Big Green (3-3) at Memorial Field.

I covered a few seasons of Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football when I lived in Virginia. That’s a Division I grouping of historically-black colleges and universities where many of the members struggle with sports funding issues. There were some down programs in the MEAC but not as far down as Columbia.

Consider this: the Lions’ best player so far has been their punter. Without him, the carnage would be worse. Second-year head coach Pete Mangurian doesn’t just have a (re)building effort on his hands, he’s going to need to dig out the foundation and start from below ground level if he’s given the time.

Mangurian is an interesting person. At the press conference after Dartmouth escaped with a victory in New York last year, the former Louisiana State lineman and NFL assistant was contemptuous, condescending, arrogant and downright unpleasant. His players weren’t much better. The whole taste left behind was one of nastiness and bile.

Last weekend, Dartmouth could have possibly scored three or four more touchdowns. The Big Green dropped three potential interceptions and ran the ball with players far down the depth chart to make the fourth quarter expire as fast as possible. Mangurian knew it and his tone was quite different after this game.

“You run out of fingers sometimes,” the coach said quietly and without much attitude. “There are too many holes in the dike and you get overwhelmed.”

A sampling of others’ reactions to the rout:

* “The Columbia sideline... was reduced to a beaten-down, hopeless group, punctuated only by the errant expletitives and outbursts that one would expect when suffering your sixth straight loss of the season.” — The Spectator, Columbia’s student newspaper.

* If Dartmouth’s 56-0 victory over winless Columbia had been a fight, they would have stopped it long before coach Buddy Teevens subbed in everyone but the trombone player in the marching band.” — Big Green Alert blogger Bruce Wood.

* “In my many decades of following CU football, I have never seen us as bad as this. There is simply no excuse for it.” — Jake Novak, Columbia football blogger.

Keep in mind that Jake watched the Lions lose 44 consecutive games during the 1980s. The chances that he’s going to have to endure a winless season this fall seem awfully high at the moment.