Photo Courtesy of Columbia Athletics
Getting excited for the upcoming football season? We here at The Lion definitely are. As campus get ready for Columbia Football’s first game against Fordham on September 19th and the first home game against Georgetown on September 26th, we decided to talk with Al Bagnoli, the new head coach of Columbia Football. During our discussion we learned about what led him to want to be a football coach and his hopes and plans for the upcoming season.
What led you from playing football as an undergraduate to wanting to become a Football Coach?
It was not a planned conscience effort. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I had the opportunity to get my masters at University of Albany for a Masters degree; a stipulation was that you had to coach. I had the opportunity to work under Dr. Ford. As part of my master’s degree, I coached Football and in the Spring baseball and in the next year just Football.
What is your philosophy for managing a football team?
I think in a big organization you have to run it like a business. You really have to be efficient in everything you do. You need to maximize time with people. You need to pay attention to the detail. We want to be an efficient, thorough, organized, and clearly organized.
Columbia Football has received a lot of criticism over the past few years, some warranted and some over the top. How do you plan on addressing some of the problems associated with Columbia Football and improve our prospects this season and beyond?
I can’t worry about the past. Today’s reality is that everyone has a form to put their opinion forth; it could be a positive or negative opinion. For me, I don’t spend much time worrying what’s happening in the past. I want to spread a positive message going forward. It’s a marvelous institution in the best city in the world and we’re going to develop that.
There are currently four different players competing for lead quarterback. How do you plan to decide who will be the team’s lead?
I had the chance to evaluate the kids during Spring fall. We obviously had a new transfer, it will be a competition. One of things we’re going to strive for is to get positional competition. Programs have good players as starters and reserves and they can constantly push each other. It will be interesting to see what happens.
What do you see as your biggest challenge in preparing your new team for the upcoming season?
We need to make Football fun again. We have a beaten down group of guys who have had a lot of bad things happen to them. I’ve been encouraged by their energy and inventiveness. We need to change the culture. Create some positional competition. Get some players on the recruiting front.
How do you plan to foster a stronger, more cohesive team?
A lot of team oriented events and programs. Moving practice to the afternoon will get a lot of kids. Kids have to get there early and after everyone is rushing to get to class. Get kids to hang around with each other. Pushing for people cutting class yet. Making it a more cohesive group.
What are your long-term goals for Columbia Football?
We want to stabilize the program and get ourselves to the position of being a competitive team. We want a lot of opportunities to play meaningful games. We want to be able to win championships. Short term is stability.
Is Columbia Football planning to do anything different this season to encourage more students to come to Baker to watch the team play? Is the team planning to follow the Men’s Basketball Team’s lead in creating a “Roar Zone”?
That’s a challenge for every program in our league. How do we get more students? That will be a project we will work on with marketing. This will be something that will come front and center. We’re going to try and get the freshmen up here for orientation to show facilities like we used to at Penn.