Day 60: Upperco's Upper Hand

Jake NovakSenior Analyst IJuly 21, 2009

There are a few pieces of news of keen interest to Lion's fans that I've neglected to mention over the past few days.

Army and Notre Dame have agreed to resume their rivalry, with games at the new Yankee Stadium.

I think this is a great development for college football in New York City. The question is: will this be a good development for Fordham, and perhaps by extension, Columbia?

There was talk when Fordham announced the shift to athletic scholarships for football that the ultimate goal was to get some home games at Yankee Stadium, and reap the potential big-time revenues from games with Army, Navy, and perhaps Notre Dame, (although that game would almost definitely have to be in South Bend, I can't imagine the Irish agreeing to travel for Fordham).

The Army-Notre Dame deal may or may not hurt Fordham's chances.

On one hand, it may crowd out the Rams if Army grabs whatever dates are available on the Yankee Stadium schedule. If they force up the price, Fordham would have to pay to use the field.

On the other hand, the folks in charge of the stadium may find that football works well at the venue and try to keep the field in use as much as possible in hopes of paying back the considerable number of bondholders who financed the very expensive facility. Fordham might be the beneficiary of some free beta testing here.

If Fordham does end up clinching some home dates at Yankee Stadium in the future, and if the Columbia-Fordham rivalry continues for the coming years, I know I would be thrilled to see the Lions and Rams hook up at the big stadium in the Bronx.

Even if a scholarship-strengthened Fordham becomes a University of New Hampshire-type powerhouse, I think it may be worth it to play them if we get a Yankee Stadium date.

That's just my opinion...and a lot of wishful thinking.

I know I have written a lot about Old Dominion's launching of a football program already, but check out this page (click on the link that shows an animated video of what they expect gameday to be like on a typical Saturday in Norfolk).

These guys have the right idea. Sorry to be so interested in ODU, but this is my childhood we're talking about here. AND, you have to love a school starting football in these economic times. Gutsy, and smart. Season tickets are already sold out.

And yes, I would love to see Columbia start playing ODU sometime in the future. That would be a lot of fun.



100 Players in 100 Days, the Tight Ends

Dan Upperco, '85–came to Columbia in 1981 from Orlando's Boone High school, where he was an all-state player. His brothers were football stars too; one of them played at U. of Miami, another at Tulane, and a third one at the University of the South.

Upperco had the very good fortune of being at Columbia when John Witkowski ('84) was the QB.

In his sophomore year of 1982, Upperco platooned at tight end with James Powell ('83), but he still made Honorable Mention All-Ivy, with 26 catches, 377 yards, and an incredible six touchdowns catches. At 6'4'' and 200 lbs, he was huge for a tight end at that time.

In '83, Upperco made First Team All-Ivy, and put up more monster numbers, but it was his senior year–after Witkowski had graduated–that may have been Dan's most impressive achievement.

Working with new QB Henry Santos ('86), Upperco still managed to lead the team in receiving, with 38 catches for 489 yards. He once again made First Team All-Ivy.

Upperco got a chance to crack the L.A. Raiders roster, (yes, they were in Los Angeles then), but never really made it as a regular player.

Today, Upperco is vice president of the NFL Players Association of Retired Players.

If all goes well, I hope to interview him during halftime of one of this coming season's games.

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