Roar, Lion, Roar: A Celebration of Columbia Football

Glory Days > Ivy League Co-Champions, 1961

1961 Football Team

The epitome of the word “team,” the 1961 Lions featured strong coaching and undeniable talent. Behind the strong leadership from Coach Buff Donelli and Captain Bill Campbell, the Lions excelled on both sides of the ball by getting star performances from different players every week.

On opening day in Providence, the Lions roared past the Brown Bears, 50-0, with tailback Russ Warren scoring three times, in one of the most lopsided victories in the history of Columbia football. The stage was set for a championship season.

With two league games to play, all the Lions needed to do was win one and they would clinch the Ivy League title. But the Lions would have to do it without their leader, as Campbell was unable to play due to injury. Ever resilient, and in front of a passionate home crowd, the Lions dominated Penn in all phases of the game. Lee Black was one of five Lions to get into the end zone, Tom Haggerty and Len de Fiore picked off passes as defense dominated the day with the Lions claiming a 37-6 victory and the Ivy League Championship.

Five Lions were named All-Ivy League: Bob Asack, Lee Black, Tony Day, Tom Haggerty and Russ Warren. But more important than any single victory, or individual highlight, the 1961 Lions were all about the team.

Columbia vs. Harvard Football Game

Columbia vs. Harvard Football Game, 1961

Thomas O'Connor (#30), Bill Campbell (#67), and Anthony Day (#60) on the field at 1961 game vs. Harvard held at Harvard.  O’Connor notes on the back of this photograph: "We tied for Ivy League Champs w/ Harvard (Both 6 and 1) but we beat them head to head in Harvard.”

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1961 Columbia Football Team Sitting in Baker Field Stands

1961 Columbia Football Team Sitting in Baker Field Stands

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Football Media Guide. Cover

1961 Football Season Media Guide. The cartoon lion on the cover was drawn by Charlie McGill who created distinctive artwork for Columbia Athletics publications in the 1960s and 1970s. 

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