Roar, Lion, Roar: A Celebration of Columbia Football

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Coach Lou Little with Lou Kusserow and Gene Rossides

Lou Kusserow (#33, left), Coach Lou Little (center) and Gene Rossides (#21, right)

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Lou Little, Coach 1930-1956

Born Luigi Piccolo in Boston in 1893, Columbia's greatest football coach was known by the Anglicized version of his name, Lou Little. Over a four-year stretch beginning from 1931 to 1934, Little led the Lions to an incredible 29-4-2 record (.857 winning percentage), including an upset 7-0 victory over Stanford in the 1934 Rose Bowl. Overall, Little posted 110 victories, the most in Columbia history.

Little was a demanding coach, whose sharp tongue could be heard on the sidelines both in practice and at games. But his players revered him and played harder than they ever thought they could. “I never met anyone in my life who had such a tremendous influence on me,” Sid Luckman once said of his coach.

It was Dwight D. Eisenhower, then president-designate at Columbia, who in 1947 convinced Little to remain on Morningside Heights rather than accept an offer to become Yale's athletics director.

In 1956, Little had reached the mandatory retirement age of 65. After the final game of the season, an 18-12 win over Rutgers' Scarlet Knights, Little's men carried him off the field on their shoulders. Little returned to Columbia only once, on a day given in his honor at the 1977 Columbia-Penn game held at Baker Field. A scholarship in his name was dedicated that day.

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