Bill Belichick said it himself: He isn’t the Mona Lisa Vito of deflated footballs. But an Ivy League physicist probably is pretty close.

Apparently that’s the thinking of the NFL-appointed investigators looking into the New England Patriots’ DeflateGate controversy, as they have reached out to the Columbia University physics department for help in understanding how weather conditions affect ball pressure, according to correspondence obtained by the New York Times.

According to the Times, Lorin L. Reisner, a partner in the law firm involved in the investigation, called and emailed Columbia’s physics department requesting clarity on “matters relating to gas physics and environmental impacts on footballs.”

Columbia has a special tie to the Patriots, of course, as it’s the alma mater of team owner Robert Kraft, who recently demanded an apology from the league if New England is cleared of any wrongdoing.

Belichick has insisted that, to his knowledge, the Patriots didn’t physically alter any footballs in the AFC Championship Game and insinuated that an outside force such as weather conditions could offer an explanation. Yet Columbia physicist William Zajc finds it hard to believe that nature alone could drastically change a football’s air pressure.

“I think it’s more likely than not that they were manipulated,” Zajc told the Times.

Columbia responded to Reisner but had not heard back as of late Tuesday night, according to the Times. It’s unclear how much some Columbia physicists can help the NFL’s investigation, but at the very least, they should be much more useful than Bill Nye.

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images