The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
With plenty of ups and downs, last week’s rivalry game against Ohio University marked an appropriate end to Miami’s football season. The good: a spotlight of Bagel and Deli on ESPN. The bad: an exceptionally empty stadium and another loss added to the final tally.
It seems as soon as we start to show a snippet of excitement about our football team, we are left disappointed, but never really surprised.
With an overall record of 2-10, it might be a leap to talk about positive takeaways from this season. But, there are a few. The biggest one might be the fact that some of us watched that game on Tuesday, from the comfort of our couches, and we were unhappy when we lost. We watched our football team and we felt actual emotion. Last year, most of us would have turned the channel and not even have given it a second thought.
Our team showed a competitive drive that we weren’t accustomed to seeing. D-espite the losses, they kept up with big teams. The team has made progress this season and is light-years ahead of where it was under previous head coach Don Treadwell. And, if we think back to last year and the lack of any noticeable interest in our team, we’ve come a long way. Even as a Division I program, the majority of people on this campus probably couldn’t have named our quarterback or coach last year. Aside from the grim distinction of our losing streak, no one cared about last year’s team.
To some degree, we believe that mentality has changed this year.
Think about Chuck Martin, Andrew Hendrix and Quinten Rollins. People know those names now; they know something now.
Sure, there are plenty of negatives when we reflect on this season, we won’t attempt to sugarcoat it and sell our team as something it’s not. As our sports editor poignantly remarked: “The simple fact with the team is this: they aren’t very good. They just can’t compete and win against the rest of the Mid-American Conference. Yet.”
This might not sound like new information. Our team is definitely not as strong as it can be, but it’s getting stronger. Head coach Chuck Martin is in the process of fixing it, though, and we can see that. So yes, our football team had a less-than-good season, and we’ll probably be about the same next year.
There was one major, objectively disappointing takeaway from this season: tailgating. There was potential to get more people in the stands and create a fun tailgating setup, but the university, in some ways, took that excitement away from us. How do you get students to the games? By giving them an incentive. And what do Miami students want on Saturday afternoons? Alcohol. The university needs to come to terms with that so we can change the football culture at this school. It’s a lost opportunity, either way.
When we see the pride other schools have in their football team, we’re jealous. As much as we poke fun at this team for our national rank of being among the worst, we all want a better program.
We want football games to be a popular weekend activity, more than studying at King, sleeping in or Beat the Clock. If Yager was packed every Saturday afternoon, we’d all want to go, too, because no one wants to miss out on the fun or not be where all their friends are. The problem is we make the football games out to be something akin to a giant joke.
So, taking into account the good and bad, here’s what we think: we need to start appreciating what we have. We need to get out of the mockery habit. Here at Miami, we are so privileged with our sports teams and we don’t even know it. After having a lackluster coach, we now have a competent head coach with a bright future who’s leading the way to playing better football. Martin easily could’ve chased big money somewhere else, but he’s here and he’s on his way to making our program viable.
It’s early, but to the Editorial Board, it feels like it’s working. Some of us now feel some allegiance to our football program, which is a completely different story than seasons in recent memory. No matter what lies ahead, we hope we continue with this minor amount of momentum. We are a university with the potential to have a quality football team, a solid support base from students, and we have to start somewhere.