Kent State football: Charlie Brown of the MAC

Thomas Gallick

Two words sum up my experience covering the Kent State football team for the Daily Kent Stater this season: Good grief.

Face it – of all the football teams in the Mid-American Conference, the Flashes are the Charlie Browniest. They are the lovable losers who put in the effort but never seem to reap the rewards.

Honestly, I was surprised this season that the holder never pulled the ball away from junior kicker Nate Reed on a field goal attempt, sending him spiraling through the air. It was that kind of year for Kent State.

Everything that could go wrong did, and the players and the fans seemed to expect it every time.

Kent State beat Akron in every statistical category for four quarters and still lost the Wagon Wheel because of missed field goals and a fumbled punt return. Same story with Ohio the next week: domination on offense, but the Flashes lose after the kicking game mysteriously falls apart.

Kent State losses, especially in those two heart-wrenching midseason games, were strangely reminiscent of the athletic endeavors of a certain “round-headed kid.” The Flashes just seemed to know they would upset the natural order of things if they achieved a triumphant home win.

Charlie Brown never gets to kick the football or go out with the little red-haired girl. Kent State never gets to win the majority of its games or go on to any kind of postseason play.

It’s not just the fact that the team loses, but the way in which it finds new ways to lose. No, the Flashes would not be the lovable losers of the MAC if they did not shock the fans, media and even coaches almost every game with a set of new mistakes.

Yet at the start of every season, the team always seems to be the toughest and most talented group yet. Every year with the Flashes is the start of a new baseball season for Charlie Brown and the gang.

This is going to be the year where the Charlie Brown doesn’t drop the pop fly in the final inning of the championship and finally accomplishes something, breaking the cycle of futility.

It just never happens.

But isn’t it really OK with the student body and alumni that the football team keeps its lovable loser status every year? One could argue that “Peanuts” would have been a worse comic strip if Charlie Brown got to kick the football.

On the other hand, the Flashes need to remember that even the most beloved losing sports teams (the Chicago Cubs come to mind) have at least some postseason success before they finally choke, much to the relief of their pessimistic, bleacher-bum faithful.

The football players may take offense to being compared to one of the most famous losers of all time, and they should. Luckily for them, there is a very simple remedy for Kent State football’s image problems.

Put together a winning season, and the Flash fans will no longer be grumbling about getting a new coach, quarterback or anything else for that matter. All the Flashes need to do is get over their allergy to success.

To put it in other words, just step up and kick the football, Charlie Brown.

Contact sports reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].