EDITORIAL: No excuse for lack of school spirit

Two great mysteries dominate the American psyche, both of which will probably never be answered to anyone’s satisfaction. The first is: Where is Jimmy Hoffa’s body located? The second and more important mystery – the one that has plagued generations: Why, oh why, is the Kent State football team so bad?

A look at this year’s record says it all: Out of the six games played this season, Kent State has lost five – with the only victory coming against the Division I-AA Southeast Missouri State.

There seems to be no excuse: Kent State is the second largest school in Ohio and is located in the heart of high school football country. Some of the greatest football players in the world are bred in the Northeast Ohio alone, not to mention the Ohio River Valley, the Columbus suburbs and the Cincinnati Catholic school system – and don’t forget about the outstanding talent pool in other nearby football hotbeds, like western Pennsylvania and Michigan.

The talent is there – so why is Kent State not able to capitalize on it? The answer may lie in the fact that many recruits do not see Kent State as an attractive place to play football, mainly due to lack of support from the university and the surrounding community. The basketball team seems to get plenty of support, even during a “down” year. Why shouldn’t the football team have the same sort of support structure, like the one that can be found at Youngstown State?

When people get excited for Kent State football, the result is usually quite pleasing. Case in point: this year’s Homecoming game. Even though the Flashes fell to Miami of Ohio, the stadium was packed with rowdy, drunken students cheering their team with passion, hounding the referees when poor calls were made and decked out in blue and gold from head to toe. Granted, every game can’t spark the kind of interest that a homecoming game can, but trying to get people just a little excited from time to time certainly couldn’t hurt in creating an atmosphere where potential recruits would want to play.

Another possible explanation may lie in the rate of turnover for coaches. It seems as though too often the “powers that be” panic when the football team doesn’t have a few winning seasons, and the head coach is fired as a result. But how much blame can be put on the coaches? After all, each coach must simultaneously establish a new system and break his players of the habits they learned under the old system. And don’t forget, he has to do this with the talent at hand, not having had the opportunity to recruit and nurture his own players, shaping them into the sort of athletes that will make a contribution to the overall strategy for the program.

At most Division I universities, a football game isn’t just a game – it’s an experience that provides many happy memories for players and students alike. Given its location and resources, there’s positively no reason why Kent State can’t inspire the sort of excitement that can be found in schools such as Marshall University and Bowling Green State University. There’s plenty of space to build a tradition of excellence in Kent State football, so let’s hope construction begins soon.

The above editorial is the consensus of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.