For the past seven years, the Youngstown State University Athletics Department budget has been cushioned by an average of $450,000 in exchange for crushing losses.
Head football coach Eric Wolford said the game is about the challenge. Playing such a mismatched game will certainly humble our football team.
And the opportunity to play at Heinz Field is something our players may never experience again.
But we can’t help but feel sorry for our fellow students who know they’re walking into a slaughter.
We get a lot of exposure for YSU, and in troubling financial times, every penny counts. So we can’t fault them for selling out.
The coaches can claim there’re four quarters, it’s an even playing field and it’s not over till the fat lady sings, but seven straight losses and an average deficit of 34 points forces us to expect the worst.
Should we question our school spirit?
As journalists, we’re trained to be data-driven skeptics. But that doesn’t mean we have no heart.
Perhaps this game will turn into the next upset like the 2007 Appalachian State University vs. University of Michigan thriller. Optimism is running high in the gallows of the Ice Castle, and we certainly hope this game has a similar outcome.
We’ll be watching with the rest of the Penguin Nation, cheering on our boys like Rudy in the fourth quarter.
But after the music swells and fades, we mourn the likelihood that Wolford and his team will return to 1 University Plaza with only a paper trophy.
That’s what it means to be a fan.