By Dan Hiner
This column represents the views of the sports editor and not necessarily the views of the Jambar staff.
I woke up on Saturday, after the worst week of the semester and realized I have the day off. But instead of enjoying the time off, I started thinking of the upcoming Youngstown State University football schedule.
Penguins’ fans are excited for the addition of Bo Pelini as head football coach and an influx of talent on defense, but I can’t get excited. I want to believe the Penguins will go undefeated the rest of the season like many YSU fans, but one byproduct of being a sports reporter is the loss of undying devotion to my teams and the creation of objectivity.
YSU is a Football Championship Subdivision school. It doesn’t play Big Ten or Southeastern Conference teams every week, but that doesn’t mean the conference isn’t any less challenging.
FCS fans have nicknamed the Missouri Valley Conference “the SEC of the FCS,” and realistically, the Penguins are going to suffer a few losses in the conference. The conference has six teams in the top 25 and four in the top seven. YSU will be tested right off the bat as it opens conference play with Illinois State University on Saturday.
As if that wasn’t a good enough reason to think the Penguins are going to have a difficult schedule, FCS fans saw Southern Illinois University [1-2], one of the only unranked teams in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, knock off Liberty University this weekend.
A national championship might be in the works once again at YSU, but I don’t think it will be this year. I’m not saying you shouldn’t support the team or expect an epic collapse like we’ve seen in the past. I just want everyone to understand that creating a winning culture takes time, and dynasties like North Dakota State University are rare.
The dialog from the students and the YSU faithful always seems the same. Fans expect Pelini to be the savior for the football team, but let’s remember that former head coach Eric Wolford was viewed the same way early in his career at YSU. With playoffs and national championships being talked about every season, or every week in some instances, the expectations from fans and the university are almost unattainable.
YSU fans should support the football team regardless of the team’s record. YSU has seen an increase in attendance at football games, but how much of that is because of the new coaches and bright future?
With the creation of the Penguin Pack earlier this semester, the attendance of the student body should be higher than in recent years, but those numbers usually drop off as the team starts to accumulate losses.
Don’t give up on the team if they start to pick up a few loses. Instead, try to go to more games if you can. The fans hold more power than you think. Athletes will tell you the attendance of the games matters. The more positivity a team receives, the harder the team will perform, and now that the football team is looking at one of the toughest schedules in the nation, YSU will need all of the cheers and support you can provide.