September 13, 2006

You’re Crazy If You Don't Like Cornell Football

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I know more about sports than almost any other human being on this planet; yet, in my lifetime, I have managed to confirm only three non-negotiable truths:
Truth No. 1: If you enjoy watching hockey or even let one positive thought about the game enter your brain, you have what is known as a personality defect and absolutely do not belong living in our society. Frankly, we don’t want people getting any ideas.
Truth No. 2: If you do not like either college or professional football, or at the very least admit to their collective brilliance, you should probably stick to softer drugs.
Truth No. 3: The Yankees suck. If you root for them, you deserve death.
That’s it. That’s the whole list. However, I see people violating this thing over the place. Listen, I know this campus is a little isolated from what most of us would consider a modern civilization, but this place is becoming more like Bizarro World every single day. Here is what I have been able to gather about the sports climate on this campus:
Truth No. 1: People are actually into the hockey team. When you try to explain this to outsiders, they look at you like you’re crazy. I really don’t blame them. When I was in high school, I was under the impression that places like this didn’t exist.
Truth No. 2: Nobody cares about any other Cornell sport.
The reason why I bring all of this up now is that the Cornell football team will begin its season this Saturday at Bucknell, and I’m pretty sure nobody even knows. I’m admittedly a little concerned, because every student on this campus that does not follow the team this year will be missing out on what promises to be a memorable season.
Under former head coach Tim Pendergast, the Red was the laughing stock of the Ivy League. In 2003, the Red hit rock bottom, finishing with a 1-9 record, including an 0-7 mark in conference play. Understandably, support for the team reached embarrassing lows.
What doesn’t make any sense is that as the team has improved over the last two seasons, the fan base has remained exactly the same. Actually, I get the impression that most of the students on this campus still thinks the team stinks. Let me make this very clear: Cornell football is not the same program it was three years ago.
This team has attitude. This team is incredibly well-coached. And most importantly, this team has some serious talent. Junior Luke Siwula is coming off one of the best seasons by a running back in Ivy League history. The offensive line may be the elite unit in the conference, with four returning seniors. The run defense has ranked second in the country over the past two years in yards allowed. The list goes on and on.
Yet, these players and these accomplishments go mostly unnoticed on a campus that, apparently, only has room for one sport (and it’s not even college basketball, which makes it even more depressing). Instead of getting excited about a season that begins in three days, everyone seems to be worried about getting tickets for games that begin in three months.
It’s just not right. The football team deserves recognition for its remarkable turnaround over the last two years. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if it will ever get it. After a 2006 campaign which ended with a 6-4 overall record and a 4-3 mark in Ivy League play, the Red looks poised for a historic run this year — yet nobody seems to care. Even though this isn’t Division I-A football, it is compelling nonetheless. Even though there will be no bowl game at the end of the year, there is still something to play for.
It’s still not too late to jump on the bandwagon. The personnel is in place for this to be a special season. Of course, the ultimate goal — an Ivy League championship — would come a whole lot easier with some fans in the stands.
Regardless, as far as I’m concerned, there is only one team on this campus. And its first game is on Saturday.

Bryan Pepper is a Sun Senior Writer. Raising the Apple will appear every other Wednesday this semester.