BY MATTHEW PERRY
It’s a Saturday during the fall at Radford University. Students are exhausted from having class all week and they turn on their television to watch some college football. The only problem with it is, they won’t see a Radford game. It’s a moment where you see the students at the games having a great time, yet the students at Radford are stuck watching it on a TV screen. So the major question is, is it possible for RU to ever have a football team?
College football brings an atmosphere that the National Football League can’t match. A college game has a band, everyone has their school’s colors on, and they sell out stadiums that can hold 90,000 people. Fans of college football will quickly sell out a stadium if their team is 1-6 and playing someone in the top 25. A professional team could never match that much excitement for a game. RU doesn’t get to have that experience.
There are many professors at the university that have played in college athletics. One of them is Dr. Jon Poole, a professor in the Exercise, Sport and Health Education department, and a former college football player. Dr. Poole played for Colorado State from 1980 to 1984, and was the kicker and punter on the team
When asking Dr. Poole if football had an affect on the student body at Colorado St., he explained the difference.
“The whole place would be buzzing about the upcoming game. Kids were getting excited about it and would come up to you and wish you good luck. It’s a lot different than basketball or baseball when we only have six or seven home games, in an eleven game season,” he said.
RU has a chance to join in on the billion dollar enterprise that is college football. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is able to bring entertainment that the NFL can’t compare to. The NCAA has schools that most people don’t know of, such as Appalachian State, that go against top schools like Michigan and win. RU could be that lesser-known school that pulls off a giant upset.
Many people believe that if RU had a team, they wouldn’t be able draw fans to the game. I believe that is completely untrue. A student here would want to go because college games are extremely entertaining. Not only would students enjoy it, but people from the surrounding towns would as well. Many fans would come because they would want to see a live game of football and not have to pay the Virginia Tech prices to see it
RU student life would improve greatly if a team we had our own team to root for. A football game brings people together that share in a common interest, and gives students a chance to not be stuck in their dorms or apartments all weekend.
Evan Scheible, a transfer student from West Virginia University shared his opinion.
“Going to games at WVU was like opening presents on Christmas. You could feel the excitement for every home game. Even if we were losing, it was a marvelous place to be. If Radford created a team, it would be insane. The whole campus would show up, relatives of students, alumni, and it would be the best thing for the university,” he stated.
RU has a chance to do something that not many colleges are able to do. They could completely change the dynamic of the college. If a team were created, for the first few years they would only need to put uprights at Cupp Stadium. If the team took off, then they could look into expanding the stadium.
“The Highlanders would be in the Big South against Liberty, Coastal Carolina, and VMI. They would not need to recruit 54 players to be on the team because we could turn the club team into an intercollegiate team,” Dr. Poole mentioned.
“We could be recruiting the players in surrounding towns like Blacksburg, Roanoke, Radford, and Christiansburg that want to play football but aren’t ‘big’ enough for Division I schools like VT and UVA,” he said.
President Penelope Kyle and the Board of Directors are missing out on a possible university changing moment. Not only would athletes enjoy the change, but other students would as well. Tartan writers would be able to cover football, physical trainers would be able work with football players, and many other programs would reap the benefits. Not only would this be an incredible opportunity for football players that had to stop playing after high school when they came to RU, but it is a chance for students at Radford to experience the college football culture.