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Friday, June 21, 2024
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The AU Football fantasy

Sideline Scholars

I once tried to start a college football program here at AU. I recruited some solid blue-collar players, secured a position in the reforming Big East and designed striking AU blue and red uniforms as well as a reasonable 30,000-seat stadium named Quillen Memorial Field, despite the fact that I'm not dead yet.

But when I tried to find a building site, the video game didn't list Washington, D.C. as one of its options. So we bought some land from Chevy Chase Bank, proceeded to build, and went 1-11 in our inaugural season.

That, my friends, is as close as big time college football will come to Washington.

I'm a realist, unlike some of my more enthusiastic gridiron brethren. Football at AU would not work. It was tried once already, and was a total disaster. I don't remember the specifics about AU's football record during its existence from the 1920s to the 1940s. But with only one winning season during that time, it's probably best if no one does.

A team at a modern AU, even in Division I-AA, would be challenged to field a full line-up, let alone win games. Where would the money for 22 football scholarships, let alone 60, come from? If you don't give scholarships, who will play at a I-AA school where there is no football history in 60 years, and where a four year education costs more than a comfortable home?

Furthermore, where would AU play? Reeves Field isn't suitable for football, with 700 seats and a ban on lighting or night games imposed by the surrounding neighborhood. And there's not exactly a lot of cheap empty land around Northwest Washington whispering "if you build it, we will fumble." Woodrow Wilson High School is a possibility, but an embarrassing one.

And who would go to the games? Would the same students who didn't attend any of a winning basketball team's home night games last year even consider leaving their residence hall before 1 p.m. on a Saturday to watch a losing football team that didn't wear Greek letters? And would the alumni, who are scattered around the entire country, make it to even the Homecoming game of a program that didn't exist when they graduated?

Fellow District school Georgetown, whose athletic program is far more affluent than AU's, thanks in part to Big East basketball, struggles with its football program. The Hoyas, who along with Howard are among the only two D.C. schools with Div. I football, went 4-8 this season, and 1-7 in the Patriot League. And in their program, that is relative success.

Despite many AU students' delusion that football would create school spirit, ask a Georgetown student about his or her favorite rah-rah atmosphere and they will describe a basketball game at the MCI Center or will stare at you like a deer in headlights.

There will never be football at AU. I don't even know the official reason, but I am as sure of it as I was that the Washington Redskins would never move out of RFK Stadium. As a careful college applicant, I knew that when I moved in, but I am still learning to accept it. And I sympathize with those four students who demand AU college football's return.

For the PlayStation impaired, I encourage you to make a friend at University of Maryland, if only to obtain tickets to games against Virginia, N.C. State, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech or Boston College-all ACC opponents in the coming years.

All kidding aside, a stadium packed with drunken students who got up too early and a full marching band playing on key is an experience worth the price of admission by itself, even if the game disappoints.

Back in my world, AU Football got some good recruits out of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference in their second season and pushed its record up to 4-8, including a 31-10 tail-whooping of the Temple Owls on the road in the now extinct Veterans Stadium. We'll be in a position to red shirt some quality recruits next year, and down the road we like our chances.

In this world, the future of Eagle Football looks bright.

As the semester comes to an end and one of the founding members leaves American University, Section 202 has decided to take a trip down memory lane. For our fans, old and new, who are wondering how Section 202 came to be, this episode is a must. Listen along as hosts Connor Sturniolo and Liah Argiropoulos reminisce about the beginning of Section 202 and how it got to where it is now.

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