Archive for September, 2008

What’s The Matter, Alma Mater?
September 9, 2008

Let’s be clear at the start here. The quality of a University is not measured by the success of its athletic program. Caltech may still hold the record for consecutive losses in college football. Notwithstanding,  I believe it is a highly regarded place.

Still, there’s something to be said for winning a big game. Maybe once in a while.  At least once in a lifetime. Like so many former San Diego State students, I had my fingers crossed Saturday, not expecting, but hoping for the Aztecs to win what’s called a “map” game. The kind of game that puts an otherwise mediocre program on “the map”. The kind of game that gets sports commentators around the country talking about your school. I imagine that must lead to great things, like grants, endowments, research contracts and so on. But mostly its just wanting my team to win a big one every half century or so.

I’ve been waiting since I was a student. I won’t say how long ago that was, but they played in a place called “San Diego Stadium”, when posting beer advertisements around the scoreboard would have been considered vulgar. In the years since, they’ve taken on USC and tied them, lost a dozen times or so to UCLA, Lost to Miami, Michigan, and the list goes on.

Very often the games are close, agonizingly close. But in the end, San Diego State always loses, as it did Saturday. They could have won it. An Aztec was carrying the ball into the endzone for what would have been a commanding 20-7 lead well into the fourth quarter. But he fumbled as he was crossing the plane of victory, and The Fighting Irish, thereby inspired, went on to win.

Aztec fans have wondered aloud if there’s something in the water at Montezuma Mesa. An attractive campus with attractive students, first-class athletic facilities, an excellent academic reputation in sun-splashed San Diego, why does it wallow thus, whilst Boise State and Fresno State thrive?

There is talk that the Aztecs must think smaller and play in the shallow end with lower division schools more suited to their skill level. That’s a sad thing to hear. Even more disheartening is the notion that the football program should be discontinued entirely. Especially because, at this point, there’s some logic to that argument.

A few years ago, the Aztecs were having a rough season. Add to that, the fact that, all season,  they had been wearing unfamiliar bright red jerseys, and hadn’t even looked like a team from San Diego State. But then, in their darkest hour, the players, coaches, and staff had an inspiration! The team would surprise everyone by bursting onto the field in their old familiar black uniforms from the glory days of State! The crowd went crazy, the team was pumped, and the Aztecs lost. 

All I know to do, is go to the games with anybody I can get to come along. We clap and cheer and usually leave disappointed, and frankly, puzzled. Other than that, I don’t have any ideas. I like Chuck Long. He is an earnest and charismatic fellow, and the Notre Dame game made they think that, come the next “map” game, there might actually be hope for….oh, never mind.