19 Point Plan – #19: Fans Must Stick Around April 22, 2010
Check your email. There’s one last season ticket renewal reminder in your inbox, isn’t there? You’ve been putting it off, haven’t you. You’re not sure what to do.
I know the last two years have been frustrating. I know the decision to play Western Michigan in Detroit cost us more than just a bowl game – it cost us momentum. Momentum that led to a 3-9 season and the lowest-ranked recruiting class of the Zook era. The projection charts trend down. It feels like 2003 again. I get that.
You know the scene in ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ where there’s a run on the Bailey Building and Loan and the one dude is all “I’m going to Potter – he’ll pay me” and George Bailey runs to the door and begs them all not to leave? That he’ll pay them with his own money to keep them from bailing and going to Potter? Well, consider me George Bailey. (Except for the handing-out-money part.)
Please don’t go. This program needs your support. Fan support is vital to a football program (both in money and game-day environment). I know the product on the field has been frustrating, but you can’t give up now. We can’t return to 2003 (or 1997). We can’t let season tickets dwindle to the low 20′s again, with late-season crowds of 34K sending recruits home with a sour feeling. We’re so close.
OK, maybe we’re not close at all. Maybe our coach doesn’t have a clue how to turn it around. I understand your anger. We have the 4th or 5th best talent in the conference and we’ve won 8 games in two years. I get that. I really do.
But we have the 4th or 5th best talent in the conference. We have new coaches who, at least preliminarily, seem to understand the fundamental faults of this team the last few years. We have improved facilities that provide a pretty fantastic game-day experience. The student section, the way the noise bounces around with the new tower – all of it is improved.
Which is why I don’t want to go back to 1997. I don’t want to go back to football being a Champaign afterthought. I don’t want to go back to the no-hope days. The life was sucked out of Memorial Stadium for a long time, and the renovations (and the Rose Bowl) pumped everything back up. I don’t want to lose that.
So here’s my proposal: Stick around for 2 more years. Even if you’re not a season ticket holder, keep bringing your gang to the games for two more years. Keep this sold-out to nearly-sold-out environment going for two more years. Fill the stadium, buy some warm orange, and support this team for two more years.
Because after that, we’ll know where we’re headed. I fully realize the one scenario here. The new schemes and the difficult schedule of 2010 are too hard to overcome, and we sink to another 3-9 season. If you thought the 2010 recruiting class was ranked low, you should see where the 2011 class ends up. Despite our 8 home games in 2011, the talent of the 2008 and 2009 classes isn’t enough to push our record any higher than 5-7. Our coaching staff is fired, you can hear a pin drop in the north endzone by the 8th home game, and we’re back to 2004.
Our home games of NIU, SIU, Minnesota, Indiana, and Purdue (and the raucous crowd in the stands) propel us to 6 or 7 wins and a minor bowl. Ron Zook has something to sell again, and the 2011 recruiting class is back ranked in the 30′s (with a few impact freshmen for 2011). 18 returning starters + 8 home games + no Ohio State or Missouri on the schedule leads us to the Outback Bowl, and with that kind of cred, Zook and crew pull in another top-25 class, including (insert stud wide receiver from Chicago) who committed after his visit to a sold-out Memorial Stadium during a 37-19 demolition of Michigan State in November. Koenning and Petrino get extensions, signing day is fun again, and I get to write a long “you mean we still have TWO more years of Nathan Scheelhaase?” article that gets re-tweeted by the President.
One of those two. And if there’s any chance it’s the second one, you need to renew.
If it’s the first, after 2011 – fine. Go to old man Potter and get your money. I won’t stop you. You can stay away from Memorial Stadium for 10 years. I won’t blame you.
But I really, really want to hang on to a full stadium. We’re not the best crown, but dammit, we’re there and we’re orange. We’re just now re-learning how to cheer on their third and long and shut up on our first and goal. I don’t want to lose that.
I know the odds here. And I know the cost is steep. But I’m asking (begging?) you to give it two more years. Do it for George Bailey.
Thus endeth the 19 Point Plan. I’ll try to do a recap post soon covering all 19 points. There might even be a print version that I tack to the door of the Irwin Indoor Facility over the weekend. If circumstances work out, I’ll be at practice tomorrow, and I’ll definitely be at the Spring Game on Saturday, so follow that Twitter. I’m bound to get excited about the Black Cat and start saying things I don’t mean.