The New York College Football Void: Why It Needs to Be Filled
I am a Miami Hurricanes fan. In fact, I was about to write an article about their chances this year. But then, I realized something.
I really shouldn't be a Miami Hurricanes fan.
No, it's not because of their checkered past. It's not because of their affinity for showboating. And it's not because Jimmy Johnson once coached them. Despite his questionable commentary on Fox, his hair solidifies his status as a football legend.
I should not be a Miami Hurricanes fan for one reason, and one reason alone. I am from New York.
You may be thinking that this affiliation is natural, due to the fact that southern Florida is essentially New York on medicaid. However, there is a tremendous problem with this scenario.
I am 20 years old.
My allegiance to the U stems from my first memories of college football. In 2001, I recall watching Clinton Portis, Andre Johnson, and Ken Dorsey stepping all over teams like a 10-year old on a colony of ants. Like every other human being, I immediately fell in love with playing the role of front-runner.
In 2002, my allegiance grew stronger. I will never forget watching that National Title Game against Ohio State. The game concluded way past my bedtime, but I somehow convinced my parents to let me watch the instant classic. Between McGahee's ghastly injury to Maurice Clarett's legendary pick-pocket to the double OT magic from the Buckeyes, I spent the night trying to prevent that lump in my throat from busting out into a full-on tear parade.
I was pushing 12 at the time. By that age, I had already realized that being a Mets fan required an extremely low set of expectations, and that being an Islanders fan was kind of like rooting for a WNBA team. Why had it taken so long for me to get into college football?
Well, college football doesn't believe in New York. Or New York doesn't believe in college football. Either way. But I'm pretty sure it's the first one.
The Empire State is undoubtedly one of the greatest (probably the greatest) media market in the country, perhaps the world. It is completely baffling why New York doesn't have a true BCS contender. In fact, its more baffling than the BCS itself.
To those who cry Buffalo and Syracuse, keep in mind that anything above White Plains is not really considered New York. I apologize for all you folks who live up there that I may have just offended, but such has been the case since the time of Peter Stuyvesant.
And even if you were unwilling to accept this geographical truth, Buffalo fans, Turner Gill is gone. For you Cuse fans out there, Donovan McNabb's alma mater is the Philadelphia Eagles, and Greg Paulus was your starting quarterback last season. Enough said.
Rutgers is probably the closest thing to a "true" New York sports team. However, that school reeks of New Jersey. Although coach Greg Schiano's remarkable turnaround and the whiff of a perfect season a few years ago certainly sparked major interest in the tri-state area, Rutgers is still the heart, soul, and slightly unfortunate body odor of the Garden State.
Hofstra University, located on Long Island, was the perfect solution to this problem. Naturally, the program folded this season.
Since I've decided to disparage every New York contender, I'm running out of options. Feebly and weakened by the lack of New York NCAA football success, I present to you two potential solutions to this unfortunate circumstance.
Yes, instilling successful football programs at these schools is probably more far-fetched than a Detroit Lions-Buffalo Bills Super Bowl. But then again, we're talking about the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. If they can make it here, they can make it anywhere.
1. St. John's University
The football program folded in 2002. Perhaps it is high time for a revival. As a private university, perhaps the school could get Alumni to pump money into a big time program. They already have an affiliation with the Big East, who is clearly teetering on the edge of the BCS automatic berth line. Adding another potentially strong team certainly couldn't hurt the conference.
As for facilities, how about the new Giants Stadium. Can you say, monster TV contract?
2. New York University
NYU is probably the last school in the world to boast about their athletics. With a name as intimidating as the Violets, it is not difficult to understand why. Believe it or not, however, the Violets once fielded quite the football squad. In fact, Hall of Famer Ed Smith, a Violet, is actually the man whose straight-armed posed has been immortalized by the most prestigious award in all of college football, the Heisman Trophy.
The Violets may not have fielded a team since the 1960s, but a revival of NYU Football would send major shockwaves throughout the city, and in turn, the country. Having a major BCS program in the heart of Manhattan could provide a tremendous boost for the city, uniting New Yorkers in an unprecedented manner. Plus, the scenario would be an advertiser's dream.
Again, the team could shoot to play at the new Giants Stadium.
3. Other Potential Candidates
Stony Brook University
Located in Suffolk County, Long Island, is a program on the rise. An FCS School (formerly known as D1-AA), the Seawolves tied for first in the Big South Conference last season. They open this year at Big East power South Florida. A successful outing there could speak volumes about the direction of this program.
Con: Located on the eastern half of Long Island, they are over an hour away from Manhattan, and even further away from upstate. A major commuter school, they lack a following outside of the local area.
The Lions already have an established football program and the necessary facilities. Last season, Columbia finished the year with a 4-6 record. Located in the heart of New York, the Lions would have no trouble securing the proper fan base.
Con: They are a member of the Ivy League, and they will never, ever, leave the Ivy League.
This article is a vehement projection of the concept known as "wishful thinking," but I am certain that I am not the only one dreaming of a college football stronghold in New York. Plus, the rewards for the NCAA would be tremendous. Imagine a College Gameday held in Times Square.
I guess all I could do now is hope. Until then, I'll keep my U Swag on.
(Photo: Courtesy of virtualtourist.com)
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