Jon99 wrote: ↑
Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:52 am
Is NIU spending that much more on football than we are?
They may not be spending a lot more on a daily basis but they aren't getting a lot more either.***
Right now our football facilities are below those of top shelf FCS programs. To be competitive in the FBS we would need a giant infusion of cash. You could argue that in some ways we are in a better position to make that happen than NIU. We have a larger enrollment so we have a faster growing alumni base. We aren't Ivy League or even Big 10 when it comes to fundraising but we have our share of affluent alumni and they aren't stingy. The Redefining Normal campaign exceeded the goal. The current Redbirds Rising campaign has exceeded the goal. So maybe our affluent alumni are more interested in supporting academics and maybe some of them would rather donate to feed starving children than to raise the profile of a football program. Whatever. If we find a Phil Knight or T. Boone Pickens it will be a game-changer for us but until then we will have to deal with the situation as it is.
What is that situation? Almost the same as it was when I arrived here in the late 70's. This is first and foremost a basketball school. Oh sure, we'll fill the stadium for Family weekend. That's parents spending time with their kids. They don't know about or care about the football team. They'll start leaving after halftime regardless of how the game is going. If you want to know what's important around here start with RBF.net. There's far more activity on the basketball board. I'll the bet the average student here is more likely to correctly identify Joe Hein as a former basketball player than to correctly identify Spencer Schnell as a former football player. Hein has definitely rec'd more mentions on RBF. Maybe you could go back even further but I blame it all on Doug Collins and then the winning teams that followed.
So given the inclination towards basketball the athletic administration had a decision to make in the early 80's. MAC or Missouri Valley. Let's see, a couple of years before that decision was made Indiana St. played for the NCAA National Championship in basketball. Since that time Wichita St. made the final four as a member of the Valley and was also a #1 seed. More recently Loyola was in the Final Four. The MAC? No. So clearly if you were looking for an obtainable conference that would meet the desires of our primarily basketball fanbase the Valley was the choice. Maybe that has eroded since then and we can review our current situation but I don't think you can make a credible argument that we had a better choice available at that time and maybe not now.
So is the MAC better now? Well it still isn't much of a basketball conference and I don't think it's much more than a toss up on the football side either.*** NIU went to the Orange Bowl. That is impressive. Score one Huskies. But what about the compromises that went into making that happen? NIU will never play in a National Championship game - we did. NIU will play 40% of their 5 game home schedule on chilly late November Tuesday nights. Minus one (at least). In addition - in order to pursue FBS football NIU was forced to have their Men's basketball team play in a fieldhouse that was smaller and less impressive than Horton until 2002. That would never fly here and it didn't. Different priorities reflected by different schools.
Lots of fans don't want to admit it but we have an athletic administration that has reflected our interests and our willingness to support. We support football at the FCS level. Go Birds!