It’s been 15 years since Marshall Faulk graduated from San Diego State and left the school as the greatest football player in the history of the program. He’d go on to play in the NFL for the Colts and Rams and basically redefine what a running back could be in the league. He’s since retired, and is now awaiting his eventual induction into the NFL Hall of Fame. Unfortunately for San Diego State, their football program has not followed the same path as Mr. Faulk. They haven’t played in a bowl game since the 1998 Las Vegas Bowl, and haven’t won a bowl game since 1969’s Pasadena Bowl. In the last five years the team has compiled a record of 18-41, and things don’t seem to be getting any better even with the hiring of Brady Hoke from Ball State.
Which is why Mark Zeigler’s column in the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE this morning so interesting. In the piece, Zeigler makes a pretty good argument for why the school should just cut its losses and drop the football program all together. Considering that the school loses about $4 million annually running the program, doesn’t have it’s own stadium, and Qualcomm Stadium doesn’t really want them back since they lose money hosting games, there are plenty of reasons — those three are just a start — why dropping the program would be the smart thing to do. Of course, writing a column saying that a school should drop football will no doubt cause quite an uproar amongst the school’s fans, right? Well, apparently not.
While some readers left comments on the original column saying the idea was idiotic, it turns out there are a lot more people in the San Diego area who agree with Zeigler. The UNION-TRIBUNE ran another article on its website shortly after in which they shared some emails they received from readers.
Today’s letters are in response to Mark Zeigler’s commentary in the Union-Tribune published Sunday, Dec. 27. Zeigler proposed that SDSU drop football because of its high financial costs.
We received 145 e-mails on the topic as of Saturday night; 89 were supportive of the commentary; 56 opposed Zeigler’s view. The best and most representative are published today, reflecting that ratio of views.
Some highlights include:
Thank you, Mark Zeigler, for the finest article I have read in my 15 years of reading the sports section of the Union-Tribune. I am a huge college football fan, but it is obvious that the wisest decision would be to drop football at SDSU. Of the many requirements for maintaining a football program at SDSU, the most absurd is the granting of 20 full scholarships to the women’s crew team in order to maintain equality in the number of scholarships granted for male and female athletes. Aren’t there only eight people in a boat during a crew race? Does that mean that third-string members of an athletic team that very few people know exists are getting full scholarships? These questions are not meant to denigrate the dedicated athletes on the women’s crew team, but to highlight the indirect costs of fielding a football team at San Diego State. It’s not just the millions that the team is losing, but the millions more needed to satisfy all the requirements in order to field a team. Can an institution subsidized by the state of California afford to field a men’s football team during these economic times?
ERIC DAHMS, M.D. San Diego
I’m a huge football fan but I have to admit that the writing is certainly on the wall for SDSU’s football program. Congratulations on a great article exposing the shoddy and academically dishonest way athletic budgets are being manipulated. At any other company these people would be fired, sued, and/or jailed for this kind of bookkeeping. And Weber’s comments tying SDSU’s reputation to their athletics is not only laughable but a huge insult to the academic departments and their faculty. When I think of SDSU I am constantly reminded of their excellence in engineering, biology and business, and not their underperforming athletic departments. This transgression alone should cost Weber his job.
MIKE SNELL, Poway
And my personal favorite, from Dave Sikute of Chula Vista:
San Diego State dropped football a long time ago – but, some people in the organization still haven’t gotten the word.
Zeigler’s article really is a rather interesting read — it’s also pretty long, so it makes a great time killer at work today — and I have to say I tend to agree with him. Considering the economic state of the country right now, you do have to wonder why a school should continue pumping taxpayer money into a football program that isn’t winning, and that nobody in San Diego seems to care about. Especially when some of the money the school is using to bail out the program is coming from other areas of the school’s budget. You know, the departments that take care of useless crap like education.