As I stood on the sideline in the third quarter of Ferris State’s football game against Tiffin, I turned to face the stands.
Two shirtless young men stood in the cold, cheering on Ferris football, and urged a patchy crowd to do the same.
A noon kickoff on a Saturday may have deterred those who were out on the town the night before, which is somewhat troubling.
Ferris football is 6-0 and 5-0 in conference. They had a running back rush for 212 yards and four touchdowns in the first quarter of play.
They then proceeded to bench their starters at halftime for rest and still won 68-20.
The football team is nationally ranked in the top ten. Yeah, we know the drill, it’s a Division II sport.
That doesn’t mean this campus should be any less supportive just because the game starts earlier.
Football’s first two home games drew 9,109 fans combined, though the Grand Valley game drew about 5,800 of those on its own despite some inclement weather.
Newsflash: Grand Valley is not the best team in this conference. They’re a rival, but that’s a football team that has sunk to the middle of the conference. In comparison to Ferris, they’re just okay.
Newsflash: The season does not end on homecoming. There is such a thing as a team heading to the playoffs at this level.
The steadily declining crowds match the steadily declining quality of weather, and the earlier kickoffs. It’s time to toughen up grab an extra blanket and get out there.
What’s most disturbing is that this is a great football team to watch. They’ve put up 42 or more points in five of their six games. They play exciting football. They’re fast, they hit hard, they throw the ball well and they force turnovers.
This is a team that has a quarterback that will be in contention for the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, and a defense that has begun to find an identity in this season.
A few weeks ago, the large crowds were encouraging towards school spirit.
This is a student body of over 14,000. If a fourth of the student body showed to every game or maybe even a fifth it would be an improvement over the empty bleachers.
Hockey is the big product in this town. But just because this town goes big for hockey doesn’t mean it shouldn’t for more of its sports. Even the volleyball games this year have been packed, albeit in a much smaller venue.
We don’t get to see Alabama on our turf, or Michigan State or Oregon. We get to see small schools. This is a team that is in contention to have a long playoff run. That should be enough to get fans out of bed a little early on Saturday.
If Ferris comes back from that trip with one or no losses, we’ll have a chance to see the football team return to the playoffs.
Two home games on the first and second Saturday of November, both with noon kickoffs, will be another chance to get out of bed early and see a very talented football team take the field with a shot at a conference title.