“State of San Diego State Football”
Opening day is upon us and this should be a great day to be an Aztec.
It doesn’t quite feel that way at this hour, as a good program, led by good coaches, with good players, is caught in the middle of the ugly gang rape incident that involve legendary kicker Matt Araiza and at least two other players.
SDSU’s leadership feels targeted right now, placed in a very tough position, by the Police, University bylaws in a Title IX probe, and by an intrusive media.
Yes, SDSU’s leadership may have handled Monday’s press conference badly, but no, JD Wicker and Brady Hoke did nothing wrong. They are honorable people, running a very successful program, trying to abide by the directions of the police and people across campus.
This will pass, later than sooner, but this will not damage this program.
Yes it has cast a cloud over opening day and the opening of Snapdragon Stadium.
I came here in 1987. Aztecs football was in a quagmire of membership in the old WAC, owned and operated by BYU. Its football offices were camped in trailers on a back lot. The practice fields were threadbare and dirt. The graduation rate was at an ugly low.
The arrival of Marshall Fault and a series of NFL prospects allowed SDSU to catch its breath for a 3-year window. Crowds of 50,000 and big time games against BYU, UCLA, USC, Miami, Florida State, was a special time, for only a short time.
AD leadership was dynamic for a short period led by Fred Miller and Rick Bay, who came from PAC 10-programs. But SDSU’s run up hill was so hard.
They played in a decaying stadium, tenants of the Chargers-Padres, who did little to help the school or improve the 1960s stadium.
To broadcast Aztecs football on the 77,000-watt XTRA radio in that era was electric. But we saw it fall apart for we had to sit and broadcast during the disappointing times of Chuck Long and Tom Craft.
What was then, has now been replaced by something really special.
This is a spectacular accomplishment, what Wicker and Hoke have overseen.
A snazzy 35,000-seat stadium with all the bells-gongs-whistles you would want in a college football stadium.
Built in the middle of a horrible pandemic. Built on time, and at cost. An amazing 315M-accomplishment, in the middle of worker shortage, supply chain crisis, and rising bond interest rates.
This was designed after Wicker and the architects took trips to a wide variety of places, NFL stadiums, soccer stadiums, and the new Colorado State Stadium.
It combines amenities that fit the Aztecs needs, but also fulfills needs for who might be the next tenant, an MLS expansion franchise in a couple of years.
Fans on Saturday watching the Aztecs-Arizona game-will see lots of new things.
..Latitude 36-Bermuda turf-heat resistant grass
..A Field Club for season ticket holders
..Chair back seats everywhere in the stadium
..16-Sky Boxes Suites…50,000-cost with 150,000-gift donations
..4-Founders Boxes..a 3.7M-contract covering 15-years for all events
..3,000-square foot-Aztecs store
..Art work on buildings saluting SDSU history
..Statues and historical seats from the old stadium
..Huge press box at the corner of the end zone
..2-TV booths-2 radio booths
..2-huge Video screens in the corner of the stadium
It’s not the Rose Bowl, Legion Field, Michigan Stadium or Ohio State. But it is ours and we should be proud.
In talking to Derek Grice, who oversaw the construction project and Wicker, you hear catch phrases in every other sentence.
..Had a vision for stadium and Mission Valley-SDSU footprint
..Fortitude to push forward despite the pandemic
..Did not have any setbacks in this project
..Supply issues were not a real thing-we ordered early
..We locked in interest rates on the bonds early
..The hiring of JMI-Legends to market the stadium made this project work
..We hope to increase football revenue from 5M to 20M immediately
..We think around revenue will increase 5-to-6 fold
..The sky is the limit as to growth potential
..We put 1200 people to work over a two year period
..We sprinted to the finish line
..This will service soccer-lacrosse
..SD Wave..we will talk to the SD Loyal
..We will expand to hosting high school sports championships
..We will start with a 30-event schedule the first year.
No one knows what the future of Aztecs athletics will look like, in terms of conference affiliation, Mountain West or Pac 10-Big 12.
But we know things we should pay attention to. San Diego State was a road team for 2-years with virtually no fan support during the pandemic. Somehow-someway they survived Covid outbreaks on their roster.
Under Brady Hoke and Rocky Long, the Red & Black have gone (116-61).
Included in that are 11-bowl appearances.
Huge road wins and a recent dominant run against the Pac 12
Record academic accomplishments in GPA-graduations in football.
As they kick off on Saturday, the football program, and the new stadium, should go at the top of the resumes of both Wicker-Hoke. Aztecs football would not have reached these heights without those two guys at the top of the roster. This should be their crowning lifetime achievement.
Don Coryell began all this when SDSU was a Division II school, grooming NFL quarterbacks. Decades later, these coaches have built nationally ranked defense, coached up legendary college running backs, and won and won and won.
Honorable men doing a helluva job in the very toughest of times.
Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Aztecs football.
Great day to be an Aztecs fan. Great day to be a college football fan.