“San Diego State Football–Are You Paying Attention”
The Aztecs kickoff the football season Friday.
They’ve done everything you’d want in a growing football program, except one thing.
History will tell us of the phenomenal run by Don Coryell, the architect of the modern day passing game in college and NFL football.
It’s fabulous when you look at the roll call of great quarterbacks San Diego State had in that era. Dennis Shaw, Brian Sipe, Rod Dowhower, Craig Penrose, Jesse Frietas and more.
The Aztec Bowl rocked and the stands were filled with fans when they moved to San Diego-Jack Murphy Stadium.
The 1990s brought us the Marshall Faulk era, when playing Division 1-teams became the norm. Billy Blanton, David Lowrey, Ryan Lindley, Kevin O’Connell, Todd Santos and Dan McGwire put on passing shows, and crowds of 50,000 came to see SDSU.
This decade has brought us old school football, and lots of wins. Rocky Long’s passion and personality have brought success back to Montezuma Mesa. Running downhill football, with a punch you in the mouth defense, has led to a (69-24) run, that has included lots of highs, and spectacular players.
This era of Red & Black has been colored by the talents of Donnell Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny, NCAA rushing leaders and record setters.
The legacy is dynamic. Air Coryell football became ‘Linebackers R Us’ to what has become ‘Running Back U’.
It’s been great to see, but few are seeing it.
In a city and county of 3.5M, with more than 110,000-alums living here, the passion and crowd support is anemic.
This year, the Aztecs season ticket count has dropped off again, down to around 13,000. Average attendance last year, was a shade over 25,000-paid, despite one of the best home schedules in school history.
10-win seasons are the norm, bowl games, that used to be far and few between, are now an every December happening. And yet the community is not turned on, and for the most part ignores the product on the field, the hard work by the staff, and the accomplishment of the quality facilities up on campus.
I’ve covered this team,and broadcast its games too, during both good and bad. I don’t understand why SDSU is ignored by its faithful, and now even by the jilted Chargers fans, who haven’t rallied around, nor embraced quality.
Maybe it’s the Mountain West Conference affiliation
Maybe we live in a community of transplants, who identify with the Pac 12, or the Big 10, of the Big 12 or ACC.
Maybe it’s a malaise left over from the horrible treatment of the Spanos family towards the football fans who so loyally gave to the Chargers.
Maybe it’s the fault of a struggling San Diego State athletic department, behind the power curve in how to promote its own product, its two Heisman Trophy candidates, or how to sell tickets in the community.
Maybe it’s the media, where the opening season press conference had just two TV stations out of 7-in the market show up, only this ex-radio host and the 1-newspaper in town.
You could understand down years, disappointing years, from the end of the Al Luginbill era-thru-Tom Craft and Ted Tollner. You knew there would be erosion with the disaster that was Chuck Long. That was then-this is now and this is damn good.
Rocky Long and the Aztecs have done everything right. Win games, win bowl games, become a power in the conference punching Boise State in the mouth, and winning games against Pac 12-schools at home and on the road.
Is it the community? Is it the alums? Is it the university itself?
San Diego State football deserves better than it has gotten recently.
They’ve done everything you’d want a football team to do, except get fan support.
I’m paying attention, why aren’t you?