It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for The Wedge. Part of that is due to how busy I’ve been with work. Part of it is the amount of work I’m putting towards grad school – somehow more than I thought it would be. Maybe just as much as the other two is, to put it bluntly, apathy. I love football. I love UNI. At this point I hate watching UNI football, and I’m not alone. To get me to this point takes some doing. For reference, outside of UNI the list of teams I follow is just a checklist of teams that are bad and/or find a way to let fans down every year – Twins, Vikings, T’wolves, Wild and Tottenham. Yes, I realize 99% of you won’t understand Tottenham, but those that do will truly understand where I’m coming from. Soul crushing losses are all I know, but UNI football has always been the place I can hang my hope. The one thing I was always looking at the positive side of things.At this point I’m not sure it’s worth the effort.
Some outside of the UNI fan base may not get it. It’s easy from the outside to look at UNI and see a team that is coming off of back to back 9 win seasons, back to back playoff appearances (losses to the national runner up and national champion), 3 playoff appearances in 5 years, nearly every week ranked in the top 25, etc… and never “feel bad” or get where UNI fans are at this point. I don’t blame you. Mark Farley may have fallen victim to himself much like Les Miles at LSU – 95% of the subdivision would kill for the success that UNI has had but it’s not up to what we, UNI fans, expect. I would argue that the standards that UNI fans expect isn’t over the top given the talent and resources UNI has in comparison to 95% of the FCS. I think most would agree that truly challenging for the title every year, winning the title every 2 or 3 years, at-least quarterfinals yearly and maybe actually winning a damn title for once should be the standard. That was the standard. That was what UNI was, sans winning the national championship, until 2009. Since the 2008 semi-final loss to Richmond nearly every single game, especially the losses, is like Groundhog Day.
If you read AGS on a regular basis, and if you’re reading this chances are you do, there is no need for me to go through the laundry list of issues regarding UNI. I, and other UNI fans, have done enough of that on AGS, Twitter, Facebook, PantherNation, and I’m sure there are still a couple of UNI fans that use things like ICQ, AOL, MSN and MySpace. The problem, from an off-field stand point, is the fan base has finally hit it’s breaking point. This year’s team had the most hype since the 2008 team and we are back to “back against the wall” by midpoint of the season. How, why, does this keep happening? Given the hype and the massive let down we’ve seen on the field so far I think it’s fair to say we’ve hit our breaking point as a fan base. This is the 8th season of this in a row we’ve watched this story play out, so it’s seems like apathy is the natural defense mechanism for soul stealing one score loss after one score less.
It’s not often I read PantherNation but I ventured over there a few times over the last couple weeks to get the temperature of the site and fan base. It’s not good, and it matches where I am. It’s gone from excitement to anger to complete apathy in 5 games. It’s easy to see why when you look at what has happened since ’08. This year UNI has 3 losses, all by 1 score. The 3 losses were a game UNI dominated statistically, had a massive lead and lack of adjustments led to a blown 17 point lead, and a game that UNI shouldn’t lose (on paper). Hey UNI fans, sound familiar to the last decade? Since 2008 UNI is 25-36 in one score games. That’s not good. In games decided by a field goal, or less, UNI is 5-11. That’s ugly. This is where the Groundhog’s Day theme comes in. Every game plays out the same. Every year has played out the same. There are some programs that have a tight game in the second half and the fans go “We got this” and then there are some programs that go “Can’t wait to see how this goes wrong”. UNI falls into the second category and to counter the letdown we are seeing a large number of fans disengaging from the team.
That’s not to say we aren’t still pulling for the team to win. We aren’t giving up on being fans. We care too damn much to quit. The problem is we’ve lashed out because of how much we care. I’ve had fellow UNI fans unfollow me on Twitter, tell me to take all references to UNI off my profile, etc… because of what I’ve said. I can’t speak for all UNI fans in the same mindset I am, however, I will never not cheer for UNI. It is fair to say I’ve become disengaged from the results of games because I already know what’s going to happen. A win is nice and a loss sucks but at this point doesn’t shock me.
It’s a Friday afternoon the day before UNI plays at Youngstown State, a game I’d normally be jacked up for and I just can’t bring myself to truly being excited. I don’t know that I’ve seen more than a handful of tweets about the game from UNI fans all week. I looked at PantherNation and last time I looked there wasn’t even a game thread started. I’ve had in-depth discussions of the basketball team pretty much all week though.
I won’t get into the politics regarding my feelings of the coaching situation because it’s far too nuanced to be as simple as “Fire Farley” or “Retain Farley”. There are times that’s the case, but I don’t see UNI’s situation that way. It’s safe to say something needs to change or apathy is going to turn into something worse. I’m it sure what the right answer is though.
Those of you with experience in situations like this, yes I’m looking square at you Delaware fans, where do we as UNI fans go from here? What do we hope for? Are we supposed to hope to fall so low that massive changes are made? Are we supposed to pressure for change? Are we supposed to continue to ride the train of being a 8-9 win team and be happy with it because most programs aren’t that? Is change simply for the sake of changing even a good thing? What’s the best drink to not feel sad after losses anymore?
I’m not about to pull a stool up to the bar inside of Crapsville Bar & Lounge, but I’m not sure I’m far off. If we happen to meet at the bar, stop over and grab a drink. I’m good for throwing out Super Trooper, Anchorman and Step Brothers quotes to make life fun. Like any good German, I am a master at self deprication and loathing. If you’re fortunate enough to avoid a reservation please call the bartender and tell him to send all of your drinks my direction – I prefer Coors Banquet and Jägermeister . Thanks.