Friday, December 11, 2009

Why I want 49ers football

The Charlotte 49ers now look like they truly are going to play football in 2013.
And I like that.

For too long, the 49ers’ athletic program has been defined largely by what it doesn’t have: A football program, in an area of the country where Southern college football is a Saturday-afternoon religion.

Now it’s almost surely going to happen. To use a football analogy, Friday’s unanimous vote by UNC Charlotte trustees to continue with plans to field a team in 2013 has pushed the 49ers into the red zone.

In fact, I’d say the 49ers now have a first-and-goal at the 5. The only things that could derail them now will be if somebody does something really stupid or if we all unexpectedly enter another, even worse economic freefall.

Yes, the students will shoulder much of the monetary burden in the form of student fees. That’s not ideal, but seems unavoidable. I think for most future Charlotte students that the enhanced experience of going to a school with a football team – and the sense of community that team will inspire – will make up for the fee and then some.

I still remember something UNC Charlotte Chancellor Phil Dubois said at a 2008 trustee meeting last year when he was pitching football. Said Dubois: “Appalalachian State knocks off Michigan and everyone in North Carolina ‘owns’ App State. Davidson advances in the NCAA [basketball] tournament and Davidson is North Carolina’s team. But when has Charlotte really ‘owned’ UNC Charlotte? Be truthful, and you’ll probably admit it was our run to the 1977 Final Four.”

Yes, it probably was. And while football won’t immediately thread the 49ers and the city together permanently, it at least gives them a chance.

Has this been a difficult process? Oh, Lord. All you have to do is look at how many plan incarnations there have been – it was “Plan E” that the trustees finally approved Friday – to know that it has.

I’m glad that “Plan E” gets the stadium issue settled relatively quickly, with a permanent, 15,000-seat stadium from the outset. (It could be expanded if necessary, but I think that will be more than enough seats in the beginning).

It’s far from a perfect plan. The 49ers won’t get into college football’s big leagues for at least a decade and likely much longer than that under it. If Charlotte hires the wrong head coach, momentum could be stunted quickly.

But at least the 49ers’ athletic program will feel more purposeful now. More complete. And soon, the school will be defined more by what it has than by what it doesn’t.

25 comments:

tcollie said...

needed to happen...next step: name change to U of C.

49RFBN said...

The long dream is becoming reality. Lots of hard work all around. I thank everyone who had a part in this. This day will rank up there with the day we joined the UNC System and the day Miss Bonnie saved us from closure. It will transform the future of this entire institution. Somewhere Miss Bonnie is smiling.

darkferi said...

Hey Scott, since you're so keen on bringing football to UNCC, maybe you can cover some of those fees the students will have to pay over the next few years... Would you be up for that? What a waste of time and money this is...

JAT said...

dark, you understand that UNCC students already overwhelmingly fund UNCC's football-less athletic programs, right?

The choices facing UNCC admin are to a) double-down with football, and hike student fees a lot b) do nothing, and have to hike student fees some anyway as the A-10 model crashes and burns c) Drop down to the Southern Conference and back off athletics in general.

That's it. Nothing magic about it. Now if students and their parents WANT to pay more for football, I guess that is up to them. But AD Judy Rose is on the clock to prove she can run an effective football program. Done the right way, it might even make money for the athletics effort. But it will not be easy. UNCC is starting off a decade behind its old Sun Belt foes like SoFla and UAB.

PS -- Scott, if your edit page rails against this decision, I'm holding you personally responsible for failing to educate them.

Anonymous said...

Getting football will be great. Now Scott won't have to wait until basketball season to start ignoring uncc sports. Maybe you guys could write an article on them before they break into the top 25?

Anonymous said...

JK This is great news.I am an alumni and might actually have something to do with UNCC for the first time in 28 years.

Anonymous said...

Hey darkferi,
These fees (even if maxed out) will only raise Charlotte to 4th most expensive tuition from 5th. The reality of the issue is that for Charlotte to continue on a path where it can actually mean something in the grand scheme of things, it needs football. The enjoyment and the extra community support on Saturdays will be worth a couple hundred dollars per year, trust me. And if it's not, leave. That's your choice. People against this movement are the minority.

T3 said...

Thank god they're going to be in the FCS where there's a playoff and not that idiotic BCS bowl system.

FCS - where they crown a real football champion.

Hooner49 said...

It seems that all the football naysayers are ignoring the student poll that found most students would be in favor of a tuition increase for football.

If you're not paying for it, why are you arguing against it? I am a student taking on loans for my college education and I will gladly pay more each semester if it means bringing football to UNC Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

Too late! but Big-time college football is ridiculously expensive - far outweighing benefits.

Anonymous said...

What Hooner ignores is that many of the students who are willing to fund this..... expect their PARENTS to foot the bill.

Scott, you love to spend other peoples money....anything to help secure a sport to write about....Pro Football, the Bobcats etc. All were great ideas as far as you were concerned. Never mind economic realities.
Maybe that's why newspapers are going bankrupt....no business sense.

Anonymous said...

Football brings a needed highlight to the academic programs at the University of (nc) Charlotte. With some of the best academic programs in the state, it is hard to find recognition without a full sports program. Now on to the name change.

Anonymous said...

You dont just get an education from the classroom, and having community and alumni support builds the networking and recognition that you will not get from CPCC or ICPI online.

This is a great thing for the 49ers and the city of Charlotte! GO NINERS!

Melissa said...

I think I am actually understanding most of what you are saying. Excuse me for being new to the literate world of football, but my challenge has been to school myself for the play-offs. (More boyfriend motivated)

Anyway, for anyone, or anyone's girlfriend who also wants to learn more about the game and maybe even some cool things to say during a game, I highly recommend Mark Oristano's book, "A Sport's Casters Guide to Watching Football."

Tim Collie said...

quit whining about fees...transfer if you don't like them. I paid 4 years of fees for Halton Arena to be built and never watched a game there as a student, but buy tix as an alum! The "total cost" to attend Charlotte will still be inline with the 16 UNC schools. GET OVER IT.

Louie said...

One of the reasons why I chose to get my Bachelor's degree at UNCC was because it WASN'T a sports based school for dumb jocks. UNCC was a thoroughly working class school utilized by people who truly wanted an education, not to coast through on football scholarships, or because the school had a winning team. I really enjoyed UNCC's rather anonymous personality within the UNC system. By the virtue of the school being so neutral, you could focus your education and yourself on what you really wanted to do and become. It was always a joke about the school not having football when I graduated, but if it really mattered that much to any of the students, they wouldn't have gone there in the first place. That's one of the things I really liked about the UNCC student body... laid back folks who were just there to get their degree. Oh well... to each their own.

Anonymous said...

"With some of the best academic programs in the state, it is hard to find recognition without a full sports program. "

So the way to build an academic reputation for a university is to lose money funding a football program? I can't see how higher fees to fund athletics are helping students get an education.

Anonymous said...

UNC-Charlotte wants to save millions then forget building a new stadium and use the soccer field and remodel it as time goes by.

Also saving millions like many D1 schools would be to go to "walk ons" only and not these freebie scholarships since in some cases 90% of those on a free ride drop out.

Athletes should get not special prevleges. If you want to play then you got to pay like everyone else.

No free lunches.

J said...

Anon 7:36 AM - what in the world are you talking about? We're going to build the football field from scratch; it has nothing to do with the soccer field.

90% drop out? The NCAA recently released a study of the graduation rates of all athletic programs. 64% of all athletes graduate on time, compared to 62% of the general student populations. They have a link to the study in the SEC Expats blog.

If you want to play then you got to pay like everyone else? I guess you have never heard of ACADEMIC SCHOLARSHIPS. Every college and university has them. And if we build a winning team that goes to the FCS playoffs regularly, these football players will be bringing money to the school.

Louie - this isn't going to make UNCC a school dominated by dumb jocks or a "sports-based" school. First of all, as noted above, student-athletes graduate at a higher rate than the regular student rate. Also, this program is going to be almost entirely funded by student fees and private donations. No money is being diverted from academic activities. That, by the way, is the only condition Bonnie Cone ever put on whether the school added footbal (I asked her about that when I had a PT job 3 doors down from her office in the early '90s). So I know she is looking down on us and smiling today.

GO 'NINERS!!!!!!

UNCC is for Dummies said...

Anonymous said...

"JK This is great news.I am an alumni and might actually have something to do with UNCC for the first time in 28 years."

Good to see that high-quality UNCC education at work, guy.

So do you have multiple personalities or an evil twin that also went to UNCC? In addition to being "an alumni" you are also an idiots, a retards and a morons.

Lawrence said...

I think this is the biggest news to come from UNC Charlotte in a long time! I am a recent alum, but I am now in law school at a competitive school in the SEC.

When I was a student at Charlotte I never really understood this crazy obsession with college football. Now, having left and experienced the cohesiveness that football brings to a campus, I think this is AWESOME!

Charlotte is already a great school academically, and it will only continue to get better with time. Football will not take away from this. In fact it will, eventually, bring better name recognition to the school, spur donation, better the college atmosphere, and make the school more attractive to prospective students. Not to mention that we will be able to get out of the A-10, where schools go to die!!

Anonymous said...

Football scholarship athletes have about 10-20% graduation rate in D1A/AA overall at best.
University of Tenn had a 4% grad rate for its scharship football players a few yrs ago.

If an athlete gets an academic scholarship then this person would be excellent for the football program.

Football programs like Nebraska are walkons and one of the top notch in America for ages.

Its real simple. You save millions and get the best academic athletes anyway who will grad at a much higher rate.

As far as the soccer field being used for the football field this is a no brainer.

The UCLA and USC football and soccer teams use the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Whats the problem?

All professional soccer teams play in NFL football stadiums in America too.

Many pro stadiums are multi-purpose.

The idea is SAVE MILLIONS to make the program more financially viable.

Normal graduation rates usually average well over 70%.

Anonymous said...

ARE YOU FREAKIN KIDDING ME???PLEASE FIRE JOHN FOX NOW!!!A 53 yard field goal attempt in the rain on 4 and 3 with 2 rbs that avg over 4ypc.THIS IS SO FRUSTERATING!!!-Bryant80t

Anonymous said...

Posters on this issue keep citing how overwhelmingly the students voted to have football. Of course they would. Give the students a poll asking if they would like Mondays and Fridays off from class. That would pass overwhelmingly too, but it's not prudent. The point is the adults should be the ones to show financial responsibility.

Anonymous said...

It seems the relatively low percentage of those opposed to Charlotte getting football are either fans of another program, completely anti-sports, or very misinformed. The few arguments against the 49ers getting football are about as flimsy as they can get.