Apathy is killing thee.

You want to see a stark difference between college football in the eastern half of the country and in the western half?

… Since 1992, nine others Cal Poly used to play regularly (through an all-time total of 137 games) have also discontinued football. Going back to 1971 puts four more in the cemetery (67 additional games).

Six of the Mustangs’ 10 opponents in 1975 no longer play, and of the four left, only one still plays at their level – the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA), comprised of 125 teams. Three moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A), now incorporating seven California schools.

According to 2007 U.S. Census Bureau population estimates, of the 38 states with FCS representation, none has as low of a team density per capita as California, with just four members for more than 36 million would-be fans. [Emphasis added.] New York, with just more than 19 million, has 10 teams to choose from. Even South Carolina, with about four-and-a-half million people, can pick from seven.

“It’s tragic,” says Cal Poly head coach Rich Ellerson of the trend, which in 2004 resulted in St. Mary’s informing 14 incoming freshmen who’d signed letters of intent that the team they’d committed to no longer existed, inspiring Neil Hayes of the Contra Costa Times to advise, “Go east, young man. There is little opportunity here.”

Indeed, Cal Poly, which was forced into several reportedly six-figure appearance-fee contracts this season (totaling at least $780,000), and will play twice as many games in the Central time zone (four) as it will against foes from California (two), is something of a football rarity on the West Coast: a survivor.

“There’s nobody out here any more,” says Michael Simpson, athletics director at San Francisco State, which last took the gridiron in 1994.

There’s lots of finger pointing as to why – budget cuts, Title IX woes, inadequate planning by administrators, none of which are problems unique to California  – but the real cause is much simpler.  It’s called lack of interest.

… At some schools, football has resurfaced in club form, as it did at UC Santa Barbara from 1986 to 1991 after being cut in 1971.

Students, however, eventually lost interest, says Bill Mahoney, a Gauchos assistant athletics director.

“I sense a little more indifference to football on the West Coast,” he says.

A similar trend took place at Cal Tech, which last played in 1977, before a club manifestation lasted from 1978 to 1993.

“There’s been a T-shirt for sale in our bookstore that says, ‘Cal Tech football: undefeated since 1993,'” says Wendell Jack, Cal Tech’s athletics director. “That’s kind of our tongue-in-cheek way of looking at things.”

Jack, who pointed to the lack of an NFL team in Los Angeles, shared Mahoney’s sentiment that despite the occasional ground swell, Californians may just not care.

“It’s kind of a mess, from my perspective,” he says. “In Ohio, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, if they talked about dropping football, someone would probably die. There just seems to be apathy here. In California, there’s so much more to do, it’s just different.”

(h/t The Wizard of Odds)



Filed under College Football

7 responses to “Apathy is killing thee.

  1. JasonC

    Who needs football when you’ve got wake boarding, beach volleyball, surfing, bowling and team meditation to pack in the fans and fill your trophy cases.


  2. All that football would mess up their plastic surgery and hair gel anyway.


  3. SRQDawg

    I hate this argument that there is so much else to do. I live in Florida, which offers much of the same additional outdoor activities as well as the plastic surgery, but you don’t see any schools canceling football because of it. Aside from the big 3, you’ve also got USF, UCF, FAU, FIU, JU, UNF, etc.


  4. 69Dawg

    The Left Coast has many other religions but in the South we worship on Saturday (sorry Tech fans) and the word fanatic is somewhat of an understatement. This does explain why USC (the real one) has so much great talent. They have no in state competition.


  5. SRQ,

    That may be true, but at the Division II level in Florida it’s not too entirely different.



    “There is also a D-II conference in Florida (the Sunshine State Conference). The SSC is made up entirely of private schools, and to my knowledge, none of them have ever sponsored football. Sometimes private schools at this level will choose to add the sport in an attempt to boost enrollment, but I honestly have no idea if any SSC schools have ever considered it. Part of the issue there is that in a populous, growing state like Florida, schools usually don’t need to add football to increase enrollment.

    The Florida school that I feel is most likely to add football at some point is the University of West Florida. UWF is in the Gulf South Conference, so it wouldn’t need to go searching for a league to play in. There have been rumors in the past that UWF was considering the addition of football, but I have no idea if it was looked into with any sincerity.”


    Here’s the original article, by the way:



  6. NebraskaDawg

    I’m a UGA grad living in Nebraska. Everyone thinks these Cornhusker fans are hardcore but they are just a bunch of wankers compared to Southern football fans. They are not even any fun to argue with like we argue with other SEC and ACC fans.


  7. DC

    ha! i spent 2 years at Cal Poly before transferring to UGA. gotta say, i sure missed skipping calc to go surfing. i don’t think, however, that people ignore college ball because of other activities, hair gel, or whatever – the nfl teams out there have huge support, and still suck most of the time (49er fan, sigh).