Football needs support, too

By Gus Bode

Tonight the SIU football team will kick off what could be one of the most memorable seasons in Saluki history.

In head coach Jerry Kill’s first two seasons at SIU, the squad has improved from 1-10 to 4-8 and is now on the brink of the first winning season in 12 years as well as a conference title.

With so many promising credentials, it would seem like Saluki fans would be packing the stands this season. In past years, this has not been so. It has become a trend to pack the parking lot instead.


McAndrew Stadium seats more than 17,000, yet last year the average attendance was 7,914. Even the separate section reserved for students is half empty – and it is free to sit there with a student ID. The first 500 fans in the door tomorrow receive a free miniature football.

It is a known fact that fans can be an important factor in football victories. Sometimes a group of screaming fans may be the boost a player needs late in the game. Unfortunately, just last season, attendance began at 12,125 and dwindled to a miniscule 3, 203 by the last game.

Attention all tailgaters:come in and watch the game for a while, it might actually be fun. If you still don’t like it, then you can leave and return to boozing.

We understand that SIU is a basketball school. We know that Muhammad Abdulqaadir is not Kent Williams. But if SIU fans can help the basketball team to a 27-home-game winning streak, then surely decent fan support could give SIU football a few extra wins.

Fan participation will be vital to attain a 6-0 start this season. The games against Quincy and St. Joseph’s should already be in the bag, but support would be helpful. Southeast Missouri State and Murray State will be close decisions, and fans will be crucial. Since Indiana State is rebuilding and has a fairly young team, there is a good chance for a victory also.

Illinois State is always a tough foe, but with the added benefit of it being homecoming, it should turn over a victory as well. While Western Illinois is the most formidable opponent in the Gateway Conference, if the team is 6-0 going into the game, there is a chance that we will come out victorious once again.

Road games need support, too. Although SIU football will not have a nationally-televised home game this year, they will be taped while visiting SEMO, in Cape Girardeau, Mo. SEMO is only a short 45-minute drive this year. It would be embarrassing for the visitor stands to be empty in a stadium not far from there. The Student Programming Council provides transportation to and from the game for a package price of $15. For more information, contact SPC offices.


Besides, it’s not like the team is awful. Muhammad Abdulqaadir and Tom Koutsos make up a backfield that is considered by many to be the best in the nation. Abdulqaadir is one of the frontrunner for the Walter Payton Award, which goes to the top player in Division I-AA, and Koutsos is approaching the league’s all-time rushing yardage record.

On defense, the Salukis have a safety that has the potential to decapitate any unfortunate receivers coming over the middle. Junior Alexis Moreland has already been named a preseason All-American.

This season also marks the 20-year anniversary of the 1983 Division I-AA National championship season. This was the one and only time SIU has won a national championship.

So drop the beer for a few minutes and give the game and the team a chance. If you stay outside and miss out on a great season of Saluki football, don’t say we didn’t warn you.