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Confidence in and support of the University’s football program will help make it successful

In response to Cassandra SundaramâÄôs column regarding college sports (âÄúCollege sports has lost its school spirit,âÄù Sept. 19), it is true that the recruiting and scandals in college sports have gone too far. However, I believe this column fails to explain how the dynamic between coaches, fans and players works, especially in college football.

The basic job description of coaches is to motivate the athletes to be successful on and off the field. Coach Jerry Kill has succeeded so far âÄî he has impacted the team so much that none of the players are academically ineligible, as opposed to about 25 percent when Tim Brewster was coach. Those players who could not keep their grades up were kicked off the team.

Personally, I think that Kill is doing everything right. He is taking an assertive stance on the idea that we need to build up our program.

After having a very unfortunate seizure at the New Mexico State game, he jumped back into action, and didnâÄôt get âÄúoverly stressedâÄù in the manner that Brewster did.

Football players come to the University of Minnesota to get an education that may have been in jeopardy when they were growing up âÄî they may have used athletics as a crutch, since it is their greatest strength.

At the same time, many football players have developed illusions that by virtue of simply being involved in the football program they have earned the respect of students all across campus. Therefore, they need to conduct themselves in a professional manner âÄî one that shows they deserve that level of respect.

Football players cannot be âÄúgoing to crazy partiesâÄù when they have work to do. They can party all they want when we start winning some big games, but we need to shed our reputation as âÄúthe joke of the Big TenâÄù (which is how my older brother, who attends the University of Wisconsin, refers to our team).

As for us, the students and the fans: We need to quit having mixed feelings about the football program and be on the same page.

Whenever we lose a game, about half of the fans have the typical âÄúGopher footballâÄù mentality: They act like it was no big deal that we lost another football game, because it was âÄúbound to happen.âÄù They are resigned to what they think is the inevitable fate of a losing football team.

The other half of the fans are disappointed because they were so confident that we would be doing better, but we continue to lose games.

My stance on the issue is that we all need to have the latter attitude. As sad as it sounds, doubt would probably be the greatest motivational tactic for our football team right now.

I didnâÄôt even get football season tickets this year because I came in with the predetermined notion that we would have another bad season. I didnâÄôt think it was worth spending $15  to see a college football team play like a high school football team and continue to lose. We cannot allow our team or ourselves to be satisfied with a losing record; instead, we need to push them to work harder and build up our program.

LetâÄôs see if having successful sports programs wouldnâÄôt change the attitudes of the fans. Winning against Miami (Ohio), the other day was a start, but we need to keep it going.

Our football team needs to be a model of good college football programs nationwide (especially in the Big Ten) so that instead of taking performance-enhancing drugs, paying big money for recruiting and being academically ineligible, the players work hard and build themselves up in such a way that we can contend with other teams in the Big Ten.

We have a brand-new football stadium now, so letâÄôs sell out some games!

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