Maybe not in Texas, but at least in New England, where Northeastern University dropped its football program, there is, in fact, life after football.
For Northeastern, life after football is good. Very good.
There has been little or no blowback from alumni or students, as money once spent on football now serves other campus goals. In fact, the number of donors is up (from 19,559 to 21,797) as is the number of applicants (37,693 for 2,800 spots), and the stature of the university continues to rise.
No one is claiming these advances are happening because football is gone. But what is drawing the atten tion of other institutions across the country is how painless it proved to do what once seemed out of the question - eliminating the one sport that, for many colleges and universities, is considered key to catalyzing school spirit, motivating donors, and building a winning identity.
After Northeastern ended its 74-year football tradition, Aoun received calls and e-mails from several university presidents congratulating him and saying they were considering the same course. Aoun recently penned an article describing the process for The Presidency, a magazine aimed at college presidents, because other institutions wanted a playbook for discontinuing football and saw Northeastern as a possible model. As Northeastern did, those schools spend between $3 million and $5 million annually on the sport for equipment, scholarships, travel, coaches' salaries, and facilities and their teams generate little interest on campus or success on the field.
It clearly isn't the case that football is disposable everywhere, but the costs of football rising as they are, I've long thought that a substantial number of schools should drop football altogether. And frequently, the arguments against it -- or for continuing to pay coaches more and more -- center around the necessity of maintaining a program to boost esteem, applications, and so forth. At Florida, I can see it. Texas, of course.
But what about San Diego State? Most schools outside the BCS conferences are losing money on football these days, and I suspect that we'll start to see more of them begin to drop football. I don't necessarily see that as good or bad -- just inevitable, given the sport's trajectory.
In any event, pardon the aside. Just some interesting food for thought, with potential implications for the future landscape of the sport.
We will now return to worrying about Nebraska.