OVERTIME: Football needs fan support

BY KYLE BEERY | ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

Butler isn’t a football school. But it could be.

Not many students seem to attend football games, or even seem to care about them. Those students, however, are missing out.

It seems like the majority of students on Butler’s campus have an attitude of, “Our team isn’t any good, why should I give up my time on a Saturday to go watch them?”

Those students need to take a look at the team, and learn a few things about them before they do any judging.

Last year the team was co-champion of the Pioneer Football League.

“So what, it’s the PFL,” is usually the response.

Well this year, for the first time, the PFL champion is going to be awarded an automatic bid to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS, or Division I-AA), meaning that if Butler wins the league like they did last year, this school would have a playoff football team.

And the team they have this year is fully capable of doing that.

The team lost fewer than 10 seniors from last year’s team, and bring a lot of experience back to the table this year.

Redshirt senior quarterback Matt Lancaster, a transfer from Illinois State, is a great dual-threat quarterback with the explosiveness that many people look for when watching college football these days.

Senior running back Trae Heeter was named to the PFL first team in 2012, averaging 110.3 yards per game. This year he is averaging 71.6 yards per game with two touchdowns.

Butler has a lot of talent to offer fans and a handful of enticing games that should be drawing students. For some reason, students just aren’t showing up.

Last year’s average attendance was 2,960 in five home games, a slight rise from 2,619 in 2011, but a decrease from the 2010 PFL championship season when the average attendance was 3,205.

Perhaps students don’t go because they think the games are boring, but they were anything but that last season.

Last year’s home slate featured plenty of fun games, including a 42-13 win against Franklin College in front of more than 4,000 fans in the team’s first night game in seven decades.

The homecoming game also provided a lot of excitement, as Butler rallied from an 18-point deficit in the 4th quarter to score the last 22 points of the game and earn a 39-35 win against Morehead State under the lights.

This year’s schedule offers a few exciting games, including Saturday’s game against the Ivy League school Dartmouth, a rematch from last year’s loss in New Hampshire.

Following that game, the Bulldogs have four key home conference games that they need to secure if they want to reach the playoffs.

One of the most important factors in college football is home field advantage, and it’s especially hard to have a tough atmosphere when the students aren’t out in full force.

It’s time for Butler students to start checking out football games. This university is known for its basketball success, but the football team is slowly making a name for itself.

If students could bring the same enthusiasm to football games that they bring to basketball games, the school could be looking at a home playoff game in November.

There aren’t many things compared to the feeling of school spirit, and if Butler students want to get that feeling this fall, it’s time to go out to football games and see what they have to offer.

This isn’t Notre Dame, Purdue or Indiana, where football is the only thing that matters on Saturday, but Butler once wasn’t a big name in college basketball.

With a good student fan base, students could help give the football team a good name in the FCS.

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