There’s no denying it. Butler is best known for its basketball program. So naturally, that’s what students pay most attention to.
But did you know that Butler had quite the fall sports season?
Last year, for the most part, Butler performed better than it was supposed to in the school’s first and only year in the Atlantic 10.
This year was supposed to be even tougher, and even rougher.
But this year, all of the fall season teams finished higher than they were pegged to in preseason Big East coaches’ polls.
The women’s soccer team was projected to finish seventh, missing the Big East Tournament. They finished fifth and lost to St. John’s 3-2 in a close quarterfinal game.
The men’s soccer team was pegged for an eighth place finish, but finished sixth with a spot in the conference tournament. Their season came to an end in a 1-0 overtime loss against Marquette in the semifinals.
The volleyball team, forecasted two spots out of a conference tournament berth, finished fourth before losing to Marquette, who finished ranked No. 8 in the country.
The cross country teams had quite the showing as well. The men’s team took third in the Big East, known as a perennial cross country powerhouse, and also took sixth at the Great Lakes Regional out of 31 teams.
The women’s team soared to new heights, finishing third in the conference, second at the regional, and third at the national meet, the highest finish in school history.
It’s common to hear on Butler’s campus “Oh, I wish this was a Big Ten school and football mattered,” or “I wish we were good at football.”
Well, football does matter, and the football team was pretty darn good this year.
The football team won a share of the PFL title for the second straight year and third time in five years. But it didn’t end there.
It earned the school’s first Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth, and was also the first PFL team to do the same.
While it ended in a 31-0 shutout against Tennessee State that was much more competitive than the score shows, the Bulldogs showed that they belong on the gridiron.
All the fall sports teams had successful seasons, but where were the rest of the students during all of this?
It would be nice to see more of a following at these games. The soccer game against IU was great. Now only if there could be crowds like that at football games. Sure, the games aren’t like IU or Purdue, so the student section isn’t big and rowdy like theirs.
But why not? Why can’t we as students decide to change that? It could be a lot of fun to get up early on Saturdays and tailgate, then actually go to the games and stand as a student body and cheer on a team deserving of a good fan base.
And staying on the topic of student sections, the support could even be better at men’s basketball games. If the program is so coveted, why not embrace it even more than we do, and why not strive to be known as one of the best student sections in the Big East?
This is a new beginning for Butler, and if the students don’t take advantage of the opportunity now, Butler could become known as the school with a pretty good basketball team and a lackluster student following.
Other small schools have great student sections. Take Duke for example. They’ve only got 6 or 7 thousand students, but they are frequently referred to as the best student section in the country. Their basketball team is good – great – year after year after year, and it all begins with a hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Granted it is Duke, and we are not trying to be Duke (for good reason – cite 2010 National Championship Game). But Butler could start that tradition now. Butler students should be standing and cheering and being loud the whole game. Not just the Dawg Pound. The students in the sections above the north basket should be doing the same.
So, as we hope the success of the fall teams carries over to the winter and spring teams debuting in the Big East, let’s also hope the student support is a little bit better. It’s not an overnight thing, it’s a process.
But that process needs to begin now. Let’s see a good student section throughout the year, and let’s get loud and make Hinkle hostile.
And while we’re at it, let’s get out and support all the other spring sports teams. Take pride in our athletic teams, and let’s help them put Butler on the map for more than just a few Final Four runs a few years ago.