If there is one complaint you hear out of students here at UCI other than the parking enforcement it is that UCI does not have a football team. However, there is no reason why we here at Irvine shouldn’t be painting our chests and yelling until we can’t talk on Saturdays. Three other schools in the UC system have football teams (Berkley, UCLA, and UC Davis) and countless other schools in California including Cal Poly San Louis Obispo and San Diego State do as well.
While Berkeley and UCLA have big time football programs, schools like Davis, SDSU and Cal Poly do not. So why not Irvine? We have an amazing sports program here including a Division I basketball team, a nationally ranked baseball team and the defending Men’s Volleyball National Champions. In fact, UCI is home to the second-best college sports program in the nation that doesn’t have a football team. So why can’t we add football to the list?
Unfortunately there is one main obstacle to having a football team right now — the cost. Due to the poor state of the economy, the idea of a college team is improbable, at least for now. Start up costs for college football teams are normally around nine million dollars with hiring a coaching staff, scholarships for players and scheduling costs. Also, yearly costs of recruiting players and team maintenance keep costs further make the dream of a team a little hazy at the moment. According to the NCAA, only five out of 118 NCAA Champion Subdivision Schools (the division UCI would likely be in) make money with an average loss of one million. While the costs seem to make a football team more of a dream than a reality, a football team would be extraordinarily beneficial to UCI. Having a football team would increase many aspects of UCI and is definitely something to think about when the financial situation turns around.
A football team would make UCI more visible and recognizable, putting Irvine on the map leading to added benefits like more applicants. A football team would also give Irvine more school spirit and another social activity for students to go to. Many students at UCI feel that there is not much school spirit and that there is not much to do on weekends turning UCI into a ghost town as many Anteaters travel home. However, having a football team would change that; it would be a great activity for students to enjoy on a Saturday afternoon or night. Football games can draw crowds of thousands of students — it gives people a common bond and another reason to be proud of their school.
Many critics argue that, besides cost, UCI doesn’t need a football team since we already have nationally ranked teams in other sports. However, with football being the most popular college sport a football team would give our entire athletic department more attention, especially to our very deserving volleyball and baseball teams.
Another reason why UCI should be home to a football team is that Southern California is rich in football talent (just ask USC), so with a football team UCI wouldn’t need to go far to recruit some high quality players.
Many people think that having a football team that isn’t a NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision team (Division I) is a waste since that is where the big dollars and popularity are. But Division II schools not only have a superior postseason system (playoff not bowl games) but they also have some amazing talent and exciting games. Just ask Appalachian State, a Division II school that shocked the college football world by beating Michigan, the school with the most wins in college football history. Division II schools offer plenty of excitement and outstanding players and games to college football.
While costs of a team put the dream on hold for a while, there is no doubt that a football team at Irvine would do nothing but make an amazing school even better.