Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

It’s Fourth Down for Football

Everyone knows the inspirational tale of Rudy Ruettiger, the humble son of a Midwestern millworker who, through dogged determination, overcame the odds for a brief taste of gridiron glory.

Rudy didn’t have the grades for college or the size for football. But that didn’t stop his pursuit of the chance to play for Notre Dame in his eponymous 1993 film. His journey was filled with emotional setbacks, but Rudy’s perseverance finally paid off when he dressed for the last game of the season and even recorded a tackle that set off a resounding cheer.

He should’ve just come to Georgetown. We’d have made him starting quarterback.

At the close of the 2007 season, fans of Hoya football – if that label really is anything other than a theoretical construct – must come to terms with the crushing reality of a 1-10 season for the boys in blue and gray. That’s the worst record in the history of Georgetown football, and it’s just the beginning of a stream of astonishing statistics. A 45-7 loss to Cornell on Homecoming. A 55-0 shutout at the hands of Holy Cross, with a demoralizing total of just 65 yards gained (to the Crusaders’ 614). In the Patriot League, the Hoyas finished second from the bottom in passing, and in rushing and total points, they ended dead last. The team is ranked 108th in scoring offense, 102nd in total offense, 108th in scoring defense, 109th in total defense, and 114th in rushing defense out of the 116 Division I-AA teams.

Nobody expected Head Coach Kevin Kelly to reverse the Hoyas’ slide into the nether regions of college obscurity football within two or even three seasons of coming to the Hilltop from Navy. But we had hoped, at the very least, that things wouldn’t get any worse. But now the sad truth is clear: If Georgetown football isn’t the worst team in Division I-AA, it’s as close to the bottom as a team can go while still avoiding that distinction.

Administrators, for their part, seem unfazed and determined to keep the team alive. In the fiscal year 2006 the university spent nearly $1.7 million on the football team.

Of course, the athletic department probably has an ulterior motive behind its relentless pouring of money into the program over the years, despite disastrous performance. It’s all just the latest act of every Georgetown administrator’s favorite drama, “Keeping Up With the Ivy League.” Like an overzealous father forcing his poor son to play pee-wee football against his will, the Athletic Department seems content to cram football down the university’s throat just to alleviate some deep-seated inferiority complex that might be inflamed by not having that which all eight of the wise sages of American academia possess.

But setting aside for a second the university’s frustrated ambitions, this seems like an appropriate time for the rest of us to ask ourselves the question: What do we expect from our football team?

One thing is clear. Nobody expects the dominance of the Pac-10, or the tradition of the SEC or the excitement of the Big Ten. The Hoyas are a national powerhouse steeped in history in men’s basketball and its lacrosse teams routinely ranks among the best in the country. But if the university continues to pour money and other resources into the football team, the squad should at the very least be competitive in its own league and thereby provide some degree of unity to the university community.

And ultimately, the only significant progress toward that goal must be measured on the field. Kelly attributes the team’s epic lack of performance this season at least in part to his strategy of playing mostly freshmen and sophomores as starters to prepare for the future.

In the next season or two, we’ll see if that strategy has its intended effect. If it does not, it will likely be more than Kelly’s job that’s at stake.

It certainly seems like a safe bet that, after this season, Georgetown football has nowhere to go but up. But if the team remains mired in its current desolation over the next couple of seasons, it may indeed be time to pull the plug on the program and look for better places to spend those precious resources.

At the end of the day, Americans love their underdogs. Who knows? If next season, the Hoyas take the field with just a bit of the confidence and polish that were so sorely lacking this year, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear a cheer grow out of the rafters of the Multi-Sport Facility: “Rudy . Rudy . Rudy .”

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