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Why not every year at Morehead State?
The buses KCU took Thursday from Grayson to Morehead delivered more than just players—they delivered excitement. The atmosphere surrounding Morehead State’s home opener was interesting. People were talking. People were paying attention.
Which made me ponder a key question I have always had about MSU football—why doesn’t this happen more often? Why aren’t people talking every year?
Sure, MSU students care to some degree how their team is doing, and there is a sect of Eagle fans scattered throughout the community, but why isn’t there any concrete, year-to-year, interest in the team from the general community?
When it takes a former NFL player riding into town at the helm of an upstart KCU team to get the community excited about college football, something is amiss.
The answer: The program is stagnant.
No, this isn’t a commentary on Matt Ballard or any MSU players. It is an observation by a fan of the game.
I had the opportunity to cover Eagle football during my time as a student at MSU. In fact, my first game as a sports reporter was MSU’s 2008 home opener. Ah, memories. Fast-forward to 2011 and what’s changed? Not a lot. A couple seasons hovering around the .500 mark, and we’re right back where we started.
In a situation such as this, it’s easy to play the small-town card. “It’s Morehead, how do you expect a little town like us to compete on a larger scale?”
However, I believe Donnie Tyndall has more than shattered that myth.
Okay, what about scholarships? Tyndall had Faried, among others, that helped lift MSU’s basketball program from mediocrity. Football isn’t so lucky. Playing in the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League can definitely have a negative impact on recruiting. The players Ballard manages to recruit are more than capable, but the drawing-power a scholarship offer has on a young athlete is impossible to match.
The problem with this excuse? MSU’s opponents face the same handicap. The entirety of the PFL is in the same boat, and the Eagles still have difficulty putting together good seasons and garnering attention from the region.
Some steps have been taken to improve the Eagles’ program, such as the hiring of Rob Tenyer to call the offensive shots. Judging by the KCU game, Tenyer can certainly put points on the board (although knowing when to stop can be just as important—but that’s a story for another day.)
The issue with MSU football is bigger than any one man. Anyone who questions the ability of MSU’s coaching staff, specifically Matt Ballard, need only look at his career accomplishments. Ninety-five wins and four consecutive runner-up appearances in the now defunct PFL title game. Not bad all. Excellent in fact. Though Ballard has never been able to capture a PFL title, he has certainly amassed a very healthy coaching resume.
However, there is still a long road ahead if MSU football desires to be mentioned in the same breath with the resurrection orchestrated by Donnie Tyndall.
And that road begins with a change in attitude. If all the pieces are already there, it is just a matter of how they are being used. In order to cultivate a legitimate fan base in the area, we, as community members must keep our interest in Eagle football rolling beyond one or two games.
In turn, the team must give us something to be interested in: A team that can put together a winning season, not just a team that runs up the score on unequal opponents.
By Cody Evans, The Morehead News