The Azusa Pacific field goal that beat the Lumberjacks on Nov. 3 sailed through the uprights. At this moment it dawned on me that this was the final play of HSU football. The empty feeling in my gut is all too familiar.
Born and raised in San Diego, I could never tell local Jacks fans how to feel or how they should feel. However, after over 30 years of cheering for the San Diego Chargers, I have a pretty good idea.
Year after year, heartache after heartache, I remained loyal to the Chargers. When they went 1-15 after using the second pick in the draft on University of Washington Cougars quarterback Ryan Leaf (the biggest flop in professional sports history), I stuck with it. When management fired head coach Marty Schottenheimer after going 14-2, I stayed true to my team. Get rid of L.T? Why not? There was no quit in me.
Then, Chargers owner Dean Spanos made the decision to move the Chargers to Los Angeles in Jan. 2017 because he felt it couldn’t compete with the rest of the league financially at his old stadium in San Diego. Loyalty was never on the menu for ownership and I no longer have a team.
The same can be said for HSU administration. People are pointing the finger at HSU president Lisa Rossbacher and rightfully so. This is the second football program to be eliminated under Rossbacher’s watch.
Many locals will be getting their wish. Rossbacher’s announced retirement begins at the end of the Spring 2019 semester. One must wonder if future university presidencies are in her future and which team will be on the chopping block next.
After playing the blame game, the reality of the loss begins to set in. For me, it was the fact that my home team that I had literally bled for was going to leave my city for our rival city to the North. Watching them be successful in Los Angeles this season has been hard to watch to say the least.
There’s no more cheering for Lumberjacks football even if you wanted to. The game against Azusa was the last game to ever be played at the Redwood Bowl. That is the reality.
Never again will locals be able to come down early on a Saturday to tailgate before a big game. There won’t be any more Lumberjacks moving on to the NFL, like Jacks All-American offensive lineman Alex Cappa in this year’s draft. At least not in the near future.
The people with the most to lose in this situation are the players. Many of whom moved up to Humboldt County away from their comfort zones just to play the game of football. For some, HSU was the only offer received. For others this university was their choice.
Even though HSU won’t fully admit to having a diversity problem, many students would agree that there is one. Losing Jacks football will have a negative effect on the diversity that HSU tries so much to promote.
90 years of Jacks football apparently means nothing to HSU administration.
The program is over and the lights at the Redwood Bowl are off. It’s a slap in the face and the feeling will never go away.
Look on the bright side, OP. You have effectively passed the torch to a program that will represent the best state in the Union in Division II football starting next season. That is, unless APU sees the writing on the wall and move up to FCS and becomes a West Coast Conference school. Hard luck hard life! #GoCougars!