Not only was the team embarrassed by No. 17 Michigan 59-9 in front of more than 100,000 people, but starting quarterback Cody Kater left the game with a broken collarbone and star running back Zurlon Tipton is out with a broken ankle.
It was rough to watch as Chippewa fans, and it left us wondering if playing elite teams like Michigan, especially during the first week of the season, is even worth it for CMU and schools of its caliber. After all, losing by 50 points to a good, but transitioning Wolverines squad does not send the best message to recruits or prospective students, let alone the devastating impact losing key players has.
One could make the argument that by playing higher-ranked schools like U-M and Ohio State, visibility and recognition among Michigan residents would increase. But this weekend was not a prime example of that when an anchor for a sports halftime show referred to our school as Eastern Michigan University before correcting himself.
The effect of this game will likely carry over to the next game against New Hampshire. But that’s not talking about the players’ ability to perform. What will carry over will be the students’ reactions from a blowout loss.
Last year, CMU had issues with attendance at football games. After such a hard loss, it will continue to be difficult to increase student attendance. And when student attendance at games is down, team morale will also be down. It’s a downward spiraling effect, really.
In order for our football team to be successful, we need the basics: A strong team and quality leadership, but we also need a strong fan base. The football team needs to know that the student body is behind them, despite harsh losses.
Although the game this past weekend wasn’t ideal, we’re still a team – and we’ve still got a whole season left to go.
The reality is this school is not going to be a BCS Championship team for quite some time, if ever, and playing teams that are in the first week of the year will hurt what this program is trying to accomplish more than it will help.
That’s not to say playing teams that are bigger and better than CMU is a bad idea. But playing perennial powerhouses like U-M in the first week will more times than not result in what we saw Saturday rather than an upset or a competitive loss.
Perhaps choosing to play a Big Ten team of a lesser caliber, say Indiana or Iowa or Purdue, in week two or three might work out well for CMU. Not only can the university rack in some serious cash, it can also find itself with a realistic shot at an upset (as it did last year against Iowa) and provide the team with a good morale-booster and a chance to appeal to potential recruits.