Don’t Take Your Ball and Go Home

In the movie Rudy, there is a scene near the beginning where the family is sitting down to dinner in the living room on Saturday night. One of Rudy’s friends says, “Mr. Ruettiger, at halftime, can we watch some of the Indiana-Purdue game?”
Ned Beatty’s (aka Mr. Ruettiger’s) response is, “There’s only one team we watch in this house.”

That is exactly how I feel about Furman football. I’m not quite that bad, because I do cheer for some FBS/Division 1 teams. But Furman always is, and always will be, at the top.

I’ve toned down my temper from my younger days, but I still take Furman losses pretty hard. et’s suffice it to say that I want Furman to win. But even if they lose, no one at the University will receive a call from me with a threat to take away my money from the Paladin Club or the athletic department.

You see, I’m not in third grade anymore, and my mom and dad taught me a long time ago not to take my ball and go home every time something doesn’t go my way.

A few Furman fans are threatening to do the exact opposite. After just two seasons, some fans are threatening to pull their dollars unless there are changes to the football coaching staff. Does this make any sense if you truly want your team to succeed?

Furman is making some serious moves to elevate the program, including the very expensive building of a gorgeous new press box and football facility. This is a badly needed upgrade that will help the team, and it’s going to take money. Fans want to pull their donations now?

Lots of people are willing to step up when the wins are rolling in. Real fans step up when the program needs help to make things better. That time is right now.

You would be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan of Furman football than me. Most kids grew up dreaming of garnet or orange, or something much bigger. I grew up wanting to play football at one school, and only one school. I applied to one college. I am almost sinfully proud of my connection to Furman football.

That’s why I am so bewildered with the current state of Furman football. And no, I’m not talking about the product on the field. I’m talking about the attitude of the fans to what is happening on the field.

I know for a fact that some Furman fans are vowing to take their money away from the organizations that supply athletic scholarships, facilities, support, etc. for the football program if they do not get their way. This would involve getting rid of some coaches.

This statement will probably make some enemies, but I cannot think of a more childish and sophomoric response to losing.

Many of these coaches were on the staff of the three Furman teams that played for the National Championship. I’m sorry, but did these men suddenly forget how to coach?

I’ve had my criticisms of Furman coaches over the years (and took plenty of heat for that criticism). But these are still good football coaches and even better men.

Bruce Fowler is cut from the exact same mold as Bobby Johnson, who is treated as some kind of football “god” by Furman fans. And justifiably so. He revived the Paladins in the early 90s and took them to their third national title game in 2001.

Furman football has five losing seasons in the last 25 years. Bobby Johnson owns two of them.

And by the way, has everyone missed the fact that this team lost four players to NFL training camps, and played with a freshman quarterback for the better part of 10 games?

Firing Bruce Fowler or anyone else would be a foolish move after two seasons. Withdrawing our monetary support if they’re not fired would be worse than foolish. It would go against everything that is Furman University.

Is withdrawing money from the program going to help it get successful any faster? I seriously doubt it.

Bruce Fowler and his staff deserve at least a five-year window to prove what they can do. These men are Furman graduates/players/coaches, and have had plenty of previous success to justify some extra time. These men didn’t pull a Bobby Petrino or Jim Tressel. They simply had a bad season, and firing them would diminish everything that Furman football has build in the last 30 years.

Furman is better than that, and it always should be. The fans and the community need to chip in now more than ever, and they need to let the coaching staff know that they have our support.

This isn’t Auburn or Arkansas, folks. We don’t fire people after two years, and we don’t take our ball and go home when things don’t go our way.

So what does this topic have to do with Christianity? Well, you’ll have to read that one tomorrow.

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