Football Is Not Impossible at CSUSM!


The fall season is in full swing. With that season comes everything-pumpkin-related, ghouls, horror and what many consider to be the beginning of the holidays. For college campuses across the nation, the advent of fall also means that football is back. This begs the age-old question our campus has said no to so far: Should Cal State San Marcos have a football team?


If you say no, why? 


Perhaps the number-one consideration stemming a “yes” vote is money: Where will the venture capital come from? The students? Loans? Grants? Business agreements? An article published by Bleacher Report about Georgia’s Kennesaw State football program stated the price tag requested by the Georgia Board of Regents before being approved to be at $5-10 million. Wow.


According to the same Bleacher Report article, like CSUSM, Kennesaw State began as a smaller commuter school. More than 20 years after these small beginnings with an even-smaller sports and athletics program at the time, the university of the Owls is now a major player in the college scene.


They, like other startup from-the-ground-up programs across the nation, succeeded. So, how did they do it? How did they manage to generate enough metaphorical lift to get their fledgling football program plans off the ground and soaring through the skies?


Well, one thing they did was start the damn thing. The university formed a football exploratory committee in 2009. Of course, what I leave out here is their luck in hiring Vince Dooley as chairman of the committee. Dooley is well-known in the city of Athens in the same state for bringing the University of Georgia a national championship in 1980 and several titles in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) throughout his college-football-Hall-of-fame-inductee coaching career.


It certainly also helped that their potential venue for games was easy to find. The capital for a stadium is understandably no laughing matter. Kennesaw State was lucky enough to have a former soccer stadium next to campus conveniently available to be obtained and rebranded as a football stadium. On top of that, the stadium acquisition was helped by the backing of the program by the local Fifth Third Bank, which also earned the bank the honor of the stadium becoming their namesake.


In terms of administrators, Kennesaw State lucked out once again in finding a well-connected, experienced and homegrown head coach. With a small staff, the group took to finding prospects and commitments from Georgia high schools, knowing they couldn’t hope to outcompete other universities for out-of-state students and hopeful about the talent peppering the state of Georgia. A quarterback signed first,others trickled slowly after.Those saying “yes” had to agree to contend with essentially signing a year and a half of their college football career away to hardcore practice, a necessary evil to build the core and principles of the program before any games could take place.


The Owls athletic director, Vaughn Williams, sought examples of and sage advice on how to become a successful program from other startups like Kennesaw. All the words and track records pointed to the importance of support from partners, fans and perhaps most importantly the community.


Where does all of this leave us in considering how to bring football to CSUSM? Luck is certainly one major factor in Kennesaw State’s successes. But more importantly, it was the will to endure and persevere, to aggressively find business and funding partners. The Owls sought the advice of other successful programs and found the right staff and personnel. Finally, and maybe most importantly, they worked to nurture and grow fan appreciation, school spirit and pride.


So tell me, Cougars: Does it still seem impossible to get a football team? With all of the above, plus the fact that other universities just as unlikely to form a team did successfully get one off the ground, it certainly doesn’t to me.