TERRE HAUTE —
So what’s the excuse this time?
Indiana State’s football team — who, by the way, were averaging 37.2 points going into Saturday’s game against Missouri State — came into its game against the Bears with a 3-2 record and were fresh off an unholy butt-kicking of Illinois State during the Homecoming Saturnalia that was the 59-24 victory over the Redbirds.
Missouri State came to Terre Haute with tails firmly between legs after suffering a 72-59 loss at Murray State. Every indication was there that it was going to be an entertaining shootout.
Sounds like high time to get that ISU bandwagon rolling! Full steam ahead like a big blue (or in the case of football, black) locomotive filled to the brim with giddy Sycamores fans, right?
Guess again. If Saturday’s “crowd” at Memorial Stadium was any indicator, the ISU bandwagon is akin to a rusted out 1973 Chevy Impala sputtering along Wabash Avenue with Wabash Cannonball looping and skipping on its 8-track.
The grand total in the welcoming committee that greeted the Sycamores’ conquering heroes on Saturday after last week’s victory was 3,194. That counts tickets sold. The real total was more like 2,300. This, on a clear, beautiful blue sky day that God couldn’’t have made more perfect for watching football.
Terre Haute and ISU fans who once again advertised their apathy ought to be ashamed of themselves. Good for those who came, but there should have been a lot more.
I mean, what the heck is going on here? I’m not declaring … I’m asking.
The Covered Bridge Festival? C’mon. It’s been going on for a week and it’s the same nearly every year. Pre-Nationals? They were over by the time ISU’s game kicked off. WIC Day at the Dome? Some of those games were over too.
Oh right. Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame were at home. Last I checked, none of those universities are in Terre Haute. What happened to supporting the teams in your own hometown?
ISU coach Trent Miles — a Terre Haute native — was asked what his reaction to the low attendance was. He was diplomatic, but direct.
“I don’t know what the reason is for a poor crowd, but we’re going to do battle if there one or 12,000 in there. Our kids rose to the occasion, and I’ll tell you what, as loud as it got, it felt like there was 15,000 in there at the end,” Miles said.
All true, but it doesn’t mean Miles and the rest of ISU’s supporters don’t want to see more butts in seats.
“I feel sorry for the people who are missing these games. You’re making a mistake not coming out here to watch these kids. There’s also something good that the university is putting on, there’s a good environment here, these kids are laying it on the line for you,” Miles said.
Miles cited some reasons for the low turnout. Some of it is legitimate. It is hard to believe the Sycamores are on the cusp on first place in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, but they there are. No one gave it to them, ISU earned it.
“I don’t think people believe yet. Homecoming? It was a good crowd, but it was a fluke, Illinois State didn’t play well. They won against a NAIA school and a Division II school,” Miles said. “But hey, these kids are winners and they’re proving it each week. You’re missing good football, you’re missing a good time.”
Miles said it’s vital not only for the ISU community to support football, but Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley as well.
“We have a good university, we have a good administration, but we can’t count on thousands of alums coming back for games. It’s just not going to happen. We need the Terre Haute community out and involved and supporting us also. You need to buy in, we can be special,” Miles pleaded.
“We wear that WV on the back of our helmets for the Wabash Valley. We want to the Wabash Valley to support these young men. They need to get out here and see that we have something special going,” he added.
Being a native Hautean, Miles knows this community can support the Sycamores. Its done it before.
“I’ve been in this stadium as a ballboy where there were 16,000 people here. I played in there when there were a lot of people. They need to be here now because they’re missing out on something special,” Miles said.
The excuses for not going to games are tired. I’m sure I’ll get the usual e-mails — Beanie Cooper did this in the early 80s, Dennis Raetz did that in the early 90s, the school doesn’t care about the community, the community doesn’t care about the school, et cetera, ad nauseum.
Who cares? Virtually none of it has any relevance to the present-day. Most of the slights ISU fans and Hauteans come up with to not support their hometown team happened a decade to a quarter-century ago … or more. That’s a long time to hold a grudge.
For too many years I’ve heard that support would be forthcoming when there was a winner on the field. Based on Saturday’s turnout, it appears that was an empty promise. ISU is finally giving people the winner they want. Not only that, but a winner that’s entertaining to watch and is a great rags-to-riches story.
“I’m going to be on it. We’ll give [reluctant fans] this week, because we’re going on the road, but the next week [when ISU hosts South Dakota State], if I have to shake and rattle people to get them out here, they’ll get out here. People are going to start believing.”
I hope so. But I’ll believe when I see it.
Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or email@example.com. Please check out Golden’s Down In The Valley blog at blogs.tribstar.com/downinthevalley.
TERRE HAUTE —
So what’s the excuse this time?
- From the Press Box
TODD GOLDEN: Waltman's integrity helped him rise to the top
When I began to think about former Indiana State coach Royce Waltman — and I’ve thought about him a lot in recent months as the ravages of a stroke and cancer robbed us of his presence — I thought to myself “what can I print?”
Waltman was many things. Blunt, plain-spoken, unfiltered? All of the above and more. Every Indiana State fan saw Waltman in action … and I had a front row seat for three years right next to him on press row.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Missouri Valley is tough — ISU making it tougher
For those who measure the quality of a conference by their place in the Ratings Percentage Index, it was a tough year for the Missouri Valley Conference and its marquee sport: men’s basketball.
The MVC was 11th in conference RPI and took all manner of criticism when Wichita State ran the MVC table for a perfect 18-0 season. The fingers that pointed at the league for fielding a weak challenge to the Shockers’ dominance were many.
TODD GOLDEN: ISU's no-excuses approach for real
If you were to ask me what the drawback of covering Indiana State baseball is? I’d be hard-pressed to name very much.
Todd Golden: Sycamores ran with the best
It’s hard to run with Secretariat. Secretariat, for the uninitiated, won horse racing’s Triple Crown in 1973 and famously stormed to victory in the Belmont Stakes by an unfathomable 31 lengths. Secretariat is widely considered to be the greatest thoroughbred of all time, and his Belmont performance is one of sports’ all-time greatest moments. In Missouri Valley Conference terms, Wichita State is Secretariat.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Odum rises to WSU challenge
When you’re getting ready to play the No. 2 team in the country — the undefeated No. 2 team in the country and the best Missouri Valley Conference team in a generation — the unwritten rule says you’re not supposed to rile them. That you’re not supposed to poke the hornet’s nest.
From The Press Box: The nuts and bolts of compiling a Mock Selection for the NCAA Tournament
Before March Madness comes the March mystery of the run-up to Selection Sunday.
From the Press Box: Loss couldn’t ruin great day for ISU, Terre Haute
When I write, and when I can, I like to give myself a bit of time to soak in what I’m going to write about. After Indiana State’s 65-58 loss to No. 4 Wichita State on Wednesday, I went home, had a bite to eat and pondered what I thought the night was all about.
I knew ISU’s disappointment cut deep. Really deep. A cruel reality of sports is that losses linger on in the memory with greater resonance than wins often do. Given the shots that rattled out, fell short and missed the mark in the final five minutes, this is a defeat that will, sadly, dog the Sycamores tonight, tomorrow and 20 years from now.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Little to lose, a lot to gain for Indiana State
It’s hard not to get excited about today’s Missouri Valley Conference summit meeting between co-leaders Indiana State and Wichita State. Who wouldn’t be?
From the Press Box: I’ve seen the enemy … and it’s the double bonus
I’ve seen the enemy.
I’ve seen it turn the game of basketball from one of exciting flow into a nonstop parade of tedium. I’ve seen it morph hundreds of what would-be thrilling, last-minute, end-to-end conclusions into foul shooting exhibitions that suck the life out of a gym or arena near you.
It’s the double bonus. It’s a scourge, one that is often overlooked when ideas on how to make the game more entertaining or to speed the game up are put forth.
From The Press Box: If ISU figures out defense, look out
The Great Alaska Shootout is not going to provide the Great RPI Bump that Indiana State’s participation in last year’s Diamond Head Classic provided.
From the Press Box: Damage is done for ISU football
As a parent and a professional, there’s a bit of advice I’ve tried to pass along that I’ve found to be true.
No matter what you happen to be doing — whether it be job performance or just your own personal behavior — you can do the right thing for a period of time, even the vast majority of the time, but all it takes is one slip and the goodwill you’ve built up can be gone in one fell swoop.
TODD GOLDEN: Munn, Odum want to make paper accomplishment a real one
When it comes to Missouri Valley Conference Media Day, it has historically been a kick in the gut for Indiana State's basketball teams.
But not this year. For the first time since formal MVC preseason polls began in the mid-1980s, the Sycamores rule the MVC roost.
TODD GOLDEN: Colts fans paid Manning ultimate tribute
Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis was many things — the return of a beloved prodigal son, a battle of Colts’ No. 1-draft-pick quarterbacks and last, but not least, the visit from one of the AFC’s last reminaing undefeated teams — but most of all, it could have been a battle for the Colts’ fans soul.
From The Press Box: ISU in top 2 of top-heavy MVC
Change doesn’t often come to Missouri Valley Conference basketball. Until this season, it had endured with the same 10 members since the mid-1990s. But the reality of conference realignment finally hit the MVC where it lived last spring as Creighton departed for the new Big East Conference. The MVC responded by adding Loyola University.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Sycamores shocked by 1-5 start to season
It was a play that not only symbolized Indiana State’s 17-14 loss at South Dakota on Saturday, but perhaps the Sycamores’ entire season.
Down three with 6:39 left in the fourth quarter, ISU faced third-and-9 from its own 39. ISU ran Shakir Bell to the left and the senior standout had daylight.
From The Press Box: An avoidable loss
It couldn’t last forever.
From The Press Box: Colts dodge bullets ... it's what they do
Just a few minutes into the second quarter, it seemed Colts fans could kick back and enjoy a Sunday on Easy Street.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Indiana State proves plenty in 20-14 loss at Purdue
No moral victories?
Bull. Its always been bull and it will always be bull. The Sycamores proved again that moral victories are very real, and can be very rewarding.
All they needed to do to prove it was to look at the stunned faces of the Purdue faithful at Ross-Ade Stadium in the Sycamores’ near-miss 20-14 loss to Purdue.
From the Press Box: Stipends? No. Off-field income? Oh yeah, bring it on
The war flags have been raised. The trumpets have sounded.
With the Johnny Manziel autograph hullabaloo and the ongoing Ed O’Bannon suit against the NCAA for using his likeness as background, many have rallied to the battle standard of stipends as a means of compensating NCAA athletes who are allegedly being exploited for income by their universities.
This rally cry has a particular resonance among those in my profession, many of whom dislike the current system, and who detest the NCAA with a virulent passion.
TODD GOLDEN: Golf ... the beast within?
Like many sports fans, my interest in professional golf is confined to the four major tournaments. Many prefer the Masters, some like the back-to-roots British Open, but I’ve always liked the U.S. Open the best.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Close, but no cigar, theme for ISU sports in 2012-13
When I covered my first event of Indiana State’s 2012-13 season — ISU’s opening football game at Indiana — I was the first one in the press box at IU’s Memorial Stadium. I’m never the first one in the press box.
Maybe the prospect of ISU’s season had me so pumped that I decided to get it started close to three hours early? (Or more truthfully, maybe I was over-vigilent about predicted traffic horrors on the Indiana 46 bypass that never came to pass.)
TODD GOLDEN: Don't give up on ISU baseball just yet
If you had to pick one word that would describe the 2013 Indiana State baseball season, it would have to be frustration.
FROM THE PRESSBOX: Content McKenna has enjoyed seeing ISU's progress
It all happened so fast in June 2010.
One minute, Kevin McKenna was head coach of the Indiana State men’s basketball program. Then — poof! — he was gone.
McKenna resigned from his head coaching position at ISU on June 13, 2010 to take an assistant coach position on Dana Altman’s then-burgeoning University of Oregon staff.
MVC can't wait on Crieghton to move forward
Will they go or not? That’s been the question that the Missouri Valley Conference and Creighton have been faced with since rumors of the Bluejays’ potential exit went public in December.
FROM THE PRESSBOX: Can Sycamores reverse fortunes heading into MVC Tournament?
Mastery of a basketball season comes in many forms. Mostly, it comes in forms that involve avoidance of turnovers, anemic scoring and poor defense.
The mechanics of X-and-O success in basketball are obvious, but what’s often overlooked in building a successful campaign is managing the rhythm of the season, which is the hardest thing of all.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Accountability isn't Lansing's alone in ISU's recent struggles
Taking ownership has always been one of Indiana State men’s basketball coach Greg Lansing’s strengths.
When ISU has lost games in his three seasons at the helm that it was expected to win, Lansing has always been willing to fall on the sword and take blame for it.
TODD GOLDEN: Indiana State has far more occasions to rise to
Rejoice, Indiana State basketball fans. The Sycamores’ 68-55 victory at No. 15 Wichita State on Tuesday is worthy of celebration.
TODD GOLDEN: Big plays in last 10 minutes story of the season for Indiana State
You’d think I’d have learned by now.
It’s 20 games into Indiana State’s men’s basketball season and I still expect the Sycamores’ offense operate like a well-oiled machine from the opening tip.
Sycamores blossom on Hawaii trip
Quick quiz … what’s the state flower of Hawaii?
Don’t worry. I can’t just rattle state flowers off the top of my head. I had to look it up too, even though I’ve seen them all over the place in Honolulu.
I didn’t even know that Indiana’s state flower is the peony, which replaced the apparently unloved zinnia in the 1950s.
Hawaii’s flower, and they’re ubiquitous in Waikiki tourist shops and in actual flora on Oahu, is the yellow hibiscus.
The yellow hibiscus is big, bold and bright. I’ve never seen one blossom, but I imagine it has to be a beautiful sight.
What I have seen blossom — and it’s the only reason flowers would be brought up in my column — is the Indiana State basketball team at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
TODD GOLDEN: ISU needs to have its realignment head on a swivel
Have you ever driven past a cow pasture during a severe thunderstorm? If it’s really bad, the cows will congregate in a herd to protect themselves from the tumult.
- More From the Press Box Headlines
- TODD GOLDEN: Waltman's integrity helped him rise to the top