Unlike some nattering nabobs of negativism in the local press, I thought our San Diego State Aztecs played with skill and enterprise against those beasts from upstate San Luis Obispo. Hell, if the game ended one play earlier, San Diego would have won!
But, I’m not here to speak about Saturday night or, for that matter, the preceding 39 years of SDSU Division I football. Who cares about that? Do you care who won the Paraguayan War? Of course not. Besides, that’s not the point. My purpose is to preview next week’s contest and lay out the Six Keys to Victory. If you’ll kindly step over here…
Sometime this week, the San Diego State Aztecs football team will board a jet aircraft and fly to the heartland of America. Once there, they will transfer to ground transportation bound for Notre Dame Stadium, thence to changing rooms, thence onto the gridiron to confront the athletic industrial complex known as Notre Dame/NBC.
NBC will televise the game over free TV beginning at 12:30 PST. That’s this Saturday, people.
So, how are we going to win? What are the Six Keys to Victory? Unfortunately, we can’t take crowd noise into account. Notre Dame Stadium holds 80,232 screaming, rabid, I-will-die-for-you fans. Saturday will mark Notre Dame’s 200th consecutive home-game sellout.
So what. The Aztecs just played before 26,851 of their screaming, deliriously excited fans at Qualcomm Stadium. Although they subsequently lost to the California Polytechnic State University Mustangs, it was a close run thing and therefore exciting. The crowd noise, albeit enhanced by recordings piped through stadium speakers, was enthusiastic. I think we can all agree on that.
But, due to financial considerations, the Aztecs will not be taking their stadium speakers to South Bend, Indiana. Therefore, when drawing up the Six Keys to Victory I had to disallow what would normally be a significant advantage for San Diego.
Okay, here we go. The First Key: CONFIDENCE. When you look at it mathematically, Notre Dame and San Diego State are tied. Notre Dame has a record of 0-0. Their winning percentage is .000. San Diego, with a record of 0-1, also has a winning percentage of .000. Hold your heads up high, Aztecs.
The Second Key: COACHING. After the Cal Poly game, San Diego State head coach Chuck Long said, “For some reason, we didn’t play well enough to win and we beat ourselves.” What more is there to say? This is football haiku of the highest quality.
Follows are remarks of Charlie Weis, Notre Dame’s head coach, spoken at a press conference the day after the SDSU/Cal Poly battle. Coincidence? I think not. In fact, Weis admitted watching the game on TV. A reporter asked if Notre Dame was overconfident going into Saturday.
Coach Weis answered, “But in this game [San Diego/Cal Poly], having watched two thirds of it so far, okay, there’s plenty of evidence on tape of things that we have to worry about. There’s plenty of evidence, be it their quarterback throwing the ball up and down the field. I’m not going to get too much into that game yet. But kickoff coverage team, you know, all of a sudden one guy blowing up everything there. You watch it on special teams. And then watch it on defense, you know, them creating turnover, turnover, and getting when they’re making a critical stop towards the end of the game when they had a chance to put the game away. So there’s plenty of evidence on the tape for our players to realize that they need to get to work.”
Their coach is dumber than our coach. Advantage San Diego.
Enough with the Six Keys. It’s not the players — they’re doing everything that’s been asked of them; it’s the San Diego State athletic department and its vassal, Football, who are responsible. If anything, those functionaries are hiding behind their players. San Diego State football reeks of failure because aforesaid apparatchiks can’t figure out how to hire a good coach and keep him. Can’t figure out how to recruit good players and keep them. Fresno State and Boise State know how to find coaches and players, but then one school is located in glamorous Fresno and the other is situated in that swank, well-known European spa, Boise, Idaho. Everybody wants to live there. On the other hand, San Diego State is handicapped by its overlarge student body of 33,000 students and its location. The school sits in an isolated corner of the country, Southern California, and is close by beaches and all the dangers that proximity to the sea brings. Clearly, San Diego is a place nobody wants to visit, much less matriculate. No wonder hiring great coaches and recruiting the best high school athletes has been a problem.
Year, after year, after year, after year.