Success on Rooney could translate to better attendance at the AJP

By Steve DiMiceli

In only their 5th season in the NEC, Duquesne football has already made the jump to the top of the conference. With a young team, they look poised to win the title outright giving them a chance at the FCS championship and some sustained success. Realistically, getting there and winning a game would be amazing, but if Duquesne can dance in  football it could lead to an injection of enthusiasm that will carry over to other sports, namely basketball.

Let me start by saying, for years, I've hated Duquesne football predominately because I had a problem with the way Greg Gattuso ran his program and the way his players got away with everything but murder on campus. Don't get me wrong, I liked a lot of guys on the team when I was a student. In general though, I got fed up with the attitude that they were hot shots because they dominated the sub - FCS or Divisions I Mid Major circuit like it meant a damn thing.

Fast forward to today. Jerry Schmidt is entering his 8th year as head coach and his 5th in scholarship football. From a distance, he seems to be running aclean and  successful program. I appreciate that. In four seasons, he's taken the team from a pretender to NEC co-champion and one that will compete for a post season birth. While it's not the Rose Bowl, the FCS tournament is still a recognizable post season tournament. In case you haven't noticed Duquesne hasn't been to many of those lately.

It will be nice to start the school year off with some buzz for once. A football program that has been long overlooked even in the dorm that overlooks the stadium has a chance to capture the imagination of a university this fall. I don't expect the local media to go hog wild over Dukes football, but with Pitt looking awful, they could become a niche media darling on the level of Robert Morris hockey. I think a little enthusiasm at the beginning of the school year could go a long way to get students thinking more about athletics.  An NEC championship team could give them a healthy dose of school spirit long missing from the slightly snubbish undergrads which in turn could carry over to basketball. At the very least, it could draw in the uncorrupted freshmen who could in turn be less prudish as they advance year to year.

All that being said, I'll likely be attending my first Duquesne football game this season since 2002 when a drinking buddy of mine wandered onto the field and got arrested for public drunkenness and stealing athletic tape from the St. Peter's trainers. The prospect of an FCS tournament team has sucked me in for sure, but I'd be lying if I suggested I knew anything about the current team. I can name one player and it's not even the guy who transferred from Ohio St because he used Craig's List. His name escapes me. All I know is that I'm interested and I want to see more for the first time ever. That and I hope I'm not the only one.