Tonight will be a rare two-post night. I'm not going to bother to look to see when the last one was, but I know it's been months. As stated in the headline, the University of South Alabama will have its first NCAA-sanctioned football in the school's 44 year history, starting in the 2009 football season. This is a story I've been watching with great interest, though I didn't allow myself to hope too strongly. After all, there have been near misses before, most recently in 2000. However, when I saw that the student body had gotten substantially more than the required 2,000 petition signatures, when I read that the U. of South Alabama Faculty Senate had approved it 27-4, when I read that the University President and the President pro-tempore of the Board of Trustees both came out with strong language favoring the creation of a football program, and most recently, when I read earlier today, prior to the official announcement, that the president of the Mobile City Council, Reggie Copeland, offered to house the USA Jaguars football program for five years rent-free at Ladd Peebles Stadium, I knew it was only a matter of time, and not much time at that. As it turns out, the formal announcement was made earlier today.
People have been hungry for Division I football here for as long as I can remember. The nearest football schools are at least three hours away, and the high school talent pool is deep in the southern counties of Alabama and Mississippi, and in the westernmost counties of Florida. People in Mobile and Baldwin counties have wanted something more than the Friday night lights of high school football, yet time and again, either through ineptitude at the top levels of leadership at South or through active antipathy towards football among the members of the school's Board of Trustees, it had never happened in the past attempts. Finally, after 44 years, they have listened to their community, their students, and their alumni, and a school that already boasts solid academics and a good medical school will have a football team. So if my eyes look like they're misting up, these aren't tears of sorrow; they're tears of joy.
Enjoy the celebratory music. :)