How was playing in the program that final year?
I actually never got to play through a season with the team. I was a recruit during the final season of the program, but was particularly close to the team for a few reasons. My high school coach was a former CC coach, so he introduced me to most of the team and staff before I even committed to CC.
Because I lived in town, I went to nearly every home game, hung out with the team and coaches before and after games, and came on several official and unofficial visits to campus with the players. There was obviously a sense of frustration among the players during the season, because they failed to win a game that year.
As a result, there was a culture of change that permeated the entire program the following offseason… In short, the final year was characterized by a desire to “fix” the program, and to develop a culture of success. One player had the mantra “let’s add an ‘un’ to our ‘defeated'” throughout the final offseason.
How disappointed were people when the program was cancelled?
It’s hard to describe just how devastating the loss of the program was to so many people. The other recruits and I felt lost. Many of us, myself included, turned down much larger and more successful football schools to play for this program and be a part of turning it around. We were lured with promises of getting significant playing time as freshmen and being long-term contributors to the program.
By the time they cut the team, almost every other program in the U.S. had already given out most or all of their scholarship money, and we were left with just two options: either paying full price at another school to play football, or missing our freshman year of football and transferring after the next year.
When Coach Bodor called me to inform me the program had been cut, his voice was shaking and sounded like he was about to break down. I had to hang up and call him back, because I literally couldn’t speak with the lump that grew at the back of my throat.
Basically it was awful for a very large group of people, and to this day I have difficulties talking about it to anyone but close friends.
What position did you play and what was CC football like?
I played running back and kick returner. Obviously I never got to play in a game, but the offseason I was around for was a blast. This was a group of people that just loved football, plain and simple. They were brothers. They would come together to work their asses off towards a common goal, and then have fun after.
It sounds like I’m describing literally any football program, but there was something different about this team. They seemed to work harder and have more fun doing it, at least when I was around.
Why did you stay when the program was cancelled?
The reason I stayed needs some contextualizing. I was being recruited by larger schools between my junior and senior years, and then I blew out my knee about six minutes in to my first game senior year. Pretty much every larger school lost interest, and the possibility of a scholarship to a big school was out the window.
I had to regroup, find a base of smaller schools that would care less about my injury, rehab my knee, and then pick a school. All of this was an exhausting process, and the knee injury that led to me missing my senior year was devastating. After being devastated again with the news of CC cutting the team, I decided it was time to move on with life and just get an education.
I was also a bit mentally unwell after those two experiences, and I was nervous of picking a different school and then blowing out my knee again. I just decided I really liked CC for everything else it had to offer and wanted to stay. I did end up regretting that, but only after I was too out of shape to transfer somewhere to play.
Did CC’s social life scene or CC in general change when we dropped the football team?
The social scene changed significantly, but I am unsure if that was due to the team leaving or a natural trend, because it’s continued to happen year after year. From what players have told me, and by comparing the social scene now to the few times I was lucky enough to experience it as a recruit, it is vastly different.
I don’t want to go as far as saying it’s boring now, but it is certainly less fun. Back then, the sports teams largely controlled the social scene, and houses were referred to as “the football house” or “the lax house” as opposed to just “927” or “1105.” I guess the social scene was more organized when there was a football team.
While we still have most of the sports teams that were around back then, not a single roster in sports compares to the size of a football roster. There were A LOT of football seniors each year relative to other sports teams, and there were multiple senior houses with football players living in them.
Any final thoughts you’d like to share on your experience at CC?
The hardest part about all of this has been watching the rest of the community move on. There is officially no one that played for the team left on campus, and I am the last recruit. In the years immediately following the end of the team, the program still regularly came up in conversation. Bringing the team back was seen as a question of “when”—not “if.”
Players were still around in numbers to rep the team and the program’s history; now, it feels like an afterthought. Now, the idea of bringing back the team is only discussed as a way to improve our campus’ image, not as a way to right the lives of those that were wronged, and that has been the major shift in the discussion. One of the worst things I’ve heard is (and I’ve heard it a lot) is that the team deserved to be cut after performing so poorly. I don’t know where that stance came from, but it’s hurtful, and it is the reason I don’t think it will ever come back.
I’ve heard conversations about bringing it back, but they are typically from people that weren’t around when it ended. The team and the community fought back when the school made the final decision. Alumni rallied and pledged MILLIONS in donations, enough to run the team for a few years while more funding could be collected.
“Save CC Football” shirts were made and worn by huge portions of campus, and people fought diligently to be heard—yet campus still shut it down. If CC was willing to shut down the program in the midst of heavy protest, and with enough alumni support to continue operations for free for years until permanent alumni funding could be organized, does anyone really think it will happen now?
When students could care less? When there are no football players left to fight for it? When alumni that previously offered to donate to save the program have become disillusioned with the cause? I don’t, but I am certainly hopeful.