By Ray Hamill — Humboldt State football came into the 2018 season with an all-time record of 402-395-21.
In their 90th and final campaign, all the Jacks need to do to ensure an all-time winning record is win two games this year.
Judging by Saturday night’s performance, they may not manage even that.
In fact, judging by Saturday’s performance, they probably won’t even come close.
This isn’t a knock on the current group of players, nor is it an attempt to add misery to an already discouraging situation within the confines of the Redwood Bowl.
But the simple truth is the Jacks were overwhelmingly outmatched on Saturday by a team that really isn’t very good.
That isn’t the fault of the current coaches or players, who are trying as hard as any of their peers in the nation, and probably want to win even more than any of them because of the situation they find themselves engulfed within.
But the reality here is they have been set up to fail, a fact that was blatantly obvious on Saturday night.
The Real Cost of Cutting HSU Football is a season-long series published on HumboldtSports.com, with different stories throughout the fall, each breaking down a different aspect of the decision, why it was made, and what it really means to HSU and the surrounding community.
In one final betrayal to the local sports community in regards to the football team, the same people responsible for taking away one of our most cherished sporting traditions have also set this team up to fall flat on its final journey.
Once again, whether this was planned or just another byproduct of their apparent apathy toward the situation is a moot point at this stage.
What is clear is that their actions over the past year and a half have set this current team up to lose.
And lose badly.
Maybe president Lisa Rossbacher and/or interim Athletic Director Duncan Robins want this team to lose every game to ensure this program dies off with a whimper instead of a wave of emotion that winning would provide.
Or maybe they want the team to stink so fans won’t show up and they can tell us all the community really doesn’t care that much, and draw less attention to what we’re all about to lose forever.
The community showed up in large enough numbers to show they cared about the team this past Saturday (officially 4,137), but the entertainment value of what they were served up was unfortunate to say the least.
And that’s because this current team has been set up to fail by an administration that made recruiting close to impossible over the past year.
With the amount of uncertainty surrounding the future of this team, and the drawn-out, somewhat farcical process of attempting to hire a head coach, no top recruits would have considered playing here at any stage within the past year, and any that originally might have considered HSU would have committed elsewhere by the time the HSU coaches were able to knock on their doors.
The Jacks were unable to recruit any players at all during the 2017 season, and the ensuing confusion after that didn’t exactly help.
There were three different head coaches in charge within a six-week period, which provided no real stability in the recruiting effort, and once again served to frighten away any worthwhile prospects.
And that doesn’t even take into the account the players who left in July when the decision to cut the program after this season was announced.
Once again, this is not a knock on the current players, who are quite probably busting their tails as much as anyone to compete, but they are simply being out-matched, something that was abundantly evident when being fed to the Wolves on Saturday.
The worry also is that this could lead to major injuries to these young players.
And that’s all a direct result of an almost impossible recruiting situation forced upon the program over the past 12 months.
The coaching staff too is not what it could have been because of the administration’s actions during this time, and with all due respect to head coach Damaro Wheeler and his staff, who again I’m quite sure are battling and working as hard as any of their peers, they simply are not as proven as many of the candidates for the job.
Wheeler, who may yet be a great Division-II head coach, and who is certainly well admired among his peers, was not listed among the 15 final candidates recommended by the hiring committee to Robins, yet he was among the interim AD’s final three choices for the job.
That begs an assortment of additional questions, but most notably it’s another indication of how the current administration has set this current group of players up to fail this season.
Beautiful setting for football
It was a beautiful evening at the Redwood Bowl on Saturday, a perfect setting for football, and a perfect setting for more than 4,000 local sports fans to take in the occasion.
It’s bad enough that the Humboldt State administration is taking all of that away from us for what are essentially insubstantial reasons, but on top of that they have now also set this proud North Coast sporting tradition up to go out with a whimper.
It’s yet another way Rossbacher and her decision makers have let the school and the surrounding community down.
Their actions have set the 2018 Jacks team up to fail.