By Ray Hamill — There was an array of emotional reactions on display at the Redwood Bowl on Saturday afternoon.
Despair. Frustration. Disgust. Anger. Rage.
And most of all sadness.
In what could best be described as a surreal atmosphere, Humboldt State played its final football game ever at the iconic stadium, bringing closure to almost a century of tradition in front of a packed house, all of them eager to get one final taste of Lumberjacks football before it’s taken away from them forever.
The game itself was an exciting, hard-fought clash, almost as if the football gods, perhaps realizing the magnitude of what was happening, were granting us all one final wish.
And when the game went to overtime, there wasn’t a silent voice in the stadium, all of us cheering like we had never cheered for an extra period in our lives, and it sounded as if there was twice the announced attendance of 4,315.
We didn’t want to let go.
We didn’t want it to end.
“Just five more minutes, please!!!!”
And then, just like that, it was gone. As sudden as endings tend to be when you simply don’t want them to come.
A surreal atmosphere.
A field goal giving the visiting Azusa Pacific Cougars the win, spoilers of a party they just happened to show up at, and a group of players that appeared as stunned as anyone in the aftermath, almost as if they didn’t know whether to celebrate their win or console the opposing players and fans.
Some of them did both.
A cherished North Coast tradition
Lisa Rossbacher and Duncan Robins have a lot to answer to today.
It’s not just that they are the people responsible for taking away a cherished North Coast sporting tradition, and will always be remembered as such, but the fact that it never had to happen.
That’s the frustrating part.
Independent reports have shown that Humboldt State football is not only a self-sustainable program within the university, but one that benefits the school in numerous ways, including enrollment, which further stimulates economic sustainability for the entire university.
Even beyond that, the local community has shown it will stand up and support the team financially, yet Rossbacher and Robins have refused to accept this, for whatever reasons we can only speculate.
The whole thing defies logic.
It simply is not about money, no matter what they tell us.
So what is it about?
That’s the question HSU fans have been asking for some time now, and that’s the frustrating part.
HSU football didn’t have to go.
It’s something that was painfully obvious to anyone who was in attendance on Saturday.
Not without hope
Going forward, Rossbacher will be gone at the end of the school year, leaving a path of destruction in her wake, but at least paving the way for a potentially brighter future at the school.
Whether that brighter future can include football remains to be seen and would appear unlikely, but the situation is not without hope.
The biggest obstacle to keeping this North Coast sporting tradition alive was always going to be the president, and now that she’s moving on, the only certainty is change.
And change opens the door for possibilities.
The new president, whoever he or she may be, will inherit several campus fires in need of putting out, and bringing football back may not be high on their agenda.
So HSU fans need to continue to let their voices be heard on this matter and not allow the issue slip away quietly the way Rossbacher and Robins would undoubtedly love to see.
CSU Chancellor Timothy White will be back on campus in February along with the four members of the board of trustees responsible for the hiring process of a new president, and will hold an open forum as a part of that process.
HSU fans need to let their voices be heard then.
At the very least, they need to impress on the people responsible for making such an influential decision just how important this team and this tradition is to the North Coast.
HSU fans let their voices be heard at the end of Saturday’s game, the end of an era.
They need to continue to do so if they ever want to see Lumberjacks football at the Redwood Bowl again.