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College Football & Academic Reputation

Not everyone is in support of bringing back Titan Football. Some may argue that the money it will take to resurrect the currently defunct program would be better spent on current academic programs. Besides, Cal State Fullerton is an institution of higher learning. The advancement of academic principles should be priority No. 1, right?

A few months ago, Jane Shaw of the John William Pope Center, wrote an opinion piece regarding UNC Charlotte’s decision to revive their football program. Many of the same arguments opposing Charlotte bringing back football are the same cries we hear out in Fullerton. In a nutshell, Shaw argues that a successful football program can indeed raise the level of academic reputation. Here are a few highlights:

Schools that have been around for many years (especially the Ivies, which are centuries old) are well ahead in the reputation game. Because of the difficulty of measuring quality and because reputations are entrenched by time, those reputations are extremely durable, even if they are based on inaccurate information. Upstarts are always trying to catch up.

To break into the circle of eminent institutions, a school must triumph in a mysterious competition that involves the opinions of peers (who funnel their views into the U.S. News rankings), national publicity, and evidence of having money (whether from an endowment or state coffers).

So, will a football team contribute to the process of building UNC-Charlotte’s reputation, bringing it up from the also-ran level where it appears to be now? Given enough time—and [Chancellor] Dubois is planning for the next 25 years, not the next five—Dubois bets that it will.

In fact, Dubois not only argues that it will improve UNC-Charlotte’s reputation, he specifically stated that a football team will boost the academic reputation of UNC-Charlotte.

“Within North Carolina, does anyone doubt that the excellent institutional and academic reputations enjoyed by Chapel Hill, N.C. State, Wake Forest, and Duke have been strengthened by the prestige of their athletic programs?” he asked. He even cited research by two Charlotte faculty members confirming that a strong football program provides “measurable benefits to the academic reputation of a participating university.”

Odd as this seems, it is not entirely unrealistic. As long as we don’t know what actual education is going on (and even research is difficult to evaluate), then academic reputation depends on this smoke-and-mirrors competition that could be influenced by almost anything.

Read Shaw’s entire article: It’s All about Reputation

So in essence the argument could be made that in order for Cal State Fullerton to compete with the likes of USC and UCLA or even San Diego State or Fresno State academically, Fullerton needs to bring back football. Of course if the Fullerton team is revived it would not compete on the same athletic level of the previously mentioned schools. By having football, the ground work is there to help improve academic reputation via on-field success.

No matter your opinion on the return of the UNC Charlotte program or the Cal State Fullerton Football team, you have to admit that human beings are inherently a competitive species. Whether it is sports, academics or music, people will always strive to separate themselves from others and demonstrate who is better at a particular task. If colleges didn’t have sports, schools would compete for reputation in theater, arts, marching bands or scientific research.

Then again, when is the last time 70,000 people showed up and paid to see a college student perform a science experiment?

Former Titan Footballer Now Coaching OC Flyers

When you hear someone say the name Phil Nevin, you automatically think of baseball. Nevin’s impressive three year career as a Titan 3rd baseman was remarkable earning him the Golden Spikes Award (the college baseball equivalent to the Heisman Trophy in college football) along with the Most Outstanding Player of the 1992 College World Series. That honor was even more impressive at that time in that Nevin joined Dave Winfield to be the only two players to receive the honor and to not have played for the championship team.

Many people are familiar with Nevin’s  accomplishment on the college and professional baseball diamond but many do not realize he was a spectacular two-sport athlete while at Fullerton. Nevin was originally awarded a football scholarship by Head Coach Gene Murphy and was a phenomenal place kicker and punter for the Titan Football team for three seasons. He was selected a freshman All-American placekicker in 1989 by The Sporting News after making 15 of 21 field goals (all of his misses were from 48 yards or more).  He averaged 40.1 yards as a punter in 1990 and 40.9 yards in 1991.  In three seasons he was 69-for-69 in extra points and kicked a pair of 54-yard field goals.

Despite his tremendous success on the gridiron, Nevin’s path was with baseball, playing in the major leagues for 12 years. The lion’s share of his professional success came while playing with the San Diego Padres. He retired in 2007 after posting a .270 career batting average, belting 208 home runs and 743 RBI in 1217 games. Upon retirement Nevin went into broadcasting co-hosting the Padres pre-game radio broadcast and also performed color analyst duties for ESPN’s coverage of the college baseball Regionals and Super Regionals.

Just announced recently is that Nevin will be returning to Fullerton and Goodwin Field as the new manager of the 2009 Orange County Flyers. The Flyers are an independent league baseball team that plays its home games at Cal State Fullerton’s Goodwin Field. This will be Nevin’s first stint as a baseball coach.

Congratulations to Nevin on this fantastic opportunity.

Video: 1984 California Bowl Highlights

The videos continue to get added to YouTube with highlights from when the Cal State Fullerton Football team played on television. This video contains highlights from the 1984 California Bowl when Cal State Fullerton played Northern Illinois. Sit back, enjoy and see guys like Damon Allen and Mark Collins demonstrate what made them standouts not only in college but professionally as well.

Video: 1989 CSUF vs. SDSU First Half Highlights

Through the power of the internet, video proof the Titans did indeed play football and it was on TV has made its way to YouTube. This video includes the first half highlights of the Sept. 23, 1989 game against San Diego State at Jack Murphy Stadium. The game ended in a 41-41 tie.