The Mercer football team headed out on its first road trip this week as the Bears have gone all the way across the country to San Diego to play Saturday.
San Diego is one of the real powers in the Pioneer Football League, and it was once coached by Jim Harbaugh, so the game and the trip add up to a difficult test for the Bears. When the Bears return home next week to face Valparaiso, there’s a good chance they will have their first loss of the season on their record.
But after four wins to start the season, including a stunner last week over Drake, 4-1 is not too bad for a startup program. That said, after their win over Drake, who is to say the Bears will lose Saturday? They could pull off another dynamic performance and return home 5-0.
Let’s hope more people show up for that next home game than attended the win over Drake. It was, to be conservative, a disappointing crowd for the team’s Pioneer League opener, and this team deserves better than that.
The first excuse for that would be that Georgia’s big game against LSU kicked off at 3:30 p.m., and many people from our area went to that game. OK, but what about the folks who didn’t go to that game? The ones who were going to stay home and watch that game on TV?
There was plenty of time for them to attend the Mercer game and get home to watch most of the Georgia game. The Mercer game, after all, was completed by 3:45 p.m.
Yet, there was Mercer University Stadium half full last week. I was surprised, but not really, by the crowd. Surprised in the sense that this team started the season 3-0 and was playing its biggest game of the season, and that should have led to a solid crowd. Not really surprised because this is Macon, after all.
The folks who didn’t attend missed a strong performance by Bobby Lamb’s program. They missed an interception and a touchdown return by Alex Avant that was one of the most remarkable plays I’ve ever seen (“SportsCenter” agreed by placing that play in its top 10). They missed what could be a signature win for this young program.
But is it really a surprise so many people missed it? Probably not. The high school games Friday in Bibb County offered many more examples of this town’s apathy or disinterest.
Just a few months ago, Mercer’s basketball program hosted Florida Gulf Coast in the A-Sun tournament championship game for the right to go to the NCAA tournament. Yet, there wasn’t a full house at Hawkins Arena for one of the biggest games in the program’s history.
That was just another example of long line of examples of how this town hasn’t supported sports team or events.
You just have to hope, against reality maybe, that things will change as we move forward. That could start with the Mercer football program and the rest of this season.
Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org