Xavier Might Bring Back Football, Which Could End Badly For Them

By Johnny Ginter on June 30, 2023 at 10:10 am

Xavier University doesn't need a football team.

Football is a pretty easy sell, especially in Ohio. If the question is "should we have some football?", the answer is invariably "yes", no matter what the context. Wedding shower? Yes, football. Thinking about eating a hot dog later? Yes, football. After watching "Beaches" with your great-aunt? Yes, football.

So when a major institution in Ohio that hasn't had football for over fifty years asks itself "should we have some football?", the answer to that question seems fairly obvious.

This is bolstered by a recent Cincinnati.com interview with Xavier athletic director Greg Christopher, where he had this to say about the possibility of bringing back whompin' on the gridiron to the Muskies:

Q: Well, what about football? Is it going to happen?

Christopher: I keep calling it a definite maybe. The program itself makes sense. The challenge we have is we don’t have a facility. We’re trying to balance the football idea with building a College of Medicine facility. We’ll try to make a decision by the end of the year.

While I might be almost positive what that decision is going to be, in those five short sentences Christopher actually makes an excellent argument as to why Xavier shouldn't bring back football. I'll get to that in a second.

First, I'd like to remind him that as a person who grew up in southwestern Ohio, I am acutely aware of the kind of myopia that infects sports fandom in that part of the state. The Xavier Musketeers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Dayton Flyers, and even occasionally the Miami Redhawks often take higher precedence in terms of attention than the Buckeyes, partly because of a very particular kind of contrarianism endemic to the region, but also because these schools have long traditions of doing their own thing and building up a fanbase around said thing.

That's a roundabout way of pointing out that Xavier is a basketball school, a great one, and it really doesn't need to be anything else. I grew up anticipating the Crosstown Shootout every year as much as The Game, and that's something that has value because of the history and tradition built over the decades and generations. Grasping at a sport that hasn't existed on campus (no, intermurals do not count) for 50 years as a means to level some imaginary playing field with the University of Cincinnati is shortsighted at best.

And again, as Christopher points out, Xavier doesn't have a football facility. And wants to build a new medical complex. That a small, private university with limited space is doing some head-scratching trying to figure out which to prioritize is an almost too-perfect indictment of major collegiate athletics.

But hey: this is an Ohio State site, and I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that selfishly I love the idea of Xavier starting up football again, if only to add to the pile of in-state opponents that have tried and failed to beat the Buckeyes over the last literal century and some change. Oberlin figured out how to get over the hump in 1921, and since then it has been a litany of failure, most recently in 2022 as Toledo got destroyed by 56 points, and then Akron in 2021, which lost 59-7, and then Miami and Cincinnati in 2019, which lost 76-5 and 42-0 respectively.

Of course, the Musketeers might want to wait a few seasons and build up their program for a little bit before waltzing into Ohio Stadium to lose by ten touchdowns, but I'm sure that the Buckeyes would be happy to provide divine punishment for Xavier's hubris, however long that might take.

Proponents of Xavier football would likely point out here that Ohio State isn't the metric for a nascent football program, which is fair; the Musketeers would be competing most directly with Cincinnati for attention and bragging rights. But that's exactly the point; without facilities or even a recent history to build off of, it's an uphill battle that was probably not worth fighting in the first place.

Enjoy basketball, Xavier. Build up your College of Medicine, and save some lives. Or drop tens (more likely hundreds) of millions on a football program/stadium to be competitive with the Redhawks, sometimes beat the Bearcats, and eventually lose to the Buckeyes 74-3.

The former would probably be a better use of time and resources, but hey: the latter would be fun to watch on TV for about a quarter and a half, and continue the great Ohio State tradition of showing exactly what the momentum of over 130 years of football can do to an unprepared team.

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