Loyola has jump-started its plans to field a Division I varsity football team, moving the inaugural season from 2021 to next year.
The decision to use club football players instead of recruiting the conventional way came as a complete surprise to senior Bobby O’Mullan, the team’s captain.
“We are entirely unprepared to become a Division I program. It is utterly irresponsible and frankly ludicrous of the Athletic Department to put us in this situation,” said O’Mullan. “We are a bunch of mediocre high school players holding onto a dream we should have let die years ago.”
Inexperience is indeed an issue. Several players on the team have never played a down of organized football in their lives.
“Some of us have never even put on pads before, and now Loyola wants us to play against the top players in the country?” O’Mullan said. “I mean, if Frankie got hit, Frankie would die. Frankie…would die.”
The Athletic Department will move ahead despite the club football team’s hesitance. New athletic director Steve Watson has given up on the basketball team, which failed to consistently fill even half of the tiny Joseph Gentile Arena during its second 20-win season in 30 years.
“Maybe football will be the answer,” said Watson. “Please God, let football save this program. I wept when I saw the state of the student section. And I am a 6-10 giant man. Crying is for the weak, yet I shed tears.”
Watson has high hopes for the football team, which will not join any conference and instead become an independent team that plays schools across the nation.
“I envision us as sort of like what Notre Dame used to be,” Watson said. “I am already in talks with Nick Saban and Alabama about scheduling a game next year.
“He seemed extremely jovial about the idea and said, ‘Yeah, that sounds like a great plan,’ during a pause in his laughter. I noticed a trace of sarcasm in his voice, but I’m optimistic about our chances,” Watson said.
Matt Bos, the club football team’s quarterback, was not nearly as excited.
“I love being an underdog,” said Bos. “But putting us up against top D-I teams is like a piece of dust going up against an industrial-strength vacuum cleaner hose — you’re going to get sucked in…no. You’re going to suck. You’re — I don’t know where I was going with that.”
There are still a couple of issues that need to be worked out before the season begins next fall — such as where the team will play its home games.
“There’s that lovely park down Sheridan,” Watson said. “That’d be nice.”
Loyola also needs to find a head coach. However, there are talks that Tim Tebow, an expert football analyst for ESPN, will join the staff as an assistant inspiration coordinator to Sister Jean.
“That is the most sensible thing the Athletic Department has done in this whole debacle,” O’Mullan said.
“This team is going to need the hand of God.”