Huskies want more support

By Dave Tuley

Attendance at home football games has been on the decline this year despite the team’s winning record, and the 3-2-1 Huskies are concerned.

Head coach Jerry Pettibone went as far as to call The Northern Star Tuesday and ask to address the students about coming out in force Saturday to the 1 p.m. contest against California State-Fullerton. NIU is averaging only 17,380 fans at its first three home games.

“It’s the third game of the homestand and we could really use a big crowd before going on the road and then coming back for two more home games,” Pettibone said. “We’re building a lot of momentum and we’re playing better and better every week. We want to look across the field and see the stands full.”

The Huskies are 2-0 on the current homestand after dropping the home opener to Lamar Sept. 12. There were 20,939 spectators at the homecoming game two weeks ago against Toledo and the Huskies responded with a 41-5 win. Last Saturday NIU squeaked out a 27-21 victory before only 9,017 in Huskie Stadium after the game was delayed two hours.

Pettibone said several players expressed discouragement during warmups about the virtually empty student tailgate area and lack of people in the stands.

“That kind of brought us down a little,” split end Virgil Gerin said.

Senior co-captain Tony Savegnago said, “The people that were there Saturday were cheering their a– off. They sounded like 20,000, but it was no comparison (to homecoming).”

Many players expressed the opinion of the fans being like a 12th man on the field.

“When you do well and hear the crowd cheer, it just makes you want to go out and make another big play,” halfback Rodney Taylor said.

The Huskies are not in danger of losing Division I-A status due to low attendance because they averaged 25,587 last year in all games, based mainly on games before crowds of more than 50,000 at West Virginia, Wisconsin and Iowa.