Apathy, not anger, YSU’s enemy

SEE ALSO: YSU Football report card

It costs between $25 and $40 to buy a pitchfork at Lowe’s. A torch will run you between $5-$10, although you could easily make one with a stick, a rag, some gasoline and a match.

So, if you’re planning to storm the Ice Castle and demand Eric Wolford’s head, figure on at least $30. Also, the football offices are on the south end of Fifth Avenue, so park accordingly.

Your other option is to stay home and take to the Internet, filling the comments section of a Vindy.com story or a chat room. You could even write a good old fashioned letter to the editor.

Any of these options is better than what most people will do: nothing.

Because if Saturday’s game against South Dakota State taught us anything, it’s this: Most people in Youngstown just don’t care.

And that’s much scarier than any angry mob.

Youngstown State football has gone from Must-See to musty, with an increasingly older fan base longing for a return to the Tressel years while most people stay home and watch Ohio State crush the Big Ten’s sacrificial lambs.

“What happens is you develop apathy in the community,” said YSU radio analyst Chris Sammarone, who played in three straight I-AA national title games in the early 1990s. “If they go, they go. If they have something better to do, they’ll go do it.

“When I was playing, it was on the calendar. It took precedence over Ohio State and anything else going on. The expectation was we would win and then how far in the playoffs were we going to go?”

This is not all Wolford’s fault. It started under Jon Heacock. But when Wolford arrived in 2009, fresh out of a one-year stint in the big, bad SEC, he promised to change it. He promised to shake things up, to upgrade the talent, hold players more accountable, get back to winning championships.

Then he went 3-8. And over the next three years, his program’s improvement couldn’t keep up with his mouth. He set the high jump bar at 7 feet, then bragged about a 6-foot jump, then wondered why the fans (and the playoff committee) weren’t impressed.

This year was supposed to be different — and for a while, it was. YSU started 8-1. The Penguins entered the final stretch needing just one win. ESPN’s “College GameDay” was showing interest.

And then? Well, you know what happened next.

If you ask YSU’s most passionate fans what they’d like to see happen, they’ll say one of three things:

  1. Fire Wolford.
  2. Fire Wolford and athletic director Ron Strollo.
  3. Fire Wolford and athletic director Ron Strollo and bring back Jim Tressel.

But here’s the problem. Tressel is what I call a “two-comma coach,” which means when you get to the salary page on his contract, you’d better have two commas. YSU can’t even afford to buy out the last year of its one-comma coach, who is due $250,000.

So, if you want YSU to serve you his head, you’re going to need to withdraw a little more than $30. Or, as one of the few remaining die-hards, you could just use that money to buy tickets for next year.

I hear good seats are still available.

Joe Scalzo covers YSU athletics for The Vindicator. Write to him at scalzo@vindy.com or follow him on Twitter @JoeScalzo1.

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