Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Applaud JU for That 'Ol College Try

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Applaud JU for That 'Ol College Try

Article excerpt

Sometimes, amid all the tumult and the shouting of bowls and

polls and alliances and super alliances and coalitions and

contracts and controversies, the essence of college football

gets lost.

Too often, it seems, we judge the worthiness of an athletic

endeavor by what the callers are gabbing about on talk radio.

The true song of sports sometimes gets drowned out by the

static.

"Look at me, I'm not the biggest guy in the world," says Jeb

Williams, a junior defensive back who is listed at 5 feet 11,

but looks to be closer to 5-8. "I know I'm not going to play in

the NFL, but this is my chance to play college football. And

I've always dreamed of playing college football."

Jacksonville University, still a year from playing its

inaugural intercollegiate football game, held its first official

practice yesterday with a collection of players who are one step

slow, 2 inches short and 50 pounds light of getting a

scholarship to a major college. Some would argue that this makes

these players and this program inferior to those at Florida,

Florida State and Miami. But does it really?

Or does it, in some corny, wholesome way, make them superior?

Isn't there something inherently noble, something disgustingly

pure about a program made up entirely of non-scholarship

players? Call me a a hopeless romantic, but isn't it refreshing

to hear a college football coach such as JU's Steve Gilbert

describe his practice as "something for the kids to do in the

afternoon?" Or describe games as "something for the student body

and the faculty to rally behind on Saturdays?"

I know what you're thinking: You're thinking who cares

about non-scholarship football? You're thinking who's going to

attend a JU football game against Monmouth when Florida is

playing Tennessee or Florida State is playing Miami?

That's the beauty of it.

JU has no grand visions of competing with the Jaguars,

Seminoles or Gators for your entertainment dollar. They know

they aren't big-time, and they're not ashamed of it.

"We realize there will never be 80,000 people at our games,"

Gilbert says. …

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