Football initiative draws fans; team demolishes Hiram

While Carnegie Mellon is a world-renowned university in academic fields, few consider it a leading institution in football. Yet Carnegie Mellon has a long history of football achievements, ranging from historical defeats of Notre Dame University to a spot in the NCAA Division III playoffs in 2006. In an effort to increase school spirit at the 120-yard Gesling Stadium, Jared Itkowitz and Pooja Godbole, student body president and vice president, respectively, have begun the “Fall 2008 Football Fever” initiative.

The initiative attempts to bolster attendance by creating synergy with other organizations within Carnegie Mellon.

“We’ve teamed up with various departments around campus to help ‘host’ football games in an effort to get more students to come out to the games. Each game will include free food, giveaways, and activities mostly geared toward students in attendance,” said Itkowitz, a junior business administration major.

Although it is still early in the year, Itkowitz believes that the initiative so far has produced amazing results.

“The first football game that Orientation and Student Development hosted was a huge success. It’s just great to see students excited and energetic at the games. From body paint to group cheers, there was definitely a lot of pride in our student body,” Itkowitz said.

“Our hope is that what will start as an initiative to bring students to football games will expand to a campus-wide increase in participation at all Tartan athletic events.”

Amanda Sturges, a cheerleader and senior double major in business administration and social and decision sciences, agreed with Itkowitz.

“Targeting specific groups to come to the games gets not only great fan attendance, but shows everyone how much fun going to the games can be. Football games really are a wonderful way to boost campus morale,” Sturges said.

This Saturday’s game was hosted by the Greek community. The Greeks gave out T-shirts, offered food, and hosted a tailgate.

“I think that it was very successful — the stands were full of students and burgers went like crazy,” said Leigh Fortenberry, a senior mechanical engineering major and Greek intern in the Office of Student Life who helped organize the event. “It was unfortunate that there was a bit of rain at the end of the game, but all in all the event brought students to the football game.”

Lydia Remington, a cheerleader and junior public policy and management major, spoke of the spirit at Saturday’s game.

“There were crowds wearing their letters and loudly cheering. The show of spirit was really great,” Remington said.

Last week, students gave out Tartan T-shirts in front of Doherty Hall as part of the Football Fever initiative. The maroon T-shirts had all the home game dates on the back.

“I am so glad that so many people are coming out to support the football team. I’m excited to go to the other sponsored games!” said Natalina D’Aliesio, a senior business administration major.

Itkowitz noted that football has been a large, albeit sometimes forgotten, part of Carnegie Mellon’s history.

“Prior to World War II, Carnegie Mellon, then called Carnegie Tech, played with NCAA Division I teams such as Penn State, Pitt, and Notre Dame,” he said. “In fact, in 1926, CMU Tech beat Notre Dame 19–0 in what ESPN called the fourth-biggest upset in college football history.”

Carnegie Tech’s victory was not just a fluke, however.

Between 1926 and the beginning of World War II, Carnegie Tech’s football team defeated Notre Dame’s team three more times. However, Carnegie Tech’s football glory days quickly came to a close after World War II when the school dropped out of the NCAA Division I league.

“These past few years, Carnegie Mellon has seen some of its greatest success since pre-World War II days,” he said.

In 2006, Carnegie Mellon had an undefeated season and made it to the second round of the NCAA Division III championships.

Itkowitz hopes to revive Carnegie Tech’s football glory in an effort to boost school spirit and increase student attendance at games.

Itknowitz noted that attendance at games in the recent past has been relatively low and that students are no longer as enthusiastic about Carnegie Mellon as they were in the past.

“Sometimes people might just need a little jolt to get [the spirit] to come out,” Itkowitz said.