Sports Commentary: Despite setback, Delaware can still spring into a new era
“Together, we make the remarkable happen,” boldly headlines the Delaware First campaign online page. As the effort nears completion, the university looks to fundraise 750 million dollars to fuel an infrastructure for the years to come. Their plan includes a $60 million renovation to Delaware Stadium, as well as a state-of-the-art athletic center for student athletes.
The school’s athletics don’t pay for themselves. According to an article previously published in The Review, Delaware athletics relies on the financial support from the university for 82 percent of their athletic budget. That’s exactly why the 2018 season holds so much weight for the rising Blue Hens football team. It’s imperative for Head Coach Danny Rocco and company to garner momentum, not just in the standings, but as a university and national brand.
With the active roster ballooning to 120 players and a fundraising initiative with an emphasis on rebuilding a new state of the art athletics “home,” dates planned in 2023 and 2027 against perennial powerhouse Penn State along with a newly designated area in The Barn, specifically pointed towards building an all-new home-field advantage by priming Newark’s finest tailgaters. All signs and excitement point to Delaware eventually coming into a power of their own.
Rocco turned a 4-7 team into a 7-4 team in less than a year of coaching, and looks to gain momentum during his second year. The Hens nearly missed the playoffs following losing their final game to Villanova. Delaware enters the season ranked 15th in the STATS FCS Top 25. Heavily favored and opposed, their schedule includes No. 1 ranked North Dakota State as well as a loaded CAA. All these factors contribute to the rolling momentum surrounding Delaware athletics, specifically the football program.
Nothing worth having ever comes easy, however. Delaware lost their home opener against Rhode Island, a team ranked twelfth in conference standings a year ago. If Rocco wants to lead his team to the promised land of the playoffs, a land Delaware hasn’t seen in eight seasons, they’ll have to bounce back strong against Lafayette. Their chances have decreased, but have not completely diminished.
Schools in power five conferences like the SEC and ACC don’t have to worry about subsidizing their athletic budget by the university, since their athletics bring in enough revenue to spot other expenses. With timely play by the Hens, Delaware could replicate this formula.
Including rising freshman enrollment numbers, the erection of the freshman-only South Academy Street dorms and more construction to come, Delaware is a growing school. The talk surrounding Newark will grow, with every win by the nationally-ranked Blue Hens.
It’s deeper than just football, too. The Delaware First initiative looks to gain funds to further increase student and faculty support, lay the foundation for the Biden Institute, further develop graduate education and expand the growing programs amongst the colleges.
With every touchdown, every spike and every goal scored, the university gains momentum towards doing what they set out to do: making the remarkable happen.