Peterson: Time for student section to get wild

Sept. 16, 2014, 10:00 p.m.

Take note, new freshmen: The Stanford you enter this week is not the same as the Stanford of five or 10 years ago.

Sure, the outstanding academics still place the school among the best in the nation, the campus looks as beautiful as it always has and we’re still better than Cal in every category, but over the past several years, a new dynamic has emerged here: We have a ridiculously good football team.

You’ve probably already heard many of the accolades. Stanford is the only team to have played in a BCS bowl in each of the final four years of the BCS era. Stanford has won the Pac-12 in back-to-back years. For four years running, Stanford has finished the season in the top 10 of the Coaches Poll. From Richard Sherman to Andrew Luck, Stanford is taking the NFL by storm.

However, good football hasn’t always been the case at Stanford. From 1942 to 2008, Stanford went a mediocre 332-346-17. Until last season, Stanford hadn’t reached back-to-back Rose Bowl games since 1971. In fact, Stanford had never even been to four straight bowl games (generally achieved by boasting a record above .500) until 2012.

Then Jim Harbaugh happened. Toby Gerhart happened. Andrew Luck happened. David Shaw happened. Shayne Skov happened. Over the last five seasons and the start of this one, Stanford has gone 56-14, achieving the kind of success that hasn’t been experienced here since Pop Warner left the coaching sideline in 1932. Stanford has officially obtained football powerhouse status.

Yet, we’re still somewhat waiting for one more appropriate trend to follow.

To put it bluntly, Stanford Stadium and the surrounding area can be a little quiet during gameday, as I constantly hear from opposing fan bases.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the Stanford community. It’s among the most diverse, talented and friendly in the world. But come Saturdays in the fall, we’ve still got some work to do.

Football players have referred to Stanford Stadium as “the library,” due to its tendency to remain relatively calm. Students commonly arrive halfway through the game or leave halfway into it. Fans standing up and screaming support has yet to become the norm outside of major contests. In 2012, the year after we went to the Fiesta Bowl and the season when we won the Rose Bowl, attendance dropped by 12 percent (granted, three home games occurred before school started). As Fox Sports noted in an article on the Stanford-Oregon game last season, there’s little buzz around campus on gameday relative to other schools.

At a school in which we excel in nearly everything, why can’t we excel in supporting our football team?

I don’t think we should conform to some notion that we have to get loud, we have to tailgate before games, we have to stand, we have to scream until our throats hurt or anything of the matter. Stanford is certainly its own unique place that does things its own way, and that’s a good thing.

But do it for your peer in your engineering classes who happens to be a wide receiver on the football team. Do it for the 250-pound, Mohawk-rocking programmer who leapt over the back of one of the fastest players in college football and stripped away the ball last season to save a touchdown. Do it for the political science major who has put in five years of relentless work here to become one of the best defensive linemen in college football. Do it for your roommate, your friend or your classmate.

These players — our fellow students — put in countless hours of extra work to deliver a spectacular product for us on Saturdays, in addition to balancing their academic workloads. Whether Stanford is set to face UC-Davis, Oregon, Bowling Green or Alabama, they put in the same amount of work. Why should our level of support vary with the opponent?

Last year when Stanford faced Oregon, Stanford Stadium erupted, becoming a truly electric college football atmosphere. It’s time for that environment to spread to every game and to the entire gameday experience.

It doesn’t matter whether or not you can name the five starters on the offensive line or you don’t know a fumble from an interception; you can stand, scream in support and get loud just the same. These players — your colleagues and friends — deserve it.

Teams are scared to face Stanford, but they aren’t yet scared to play at Stanford Stadium. It’s on you to change that.

Michael Peterson tried out for the cheerleading squad as a freshman but was turned down after the first round of auditions, much to his shock and dismay. Instead, hes now forced to use his rhetoric to egg on the team. Tell Michael that hed look better with pom poms in his hands at mrpeters

Michael Peterson is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily. He has served as a beat reporter for football, baseball and men’s soccer and also does play-by-play broadcasting of football and baseball for KZSU. Michael is a senior from Rancho Santa Margarita, California majoring in computer science. To contact him, please email him at mrpeters ‘at’

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