REECER’S PIECE: Appreciate game days at WKU

John Reecer is the sports editor of the College Heights Herald during the spring 2016 semester.

John Reecer

Last weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Middle Tennessee State University for coverage of the Hilltoppers’ showdown with their arch-rivals.

As a senior at WKU, I was very excited for this opportunity to cover what was one of the last football rivalry games as a reporter for the College Heights Herald.

I had been to Murfressboro, Tennessee, once for a WKU-MTSU football game as a sophomore, but I had forgotten a lot of that experience as I got to the game late and I didn’t get to see a lot of the game day atmosphere.


I’ve been to a number of colleges as both a student and a reporter on game day, and I’ve experienced some great atmospheres as every Saturday college football transforms these campuses into environments full of tailgating, excitement and passion.

However, I did not get this experience when I traveled to Murfressboro on Saturday.

I wasn’t alone as I was traveling with Evan Heichelbech, the football beat writer for the Herald. We had planned to show up early for the game in order to walk around campus and experience yet another great atmosphere as it was MTSU’s Homecoming game.

Instead, what we found when we pulled up to one of the entrances to the university was miles of empty parking lots and almost no one at all walking around campus.

We pulled up to MTSU’s Student Union and I was fully expecting a tumbleweed to drift across the road just like in one of those old spaghetti western movies.

I was genuinely so confused that I honestly asked Evan to look up the time for the game. I thought that it had to be at a different time.

Of course he got there at the right time, but the students of MTSU did not get the same memo that we did.

We continued to drive around a little while longer as we went down Greek row expecting to see a great atmosphere if the Greeks of MTSU were anything like the ones at WKU

But once again we failed to see a single student or even a single person. The campus was practically deserted only an hour and a half before game time.

We eventually found a tailgating area while we were walking into the stadium, but it was a relatively small area when compared with tailgating seen on WKU’s campus.

We made it up to MTSU’s extremely nice press box where we got ready to cover the game. To no surprise, the stadium was a lot like the campus: mostly empty and quiet.

The announced attendance was over 22,000 people, but I can personally guarantee that not even half of them were present at the game.

How could it be that one of Conference USA’s best teams could not receive a worthy game-day atmosphere or an appropriate number of fans at their game?

I texted one of my friends who was from nearby Nashville and asked what the deal was, and he was able to give me a very depressing answer.

He said that whenever the University of Tennessee at Knoxville has a big home game that a lot of the students at MTSU will go to that game instead of their own school’s game.

Considering that the Volunteers had a huge match up against the University of Alabama that Saturday, this was the only reason I could think of for why the atmosphere was so lethargic.

So why did I tell this story? Well, I did so because this weekend is of course Homecoming weekend at WKU, and year after year this university provides students and fans with an awesome Homecoming experience.

Thousands of people roam all over over campus and almost anywhere you look there is someone tailgating or having a good time.

I can’t help but to sympathize with small schools the size of MTSU and WKU as I’m sure that a lot of them have trouble getting fans out to football games.

However, WKU is obviously not one of these schools and that is something that fans and students can be proud of.

So the next time you are tailgating in the Valley or cheering on the Hilltoppers from the Berm at Smith Stadium, just remember to be thankful that you don’t go MTSU.

Reporter John Reecer can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @Reece_12_Falcon.