The evolution of a Cleveland State fan

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The thing you need to know about me is that I’m just a fan.

I had a casual interest in Cleveland State basketball prior to 1996. Of course, my most prominent memories are of the “run & stun” squad that provided Bobby Knight with A Season on the Brink in 1986. But the subsequent problems of NCAA probation–and the soap opera that was Kevin Mackey–were enough to keep me from a commitment.

I am not a CSU alum, nor an employee, nor an administrator.

But in 1996 I became a Vikings fan. My sudden conversion had nothing to do with CSU in particular, but the Vikings were the beneficiary of my entertainment resources that could no longer be invested in the Cleveland Browns. (Thank you, Modell family).

I vaguely remember reading an article about CSU having an open house at The Wolstein Center to welcome new coach Rollie Massimino and to show seat locations available for sale. I took the bait on that fateful day, and have been the owner of fourth-row seats ever since.

Certainly there have been some highlights during my 23 years of fandom. Most notable was the night that Coach Gary Waters walked out toward center court to ask a typically underperforming Aaron Pogue, “What is wrong with you?” But seriously, I’ve witnessed many legitimately great basketball games and outstanding performances by Viking players.

Unfortunately, there have been quite a few seasons where I was also asking, “What is wrong…”

Yet I have maintained my Vikings fan status through thick and thin; mostly because I enjoy basketball and appreciate the opportunity to see Division-1 level competition on a regular basis. But another reason is the fact that CSU tickets are a great value. For the price of one Browns game, or a couple of Indians or Cavaliers games, you can buy an entire season of Vikings basketball.

As we head into the brave new world of the Dennis Gates era, I’m cautiously optimistic that there will be better days ahead for both Cleveland State and the Horizon League. But there will be a few missteps along the way. And I’ll be sure to let you know what I see from the fourth row.

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