Falcons fans sound off on the upcoming season
BOWLING GREEN – In mid-June, The Blade published a Bowling Green State University football fan survey to allow those who follow the Falcons the ability to express how they feel about the state of the program.
Plenty of fans responded in answering questions about head coach Scot Loeffler and his staff, the team’s offensive and defensive performances, the transfer portal, and what needs to happen for the 2023 campaign to be a success.
Fans were certainly passionate in sharing their views. Here are the results of the BGSU football fan survey:
HOW RESPONDENTS RATED THE STATE OF THE PROGRAM (1: POOR; 5: EXCELLENT)
CURRENT BGSU FALCONS FOOTBALL DESCRIBED IN ONE WORD
The vast majority of fans had negative comments to say about the program. Of the more than 60 different words used to describe the team, “improving” was used the most (16 times). Here are the words that were used in responses:
THOUGHTS ON SCOT LOEFFLER’S CONTRACT EXTENSION
Loeffler has posted a 13-29 record in four seasons guiding the Falcons. When he took over in 2019, BGSU was coming off its worst three-season stretch in program history (9-27), but followed that with a 7-22 mark in his first three seasons.
The 2022 campaign was a big stepping stone for the Falcons, who finished 6-7 overall for their best record since 2015. BGSU played in its first bowl game since 2015 as well, and had a couple of signature wins, including a wild 42-35 victory at Toledo in the Battle of I-75.
Some fans said they were surprised by the extension, while others want to see the program show significant improvement again this year under Loeffler’s guidance.
CONFIDENCE IN THE CURRENT COACHING STAFF
WHAT’S LIKED MOST ABOUT COACH LOEFFLER’S TENURE AT BGSU
The progress the team has made since Loeffler’s tenure started, his commitment to the university and community, and big wins comprised most of the responses from fans.
“Beating Toledo” was a common response. Loeffler is 2-2 vs. the Rockets, including a 20-7 stunner midway through the 2019 season. A 34-31 overtime win against Marshall last season, as well as a stunning 14-10 victory at Minnesota in the 2021 campaign, were also highlighted by fans.
• “He works very hard, and he seems committed to doing things the right way (no small matter at a university that has never been found to have committed a major NCAA infraction). He seems honest. He has made progress. He takes the Toledo rivalry very seriously, and he’s won some big games.” — anonymous Falcons fan
• “Albeit slow, there has been some progress. He seems like he really does care and (wants) to make BGSU a winner again.” — anonymous Falcons fan
WHAT’S DISLIKED ABOUT COACH LOEFFLER’S TENURE AT BGSU
The offensive playing style was among the aspects called out the most, with fans saying Loeffler runs an “outdated” offense and that it is “too conservative in today’s college football.”
In four seasons under Loeffler, the best finish BGSU had in points per game among the 12 Mid-American Conference teams was eighth (23.5 points per game) in 2022. The Falcons were 11th (21.4) in scoring in the league in 2021, last (11.4) in 2020, and 11th (16.0) in 2019.
The inconsistencies of following big victories with losses in winnable games were also areas that fans commented on. BGSU had a four-game losing streak after the win at Minnesota and were outscored 62-33 in losses at Ohio to end the 2022 regular season and New Mexico State in the Quick Lane Bowl.
• “The offense hasn’t made as much progress as I would expect at this point. There is talk that the offensive scheme is too complicated or too old-fashioned. I’m not sure if that’s true – Loeffler is the expert, and I am not – but it seems to me they should be putting more points on the board at this point.” — anonymous Falcons fan
• “The same team that rallied to beat Marshall and UT was totally noncompetitive against Kent, Buffalo, and Ohio.” — anonymous Falcons fan
• “The team’s lack of intensity in big moments. Would’ve loved more fire in games like Ohio to end regular season.” — anonymous Falcons fan
RATING THE TEAM’S RECENT OFFENSIVE PERFORMANCE (1: POOR; 5: EXCELLENT)
RATING THE TEAM’S RECENT DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE (1: POOR; 5: EXCELLENT)
WHERE RESPONDENTS WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE TEAM IMPROVE
A common theme of offensive line play – and every aspect of the game – dominated the responses regarding where fans would like to see the Falcons perform better. More than 20 fans mentioned the offensive line, while nearly a dozen others included the running game.
After ranking eighth (161.8 yards per game) and sixth (184) in rushing yards per game in the MAC in Loeffler’s first two years at BGSU, the Falcons were 12th (102.3) and 11th (100.3) in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
• “The offensive line is an ongoing issue. It has improved, but not enough. It barely holds its own in MAC play. A championship caliber team would be blowing other teams off the ball, and the Falcons are not doing that.”— anonymous Falcons fan
• “If they could run the ball on offense, it would change everything.”— anonymous Falcons fan
DO RESPONDENTS LIKE HOW THE TEAM HAS USED THE TRANSFER PORTAL IN RECENT SEASONS?
THE 2023 SEASON WILL BE CONSIDERED A SUCCESS FOR BOWLING GREEN IF …
The Falcons having a winning season was most common. BGSU fans’ focuses revolved around finishing above .500, becoming bowl eligible, and beating Toledo. Some fans would consider the upcoming campaign successful if the Falcons challenge for or win the MAC East Division title and play in the league championship game.
BGSU opens its season on Sept. 7 at Liberty, which capped off an 8-5 campaign in 2022 with a loss to Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl. The Falcons’ challenging schedule in the first half of the season includes trips to Michigan (13-1) and Georgia Tech (5-7), and their first three MAC games are against the top three East Division teams (Ohio, Miami, Buffalo) in the preseason coaches’ poll.
• “They win seven games and a bowl game – 8-5 minimum. I get that we lost players to transfers and graduation but this far in his tenure Scot needs to put results together.”— anonymous Falcons fan
• “Need to go beyond six wins and compete for the MAC East spot in Detroit. Also, find ways to win more of the games they should win. Upsets are nice but they’re leaving too many wins on the table.”— anonymous Falcons fan
• “We win seven games. You see that schedule?”— anonymous Falcons fan
MAC OVERALL WINS BY SEASON
Article by Michael Burwell, graphics by Joe Landsberger of The Blade