Matt Connolly:

UC Santa Barbara has it all: the beach, the babes and a guaranteed double major in debauchery when four years of greatness come to an end. But let’s face it – our utopian microcosm of sunny skies and perpetual beer ponging loses its allure when you consider its shortcomings in the sporting world.

Things aren’t all bad. Our baseball team competes in a top conference, our basketball teams have an annual shot at the big dance with one actually making it with regularity – and there’s no doubting the dominance of our men’s soccer team that won it all back in my freshman year.

But can we really take pride in an institution that has defined its athletic program with soccer savvy? A month removed from the Fourth of July, allow me to offer up a friendly reminder – this is America (Mmmerca here would also suffice), and in America, any college that wants to be taken seriously needs American football.

Excuse my outburst of patriotism. I assure you, I don’t watch NASCAR. In all seriousness though, this university needs a team of gridiron warriors representing the Gaucho blue and gold. A Harder Stadium crowd of 8,000 people, an average crowd for a big-time soccer game, can get pretty rowdy without a doubt. But if we had a full-fledged football team (don’t even mention the Football Championship Series), I’d bet that both the attendance and rowdiness would double, leaving us a Harder packed to capacity with Budweiser-bearing fans going absolutely loco.

You could make the argument that fan support was weak both times our football program flopped, but the circumstances are different now. Who would support football in the ’70s when there was a cornucopia of new drugs on the market? Throw in the shadiness of the Vietnam War, and I might have even boycotted the Super Bowl. How about in the early ’90s when a pigskin rebirth was aborted? With the Los Angeles Raiders running things in SoCal, the Gauchos never stood a chance.

In this day and age, all signs point to “yes” in forging a football renaissance. College football is bigger and better than ever, and with a lot of our other sports floundering in their respective divisions, football is just what we need to unite UC Santa Barbara fanhood. And with the Raiders gone, the local community will have a new team to support and a whole new legion of rival fans to stab.

Our University of California brethren continue to reap the benefits of a football program while we sit idly by. UCLA and Cal, a couple of Pac-10 players, gain national recognition and give their student body a team to rally around by having football squads.

What better way to resurrect our Playboy party school ranking than by reinstating a football team to put us back on the map? The Isla Vista Foot Patrol may regulate our boisterous ways in the endearing slum we call home, but let’s see them try to dish out waves of DIPs in an arena of 16,000 strong.

In today’s time of change, the first order of business for UCSB must be football. To ignore this Obamaian wisdom would be anti-American. Plus, Greely is never right about anything.

John Greely:

Are you ready for some football? If so, you’re like the tens of millions of Americans who are currently prepping their beer helmets, barbeques and overpriced cable sports subscriptions for the rapidly approaching season. And, love it or hate it, college football has entirely transcended the education system and long ago entered the world of commercial sports full time. For seemingly every major school in America, a football team provides national exposure and in many cases big-time money.

So that leaves us Gauchos wondering: Why not us? After all, Cal Poly has a football team, and just last year they proved to be one of the premier Football Championship Series teams in the entire country. Doesn’t that sound great? Well no, not exactly.

You see, being good in college football’s FCS – formerly Division 1-AA – is sort of like winning the proverbial white guy slam-dunk contest. Yeah, you won, but it’s like the old saying goes: If the Birdman throws down by himself in a completely empty arena, does anybody really care? No.

I mean, while we Gauchos were appreciating the Floridas, USCs and Oklahomas of the college football world, Cal Poly was stewing over the time they almost beat a 6-5 Wisconsin team. Seriously, our commitment-free relationship with football allows us to actually enjoy watching the best teams in the sport instead of wallowing in our own team’s inescapable mediocrity. Why would we trade that in, knowing that our realistic best case scenario with a football team is the equivalent to being the coolest student at UCI?

Besides, the odds are that our football team would be terrible anyway; even relative to the dredges of the FCS — or even DII or DIII. And would our fair-weather sports fans in the community really support it? If the last time we had a football team is any indication, the answer is a resounding “no.” Attendances of under 3,000, budget cuts and overwhelming apathy cut short the program via student vote in 1992, and since then UCSB has never looked back. In fact, over the last decade we Gauchos have developed a whole new and unique identity that puts footballing middlers to shame: Soccer School USA.

With a national title and two College Cup appearances, the country’s highest average attendance by almost 15 percent — those are only 2008 figures, but reflect a consistent trend — and a soccer-crazed student body, the European brand of football has taken off at UCSB more than its American brother ever did. Harder Stadium, once home to pitiful turnouts for a run of the mill pigskin program, is now the Cathedral of College Soccer. Why would anybody want to change the very thing that gives UCSB athletics its inimitable identity?

Even from a practical standpoint, at a time where schools across the country are taking huge budget cuts – Irvine just dropped five athletic programs – we hardly need to be adding another team; particularly not one that will wreak havoc on our Title IX compliance — another can of worms entirely.

As much as I love football (a lot) it just doesn’t make sense for the Gauchos to get a team. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So just sit back, relax and be glad that you’re not like Cal Poly: stuck trying to be the tastiest tofu burger, the straightest Jonas Brother, and the most honest congressman. Leave the substandard football to them, and enjoy some high-quality fútbol for yourself.