10 September 2016: North Dakota State running back Lance Dunn (10) runs into the end zone, winning the game in overtime against the Eastern Washington Eagles at the Fargodome in Fargo, North Dakota. (Photo by Zackary Brame/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As a Towson University student, my school just made the playoffs for the first time in five years after a 5-6 season in 2017. As I went back and forth with a North Dakota State fan on Instagram, I began to realize something about fans of powerhouse programs. Many of them, including this one, fail to appreciate the effort and process to win since they are so used to it.

Towson has had three losing seasons in the last five years while the Bison have been in nine straight postseasons. You appreciate wins much more when your team is losing, and when you have a winning program you fail to appreciate these moments. You come to expect winning championships and wins seem expected and assumed rather than earned.

When you have a winning culture, its championship or bust. For almost every other program winning a championship would be one of the greatest moments in school history.

Why Fans of Powerhouse FCS Football Programs Can Be Selfish

The Mighty Tigers

Towson is nowhere near a powerhouse compared to the Bison or even the James Madison Dukes in our own conference. Our conference, the CAA, is one of if not the hardest conference in the FCS. Six teams made the playoffs as at-large bids making up 25% of the tournament. The Missouri Valley conference had three teams qualify. There’s a reason why so many teams from the CAA made the playoffs, it’s very difficult to get out of this league. Towson head coach Rob Ambrose stated in a press conference that “When we play teams from other conferences coaches come up to me and say wow, this is what you go through every week?” Six CAA teams are currently ranked, and each week members of the conference play some of the best teams in America.

Beating the odds

To have a home playoff game after three top 15 wins, including a 41-10 win at fifth-ranked Elon when you were picked to finish 10th in the preseason, says a lot about a program. We were not supposed to have success, so when we made the playoffs it was a huge deal. You won’t find many fans who will come on Thanksgiving weekend in a torrential downpour to support a team. Former Alumni came back to play in the band while the current members were home. NDSU would not likely get this type of support in a first-round playoff game in such harsh conditions.

Work Hard, Play Hard

Fans appreciate the work and dedication it takes to win, not just a championship but a regular season game. When you can create and execute a game plan to beat your opponent fans appreciate the work put in. We appreciate how hard our student-athletes work on the field and in the classroom. When your program has had mostly losing seasons lately, wins mean so much more. There is no feeling like the pride in your school, and when you defy the odds and put your school on the map it feels amazing. I take pride in being a Towson Tiger because this team has had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

The Last Word

I’m not taking away anything NDSU has accomplished. To dominate the FCS this long is very impressive. They are the FCS version of Alabama and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. However, fans of powerhouse programs need to appreciate the small things in a season like winning a close game on the road or scoring a touchdown in front of the student section. NDSU fans have become spoiled, and will eventually come to realize how great they had it. Instead of being all about how great you are, appreciate the smaller schools for defying the odds and achieving success. College football is unlike anything else, and when we can support each other this game is at its best.

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