Our View: Is the Flutie effect real?
Southern Oregon University officials hope the Raiders' national championship in football will generate a "Flutie effect" in academic recruiting. There may be some benefit, and we hope there is, although it's a bit of a stretch to equate the impact of SOU's win with the Boston College quarterback's legendary pass play.
Boston College was ranked 10th in the NCAA Division I standings in 1984, and had already accepted an invitation to the Cotton Bowl when Doug Flutie completed a last-second Hail Mary pass to defeat the defending national champion Miami Hurricanes. SOU won the NAIA national championship game, a somewhat lower-profile contest.
It's probably fair to say few Americans west of Salt Lake City had even heard of SOU before the title game last week. But it's likely quite a few more have now. The game was on ESPNU, seen in 65 percent of households with television nationwide.
Boston College saw applications surge 16 percent after the big game. Whether that can be entirely attributed to the game is a matter of debate, but athletic success may help burnish its image with prospective students. Combine SOU's football crown with national rankings in volleyball, cross-country, basketball and wrestling, and the Raider brand clearly stands out among NAIA campuses. SOU had a more successful fall than any other NAIA school, according to standings released Wednesday.
But SOU has much to offer beyond a successful athletic department. If the football team's national championship prompts more high school seniors to consider Ashland's regional university, so much the better.