In less than two weeks, players will start reporting to fall camp. The beginning of the season is almost here, and Ferrum is poised to make a run at the conference title The Panthers have not won the conference since 2005, but last year made great strides by being in a position to win the title. Although they came up short, they had a very good season, and at the end of their run, having finished 7-3, I was very optimistic for this year.
In the time since the last whistle blew signaling the end of the 2011 season, the Hank Norton Center was formally dedicated. This facility will be a major factor of the success that Ferrum hopes to achieve. The state of the art complex will provide many many positives that have been detailed in other articles. This is a big plus for the program.
In the recent Media Day poll, and in my predictions, Ferrum was picked to finish second in the conference. While this is nothing to be ashamed of by any means, Ferrum is trying to build something that will take them to the playoffs. It is a process,
and this off season, I feel like the process hit a few snags.
The main issue as I see it was the inability to retain athletes. Several quality athletes transferred, and this problem, which is not unique to Ferrum, makes the coaches job, all the more difficult. I suspect that one of the main factors is the cost to attend Ferrum. Without tax revenues that the public schools benefit from, Ferrum like all private schools is in a position of charging a higher tuition. With a sluggish economy, families are looking to cut expenses, and college tuition is one place they will look for reductions.Still Ferrum's enrollment has seen a steady increase over the last several years. I am curious to see if this trend continues.
While tuition is a problem, I was somewhat surprised to see the composite conference football schedule for this season. It seems that several teams are scheduling stronger out of conference opponents. This is something that CNU has been doing for a while, but this year, almost every conference team has increased the level of non conference competition. This is an important tool in building a winner. Last season, Ferrum played Hampden - Sydney, and while I do not know all of the complexities of scheduling opponents, and I am sure it is a challenge, increasing the caliber of the opponent can go a long way towards improving your program. I am hopeful to see Ferrum pick up a game against a top 25 non conference opponent in the near future. Until then, I am anxious for kickoff. I think Ferrum is on the right road, and while the road may have some bumps and potholes, Ferrum will be in the thick of the battle this season, and will be working to secure a spot in the playoffs.