The old-timers among our audience will remember George Allen, the Hall of Famer who completed a brilliant coaching career by leading Cal State Long Beach — a I-A team — to a winning record in 1990. Ecstatic after a season-ending victory at Nevada Las Vegas, Allen's players dumped a bucket of Gatorade on him, a foolish move with temperatures in the 50s. Six weeks later, Allen died of ventricular fibrillation.
A season later, Long Beach pulled the plug on its 36-year-old program. It was the start of an exodus of California universities playing football, leading to today's dearth of teams in the state, especially in Division I-AA.
According to 2007 U.S. Census Bureau population estimates, of the 38 states with I-AA representation, none has as low of a team density per capita as California, with only four members for more than 36 million would-be fans.
New York, with more than 19 million, has 10 teams to choose from. Even South Carolina, with about four-and-a-half million people, can pick from seven.
What happened? Although some officials point toward funding inadequacies spurred by the state's ongoing budget crisis, others say the insufficiencies were ultimately intensified by gender-equity measures, specifically Title IX.