The last time football team was anywhere near this good, David Kosak was a sophomore there.
"I was there rooting them along when they weren't doing well," Kosak said.
Five years later, the 2009 Towson graduate is the president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations and the Tigers, picked last in their conference in virtually every pre-season poll, are nationally ranked with a 5-1 record. Towson is No. 17 in the latest Football Championship Subdivision coaches poll.
The games now include fireworks, flashy videos and some of the largest crowds the program has ever seen.
Not long ago, residents may have complained about the noise, music and lights from Johnny Unitas Stadium. But with the new-look Tigers on the football field and new blood in some administrative positions, the university has only received one complaint.
"Usually, when I let neighbors know how good our team is doing and that we're undefeated, they say that's great," said Marina Cooper, a university spokeswoman. "I think I'm not getting as many complaints as I could be getting."
It's entirely possible that some neighbors aren't complaining because they're actually at the game. Attendance this year is on a record pace. Towson reported an average attendance of over 9,000 for its first three home games. And at one recent game, interim university president Marcia Welsh invited a group of community leaders to her suite below the press box.
"When she came in, she did so much by bringing the community into a football game, because I don't think a lot of the residential community leaders have ever experienced the football team," said , executive director of the . "They got see it wasn't a wild, out of control, terrible thing."
Meanwhile, under new athletic director , Towson revamped its marketing efforts, multimedia and community outreach. president of the Rodgers Forge Community Association, said residents have recieved discounted game tickets.
Rob Ambrose, Towson's third-year head coach and a Rodgers Forge resident, sees the impact every day, from dining in a restaurant—where Wednesday night, an alumnus stopped to thank him—to the grocery store.
"It used to be you'd go into the Giant (supermarket) and you'd see stuff from the University of Maryland and now you see Towson stuff, and instead of going into Target and seeing University of Maryland gear you see Towson gear," said Ambrose, a 1993 Towson alumnus. "Towson is finally becoming the Towson that everybody knew it could be."
But the field is where the real magic is happening. Towson downed recent national champions Villanova and Richmond and pulled off convincing victories against Morgan State and Colgate in putting together its first 5-1 start since 1992 and first 3-0 start in the perennially tough Colonial Athletic Association. The Tigers' only loss came at Maryland, where they held the Terps to just one first-half touchdown.
For some perspective, in the Tigers' first two years under Ambrose, they won only three games, and none in the conference.
The Tigers' charge is led by players such as sophomore quarterback Grant Enders (Old Mill) and freshman running back Terrance West (Northwestern), both making regular appearances among weekly conference honorees. If you told Ambrose at this time last year where Towson would be this season, he'd be pleasantly surprised.
"There was a change that happened at the end of last year with our team," he said. "Starting in January, our kids started to prepare to win games for the first time in two years. The commitment by the kids and the staff has been amazing."
The end result is a team that Kosak said the community can be proud of again.
"The fact that they wear the name Towson on their jersey allows them to be an ambassador for the place where they all live," he said. "As a community leader, it's something that can bring people together and it's something that can get people excited about Towson."
The Tigers next play Saturday at William and Mary. The game starts 3:30 p.m., and you can listen to it on WNST-AM 1570. Their next home game is at 7 p.m., Oct. 29.