Thanks to coronavirus, we’re not going to have a full season. We realize that, yes?
A not-insignificant fraction of you have spit out your Busch Light at the mere suggestion and are preparing to use that epidemiology degree to tell me just how wrong I am, I know. Suffice it to say, just like you are not interested in wearing a mask at Kenny Chesney’s Slop Trough Bar and Fine Eatery, I am not interested in your bad opinion.
This week SBNation opted for the theme of “Sports Rivalries”, a theme we are seemingly equipped to handle but for some reason were (1) not informed of, and (2) unable to cobble together a piece about.
The conceit is simple: With COVID likely to ravage our seasons, the NCAA should impose regional scheduling on college football. You’ve likely seen Pat Forde’s realignment fantasy and how the SI clickbait machine has revved up to capitalize on legions of bored Americans rightfully confused as to how Iowa got gerrymandered into a conference with all three directional Michigans.
I’m not joking. It’s Kirk’s non-conference wet dream.
Instead, let’s just focus on the cash cow portion of the season, shall we? The non-conference, and the buy games that keep those directional Michigans and Kent States of the world afloat so that they can beat Northwestern on a September evening.
These will involve a semi-dangerous amount of travel for some teams, given that now New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut want travelers from the following states to quarantine for 14 days, given that both their citizens and public officials seem confused about just how bad shit is:
AL, AR, AZ, CA, FL, GA, IA, ID, LA, MS, NC, NV, SC, TN, TX, UT
Thankfully, none of those states need worry about Iowa playing a non-conference game outside its borders.
Anyway, the answer, in my mind, is pretty easy: Play games closer to home and against teams with whom you have either some history or a raging, foam-at-the-mouth, egg-the-neighbor’s-house rivalry.
Simple conceit: Drop one game for distance and COVID, add one game for regional spice and a little rivalry flair. And no, the answer for everyone is not just “add a game against Notre Dame”. Stop it.
Drop: vs. UConn Huskies (9/12)
Add: vs. Mizzou Tigers* (9/26)
A no-brainer. Mizzou will have to give up their game with Eastern Michigan Eagles, but that’ll work fine down the road. And rather than either team getting home field advantage, we play it at Edward Jones Dome or whatever it’s called down. Not like the XFL is using it.
We play Braggin’ Rights with XFL rules.
I’m not talking all the 2020 nonsense where you’ve got automatic reviews and three-point conversions and multiple forward passes on one play—God, asking Lovie Smith to play by those rules would be a waste.
No, I want Jesse Ventura in the booth calling the game. I want mediocre football dressed up by loud pyrotechnics. I want an opening scramble.
Do I or do I not currently have a pulse? Yes I do—let’s play Braggin’ Rights.
Drop: at UConn (9/26)
Add: at Kentucky Wildcats (TBD)
OK, the schedule thing broke down. Ignore the schedule thing.
This is the chance to revive a
once-great once-good once-happening rivalry. Sure, we might not be playing for the Bourbon Barrel any more (for good reason, sadly), but regional bragging rights are, I’m told, definitely a thing, even if it’s football and not shootyhoops.
PS: Anyone know where to find highlights from the 1996 Indiana-Kentucky game? 3-0 in a monsoon: Each team lost a fumble. Each team threw an interception. Indiana ran for 155 on 43 attempts, Kentucky for 154 on 42. Brian Johnson hits the winning 26-yard field goal with :14 left after Lamont Smith intercepted a Chris Dittoe pass with a couple minutes remaining.
Looked like it was on tape-delay at 10:30pm CT in Evansville and Louisville, not actually live.
I must have it.
Pretty easy one. The Middies drop I-AA Lafayette, add a natural football rival. The asterisk is because both teams have a home game; I’m sure the easy answer is to move it to RFK or Audi Field or wherever the Ravens play their games.
The rivalry needed a kick-start, and no time like the present.
Side note: Maryland’s got its home massacre (Towson) and old East Coast rivalry (at West Virginia Mountaineers) already lined up. Good job, Maryland!
I know, dropping the game at Washington would make a lot more sense. But I can’t bring myself to deny Michigan one of the few good games in Week 1 of college football. So let’s drop the Red Wolves, help Central Michigan buy Bryant out of its 9/26 game, and give the Wolverines an in-state buy game on both teams’ bye week.
The Chips will already get their two non-conference wins against San Jose State and Northwestern, so they’re all set.
The most intriguing non-conference schedule of the 2020 schedule, Sparty heads to BYU Cougars in September before hosting Miami Fluoride two weeks later.
That’s ASKING for disease.
Pick your kind, really.
Instead of a risky national travel game, let’s just get Sparty an easy, “Celebrate the State”-style win on their bye week. We’ve got to move it up to a Thursday night to accommodate WMU’s MACtion schedule and a game the following Tuesday against NIU, but this will work fine.
Drop: vs. Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (9/12)
Add: vs. North Dakota State Bizon (9/12)
Come on, North Dakota State: Do you really need a cupcake buy game against Drake?
Slum it a little.
Minnesota, it’s just an FCS school. Don’t worry about it.
I see literally no downside here. The Jayhawks were supposed to be playing AT Coastal Carolina on the 26th, so you’re not even buying them out of anything serious. The Huskers’ win percentage rises from 55% to about 70%, they renew a regional series with a whipping boy (seriously—the South Dakota State game might be tougher), win-win-win.
Drop: vs. Tulane Green Wave (9/12)
Add: vs. Northern Illinois (9/12)
Thanks for the assist, Maryland!
But wait—there’s more!
Drop: vs. Morgan State Bears (11/14)
Add: vs. UChicago Maroons (who cares when)
Play literally anyone other than some random-ass school from Baltimore, Northwestern.
I’m comfortable with the regional proximity of Ohio State’s other two games with Bowling Green and Buffalo, and that September 12 date at Oregon...man, it just hurts to get rid of that.
If there are two programs rich enough to play a game under clean circumstances, it’s probably these two. Plus, I can’t find any comparable opponents for Ohio State who have a bye on the 12th, and this is getting long.
Pitt doesn’t need the easy win against Richmond. Penn State doesn’t need to fly a team in from the West Coast. Penn State still gets the easy win.
Since I’m playing God, I’m just going to move the ACC schedule around, too. Instead of a Notre Dame-Wake Forest ACC donnybrook that day, classic rivalry that it is, we’re going to give Notre Dame an in-state neutral site game against Purdue at Indianapolis.
Boston College and Wake can play a second game of 2020. That’s fine, right?
Good. This whole article was a bad idea.
Good job taking a manageable regional schedule, Rutgers! Games vs. Monmouth, vs. Syracuse, and at Temple are nice and sensible. I can’t even shoehorn in an Army Black Knights game, since Rutgers needs all the wins it can get.
Teams from Iowa are a COVID travel risk, I grant, but that feels like a risk the badgers would take. Plus, probably an easier win than the always-frisky Mountaineers would’ve been.
Iowa State doesn’t need to host UNLV that day, either. Win-win.