Archive For June 26, 2015
When most people think of the University of Notre Dame, they generally think of three things, and not necessarily in this order: Catholicism, academics, and football.
Nobody questions the role that football has at Notre Dame. Football was what allowed the South Bend, Indiana school to grow from a growing Catholic university to a national, iconic institution.
But what allowed Notre Dame to become Notre Dame was a path that isn’t available to religious institutions today.
Much virtual ink has been spilled about the effects of collegiate realignment, how some conferences have been torn asunder, how some schools are stuck in places that don’t make sense, how other conferences are receiving piles of money that would make Scrooge McDuck envious.
But one of the biggest losers in this conference-driven realignment is the idea of independent football-playing schools, either loosely-tied or untied from the conference structure that drives the bus today.
When realignment articles come out today, floating schools like BYU or Liberty as potential conference-mates for schools like Texas or Old Dominion, they ignore the issue that they dare not speak publicly – mixing religion and football is not something they’re comfortable doing.
The CBS Sports Network and the Patriot League go way back.
The first major media agreement the Patriot League had was with the network, CBS’ stand-alone national network partner that used to be called CSTV.
For many years, CBS Sports Network carried as many as three Patriot League football games on the channel during the course of a season.
In 2015, however, that streak of nationally-televised Patriot League football games on the network seems like it will be coming to an end.
“Unless something major changes there will not be any through the Patriot League package this year,” the Patriot League office told me.
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The Pete Rossomando era couldn’t have started much better for Central Connecticut State fans in 2014.
Not many outsiders gave the Blue Devils much of a chance when they made the trip to Johnny Unitas stadium to take on the No. 7 team in the nation, Towson.
Sure, they had RB Rob Holloman, an all-purpose everything back that would almost certainly be invited to an NFL camp (he was), but certainly that wasn’t enough to run with the Tigers, right?
Behind a career game by QB Nick SanGiacomo, a transfer from Tulane, CCSU did indeed run with the Tigers, upsetting Towson 31-27 and seemingly announcing that the Blue Devils were going to be in stiff competition for the NEC title and a bid to the FCS playoffs.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things turned out for the Blue Devils.
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By all accounts what happened at UAB was extraordinary.
Last November, football at AUB was essentially abolished by the University of Alabama’s Board of Trustees and confirmed by president Ray Watts. The decision was made secretly, in the middle of the season, with an entire press release written up – but since it didn’t “look good”, Watts kept up with the fiction that there still was a decision to be made.
After the season concluded, Watts announced the termination of the program, saying that “was not about finances… but planning for excellence in the future for everything we do.”
You probably know the rest of the story. It was immediately apparent to all (but apparently not Watts, or the CarrSports Consultants who were commissioned the data to help make that decision) that UAB’s termination of football would almost certainly cost them membership in Conference USA, which was one of several factors that helped set ablaze students, alumni, and most importantly important boosters and community sponsors who mobilized immediately to save football (and bowling and women’s rifle, the two other programs that were cut in the same move).
#FreeUAB was a hashtag that never really went away from December 2014 to June 1st, 2015, when the Alabama Board of Trustees and Watts stunningly reversed their decision, saying that they would be reinstating football and remain members of Conference USA.
So much at UAB echoes what happened at other schools that shuttered their football programs, too, but nowhere does it echo more strongly than what happened at Boston University in October of 1997.
It makes me wish Twitter, and some variation of a #FreeBU hashtag, existed back then.
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When you see this picture of Loyola University headgear, do you think football, or lacrosse?
If you’re a rabid college football fan, you’re forgiven if you think of this as a possible concept football helmet for a member of the Patriot League, Loyola (MD), though it’s actually a lacrosse helmet, of course.
This last week I started to take a look at the financial details of the schools of the Patriot League, and some of the other schools in the Northeast that sponsor FCS football.
Yet one nagging question kept reappearing in my mind.
Why am I looking around for Patriot League expansion candidates to aid in the League’s football conference when two of the best possible additions in the league for football are already full-sports members?
One had a decidedly modest football history that didn’t make that much of a dent on the college football consciousness. The other had a rich football history buried by a president that was an ideological zealot. Neither sponsor the sport today.
But both have the facilities, the money, and the conference to do it. You can make a very good case that they should be the eighth and ninth football-playing members of the League.