OK, SO WHO DECLARED today as Patsy Saturday? What's the big idea? Or is it just a coincidence that all in the same day, the three biggest football teams in the state have given themselves an easy day at the office.
Your attention, please. We interrupt the real college football season to bring you Murray State at BYU, Boise State at Utah and Sam Houston State at Utah State.Murray State - a small school from the state of Kentucky - is a 1-AA school. So is Sam Houston State. Boise State was a 1-AA school until a few years ago (just so we've got our big A's covered). All in one day they're coming to a home arena near you.
A quiz: Which one's not like the other ones? a. Alabama; b. Arizona State; c. Washington; d. Murray State.
Not that the Utah schools are alone in the business of not picking on someone their own size. In Week 1, Nebraska played Alabama-Birmingham (38-7). Not Alabama, but Birmingham. Kansas State played Indiana State, not to be confused with Indiana (66-0). Georgia met Kent State (56-3). Florida played the Citadel (score: 49-10), sort of a junior varsity for the Naval Academy, which is nothing to brag about in football, either.
Week 2: Penn State picked on Bowling Green (48-3). Kansas State, still smarting after that game with Indiana State, took on Northern Illinois (73-7). No. 1 Ohio State played Toledo (49-0). Florida, stepping things up a bit after the tough outing with the Citadel the previous week, met Northeast Louisiana (42-10). No. 7 LSU met Arkansas State in a thriller (42-6).
Week 3: Syracuse went toe to toe with mighty Rutgers (70-14). Pur-due took on Central Florida (35-7). After Kansas State finished with Northern Illinois the previous week they passed them on to Kansas (63-21).
From now on, a new rule: Nobody who's anybody can play a team that has directions in its name, i.e. South Central Mid-Western Carolina Technical Institute. If you need directions to find a school, you shouldn't be playing it.
Hey, Robinson, you big moron, where you been? Big deal. This stuff has been going on for years.
Yeah, but why (and thanks for the transition)?
Scheduling cream puffs has become such an established part of college sports that it barely raises an eyebrow anymore. But is there any other sports arena that allows and fosters such mismatches - other than boxing?
NFL teams play other NFL teams, not Division 1-AA NFL teams. NBA teams play other NBA teams, not CBA teams. Even high school teams play other high school teams with the same size enrollment - 5A plays 5A, 4A plays 4A.
Where else do you find teams playing on such an uneven playing field, with Division 1-A schools playing Division 1-AA schools or even real sorry Division 1-A schools, for that matter? Division 1-A schools are allowed 85 scholarship players; 1-AA schools have 63. Division 1-A schools not only get more players, they get better players, better resources, better facilities.
The NFL doesn't allow the San Francisco 49ers to play the Scot-tish Claymores or the Utah Catzz, even though for some reason it does allow them to play the Atlanta Falcons.
The Jazz don't schedule a couple of contests against the Rockford Lightning to give themselves a break in their schedule, although the Clippers are pretty much the same thing.
We know the reasons for the college mismatches. But a quick review might be in order:
- The elite collegiate teams think their conference schedule is tough enough, so why make it tougher. Why not give yourself a day off? Who needs a bye?
- The have-nots of college football are looking for big gate receipts to pay for chin straps and hotel rooms. They figure the money is a fair tradeoff for getting their head handed to them on a plate.
- The elite collegiate teams can pad their won-loss record because, as BYU coach LaVell Edwards says, "The reality is there is so much pressure for wins and getting in bowl games and rankings. . . . When it gets right down to it, at the end of the season if you're eight and oh, it doesn't matter who you played. No one cares." Some schools make a habit of playing a couple of weak non-conference schools each season. Nebraska, for instance. It doesn't seem to stop the Huskers from winning national titles. Other schools always seem to play worthy opponents - UCLA, Notre Dame, Florida State, Texas, Michigan.
BYU, which otherwise has played a notably difficult schedule, wound up with a home game against Murray State when Army dropped out and the Cougars couldn't agree on financial terms with Utah State as a replacement. Where is Weber State when you need them?
Utah State, playing both sides of the fence, plays a little guy today a week after being one (against Colorado). Coach Dave Arslanian says the Aggies need one money game a year "for financial reasons."
Meanwhile, pardon the interruption. The real football season will resume next week.