Three thoughts and a fact for you on this Monday in June:
1. How are rivalries made? The good ones were made before your grandparents were even born, when Old State made off with your school’s mascot and served him in the school cafeteria. Some are the result of spillover from actual conflicts, like Michigan-Ohio State and Kansas-Missouri, most resonate outside the playing field. When two schools of close proximity compete year after year after year – whether it be for students, tax dollars of football trophies – a natural rivalry is born.
Good rivalries are not announced ahead of time, and they are not born in marketing pitch meetings. Conference realignment has severed a number of longstanding blood feuds (Texas-Texas A&M, Kansas-Missouri) and, in their place, conversation has arisen to replace what was lost with end-of-year games against LSU (for A&M) and Arkansas (for Mizzou). Let’s sprinkle some bad blood and a few championship implications on these series and check back in fix or six decades. It takes more to create a rivalry than, “Hey, we should totally create a rivalry.”
And then, on the other hand, there’s Connecticut head coach Bob Diaco. UConn has announced a rivalry with Central Florida without the prior knowledge of UCF. “I don’t think there’s any way you can argue that even if it’s just a small, little amount. Whether the trophy is honored, it’s honored by us, so you don’t have control over that, so who cares?,” Diaco said Monday. “They don’t get to say whether they’re our rival or not. We might not be their rival, but they don’t get to say whether they’re our rival. That’s for us to decide, so for us it’s plain and clear, because those are things we have control over.”
I have no rooting interest in the game, but I can’t help but hope for a situation where Central Florida beats UConn this fall and refuses to accept the Civil Conflict trophy from a defeated Diaco.
2. Two-for-one scheduling. Athletics directors love 2-for-1 scheduling. It guarantees a major program two home games at a reduced rate of one-off guarantee games, and mid-majors get a home date against a Power Five school that would never otherwise visit their stadium. A good example of this is a 2-for-1 set up last year between Oklahoma and Tulane. The Sooners get home dates in 2017 and 2024 – far enough apart to keep Sooners fans from groaning Ugh, Tulane again? – and a road trip at a close, interesting locale that just so happens to be a prime recruiting territory.
On the other end of the spectrum, though, is the 2-for-1 series announced Monday between Mississippi State and Massachusetts. In exchange for a far-away trip to a college football wasteland with next to no recruits, Mississippi State gets two home games against a program that’s 5-31 since moving up to FBS. What’s the upside here?
True, Mississippi State had to scramble to fill its 2016 schedule after Tulane backed out at the eleventh hour. But a road trip to Foxboro was the best they could do to fill the gap?
— Bill Martin (@MSUBillMartin) June 8, 2015
There is a reason the last 27 Bulldog teams didn’t go Northeast, after all.
3. Camping for a good cause. I know, I know, I know. Believe me, I know. Nothing rolls the eyes these days better than “satellite camp” and “Jim Harbaugh,” especially when they’re combined in the same sentence. But on Sunday Harbaugh and his Michigan staff joined with more than 350 other coaches to partake in Lauren’s First and Goal Camp, an event that raises money for pediatric cancer research and honors Lauren Loose, the daughter of Army defensive backs coach John Loose. This year’s event raised $101,800 for the cause.
“I’m going to follow (Lauren’s) example,” Harbaugh said. “Fighter, courageous, happy, spiritual. She’s got what I’m looking for. I’m going to follow her. Find somebody. Find somebody every day. You know who’s doing right. Go be a good follower. Learn how to do that.”
Fact of the Day: This one comes from Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, “There are as many Division I recruits in California, Texas and Florida as there are in the other 47 states combined.” One would think the SEC, with its coast-to-coast branding, would want more access to those states, not less.