If the coronavirus wound up shutting down the entire FBS college football season, one game would still be played, no matter what: Army vs. Navy.
There are competitive reasons for this; Army and Navy build their respective seasons around their game in ways that even Alabama and Auburn, Michigan and Ohio State, Texas and Oklahoma do not. There are also logistical reasons specific to each institution. As military academies, Army and Navy have the ability to close their campuses and track their players' whereabouts in ways traditional universities can not.
"Unless the pandemic is such at the time that we’re precluded by the city of Philadelphia to play that game, we have every intention of playing Army-Navy," Navy AD Chet Gladchuk said in July.
Thankfully, that proved to be nothing more than a theoretical exercise at the FBS level.
But it's become reality in Division III.
The entire division postponed its season in July and August, but on Monday the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy announced their annual battle for the Secretaries' Cup will continue on Nov. 14 at the USMMA in Kings Point, N.Y.
The game will be the 49th in series history, and the 40th consecutive since the establishment of the Secretaries' Cup trophy in 1981. (The Secretary of Homeland Security oversees the Coast Guard Academy; the Secretary of Transportation does the same for the Merchant Marine Academy.)
It is believed to be the only game pitting Division III teams to be played in 2020.
"This is extremely exciting news for our student-athletes, coaches, fans and the entire Academy community," said USMMA AD Kristofer Schnatz. "The health and safety of our Midshipmen have always been of the utmost importance throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic, and our campus has been working hard to maintain a healthy "bubble" for several months, isolating our community to the best of our ability. We recently introduced fall team practices following CDC recommendations and institutional safety protocols and they have been going well. We are excited to begin preparing for competition again and we are thrilled that we were able to find a way to keep this rivalry going, these are important games for both academies."
The game will also complete a trilogy of Coast Guard-Merchant Marine meetings. The volleyball teams will meet on Oct. 24, and the men's soccer teams will play on Halloween; the academies compete in all sports for the Superintendents' Trophy.
"This competition will provide a source of morale for our corps of cadets and also provides our teams with an opportunity to engage in the co-curricular activities they so passionately support," said Coast Guard AD Dr. Dan Rose. "CGA will look to compete with Merchant Marine Academy in other sports as long as we feel it can be done safely and according to NCAA standards."
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.
Update: Our friends at Inside the D3 Huddle passed along this list of scheduled Division III games.