Noontime Commentary: Where Things Stand With College Football

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The question of if and when college football returns should be answered in the coming weeks. (PHOTO COURTESY: Ken Lund on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA)

By Matt Noonan 

For the moment, it appears as if the upcoming college football season is in limbo.

There has been a lot of talk and insight from various minds these past few weeks about the 2020 season. Some think a 12-week campaign is feasible while others are hesitant – can we really play games in the midst of a pandemic?

And then there is the issue surrounding testing. Will there be enough for every player, coach, and team representative? How many times will they need to be tested? And what happens if a coach, player, or team representative contracts the virus? Would that mean Saturday’s game against Clemson University or Florida State is canceled or postponed?

As Notre Dame‘s athletic director Jack Swarbrick told Sports Illustrated last week, “Statistically, if you have 20,000 students on campus, chances are pretty good that some are coming back with the virus. We’ll be testing like crazy.”

Testing will be the key for not just Notre Dame, but every institution – big or small – with keeping students, faculty, and staff safe during these unprecedented times.

While many are anxious for some news and announcements about the upcoming college football season, as well as if and when schools will be open, it appears those decisions should be coming in the next few weeks. And it is possible some decisions such as if and when a fall sports season could occur, may come as late as mid-July.

So, for the moment, we wait and anxiously scour the internet and social media for any breadcrumb we can find about the upcoming college football season, along with the new normal.

WVU’s Lyons Believes Not Every College Football Team Will Play This Fall

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West Virginia University Director of Athletics Shane Lyons believes the upcoming college football season may not include every program. (PHOTO COURTESY: Photo by BlueGoldNews.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

West Virginia University Director of Athletics Shane Lyons knows the upcoming college football season will look a bit different than it has in the past. He also thinks some programs will not be able to play this fall due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

On Friday evening, he shared some insight with college football fans – as well as all college sports followers, too – on the NCAA‘s Twitter handle during a brand new ‘Social Series.’ And this particular series – well, the show, to be exact – was all about college football.

“I do think that there’s going to be those situations where there’s not going to be a hundred percent participation,” said Lyons, who is the Chair of the Division I Football Oversight Committee.

Lyons’s point is valid – it is hard to see every institution open its doors to students, faculty, and staff, as well as field a football team in a few months, especially in mid-May – but he also highlighted another important wrinkle to the equations about delaying the start of the season if only some teams are ready to play. And it is certainly possible that only a handful or more of schools will be able to compete in late August or early September, which would make scheduling a bit tricky.

“Do we all wait until its one hundred percent or if eighty percent of the schools are ready to go, do we start the season? And I think that’s the discussion that the conference commissioners are going to have to have,” said Lyons.

“We’re not quite there yet, but (will the 2020 season be) conference only play, or (are) we still going to have the non-conference competitions and have a 12 week season? So, I think – I don’t have that crystal ball yet to look at it and say, ‘This is the way it’s going to be (because) I think it is very fluid.'”

Lyons – like many – knows there’s a lot of questions about the upcoming season, but the hope is those concerns and ideas will be answered over the next few weeks. He did state, that a decision about the season should be made either before July or “mid-July at the latest.”

Noontime’s Top 10 New England College Football Rivalries

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By NoontimeSports.com 

There is nothing better than a rivalry, especially on the gridiron. And we have quite a few here in New England, but which one is the best?

Well, we think this list features the best rivalries – 10 to be exact – but if you feel we missed a game (or two), let us know by leaving a comment below. All ideas are welcome!

1. Harvard University vs. Yale University: Hands down, this is the best New England college football rivalry. And while some may think Amherst-Williams belongs in this spot, Harvard-Yale is just as important as The Biggest Little Game in America. The Bulldogs needed two extra sessions this past year to edge the Crimson, 50-43, to claim the 136th edition of The Game. Harvard captured the 2018 meeting, which was played at Fenway Park.

2. Amherst College vs. Williams College: As mentioned above, Harvard-Yale, Amherst-Williams are the two of the best rivalries in New England, but there is nothing better than being in the stands in Amherst or Williamstown in early November to watch this game. The Ephs won their last meeting against the Mammoths by a score of 31-9 and finished their 2019 campaign with their best record under head coach Mark Raymond.

3. Bentley University vs. Stonehill College: The 35th meeting between these two programs was an instant classic. Taking place last October, Falcons won the game on a last-second 32-yard field goal by Grant Buchanan. The win was the Falcons’ second-straight against the Skyhawks, as well as their first against their rival in Easton, Massachusetts since 2011.

4. Maine vs. New Hampshire: The Black Bears may have won the first-ever meeting between these two programs, but the Wildcats have been rather successful since that initial games, especially these past few years. New Hampshire beat Maine twice in the last three seasons, including last fall in their season finale. The winner of each matchup claims the Brice-Cowell Musket, which is named after the former head coaches of the two programs.

5. The Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Trophy (CBB): Since 1892, Bates CollegeBowdoin College, and Colby College have been playing football against each other. And believe it or not, but Bowdoin and Colby have competed against each other 131 times with the Mules winning their most recent meeting with the Polar Bears last November. The win provided Colby with its second-straight CBB title after Bates claimed the crown from 2014-2017. Bowdoin last won the trophy in 2010 when they beat Colby in the final game of the season by a score of 26-21.

6. Coast Guard Academy vs. Norwich University: “The Little Army-Navy Game” is always a must-see, must-watch affair in September, October, or November. The two teams, who entered their previous meeting with identical 2-0 records, first met in 1929. The winner claims “The Mug,” which was donated by The Day with the first award being presented at the conclusion of the third meeting in 1931. Coast Guard currently leads the all-time series, but the Cadets won the most recent contest last September, thanks to an impressive second-half comeback.

7. Dartmouth College vs. New Hampshire: This may not be the most well-known rivalry to current football fans (and players), but the Big Green and Wildcats have met quite a few times over the past few decades. In fact, the first-ever meeting between Dartmouth and New Hampshire occurred in 1901 with the Green and White claiming a 51-0 victory. The two teams last met in 2016 but will meet again in 2021.

8. MIT-WPI: Sure, WPI’s longstanding rivalry may be RPI, but from an in-state (or in-region) opponent, it has to be MIT, right? The Engineers of Cambridge won the first six meetings – both MIT and WPI initially met in 1888 – but since 2001, the Engineers of Worcester have won six of seven contests. The two teams began playing against each other every year since 2015. Last fall, MIT snapped WPI’s six-game winning streak by securing a hard-fought win in double-overtime. The victory was MIT’s first against WPI since 1900.

9. Endicott College vs. Western New England: This always seems to be a must-see, must-follow contest, no matter the records. But for the past few years, this has been the de-facto conference championship game. The Golden Bears have won two of the last three meetings while Endicott captured the 2018 meeting. The win over WNE in 2018 provided Endicott with its sixth victory at home against its rival while snapping the Golden Bears’ 25-game conference winning streak.

10. Southern Connecticut vs. University of New Haven: The Elm City Trophy has resided in New Haven these past few seasons, but the Owls did make things interesting last October. The Chargers have won 24 of the 31 meetings in this series and will attempt to continue its recent momentum against the Owls when they visit West Haven, Connecticut later this year.

What Would Be The Best New England FCS, D-II & D-III Football Matchups?

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What if WPI (left) and Springfield College (right) played against some local FCS and D-II football teams?

By Matt Noonan 

Trying to decipher if and when a college football season will occur this fall remains a mystery to many these days, including yours truly. But what if the upcoming season featured more regional games, specifically contests that saw the various New England FCS teams competing against D-II and D-III squads?

How about D-II and D-III teams squaring-off either under the lights or during a gorgeous October afternoon?

Could it happen? Maybe – I am not entirely sure, but it is an interesting thought, right?

While we may not know if and when a college football season will occur (or officially begin), here are a few ideas for some potential matchups that would be worth watching (or following).

American International College, Springfield College, and Western New England: How about AIC, Springfield, and WNE competing against each other to determine the best football team in Springfield, Massachusetts? Springfield and WNE have met in week one these past few years with the Pynchon SAW trophy on the line – the hardware is named after the city’s founder William Pynchon – so why not add AIC to the mix?

Holy Cross vs. New Haven: The Chargers (New Haven) are currently slated to compete against Dartmouth College in September, so why not play against the Crusaders, who advanced to their first postseason since 2009 last fall? This could be a really interesting game against two teams that finished in the top half of their respective conference last season.

Assumption College vs. WPI: I floated this potential matchup earlier this week in my ‘Noontime Commentary‘ piece about the upcoming fall sports season. I think this could be an interesting game, but I am not sure who would win. These two teams are literally down the road from each other, so we could call this game the ‘Battle of Salisbury Street.’ Thoughts?

Bentley University vs. New Hampshire: After finishing its 2019 campaign with a 6-4 record, I think these Falcons (Bentley) are ready to take on the Wildcats of New Hampshire. Whether this game is played in Waltham, Massachusetts, or Durham, New Hampshire, there would be an interest in this contest with both programs attracting a slew of student-athletes from the six New England states to their respective campus every year.

Harvard University, MIT, and Tufts University: Welcome to the ‘Battle of Cambridge and Somerville!’ Yes, I know there is already the ‘Battle for the Picket Fence’ between Cambridge Rindge & Latin and Somerville High School, so why not have Harvard, MIT, and Tufts compete for bragging rights for both cities? It could be some interesting games for sure, but in the end, Harvard would prevail. Go Crimson!

The CCAA Suspends Fall Sports

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California State Flag. (PHOTO COURTESY: Wikipedia)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Following yesterday’s announcement by California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White about a majority of classes for the upcoming school year expected to be held online, the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) announced they will suspend its upcoming fall sports season

The 13 member NCAA D-II conference, which has campuses in various California cities and towns, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, will not crown champions this fall in men and women’s soccer, men’s cross country, and women’s volleyball.

As noted in yesterday’s announcement, the CCAA member institutions felt it was best to protect the “health and welfare of our students, coaches, staff, faculty, and communities.” The CCAA does hope to provide its student-athletes with an opportunity to compete in the upcoming school year, but only when it is deemed safe for its student-athletes.