It all got underway last night. There weren’t a ton of good games. However, for me, the big game was Massachusetts at Holy Cross. Although that probably doesn’t hold true for you, that game in Worcester, MA in front of 16,000 people was home to some great storylines.
Last night’s game was a complete 180 degree departure from the news headlines we have seen all summer as it pertains to college football. Whether it’s the issues in Miami that Y! Sports pointed out — or those in Columbus, or even the debacle in Austin/Bristol — the news has been grim for collegiate football for months. Well, there aren’t a whole lot of underhanded actions currently associated with Massachusetts or Holy Cross. In fact, the Holy Cross Crusaders don’t offer football scholarships. A practice that has been in place since 1991. In what seems like a rather miraculous achievement under those circumstances, Holy Cross won the Patriots League in 2009.
The University of Massachusetts has now begun there drive to the FBS. This will be their last season in the FCS’ Colonial Athletic Conference. I may have mentioned that previously, and likely will again. Unfortunately, the transition is obviously not seamless. There will be no FCS playoffs this year for the team. That means nothing tangible for the seniors to play for. The team will not be eligible for a bowl game until 2013. This means nothing tangible for the ’13 seniors as well. For reasons such as this the transition often creates a difficult atmosphere for a team to win.
A couple of other northeast team have recent experiences with this. In 2000 Uconn became a 1A football independent as the program transitioned to the Big East. That year the team went 3-8. Things got even harder the next year as the team regressed to 2-9. Similarly, in 1999, the Buffalo Bulls went 0-11 in their first year in the MAC. A year later they were able to muster up 2 wins.
In 2009 Uconn played Buffalo in the International Bowl. The teams had successfully made the transition from 1AA to 1A.
While other big time programs fight to get the upper-hand by doing whatever it takes, there are a number of FCS and FBS teams in the northeast that play a much more pure brand of football. The football I watched last night at Fitton Field on Holy Cross’ campus was not overly flashy. That being said, it was far more enjoyable than hearing about Terrelle Pryor’s Nissan 350Z.
This is also the weekend that begins to take sports betting to the next level. College and pro football are what make sports betting a billion dollar industry. That’s the beauty of football. Even here in the northeast, where college football has about a tenth of the impact as in the south, gambling makes it that much more relevant relevant.
These are the big games this weekend, complete with betting lines (of course):