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Ivy League Petitions NCAA?
Yale football coach Tom Williams admits to bouts of impatience while the free college football world practices and plays weeks ahead of an Ivy League held hostage by archaic policy.
We bring this up as a backdrop to the startling upset by little Football Championship Subdivision school James Madison over 13thranked Virginia Tech of the Atlantic Coast Conference last Saturday. Then there’s North Dakota State, an FCS school that vanquished Kansas of the Big 12 6-3; South Dakota, an FCS school that stunned Minnesota of the Big Ten 41-38; and Jacksonville State, an FCS school that shocked Mississippi of the SEC 49-48, all during the first two weekends of the season.
Both Williams and Tom Beckett, the Yale AD, would love to see the Ivy League season moved up a week to provide Yale and the league the delicious possibility of playing its opener up against the likes of a Duke or Vanderbilt.
“There’s been discussion about trying to play a week earlier,” Beckett said Tuesday during Yale’s weekly press conference in anticipation of the season opener Saturday against Georgetown in the Yale Bowl at noon. “And if you play an early season game, you just might get an opportunity, if you’re so inclined (to play an FBS team). We would like to do that. Tom (Williams) would like to do that.”
It would be a big step into the 21st century for the Ivy League, but two concessions would have to happen first, one by the league and another by the NCAA. We’ve already noted that the Ivy League would have to move the season up a week, because it would be a suicide mission to ask Yale to play its opener against an FBS team with two games already under the belt of a major college team.
The concession by the NCAA would be to allow games between the Ivy League and FBS teams to count toward bowl eligibility. UConn’s win over Texas Southern last Saturday, for instance, counts toward bowl eligibility for UConn because Texas Southern is an FCS athletic scholarship school – as is most of the FCS. The Ivy League is not an athletic scholarship league, so at this point it wouldn’t be a bowl eligible game for the FBS opponent. And unless the NCAA grants a waiver for games against the Ivy League to count toward bowl eligibility – which is pending as we speak – there would be little incentive for an FBS team to schedule one of Ancient Eight.
Yale’s 2014 season opener against Army – to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Yale Bowl – will be a test case of whether the NCAA is inclined to give Army a waiver to count the Yale game toward bowl eligibility. Army is committed to play either way, but the NCAA isn’t likely to give its answer until the year before the game.
“Would we like to play Duke? We’d love to play Duke,” Beckett said. “Would they want to play us?”
That’s something he can’t answer, though Duke president Richard Brodhead is the former dean of Yale College and close friends with Yale president Richard Levin.
“I would love to see us play that game and see how it turned out,” Beckett said. Duke played Elon in its opener and one has to think Yale would be a more attractive FCS opponent.
“In order for it to work for us,” Williams said, “we would have to play a week earlier to give us a chance to compete. I think it would be great for the program, great for the kids, and if we could match up with an institution of similar ideals, I think it would be awesome. I think Duke would be a great place to start. I can see it as a battle of two academic institutions.”
Williams is encouraged that there’s intraconference discussion for an 11th game, which would move the season up a week.
“It’s now on the agenda … it’s now being discussed,” Williams said. “There have been some changes in the leadership of some of the institutions, and there’s more open-mindedness at the presidential level to allow this conversation to take place. If they want to keep football here in the Ivy League (at a high standard), which I know they do, I think they’ve got to be open to expanding to an 11th game.”
Aside from Duke, schools from the Mid-American Conference, like Akron, Bowling Green and Kent, would provide a terrific non-league experience for teams in the Ivy League.
In the backdrop of four BCS conference teams being blown up by teams from the FCS over the first two weeks of the season, and the possibility of the Ivy League making a statement of its own, it’s time for the league to rethink some of its old scheduling policies.
It’s asking a lot of the Ivy League, but progress is a terrible thing to waste.
By Dave Solomon, New Haven Register