Monday, November 05, 2007

Gameday Location

Read today that Gameday is going to be not at Ohio State-Illinois or Georgia-Auburn (the only matchup of ranked opponents) or even one of the ABC prime time sites (College Park, MD and Stillwater, OK). Instead, they're going to bucolic Williamstown, Massachusetts for the Amherst-Williams game.

Amherst-Williams is always a big rivalry. If you've never heard of the schools, it's probably because they're both very small liberal-arts colleges in northwestern Massachusetts. And I know this when I was 17 and stupid, I really wanted to go to Williams. Both are excellent academic institutions and both have historically good athletic teams, leading to a pretty good rivalry.

But let's not kid ourselves. This isn't the year they should be going to this game. Neither the Ephs nor the Lord Jeffs (I'll let you try to figure out which is Amherst and which is Williams) are really in a position to win the conference. The conference (NESCAC) doesn't allow its football teams to compete in the Division III playoffs, and this year neither Amherst nor Williams would be considered a team that could compete against those schools in DIII that do play in the playoffs - in the past Williams and Amherst have been ranked, but not this year.

Both Williams and Amherst have student bodies right at or below 2,000 students. The small size of the student body and the academic rigor at each school means that the talent on the field is, for the most part, not as big, strong or fast as most large high schools in Texas, California, Florida, Georgia or probably a few other states.

The kids who play there surely play their hearts out. And a rivalry like this is always great fun for the students and alumni. It'll be a nice setting (if cold, probably) for the show. But it's not going to be anything like the last few weeks (Eugene and Lexington's huge crowds especially).

I like when Gameday shines a spotlight on smaller schools normally. I've written before how I think they should do a short piece on a smaller school every week (like the Linfield story last week or the Chadron State kid a couple of months ago). And in most years, Amherst-Williams would be a great matchup (nearly every year a conference title is on the line and in many years one or both of the teams enter unbeaten) for them to see. Unfortunately, these aren't the best teams in their series. And there are some pretty important matchups elsewhere in college football. Corso kept talking last week about how important November games are in the big conferences. Now the show is choosing not to attend one of them.


peacedog said...

I was matriculating at Hampden-Sydney when HSC and Randolph Macon played their 100th game (at the time, I believe it was the third series in all of college footballdom to actually hit 100 games, at any level). ESPN showed up and really gave a lot of love to the game - but it wasn't a game day thing like this (this was 1994) that I recall.

It doesn't bother me that Game day wants to go do that, but I agree it may not be the best weekend for it. They're boycotting athens, though, so what can you do?

Though I heard tell Herbstreet lobbied to come to The Classic City.