Well, if the cool morning weather isn’t a signal that fall is here in NE Ohio, here’s another marker: college football season begins tonight. (Actually, for all I know it may have started a week or two ago. But stick with me anyway.) Kent State kicks off its season tonight at home against Costal Carolina University.
The contest doesn’t warrant coverage as the ESPN game of the week. Yet it is an interesting matchup — since you wouldn’t expect that either team can get a big payday from it.
Typically that is what happens in the first weeks of the season. The college have-nots (Kent State and so on) show up at the stadium of the haves (Ohio State and so on) — and get their lunch eaten. For the effort, the have-not university’s athletic department receives a stipend in the range of hundreds of thousands of bucks and maybe more.
For instance, USA Today reports (“For small schools, there’s a large payoff to road trips“) that Navy is going to receive one million big ones to face the Ohio State Buckeyes. Not bad. That will pay for plenty of sub sandwiches at the athletic dining halls. (C’mon. Give me a break with that last sentence.)
And the only reason that I mention any of this is that from time to time we need to remind ourselves that college sports at the top (and even close to the top) levels is a big business. Hey, check out the contract of the new athletic director at the University of Akron, as reported in the Akron Beacon Journal. Sweet.
Let’s face it. No university would trade a winning program with a strong tradition like, let’s say, Ohio State or Alabama, that does generate mega bucks from alumni and sponsors and establishes its “brand reputation” in the eyes of students and donors — for an excellent school of journalism or English department. Ideally you have both. But if you have to choose one over the other. Well…game on.
Anyway, I won’t be at Dix Stadium in Kent for tonight’s game. But it should be an interesting game.
Apparently both teams scheduled the game with the notion that they could win. Costal Carolina University appears to be trying to build a competitive football program, with this its seventh season. Kent State continues its nearly 40-year rebuilding program, following the departure of Don James to the University of Washington in the early ’70s. Sigh.
Ohio State and the other behemoths would prefer not to be involved in a game where either team can win until the last game of the season.
Then Ohio State gets its lunch eaten. Oops.