Create Some Hate: Top 20 New Rivalries I'd Like to See in College Football
It is tough being a football fan, isn't it? Our favorite sport has the shortest playing season and the longest offseason. Our pros can't seem to figure out how to keep a good thing going, while our amateurs can't figure out the proper way to crown a champion.
By this coming fall, the top level of pro football that will be played will be the CFL and UFL. As for college, well despite the bad post season it is still one of the best amongst any sport, pro or college, when it comes to its regular season. And that is thanks in part to the rivalries in the game.
While pro rivalries can come and go based on how well the teams have done in the past, or the hatred that is created between players and not necessarily the jersey, college rivalries stay consistent despite how good or how bad the teams have been.
Sure there are exceptions in the pro ranks: Ravens and Steelers, Lakers and Celtics, Yankees and Red Sox, Al Davis and...anybody, but college football has more meaningful and more entertaining rivalries. Some are known nationwide, others only known within a region, but they are always there. Some have lasted for over 100 years and some have only just begun, but once the seed of hate is planted, it is there to take root and grow.
I love rivalry games, and I would like to share with you 20 games that I would like see turn into annual rivalry games. Some would be new, some would be renewed, all would be interesting.
Now, this is an opinion article, meaning I am not going to be impartial on some of these, and I might even show some dislike toward some schools. But, hey, what is a true rivalry without a little bit of prejudice and loathing (besides Army and Navy)?
UConn vs UMass
With the Minutemen now becoming a football only MAC member (starting 2012) and joining the FBS, it is time they renew a relationship with a very old friend. A school that was in their position not too long ago. They need to start a rivalry with UConn.
From 1897-1922 UMass, UConn and Rhode Island created the Athletic League of New England State Colleges to help each other schedule games with other schools in the region, which helped to get their football programs started.
They have a historical relevance with each other. The campuses are roughly an hour-and-a-half to a two-hour drive away. Also, now that both will be FBS schools, there will be a greater potential for one school to take recruits away from the other. That will create a familiarity relevance.
The potential is there for a decent rivalry game and, unlike some of the games on this list, actually has a chance of becoming a reality.
Washington State vs Boise State
Who would have thought 15 years ago that this would be a a step down game for Boise State? Washington State hasn't been the same as it use to be, and they would need this more than the Broncos. But both schools have very passionate blue collar fan bases, making it easy for a rivalry game to develop between the schools.
It is regionally relevant. The fact that Boise is now a nationally known name and that the Cougars are in the Pac-12 would bring more national attention as well.
This one may develop down the road, but first Boise must be interested and second Wazzu needs to build their program back up.
At least they will make better rivals for each other than the Vandals.
Temple vs Villanova
This is assuming that Villanova makes the move up.
This will become an obvious rivalry.
Location? Check. Both schools are located in the same city. Passion? Check. That city just happens to be Philadelphia, arguably the most passionate sports city in America. Also, it's the public school versus the private school; blue collar vs white collar. Added incentive? How about the fact that Temple was kicked out of the Big East in 2004 and is now only considered a last resort for Big East expansion.
As a perk, it might mean more Bill Cosby moments on ESPN.
Memphis vs Vanderbilt: The BBQ Bowl
A little surprised that these two schools have only played each other 10 times. The Commodores have more history with North Texas as an opponent (they are 16-3 against the Mean Green, by the way). The last game between the two being in October of 1989, a 13-10 Tiger victory.
The tailgating and site seeing (Memphis and Nashville) would be worth price of admission, and the game itself could become more entertaining than you might expect. And Vanderbilt football can use another rival to get excited about, especially one that they can become competitive with.
BYU vs Hawaii
There is a deeper connection between these two schools besides being former WAC rivals. The state of Hawaii has about 70,000 LDS members and has been one of BYU's pipeline states for years. There would be plenty of familiarity between the schools and a surprising amount of support.
The two programs are also very competitive, having shown to be on par with BCS schools. It could easily become a meaningful game that could decide if either go on to become a BCS buster and should become one of those games that would appeal to fans across the country...unless you are a WAC fan.
South Florida vs Miami
I almost put Central Florida over Miami, but let's face it. It's the U. One of the most recognizable brands in college football. However, they are looking very average if not below average. Hopefully, they won't become like the Irish and can find a way to get back to where they were in the '90s and early '00s
Meanwhile, a South Florida program that only began in '97 has made leaps and bounds. They beat Boise's record for faster team to go from 1-AA to top-10 ranked FBS. Of course, they also own the record for fastest to reach top-five ranked FBS.
They have the largest stadium, the largest student section in a stadium and the largest enrollment of any current Big East school. Another amazing fact: since becoming a program in 1997, the Bulls only have two seasons below .500 (1997 and 2004). They are currently 12-3 against Florida teams.
This "potential" rivalry game was signed to go from last season to 2013 for Thanksgiving weekend, with a potential to be extended. So maybe this game shouldn't be on the list after all...
Wyoming vs Nebraska
These schools are only separated by a little less than 500 miles. So that would mean 100 miles per game. Only five times have these two schools played each other, with the Cornhuskers owning the Cowboys five to nil.
Why would this even be considered? We have one of the best programs in football, versus one of the most mediocre programs in college football. Plus Nebraska has plenty of other schools to choose from that would be more rewarding financially.
Well for one, Nebraska as a school and a program has a lot of pride. And they felt embarrassed and under appreciated by the Big XII. I find it more likely that they won't renew any of their old Big XII rivalries (except for maybe Colorado). And the Big 10 plus two will have a hard enough schedule as is. So why not schedule a hungry program like Wyoming on a regular basis?
Besides, every game thus far has been in Lincoln. What would happen if they came up to the highest football stadium in FBS level football? (We will find out this coming season). Also, the previous couple games were surprisingly tight and entertaining with the Cowboys hanging around until late in the second half.
With this year's game in Laramie and Nebraska having some questions on the offensive side of the ball (including the coach/QB relationship) we might see another tight matchup. Maybe even an upset, if Wyoming can figure out their QB situation.
The fanbases for the two schools have the typical blue collar pride and love for their guys, but they also have something else. Large amounts of respect for each other. Nebraska fans have the reputation of not only being passionate but showing great sportsmanship. They applaud the other team after games, and have been known to punish their own if any signs of disrespect are shown amongst the red and white.
As for Cowboy fans, from what I have gathered being in Laramie they have a kind of admiration towards Nebraska.They see Nebraska as a program that they can become and, despite the losses, look back on the Nebraska games like a son would at a father who have beaten them every single time. Yeah it was a loss, but it is getting closer and closer.
This has the potential to be one of those games that is highly competitive and brutal on the field, but can end up creating some lasting relationships off the field. Now, if only Nebraska fans can teach Wyoming how to tailgate properly...
Notre Dame vs BYU
Catholics vs Mormons. The old face of independent football vs the new face of independent football. Two schools with extremely passionate (yet very delusional) fan bases. Two programs with a lot of pride and tradition. Two programs that expect nothing but national championships every single year (see, delusional). Two programs that are nationally recognized. Two programs that need to play each other and play each other now.
Now, I am not hiding the fact that I dislike these two programs, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one. But that equals ratings. How many people watch the Yankees or Duke or the Dallas Cowboys because they love them? How many more watch them to see them lose? Get this game signed, get it in Lucas Oil Stadium, let's make this game happen.
And for the record, the Irish have a 4-2 edge overall over the Cougars.
Army vs Texas A&M
Here is another odd one, but hear me out. Army has always been successful in getting kids to come up to New York from Texas to play football, despite the military commitment after graduating. Texas A&M, in addition to being an agriculture school, is a senior military college recognized under Title 10 of the United States Code.
And the Aggies have great pride in their corps of cadets in addition to their football team. However, you don't have to be a part of the corp to play football at A&M (up until 1965, it was mandatory to be in the corps if you were a male student at A&M), so you won't be getting a sense of mutual respect on the field like you would when the service academies face off against each other.
Texans love football, and they love beating other Texans in football even more. And Army has shown that they can hang with the Aggies. A 28-24 loss '06 in San Antonio and a 21-17 loss '08 at Kyle Field. By the way, that 2006 game in the Alamodome...sold out.
TCU vs Baylor
This rivalry stems from the old Southwest Conference, and the bitterness originates from the conference split. When the Big 12 was formed, Baylor (or should I say Texas governor and Baylor grad Ann Richards) was responsible for keeping TCU out, allowing Texas Tech in instead.
And when the whole expansion madness was going on last year, I was told by people close to TCU that they wouldn't have joined the Big 12 unless Baylor was gone. If that was true, then the ill feelings are still there in Ft. Worth.
I don't know about how Baylor feels about TCU, but this is the school whose regent said this when Nebraska was first rumored to be a target by the Big Ten: “It’s hard enough get the home (Texas) teams to stick tight. But harder still to influence a bunch of corn shuckers.”
Seems Baylor has some history of being the political bully...
Tennessee vs Texas
Just imagine the sea of orange on, Saturday night, when this game arrives. Imagine the look of Vol fans when they see Texans try and squeeze in alongside the boats of the Volunteer Navy.
Ten national titles between them, 238 years of combined football history, and they have only played each other three times? The last game in 1969? Even if it's only a home and home series, these two need to get together.
Oregon vs Boise St.
OK, first thing most of us think about is "the punch." And that should be more than enough to kick start the rivalry. But these two schools are pretty similar. Both have been on a very fast tear in rising up the ranks from obscurity.
Regionally relevant, very tough stadiums to play in, and both are current championship game contenders (although how long Boise can remain that way depends on if they continue moving up in conferences and/or coach Peterson stays). Nike would have a field day with this game.
Texas A&M vs Virginia Tech
Remember how I mentioned that A&M was a recognized US Senior Military College (SMC)? Meet another one...Virginia Tech.
This would put the two most well known SMCs against each other. Otherwise, the two have nothing in common, and this is just a fantasy game for me. Although, I'm sure the Aggie yell leaders will create a reason for Hokies to hate them...remember how they riled up Penn State with that insensitive Joe Pa. taunt?
They would probably reference the lack of a single national title to Va Tech. The two programs have faced each other four times, and it is split with two wins for each side.
Texas vs Notre Dame
Let's face the facts and admit that Texas will become a football independent, at some point in the future. That will open up many possibilities of big time games. Notre Dame, despite its recent struggles with mediocrity, is still the poster child of being a successful independent in college football.
These two programs are big money as well, and money seems to have taken control of the FBS lately. This game would be rewarding for both schools not just in money, but in FBS computer rankings (both would be considered BCS schools) and recruiting (at least for the Irish as they will be able to create a footprint in Texas).
The Irish own an 8-2 record against the Longhorns, last meeting in 1996.
Cincinnati vs Ohio St.
This would be hard to schedule, but would gain great support in the state, as these schools are the only two in the state to be in BCS conferences and Buckeye fans will travel for any game. Surprisingly, the Bearcats have a pretty storied history including 11 conference titles, over 90 players drafted into the NFL and 126 years of football (making it one of the oldest football programs in the country).
This game can even be played at the Cincinnati Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium, which would be ironic since the Bengals began playing at UC's Nippert Stadium.
Ohio St. is 4-0 against the Bearcats.
Boise St. vs TCU vs Utah
This was a reality until TCU decided to accept the invitation from the Big East and Utah the Pac-12. The three schools who have been called BCS buster on more than one occasion. The three schools that had begun to strike fear in BCS schools while giving hope to the non-BCS schools. The three schools that would have turned the Mountain West into a BCS conference.
These three, and BYU, would have created a very tight and entertaining race for the Mtn. West crown. Oh what could have been...
At least we will see Boise and TCU go at it one more time before the Broncos become the lone wolf trapped in a dog pound.
West Virginia vs Virgina Tech: The Black Diamond Trophy
This game hasn't been played since the Big East lost the Hokies. And there have been no signs of renewing it. Such a shame, since the only other regional rivals are Marshall and Virginia. Neither of whom are at the level of the Hokies or Mountaineers. The trophy was started in 1997, but the two schools played a total of 50 games against one another, dating back to 1912.
It would be nice to see this game back on the schedule. It would also be better to see them lose to each other than to schools like East Carolina and James Madison.
Texas vs TCU
Let it be known that I am not a Texas fan (I love the Washington Huskies). They just have more appeal when it comes to creating these games. And I like the appeal of Texas vs TCU. The money making giant of the Big 12 against arguably the best program currently in the state.
Old SWC rivals who will soon have an equal chance to contend for national championships. Well, somewhat equal. History buffs know that TCU has reached higher heights than they currently are. Two national championships, one Heisman winner and 17 conference championships are a part of the program's history.
The Longhorns have owned the Horned Frogs, 57-20 with one tie.
Penn State vs Pitt
A rivalry that has quite a bit of history that will probably not return to the field in the near future. The two schools played 96 times, from 1893 to 2000. The game started to die out when the two schools joined separate conferences. A disagreement on future home game scheduling, combined with the two schools lack of interaction since has pretty much put an end to the series.
This series was one of the most relevant rivalries in the nation up to the '80s, with one or both teams being ranked when the date arrived for their meeting.
I have a personal connection with the state of Pennsylvania, and I would love to see this game renewed. But, unless things change between the ones in charge at the two schools, it may be a life time before we see these two go at it on the field of play...not counting bowl games, of course.
Texas vs LSU
And this game here is one that I would love to see scheduled every single year. Imagine the scene at DRK Memorial Stadium or at Death Valley when these two come together? Can you imagine the amount of NFL caliber talent that would be on the field, every year? Can you imagine the weird finishes that would occur that would only add to the history and intrigue to the game?
Can you imagine the tiger getting loose and attacking Bevo?
To me, what these two programs would bring to the table is what college football is all about: passion, intensity, drama, unpredictability, controversy, entertainment and fun.
What more could you want?