Indulge us for a moment.
This is an interesting column written by Jeff Pearlman over at espn.com, please take just a moment to check it out.
If you don't have a moment, here's our quick summary:
-Division 1-AA football program (U of Delaware) finds itself to be very self important and self impressed with its success in 1-AA.
-In state 1-AA HBCU (Del. State) would love the opportunity to get on Delaware's schedule. They have been begging for at least 30 years to travel the 50 miles down the road to play them.
-Delaware has an unwritten institutional policy to the effect that they will never schedule Del. State.
-Del. State reps and officials have been willing to talk about it. Delaware folks won't respond to the questions. Their athletic department simply says that their hands are tied.
-Pearlman, a Delaware grad, believes that the old, wealthy white folk behind the University don't want to play Del. State for two primary reasons:
1) They look down on Del. State as being for folks who can't get into Delaware and believe the school and the football program are beneath them. They consider the students hoodlums. And it is based on the racial make up of the universities.
2) They fear the fact that they might lose (both programs are ranked in the top 25 of whatever they are calling 1-AA these days).
That should get you up to speed.
Now, as our readership knows, we are the last entity to throw out unfounded racist accusations.
But Pearlman makes a strong case.
Pehaps what is most disheartening about this situation is that it is Delaware. Sure, alumns of the school will tell you about the famed Delaware Wing-T and their wonderful college football history. The 6 national titles. The fair amount of former players that have made it on to the NFL. But it's Delaware. It's small potatoes.
We believe that Del. State is the one in the wrong here. The U. of Delaware has every right to make their own schedule. Sure, it would be fun to develop a rivalry with an in-state University. But, at this point in their histories, both schools have developed their 'traditional' rivals. Trying to force this is counter productive.
Usually, it is the school that has been shunned that is the one that takes the rivalry seriously. The bigger time school that has pushed them aside usually just winces when the game comes up. We experienced it during our college days. UNC rarely played East Carolina. East Carolina wanted so badly to be on the Tar Heels schedule to prove they were just as good a school and all that. But UNC had nothing to gain from putting together a rivalry. They beat ECU, and no one cares. They lose, and it looks bad. Add to it that UNC already had three major in-state rivals, and adding another to the schedule precluded them from the chance of going to (or bringing in) a bigger school from another region for better national exposure. So, sure, it's understandable that a program would not be interested in long term scheduling with a small (or less high profile, in ECU's case) in state rival.
But, again, Delaware is small potatoes.
Which brings us back to Del. State being the ones making the mistake here.
They should be setting their sights higher. If competing with Delaware is the benchmark for the program, then why bother fielding a team?
Del. State is a school with a small budget and lacking facilities.
If they want to improve their lot, they need to forget trying to cultivate a relationship/rivalry which looks competitive on paper and is geographically conducive to easy access for both fan bases and would be beneficial to state by giving Del. State better exposure within the state.
Del. State should be following the model that has been set for HBCU's in college sports.
Schedule away games with big schools that you have no chance against. And get a bigger paycheck.
The notion that it makes sense to take what they have and make the best of it, and try to compete with schools that are closer to their own level of competition is just silly.
The barnstorming, cannon fodder approach is the best way to take their program and school to the next level. And Delaware knows this and is helping out by shunning their in state sister school.
This isn't racism.
It's tough love.
(ed. Maybe this is the reason that Delaware won't play Del. State?)