Time to Reschedule an Opener:
This off season has been quite a roller coaster. This Wuhan/Chicom flu has turned the sporting world upside down. March hit & the NBA shut down followed by all college spring sports and MLB. The historic game with Oregon went from a long shot to looking like it was going to happen, then to only last week have it cancelled. What should NDSU do in response?
First, whatever they choose to do could be undone by the powers to be over them (NCAA & MVFC). In this crazy environment, there are no guarantees. With the Oregon game gone, what could they do until further notice? Let me put up 5 options that just came on line. Two are FBS and three are FCS replacement possibilities. I am going to list in order of desirability from my perspective.
Texas Christian University (TCU) was set to open the season at California on September 5th (same date as Bison/Duck cancellation). The Cal Golden Bears are in the Pac 12, who just shut down all non-conference games (same league as the Oregon Ducks). TCU is in the Big 12. Their commissioner said they were surprised by the Big 10 & Pac 12 shut down. They aren’t shutting down non-conference games. TCU is in Ft. Worth.
This could be a match made in heaven. TCU gets to set up another home game with a quality opponent, the Bison. SDSU opened the season there four years ago and gave the Horned Frogs all they could handle. FBS schedules FCS games, but sometimes the crowd draw is light (fans want a name game or conference game that counts more). The Bison Nation could help out here. Are there any Bison fans familiar with a trip to Texas? Just 8 out of the last 9 years! How about a chance to open and close the season in Texas? I am sure the pay out to get the Bison would be above $400,000. Matt Larsen, please call TCU, if you haven’t already. Another opportunity to expose TX high school recruits to Bison football.
I think the next best choice would be Portland State from the Big Sky. They got cancelled out of their game with Arizona (another Pac 12 school). The Vikings have traveled to North Dakota to play UND, so this wouldn’t be a new venture for them. Another home game for the Herd could possibly replace the loss of the Duck money. Also, Portland State is from a good FCS conference. The Bison payout isn’t what Portland would have gotten from the Wildcats, but is more than the Vikings could get from any other FCS school or a home crowd to a Div II match up.
Next on my list would be Monmouth. They were cancelled out by Rutgers of the Big 10. They were a FCS playoff team last year. The travel distance is much greater than the Rutgers game, so that makes it more iffy.
The last FCS replacement option is William & Mary out of the CAA. They got cancelled by Stanford of the Pac 12. This would have been a coast to coast trip for the Tribe, so a trip to Fargo is shorter, but our pay out would be less than Stanford’s. If you want to build your program, then playing the Bison is definitely a measuring stick for any FCS program.
The last option I see is Alabama. Their game with USC on the road went up in smoke. I place this lower because getting the Crimson Tide would be a new trip for the Herd and would be as tough a game as you could schedule with an FBS team. Alabama would be several degrees harder than Oregon. Also, would the Tide want to schedule another FCS game (set to play TN-Martin on 11/14). This is why I place this here. Alabama is always in the hunt for a National Title run. If they had a close loss to an FBS school and two FCS wins, they might not make the FBS final four.
Let’s discuss the elephant in the room (which is beyond our control, but not our combined voices). Should stadiums be opened up to full capacity? I want to address three aspects to this. First is player safety, second is fan safety and third is fan choice in a free society.
I have spent my career in medical consulting (working with medical data & actuarial stats), so I have more experience than most. I also don’t want to write a book here (would be willing to dialogue more off line, my email is email@example.com). This Wuhan virus is serious, but isn’t a killer to the young and healthy. Majority who succumb to it are old and feeble (no player on any team fits this).
There are also several co-morbidity factors that affect health outcomes to those who come down with it. Diabetes/HBP mixed in with obesity is a bad combo. Does Coach Kramer have any obese kids? People with lung issues are at higher risk (COPD, emphysema or asthma) and finally those with immune disorders or weaknesses (cancer patients, AIDS, et al). There might be a player that fits one or more of these. What should be done? How about we treat it like head injury protocols? They might want to sit out until this fully passes over.
Let me make my point, the impact of this disease to the young and healthy athlete IS LESS DANGEROUS than the regular yearly flu (In 2008-09 H1N1 took out 1500 children under age 5 in 10 months & nothing was shut down). Here we are shutting a sport down that we have to test people to see if they are sick.
What about filling stadiums with fans? Do we stop people from shopping at Wal-Mart or getting gas (the pad you touch to get gas isn’t dangerous?)? The new mortality numbers show this pandemic has lost its epidemic status (not deadly enough). Remember the shutdown was to be for 15 days so Hospitals wouldn’t be over run. They weren’t. Here we are 120+ days out and they have switched the goal to stopping people from getting it? At what cost? Millions of businesses & livelihoods have been destroyed.
That leads to my final point. Where does fan choice come in a supposedly free society? Every fan could be checked for temperature at the gate. They could sign a waiver as to the risks they are taking. We allowed protests and rioting in some parts of the country with no concern to this disease. Why the double standard?
Many of you might be uncomfortable with this opening up. Fine, don’t come to the games. Do we allow people to choose to smoke or drink alcohol? Both kill far more than this pandemic. I know there are many fans who feel as I do. Let me make informed decisions on a well defined health risk. I drive for Uber part-time. It is a hell of a lot more risky than going to a football game. Powers to be, stop trying to play God. I am an adult, let me make my choices. Let’s make our voices known to those who agree with this at upper level of sports.