We must declare war on our true enemy...the weather

Add one more potential existential threat to college football. Also...maybe mosquitos too?

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One of the most exciting and important out of conference games might get canceled due to weather

Boise State can’t catch a break, huh?

Last season, the Broncos saw their bowl game against Boston College get canceled due to terrible weather, something that almost never happens in bowl games. I mean hell, they played this one

Now, their season opener against Florida State is at risk of being moved thanks to a hurricane.

Via Tallahassee.com:

Hurricane Dorian is projected to make landfall along the east coast of Florida as a Category 3 hurricane Sunday night, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for counties along the east coast of Florida. The list includes Duval County, where FSU is scheduled to open its 2019 football season against Boise State at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Saturday. 

Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 7 p.m.

However, the FSU administration is looking into multiple options because of the storm. A decision regarding the game's status will be made Thursday morning. FSU issued a statement early Wednesday evening that read: 

"We continue to be in contact with the Governor’s Office, our partners in Jacksonville, and Boise State’s athletics department. At this time there is no change in the status of the game. We will provide an update Thursday morning."

A huge high school football game has already been canceled, thanks to the storm.

So by the time you’re reading this email, Florida State may very well have put out an update. Potential options, should the weather require it, include moving the game to a noon kick, or canceling it completely. The two teams don’t share a bye week, so playing it on a different date this season seems highly unlikely.

Interestingly enough, should the game get canceled, according to the game contract, Florida State could also get out of a scheduled trip to Boise in 2020.

Obviously, a college football game is the least important thing for the state authorities to worry about in the face of a potential serious hurricane. If folks in the southern part of the state need to evacuate north, the city and state should divert public safety resources towards keeping folks safe. If that means a football game has to get sacrificed, so be it.

It’d stink for college football fans, of course. This should be a really interesting game, as it gives Boise a prime opportunity to score a win over a blueblood-like college football program, or Florida State a chance to change the narrative around their program after a disastrous last season. We’d learn so much more about these programs from this matchup than we would if they were playing Mercer or Portland State or something.

Big picture though, I think this is something the college football establishment needs to really grapple with. Hurricane season is a factor in August and September, and that’s not going away. If anything, it’s going to get even worse. Starting the season a week earlier, or giving schools another bye week, might help give flexibility for programs in hurricane zones to postpone games without being forced to cancel them. If we keep up the status quo, somebody on the east or gulf coasts, at least, is going to miss a game a season.

If we’re still playing college football in 40 or 50 years, I wonder if teams in hurricane zones simply have to open the season on the road for a few weeks, like northern teams do in college baseball, simply because the weather is too unpredictable or dangerous for college football.

Almost every side effect of climate change is bad. But hey, I guess it’ll help Big Ten football. Neat?

Oh, and you thought moving games because of hurricanes was bad?

Florida State/Boise isn’t the only game that needs to accommodate the elements.

Merrimack College just joined the FCS ranks. Their very first game at that level will be this Saturday, against Virginia University of Lynchburg (once called “the worst football program in the country”), and I imagine Merrimack fans would be pretty excited!

But apparently, the school needs to change the kickoff time. No, not for the weather. For something weirder. Per the school:

Merrimack College has announced that Saturday's inaugural Division I football game between the Warriors and Virginia University of Lynchburg will now kickoff at 3:00 p.m. at Duane Stadium. 

Due to the heightened risk during evening and nighttime hours of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a mosquito-borne virus in the area, the College is rescheduling outdoor activities accordingly in an effort to minimize the possibility of exposure for our fans and participants.

I have never heard of this happening before. I’ve heard of schools changing times because of wildfire smoke. I’ve heard of schools changing times because of huge storms. But potential illness? That’s a new one for me.

Not sure if this is the best omen for Merrimack football, but hopefully their first game goes off without a hitch, and nobody gets EEE, which sounds bad.

The Holy War is good, actually, and we should keep calling it that

One of the most unique college football rivalries kicks off tonight. Utah, who is suddenly a trendy playoff pick because everybody is so damn sick of slotting in some combination of Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma, will face BYU at 10:15 EST, 9:15 God’s Time Zone.

The colloquial nickname for that battle? The Holy War. And at least one columnist, at the Deseret News (a paper owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the same church that owns and operates BYU), thinks we should stop calling it that. From Dick Harmon’s column:

A decade ago, Deseret News editorial leaders made a conscious effort to keep “Holy War” out of news stories and commentaries by staff writers. Since then, it remains a term for promotion by some in the media, most notably radio and television. It’s both a catchy phrase and a reference that’s stuck.

Most associate the term “holy war” with medieval times when European Christian crusaders were invading the Middle East for land and relics. So is this modern-day football game really a holy war?

I can understand why some folks, particularly Latter-Day Saints who live in Utah, bristle at the Holy War nickname. Religion is certainly *a* component of the BYU/Utah rivalry, but I wouldn’t say it’s even the chief component. As Harmon notes, there are an awful lot of LDS Utah fans (including Utah’s coach, Kyle Whittingham), and there are non-LDS BYU fans as well. And yes, it certainly isn’t a war, and anybody who has ever spent more than ten minutes reading Holy War Twitter knows it sure as hell ain’t holy.

If this matters, I’m a Latter-Day Saint myself, although I’m a midwesterner, not a Utahn. I think the nickname is awesome. It captures the spirit of what makes this rivalry so interesting and unique. I can’t think of another rivalry in college football that combines religious tensions, political tensions, very close geography, class distinctions, and competitive football like BYU/Utah does.

I wrote about this when I covered the Vegas Bowl matchup between the two squads. It’s one of my favorite things I ever did for SB Nation.

If you change the name of the rivalry to something more tepid or bland, I think you diminish part of what makes these series, and by extension, the programs themselves, great. If you take that away, and try to sell this as just as passionate local football rivalry, you turn BYU/Utah into Arizona/Arizona State. Bor-ing, or at least, for anybody outside of that state.

For my money, the most passionate, the most interesting, the most explosive rivalries in college football usually aren’t the best games, or involve the best teams. They’re the games where the teams aren’t playing for playoff bids, but for bragging rights…which can make them even more intense. The Egg Bowl, or the Apple Cup, or the Holy War, or the War on I-4…you’re stuck with your rivals every day of the year. They’re on Twitter. They’re in your office. They’re in your church congregation. Growing up near Columbus, I could go weeks without talking to an actual Michigan fan. That doesn’t happen in the Holy War.

Is it going to be a good game? Eh, I kinda doubt it. It’ll probably be close (it usually is), and Utah will probably win (they usually do these days, they have better players). But it’ll be reeeeal feisty. It’s worth staying up for.

And it’s worth having a cool nickname. Like the Holy War.

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