Oct 20 / Rob

Potentially Reading Too Much Into Towson Opting Out

Something big was going to have to happen to break us out of our Covid-induced blogging hibernation. Yesterday something big happened. And no, we’re not talking about Ben Dinucci becoming the first JMU quarterback to ever take a snap in an NFL game. (That was amazing though.) We’re talking about Towson football dropping the bomb that they’ve opted out of Spring football.

There are a number of things that surprised us about the announcement. First of all, if we’ve learned anything from observing the way college administrators have operated in this pandemic, it’s that it (oddly) does not pay to be decisively early. We’ve spent most of the Fall watching athletic directors walk back decisions. Whether we’re talking about the B1G calling off football only to scramble to jury-rig a schedule, or W&M eliminating and then reinstating entire teams, it seems like further analysis and a little patience can pay dividends.

Clearly these decisions are made in part to save face and grab dollars, but there’s also an argument to be made that some leagues threw in the towel before truly understanding their options. With Spring football still months away, it’s odd that Towson bailed yesterday. Things change daily with the pandemic. There’s a very real chance that the situation deteriorates and nobody can play in the Spring. But there’s also a chance that things will improve and playing sports becomes an easier proposition. Given that, it’s hard to understand why Towson pulled the plug already.

According to Towson’s head coach Rob Ambrose, “more than 75% of the team did not want to trade a full season next year for a six-game season this spring.” Kudos to Towson for giving the players a voice, but if that’s true, the players logic seems questionable at best. Thus far, the virtually all of FCS is planning to move forward with Spring football. If things proceed as planned, the Fall season will be abridged or delayed. It will have to be. Towson sitting out does nothing to change that. Maybe Towson is taking a calculated risk that other programs will follow the Tigers’ lead and things snowball and so many teams quit Spring ball to the point where the majority of FCS teams are able to start on time next Fall. As things stand currently though, Towson just sacrificed Spring football to capitalize on an opportunity that does not exist.

Finally, JMU fans have long believed that Towson was more committed to football than the majority of other CAA schools. Nobody believed they were willing or able to commit the same level of resources to football as JMU, but most of us assumed they were a heck of a lot closer than some of the league’s straggler programs. Well, this decision certainly calls that into question. And it’s another sign that JMU and the CAA at large might not be on the same page. It’s been documented that JMU was one school advocating for a CAA Football Championship Game in the Spring, but several schools opposed it. We can debate whether or not JMU should have jumped to FBS years ago all we want. And we’ll probably never agree. But for fans who are paying attention, it seems pretty obvious that JMU and the CAA are nearing a breaking point. If some better alignment can’t be found, the two could be heading for a divorce down the road.

4 Comments

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  1. CentennialDuke / Oct 20 2020

    I don’t understand the logic of not wanting to sacrifice a full season next fall for a shortened season this spring either? Is it a money thing for kids that can’t afford to play an extra year without scholarship? The NCAA did extend an extra year of eligibility correct? Why can’t we play a full season next fall? Even if the season gets delayed, the B1G hasn’t played a game yet and it’s the end of October, we can extend the season to adjust (Championship in March instead of Jan.).
    The point that needs to be at the forefront is the safety of the participants! So far the protocols for the teams playing have seemed to work well in my opinion. Lots of games getting postponed and juggling of schedules but the kids are getting to play and that is awesome!
    I look at Towson as more of a peer institution than many others in the CAA and am surprised by this quick decision but if they truly let the players be a big part of this decision then I think that’s great. I just would like some investigative reporting on what information was being provided to the players and what information the players based their decisions on? Totally agree on not making quick decisions but also caution “monitoring the situation”. What this pandemic should have taught us is to not take anything for granted and even if this pandemic goes away there could be another one or something else that puts the season into jeopardy. As long as the kids are safe and we can play we should. Go Dukes!

  2. Cory / Oct 20 2020

    Missed the blog! It is odd that they would bail on a spring before knowing what the fall of 2021 would look like. I have doubts that their decision will impact the rest of the CAA. Football players want to play football even if it’s a shortened spring season.

  3. CJ / Oct 26 2020

    Big ups to Nooch for playing in Sunday’s game against Washington! I guess he’s now in the books as the first JMU quarterback to complete a pass in the NFL as well. I’ve always thought Ben was somewhat of a late bloomer, so I hope he continues his upward progression with further success at the pro level.

  4. CentennialDuke / Oct 29 2020

    Cory, absolutely agree, “Football players want to play football even if it’s a shortened spring season”. CJ, so pumped for Nooch this weekend. I’m a Washington fan (albeit more interested of late with the acquisition of Jimmy Fing Moreland) but man will I be rootin for the Cowboys this weekend! Go Nooch! Go Dukes!

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