Posted: 10:50 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013
By Brian Favat
Boston College athletics director Brad Bates indicates that there is a backup plan in the works if this weekend's Boston College-Army game ends up being cancelled, telling ESPN:
As for Army against Boston College, BC athletic director Brad Bates said in an email to ESPNBoston.com: "We are in constant communication with West Point and they are telling me it is not a simple dollar and cent issue."
While the Eagles remain focused on finding a way to play the game as scheduled, Bates indicated a backup plan is in the works.
"We have made inquiries to explore our options if we have to cross that bridge," Bates said.
So what might that backup plan be, exactly?
The most logical solution is to reschedule the Boston College-Army game for Saturday, December 7, the day of the ACC Football Championship Game. Army is free that weekend, having a week off between a November 30 trip to Hawaii and the annual Army-Navy game on December 14 in Philadelphia. While I don't think Boston College will be playing in the ACC Championship Game, contingencies can be put in place to cancel the game outright should the Eagles be there.
Oregon State was in a similar position last season, when the Beavers home opener against FCS Nicholls State was postponed due to travel complications surrounding Hurricane Isaac. Two weeks after the postponed opener, the game was rescheduled for December 1, with the stipulation that should Oregon State reach the Pac-12 championship game or Nicholls State reach the NCAA FCS playoffs, the game would be canceled and the contract will be null and void. Neither of those things happened and Oregon State pasted Nicholls State 77-3 in both programs' regular season finale.
However, there may be some resistance to this proposal from both sides. From BC's side, it's unclear whether ACC officials want to take any attention away from Championship Game weekend. Army, meanwhile, might just as soon want that weekend off to prepare for arch-rival Navy, which has two weekends off between a November 22 game at San Jose State and the Army-Navy game on December 14.
Things get a bit more complicated should the government lockout last beyond this weekend and the service academies' football programs remain idle for multiple weeks. If Boston College-Army doesn't happen this weekend and the schools delay on setting a makeup date, other programs will be looking for replacement games for ones lost to the service academies as well.
Duke, which is scheduled to play Navy next weekend in Durham, may reach out to Fresno State as a replacement for the Midshipmen should the government shutdown not be resolved in time and the Naval Academy not permitted to travel. Fresno State had their game against Colorado cancelled two weeks ago due to the floods in Boulder. Colorado has replaced Fresno State with FCS Charleston Southern and will host the Buccaneers on October 19.
Fresno State could also be a possible make-up opponent for Boston College. Per NCAA rules, the Bulldogs are permitted to play 13 games this season under the Hawaii travel exception. Both schools have the December 7 date open, though like BC, Fresno State would have a conflict with its conference championship game weekend. Unlike BC, Fresno State has a very good shot at representing the Mountain West West Division and playing in the conference's inaugural championship game.
In the worst case scenario, all three service academies athletics programs are shut down for the rest of the season, creating a massive domino effect and leaving a number of FBS programs scrambling to replace lost opponents. In the unlikely event this happens, the following FBS schools would be looking for replacement games: Colorado State, Duke, Eastern Michigan, Hawaii x2, New Mexico, Notre Dame x2, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, San Jose State, South Alabama, Temple, Toledo, UNLV and Western Kentucky.
Now before you go clamoring for the 2013 edition of Boston College vs. Notre Dame, note that the Irish's two dates with the service academies fall on pre-existing BC games -- October 26 (at Air Force) and November 2 (vs. Navy) -- while Notre Dame's remaining two bye weeks also fall on BC games -- October 12 (at Clemson) and November 16 (vs. N.C. State).
If it becomes clear that the shutdown is going to last multiple weeks, threatening the service academies' October 19 slate of games, both Temple (vs. Army) and Toledo (vs. Navy) will be looking for replacements opponents. The Eagles could host either MAC school on Saturday, October 19, Boston College's second bye week.
Another wild but why not? scenario includes Boston College facing either Duke or Pittsburgh from the ACC Coastal Division on Saturday, December 7, should the shutdown linger and in the likely event that neither programs represents the Coastal in the ACC Championship Game.
Boston College's backup plan likely does NOT involve playing a second team from the Football Championship Subdivision. All the usual Colonial Athletic Association suspects are in action this weekend -- Maine vs. Delaware, New Hampshire at Towson, Rhode Island at Brown -- and most CAA teams already have the maximum 12 games scheduled this season.
The one remotely plausible FCS opponent, ironically enough, is Stony Brook -- the FCS opponent Boston College was originally scheduled to face this season before the ACC and its TV partners moved the Florida State-Pittsburgh game to Labor Day Monday. Stony Brook has just 11 games scheduled this season -- one lower than the 12-game maximum -- and an open date on October 19.
Still, a second victory over an FCS opponent would not count towards the six wins required to make a bowl game. At which point it seems BC's best option is to stay at 11 games and request a bowl waiver for when the program inevitably finishes the year at 5-6.