It’s that time of year again.
Time for my annual plea to Maine Maritime Academy athletic director Jim Dyer to put Husson University on the football schedule and create a special rivalry between NCAA Division III schools that are only 35 miles apart.
Once upon a time, it would have been a no-win situation for the Mariners.
MMA has had football for more than 40 years and Husson didn’t re-institute its football program until 2003 after being without it for 60 years.
So a long-established team would have all the pressure on its shoulders against a fledgling program.
If the new program triumphed, it would be an embarrassing loss for the established team.
But the Husson program has been fast-tracking under coach and former athletic director Gabby Price. Its schedule in recent years has included a Division I-AA school (La Salle University) and several Division II schools (i.e. Springfield, Merrimack and American International colleges).
Husson was ranked in the top 10 in the New England Division III football poll at one time.
Husson has 55 in-state players on its roster this season while MMA has 48.
These players have been teammates and/or rivals throughout high school so there would be a lot of familiarity.
Both teams are geographically disadvantaged so they have extensive travel schedules.
Here’s an opportunity to actually play a nearby opponent.
You would certainly want to have a special name for the game and some token prize like a lobster pot trophy.
You could call it the Clamfest Bowl, the Lobster Bowl (I know it’s already taken) or the Down East Duel.
You could have festivities surrounding it.
The two schools are in the same conference in every other sport: the North Atlantic Conference.
The schools are quite different but both offer a quality education in their respective specialties.
MMA has two nonleague games on its schedule this season: one with MIT and the other with Becker College (Mass.). The Mariners play eight New England Football Conference games.
Scheduling Husson makes a lot more sense than M.I.T. and Becker, so when MMA finishes up its deals with those two schools, they should add Husson.
Husson has been an independent but will finally begin play in a conference next season as the NAC will make its debut in football.
You might wonder if it is more difficult to meet MMA’s admission standards than Husson’s.
It doesn’t matter.
The Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy have more stringent admissions standards than their opponents but that doesn’t prevent them from playing them.
MMA already has a rival in Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Husson doesn’t have one.
Football is a physically demanding sport. Practices aren’t very much fun.
It’s the games you live for.
And a game against a rival is even sweeter.
You can salvage a disappointing season with a win over your rival.
It’s a game you circle on your calendar, a game you’ll tell stories about for years to come.
It could also help recruiting.
One of the best recruiting tools for the hockey coaches at Boston College, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern is the Beanpot Tournament.