The Delaware-West Chester Game: It may be good for Delaware Football Inc., but it is bad for Joe Delaware Football Fan.
Like the sands through the hourglass, so are the days of the Delaware-West Chester game. You know the numbers: Forty Delaware wins in Forty-Seven all-time meetings including twelve wins in a row by a combined score of 516 to 243 highlighted by the infamous 84-0 game in 2000.
Why does Delaware continue to play a game where the competitive balance is obviously so far out of whack that it has become not just Davey versus Goliath but davey versus GODZILLA? And consequently, why does West Chester continue to subject itself to a game that it has as much of a chance winning as Patrick Swayze had of catching the 50-year storm in the movie Point Break? It is very simple, and I am sure that most already know the answer: Money. Surprise! After all Delaware Football Inc. is a business.
So, for Delaware Football Inc. it is a no-brainer. In fact when I asked head coach KC Keeler earlier this week to finish this sentence: Delaware should be playing West Chester in football “blank”, he said “forever”. He also said, “It just makes sense.”
Think of it this way. It is a guaranteed home game because Delaware will never have to go to West Chester to play. This year Delaware has seven regular season dates in Newark while only having to travel four times. Coincidentally the last time Delaware played seven regular season home games was 2003 and we all remember how that worked out. (There were supposed to be seven home games last year, but one of those games somehow ended up in Richmond because of the dreaded FieldGate scandal of 05.)
In addition to the home cooking I suspect, although I have no confirmation of this, that Delaware does not have to pay West Chester as much as it would to a top I-AA program to come here to play like Georgia Southern, Montana, or McNeese. Also, I doubt one of those schools would play here without the Hens reciprocating.
As for West Chester, I imagine, again no confirmation, that the payday is pretty healthy for making the short trip down 202 and I-95 and probably significantly healthier than playing at the likes of Clarion, Kutztown, or Bloomsburg. And when the 50-year storm does hit and they do actually win, I am sure the little hamlet of West Chester explodes and the line to get into The Rat loops around the block. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am fairly certain that The Rat closed its doors long ago, but maybe if the Rams win it would induce a Rat Reunion and wouldn’t that make it all worth while!)
So as a businessperson, I understand why Delaware Football Inc. feels the need to play West Chester every year. But I am also a football broadcaster and a fan, and as such, I must admit that I don’t like it. As a broadcaster, I admit that my motives are purely selfish. It is much harder to broadcast a blowout than it is a close game. Does anyone really need to hear me wax poetic about whatever it is I am going to be waxing poetic about come the fourth quarter when the third team squad is on the field and there is no end to the game in sight? Don’t get me wrong, I like Mike Corey but I can get just as sick of hearing his voice as you can as Delaware marches down the field for the umpteenth time.
But there is more to it than that. As fans of football and of Sports in general don’t we want some competition for our team? If Mike Adams scores a touchdown on a 103-yard interception return at the end of an 84-0 drubbing does anyone really care? Did it really happen?
I also think there is a real downside to playing West Chester especially if your stated goal is to win the Division I-AA National Championship. West Chester plays in Division II and the I-AA selection committee has clearly stated that when considering at-large berths into the playoffs that they will look at all Division I wins that a team has that year, in essence penalizing I-AA teams that play Division II teams.
This almost came up and bit Delaware in the you-know-where in 1999. Delaware had no chance of winning the A-10 Championship and the automatic bid that went along with it and had to hope for an at-large bid in order to make the playoffs. The Hens were 7-3 going into the last game of the season against Villanova. Usually eight wins would be enough to get Delaware into the playoffs but had they beat Villanova in that last game (they lost 51-45 in Overtime), I don’t think the Hens would have made it that year and the main reason would have been that one of their wins was against a Division II team, West Chester.
When I brought this scenario up this week to Coach Keeler, he brushed it off by saying that, “everyone plays a D-II team now.” But looking at the schedules he should note that, at least this year, that is not the case. Several teams that Delaware could be competing against for an at-large bid are not playing D-II schools. Some of those include Villanova, Richmond, New Hampshire, William and Mary, and UMass.
So Joe Delaware Football Fan go out there and root for an A-10 Championship and the automatic bid that comes along with it, but if that does not happen this year and the Hens must rely on the committee to grant them an at-large bid and they are on the bubble but don’t get it, you know where to lay the blame: Delaware Football Inc.