On Friday, The Athletic’s Colton Pouncy released a legendary article chronicling a yearly dogfight on the gridiron. It wasn’t the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn, nor was it the Red River Showdown between Texas and Oklahoma. In fact, this game is regularly played on a Friday.
This contest is in fact between the Michigan Daily (University of Michigan) and the State News (Michigan State University) student newspapers in a matchup played yearly the day before their respective Division I squads suit up to play each other. This tradition has continued on for decades, and it has even featured some huge names in college football reporting, such as Nicole Auerbach and Chris Vannini of The Athletic.
As I read Pouncy’s magnificent piece, I thought it was such a fantastic idea that we ought to organize something just like it. Who better to engage in this with than the University of Massachusetts’ Daily Collegian?
So, I did what any normal person would do. I hopped on Twitter and shot my shot, suggesting that our daily papers come together and do something similar. Needless to say, it was not well received. My initial follow request to one of their columnists was denied, and my second attempt is still pending. Hopefully this article is enough to convince you, Luke. Let’s begin!
Traditions have to start somewhere. Although we would be a bit behind the four to five decades that the Michigan student newspapers have on us, it is important to get the ball rolling. Getting momentum is the hardest part of starting anything. To make it easier for the Collegian to begin, I’ll offer to make the trip to Amherst for our first edition of the game on behalf of the Daily Campus staff.
One may say that this game is flawed from the get-go. For instance, our respective football teams aren’t even scheduled to play during any of our remaining college years. That won’t stop the rivalry. We can play even without our football programs competing. Sometimes you need to get creative. Part of the fun of having such dysfunctional football programs is that our game doesn’t need to make sense either. When we make the rules and create the game, there will be a rule stating that the teams don’t have to play for us to play.
In terms of rules, I understand that most people might not want to engage in full contact football. That’s why I suggest we do a seven-on-seven, flag football game. I’ll even buy the flags and equipment. It will be a safe and fun environment. What’s not to love here?
Every great rivalry also needs a trophy. I propose we play for something of significance to both sides: a retro New England Patriots jersey. As some may remember, back in the 1990s, there was significant talk of the New England Patriots relocating to Hartford from Foxborough, Massachusetts when the town initially had refused to build the Pats a new stadium. Owner Robert Kraft even went so far as to sign papers making the move official with then Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland, but the move fell apart when Foxborough folded and built what is now Gillette Stadium. With this significance in mind (and the fact that I wasn’t able to obtain my first choice that was the signed papers), I say we play for a retro Pats jersey to commemorate a key rivalry for the states.
On top of that, perhaps we could even field an all-star team from our game that could beat the victor of the real teams. UMass and UConn football are already trending in the wrong direction, so who knows. Maybe we could put up a fight a few years down the line.
For now though, I’ll just sit back and start training under the assumption that the Collegian staff will eventually come around and agree to play. I take my role as QB1 very seriously and if we want to win, we’re going to have to start filling up the playbook soon. Come on, let’s start something great here!