In college football, as in other aspects of life, following the money can have its unintended consequences. So it is with the shifting conference landscape.
The consequence in this case is that one of the most underrated rivalries in the history of Eastern football will come to a temporary but extended end at high noon on Saturday when Temple visits Rutgers in an AAC game. The Scarlet Knights will follow the money to the Big 10 and, while they gain another potential rival in Penn State, they lose one only 65 miles down the New Jersey Turnpike.
The rivalry will renew in 2020 with a four-year deal but that’s a long way away so, for many old-timers on both sides, this will be the final game in the series. Plus, who knows if that contract will ever be honored?
Temple has been on the other end of this once before when, citing a need to play more Division IA (now FBS) schools, dropped long-time rival Delaware, a school 30 miles down the road from Center City Philadelphia. Temple’s 31-8 win on Oct. 27, 1973 attracted 23,619 fans, still the largest crowd in Delaware history despite the passage of 40 years.
A near sellout is expected on Saturday at the 50,000-seat Rutgers’ home field known as High Point Solutions Stadium, and there will be some sadness for some of the older fans that feel that geography in football rivalries is an important thing. The teams have played on a fairly regular basis over the past 60 years.
Rutgers holds a slim 19-16 lead, but that would have been closer had the 1986 Temple team not voluntarily forfeited its 1986 game due to the use of someone who would later be found to be an ineligible player. On the field, it’s 18-17.
A short bus ride and ebb and flow of wins, including a healthy dose of trash-talking, often dictates what a rivalry is all about and, if Temple wins, a lot of folks can call this fight a draw. Whatever happens, it will be a sad day not just for those two schools but for all of college football.
Mike Gibson, an Associated Press Sports Editors’ Association and Keystone Press Association award-winner for Best Sports Story and Best Sports Feature, is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @papreps , “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.