According to a press release put out yesterday by FBS Sun Belt powerhouse...*pauses for laughter*...Louisiana-Monroe, the Warhawks have announced their 2009 schedule and are very excited about it.
Apparently, in such release, they're proud to announce their September 19 visit to Tempe, AZ to face the Arizona State Sun Devils.
As an ambassador for Sun Devil fans everywhere, let me be the first to extend a welcoming hand to our visitors from...
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIT a minute.
Louisiana-Monroe? Coming here? September 19?
For the past three years, the Devils 2009 non-conference schedule has been listed as Idaho State at home on September 5, Brigham Young at home on September 12 and Georgia in Athens on September 26. September 19 is a open date.
By my math, adding a game against ULM would give the Devils 13 games. That's only allowed for FBS teams if they make a trip to Hawai'i.
So, as I read this information put out so eloquently by Dan Zeiger in the East Valley Tribune, it's became pretty obvious to me that the Devils are trying to dumb down their 2009 schedule in the aftermath of a disastrous 5-7 season and in the face of the possibility of finishing sub-.500 again next year.
“At this time, I can’t deny that there have been discussions concerning schedule alterations,” said associate athletic director Mark Brand told the Tribune. “I cannot divulge any details because nothing has been confirmed yet.”
I'm all about winning games and boosting our win-loss record so our Devils can have an outside shot at the Poinsettia Bowl next season. However, if it's at the expense of dropping high-quality opponents off our schedule, which leads to the loss of experience for our younger players in playing against our nation's best teams, less national attention being paid to the program and *GASP* possibly not being on television, this isn't worth it.
Don't forget that this kind of dumbing down already happened TO the Sun Devils. Last offseason, Hal Mumme and New Mexico State paid ASU a six-digit sum to get out of their trip to Tempe. ASU replaced the Aggies with Northern Arizona for their season opener. How'd that work out for Mumme? Well, last I checked, the Aggies still sucked and Hal is out of a job right now.
I feel like you can't cancel this BYU game because of it's ties to the Valley. The overtones of Max Hall returning to Arizona State after transfering out years ago is a tremendous storyline; beyond that, the Cougars have an enormous following in the East Valley and I'd be willing to guess that at least 55,000 to 60,000 would file into Sun Devil Stadium for a game that would still most likely be a rout.
However, we might be out of luck with BYU anyway because they're reportedly trying to work out a home and home with Oklahoma, and if that were to happen, we'd probably be first on their chopping block.
On a complete side note, if you read a statement from Brigham Young (thanks for finding it, Dan Zeiger), you'll notice a curious statement that our game against them was scheduled to be a "neutral site" matchup at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. That's the first I've heard of that.
And how could you beg out of the trip to Georgia? First off, we already played the first half of this home and home. To cancel it after playing OUR home game would be cowardly and disrespectful. Begging out of this game would most likely cost a comparable amount to what we got from NMSU to call off that game, making that situation a wash.
Plus, how many times do us West Coast teams and their fans get to travel down and take in a game at an SEC stadium? Georgia didn't make it out here for 40 years and this would be Arizona State's first trip to a legitimately intimidating away stadium since 2002 (at Nebraska) and first trip to the Eastern Time Zone to play a good team (sorry, 2003 North Carolina) since going to Miami in 1997. That's the kind of experience where you never know when it will present itself again.
In effect, I'm lobbying the Devils to not be New Mexico State and wimp out of a game against a good team just because we might not be at our strongest. If you think the reputation of the program took a shot after dropping out of the rankings and out of national minds like a lead balloon this year, it wont get better by going up against Louisiana-Monroe.