INDIANAPOLIS – If you’re advocating for the big state schools to play road games at the mid-major state schools, after the two upsets these last few weeks, they’re not likely going to happen any time soon now. Was watching Indiana State and IPFW upset Butler and Indiana respectively thrilling? For fans of the smaller schools yes, but if you want to see IU go to Terre Haute to play Indiana State or Muncie to play Ball State or see Butler, Purdue and Notre Dame do the same, these upsets and how the rankings are these days won’t help the cause anymore.
Tell me this, why on earth would IU, Butler, Purdue or Notre Dame ever go to Fort Wayne, Terre Haute, Muncie or Evansville again? It’s not that they’re scared to lose because that’s not it, it’s there’s nothing to gain but everything to lose if they do.
The talent level and way games are played these days are much closer than in the past. IU losing to these schools in the 80s would have been breaking news on CNN or Fox News. But, mid-majors are better now and the gaps are closed between the two no matter how high the bigger school is ranked. So, true road games are increasingly more difficult to win at.
If IU would have beaten IPFW and/or Butler tops Indiana State, do you really think they move up the rankings and get on Sports Center in doing so? Do they gain anything other than beating an inferior opponent? If they lose though like they both did, they get their names dug through the mud and drop like an anchor in the polls by losing to an inferior opponent. They get made fun of on national sports shows and bewildered.
IU is ranked behind two teams that they have beaten already all due to their loss to IPFW on the road. If they had won that game, they wouldn’t have gained anything, but losing drops them nine spots in the polls. ESPN, Fox Sports and all the other major sports networks make fun of IU for losing that game and holds it against them. What if they won instead?
That’s why it serves no purpose playing at these venues anymore. IU and Butler showed up to Fort Wayne and Terre Haute to play a game while the fans of those schools showed up like it was the NCAA Championship Game. In all reality, it is their championship game. Those schools are likely never going to make it there so a big named state school coming to town in essentially their NCAA Championship Game.
It’s virtually difficult to win against teams that are playing above their head like that. They do want it more because that game means more to them. Plus, there’s naïve fans out there that think Indiana State is better than Butler just because they won a fluke game last night. There’s also fans out there that legitimately think that IPFW is better than IU too.
Newsflash, just because you beat someone once doesn’t mean you’re better than them. 99 times out of 100, IU would beat IPFW no matter the location. But that one time, that single upset, it ruins seasons.
So, if you were an AD of these big in-state powerhouses, would you really take your school to a mid-major town to play a true road game knowing that if you win, you gain nothing, but if you lose, you lose your credibility, and become a laughingstock around the nation?
I didn’t think so.