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The downside to playing two 1-AA teams in the same season

On Saturday, Virginia (1-1) will host Virginia Military Institute, its second 1-AA opponent of the season. The Cavaliers defeated Richmond, 34-13, on Sept. 4. While it is common for 1-A programs to schedule 1-AA foes as part of their early season, nonconference schedule, it far less usual for teams to slot two 1-AA foes on the same slate.

The reason is fairly simple: A 1-A team can count only one win per season over a 1-AA opponent as part of its record in terms of bowl eligibility. Teams must finish the regular season with at least a .500 record in order to qualify for a bowl game. So why make things more difficult for yourself than you have to?

Take Virginia, for example. The Cavaliers have 12 games on their 2010 schedule, but only 11 of them will count as far as being bowl eligible is concerned. Let's say Virginia finishes the regular season 6-6, but two of those wins came against Richmond and VMI. In that scenario, the Cavaliers would not be eligible to play in a bowl. Virginia must win at least seven games this season to play in a bowl.

There are plenty of 1-A teams that are, shall we say, sub-par. In fact, the Cavaliers found one to put on their 2010 schedule. On Oct. 23, Virginia will host Eastern Michigan, which went 0-12 during the 2009 campaign and is 0-3 so far this season. If you're going to schedule a second 1-AA team, why not arrange for another 1-A team somewhere around the caliber of Eastern Michigan to come play at Scott Stadium?

Certainly, it's nice of Virginia to pay in-state 1-AA teams a good chunk of money to come in and -- theoretically -- get thrashed. Then again, the Cavaliers won three games last season and eight games in the past two seasons combined, so perhaps the thinking heading into this season was that this team would need all the wins and confidence boosts it could get.

Virginia has played well so far, even in defeat. A six-win season would represent a huge improvement for the Cavaliers. It also -- again, assuming that two of those wins came against Richmond and VMI -- would be just enough to barely keep them out of bowl contention.

During his press conference on Monday, Coach Mike London was asked for his thoughts on playing in-state 1-AA teams.

"I like the opportunity that you can play an in‑state (1-AA) team," London said. "I'd like to do that at least once a year. I think it's good for the state. It's good for the program. And whenever you can do that and the natural rivalry or the natural fan base that you bring in, I think it benefits particularly (a 1-AA) school. Having been on the other side of it -- getting a chance to play in a big venue. We've got some great (1-AA) schools in the state of Virginia, so I definitely would like to play them at least once during the season."

London later made clear that he had nothing to do with the composition of the team's 2010 schedule, which for the most part was set in stone before he was hired last December.

"I would like to go back to playing at least one in‑state (1-AA) school, having been on the other end of that," London said. "And then you're right -- you have to count up the number of W's at the end. Right now I'm just trying to count up the number of successes we have in the small increments of doing the things that I've been talking to you guys about since I've been here, doing things the right way in the classroom, in the community and on the filed. Hopefully as the season goes on we continue to try to add up to being a team that would be considered for a bowl as we go down the road here.

"But that is a dilemma when you play two I-AA teams, the way they count the records."

By Steve Yanda  | September 21, 2010; 7:35 AM ET
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Bowls? Who's talking about bowls? This is a team that was 3-9 a year ago, with out a returning quarterback and an offensive line that was more sieve than line. No one was thinking bowls when the schedule was made. Did you try to talk to Littlepage or Oliver since one of them most likely made the schedule? I'm guessing the two I-AA teams appearing on this year's schedule was the fallout from the MAC bailing on the MTSU agreement from a few years ago.

Posted by: SRockville | September 21, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

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