After many conferences and schools decided in late summer to postpone or outright cancel its football seasons because of coronavirus concerns, spring college football will arrive sooner than you think. Recently, the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and the Southern Conference (SoCon) released its football schedules for the upcoming season.
The schedules for both conferences have been modified from what a normal season would look like in an attempt to squeeze in enough regular season games and the NCAA Football Championship.
SoCon will play a nine-week regular season – eight conference games and one open week – starting on February 20th and ending on April 17th, one week before the FCS Championship, according to a news release.
For Virginia Military Institute (VMI), the Commonwealth’s sole team, head coach Scott Wachenheim praised the conference’s schedule and said he was thrilled for the spring season after finishing in 4th place last year.
“I think [SoCon] did a great job. You can’t please everybody and I think they made it as competitive as possible,” Wachenheim told The Virginia Star. “I’m excited about our schedule, I’m excited for all eight games and really excited for the opportunity for our seniors to compete during their final season of playing college football.”
Wachenheim also mentioned that playing in the spring, opposed to the fall, might actually benefit the team since key players on both sides of the ball will have returned from injuries, and the rats, VMI’s term for freshman, will be finished with the “rat line” by the time the season begins.
“The team has been working very hard,” Wachenheim added: “Morale is high and their effort and energy is at a very high level.”
VMI will start on the road against Chattanooga and then conclude the regular season at home against rival and fellow military academy The Citadel, dubbed the Military Classic of the South.
The most attention, however, will be given to defending SoCon champion Wafford who will look to capture its fourth straight conference title and fifth consecutive FCS playoff berth.
The 11 out of 12 CAA teams who chose to participate in spring competition will now be playing a six-game conference slate beginning Saturday, March 6th and ending April 17th.
Each team will also have a bye-week, which may provide flexibility if any games are postponed because of COVID-19.
Under this unique format there is a north division and a south division. The north division features seven teams – Albany, Villanova, Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Stony Brook and Maine – and the south division has four teams – James Madison (JMU), Richmond, William & Mary and Elon.
“We are pleased to announce the conference schedule for the 2021 Spring football season, but understand this is just the next step in the planning process associated with playing football on each of our campuses,” CAA Commissioner Joe D’Antonio said in a news release. “Our unique divisional format was developed with the goal of enhancing safety and reducing the risks associated with travel during this difficult period of time, while still providing a fair and competitive model to determine a champion.”
Teams in the North will play each other once while teams in the South will play one another twice, each getting a home and away game. Whichever team has the best overall conference record will earn the CAA’s automatic bid to the FCS Championship.
Additionally, schools can schedule two non-conference games, but those will not count toward the overall record .
Some week one matchups to look forward to are JMU, 2019 conference champion, starting its campaign on the road against Elon, and the rivalry game between Richmond and William & Mary in the Capital Cup.
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