The word “stubborn” has never been said with more pride than it has the last few weeks.
Stubborn. Ha. I smile every time I see a comment that mentions “The Stubborn Six.” That’s because it’s almost used in a negative connotation, but for those football fans across America (mostly across the south), The Stubborn Six is carrying a banner that’s kept college football alive in the fall.
And because of that, it’s beginning to feel like football season.
Because while The Stubborn Six — SEC, ACC, Big 12, AAC, C-USA and Sun Belt Conference — pushes forward and makes tweaks to their fall schedules, high schools in Louisiana are doing a little adjusting of their own.
In fact, the same day the SEC announced its 10-game schedule for every member school, Ruston head coach Jerrod Baugh informed the media the Bearcats and Neville Tigers would continue a rivalry that began during The Great Depression.
Since 1931, the Tigers and Bearcats have locked horns annually, and though COVID-19 threatened to end the rivalry game that both fan bases have come to look forward to as the season-opener every year, Baugh and Neville head coach Jeff Tannehill made sure the 2020 contest would not be another COVID-19 casualty.
The Tigers and Bearcats will play in Ruston on Oct. 16 after dropping St. Thomas More and Archbishop Rummel, respectively, off of their 2020 schedules. Neville suffered a road loss to St. Thomas More in 2019, while Ruston would like to forget its trip to Rummel last season. So in an attempt to keep the rivalry alive, both schools were willing to drop one of the top non-conference home games for the 2020 campaign.
If you’re keeping track, Neville fans, the Tigers will open with Ouachita at home on Oct. 9, travel to Ruston the following week and then make another short trip to West Monroe on Oct. 23. How’s that for a non-conference slate?
That’s like the cherry on top for what’s been worked out this fall in college football.
Because while the defending national champions down in Baton Rouge got a favorable start to the season (LSU won’t play a team that had a winning record in 2019 until it travels to Florida on Oct. 17), Louisiana Tech and ULM have intriguing road contests to start the 2020 season.
The Warhawks will challenge Army on Sept. 12 (per the Times Herald-Record), while the Bulldogs will look to shock the college football world when they take on Baylor on Sept. 12. That’s less than a month away, folks.
Louisiana Tech, by the way, gets Baylor and Southern Miss in consecutive weeks in September. How’s that for starting the season with a bang?
For the majority of this pandemic, especially within the last few months after Louisiana endured its second spike, it’s been admittedly difficult to sit back and get excited about the upcoming football season. And we’re not out of the woods yet. We still have questions about whether high schools can pull it off, and whether or not these college campuses can make it all work for these student-athletes. But for the first time in a long time, these schedule releases breathed new life into the common college football fan. Pride is swelling again amongst those fans. Talk about which team is the best is starting to resurface, and that’s a beautiful thing.
We even had debates about what the best game was each week of the SEC’s conference-only schedule. Which team got hosed? Which team got the easiest path?
It was just nice to sit back and talk about football for a change, and no matter which team you call your own here in Northeast Louisiana, these new updated schedules gave you something to sink your teeth into. And that includes Grambling State. The SWAC announced its conference schedule for the spring, and you already saw Grambling and Southern fans circling April 17 on their calendar for what’s going to be the strangest Bayou Classic of all time.
We haven’t gotten to celebrate many sports victories during this pandemic. So while the Big Ten continues to eat itself alive on the inside, let’s give some appropriate (and socially distant) high fives across the south to our fellow football fan.