Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications
By Bennett Conlin and Jack Fitzpatrick
Anybody else excited for tomorrow? JMU football begins Sun Belt Conference play tomorrow against App State, and the game has us about as excited as we’ve been for a JMU regular season game in years.
As we do every week, we sat down to answer a few questions about this week’s matchup.
On a scale of 1-10, what’s your excitement level for JMU-App State?
Jack: This game is a solid, strong 8. This has the feeling of North Dakota State in the playoffs last season for me. I get that there are no real stakes in this game, but man, imagine what it could mean for the program and the vindication it can give us as a fan base. Imagine, App State has been in the FBS all these years growing as a program and then us, JMU, a plucky new team to the FBS stage go into their home and steal the win? Unreal!
There is no shot at JMU making a bowl game or championship game this season, but the implications of this matchup on the immediate future are huge and amazing.
Bennett: I said on the podcast that my excitement level is at a 7, and I’ll stick to that. Don’t get me wrong, I am undeniably excited about this game. It’s JMU’s Sun Belt debut against a former (and hopefully future) rival. At the same time, JMU can’t win the Sun Belt or make a bowl game this season, so the stakes feel lower than they will in future seasons. It’s a great matchup, but it’s not in the 8-10 range for me quite yet.
Do you anticipate JMU-App State developing into a heated rivalry in the coming years? If so, how long until both fanbases consider it a heated rivalry?
Jack: If JMU wins this year, I think it is immediate. Now, if App State wins then like Bennett I’ll say 3-5 years.
To me, a rivalry needs both teams to win and for it to always be competitive. Near the end Richmond just wasn’t really a rivalry. The Dukes were just so much better than the Spiders that it lost its luster. If JMU and App is a competitive game for the next few years this matchup will become a heated cross-state rivalry.
Bennett: Let’s give it three years. The schools are a few hours apart, and each fanbase is extremely passionate. The ingredients are there for a great rivalry, but it’ll take a few years for players, students, and younger alumni to feel like App State is a true rival.
JMU’s 2008 thriller with the Mountaineers was six years before I came to JMU, and while I certainly know about App State, that matchup hasn’t been a rivalry during my time as a fan. It’ll take a couple meetings before the bad blood returns between the fanbases.
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