Don’t be mistaken. Indiana’s bowl hopes aren’t and shouldn’t be top of mind when discussing the implications of Indiana’s cancelled home matchup originally set to be played Saturday against FIU. Football is a stupid, stupid sport and it pales in comparison to the lives, homes, and funds lost to Hurricane Irma over the course of the past week all throughout the Florida peninsula and Carribean.
Do some good, donate here. But, since this is a sports blog, let’s talk about the implications of this cancellation -- and Indiana’s aggressive plans to find a replacement opponent.
It’s, perhaps, a somewhat unexpected turn for the FIU game to be cancelled completely. But the two teams don’t have a common bye week, so rescheduling just simply isn’t an option for a non-conference game. Such leaves Indiana with only 11 games, and suddenly a season that had 8-9 win promise at the outset is suddenly left with almost no wiggle room when it comes to bowl eligibility. (Yes, the Hoosiers could still perhaps earn a bid at 5-6 -- maybe even certainly would. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there later.)
For now, Indiana’s solution seems to be attempting to schedule a game against a new opponent for the current off week on October 7 in Bloomington. That’s a tall task, but the unique scheduling situation surrounding Harvey & Irma do leave some other FBS schools looking to get back up to 12 games. And Glass & Co. at Indiana just miiiight be able to pull such a rare feat off on short notice.
If Indiana’s going to do this, here’s who you might see in Bloomington on October 7.
It’s perhaps not in Indiana’s interest to replace FIU with a power conference opponent, but it’ll be slim pickings for teams with less than 12 games with a open date on October 7. The Ramblin’ Wreck lost a road game to UCF last weekend due to Irma.
There’s perhaps not a worse team to prepare for on short notice than Paul Johnson’s annoyingly effective triple-option — and the Jackets started the year inside the Top 25. It’d be a heck of a game in Bloomington if Glass was able to secure it on short notice, but it’d also be a massive step up from FIU. A big enough step that Indiana might elect to keep the open date.
USF holds a bye week on Indiana’s required date of October 7 and just lost a game against UConn (a road AAC game, we should note) this past week. USF’s struggled a bit to start the 2017 season, but they’re the nation’s 22nd-ranked team. Presents some of the same quality of opponent issues as above, but seems like a fit, right?
Well, uh, one problem!
Indiana just pulled the rug out from under USF three years ago, buying out a scheduled home-and-home series with the Bulls for $500,000 before it took place. Who did Indiana replace USF on the schedule with? A 2-for-1 with none other than fellow Florida school FIU. Whoops!
Mark Harlan was still leading USF’s athletic department at the time of the series cancellation, so it seems like the Bulls might not be super inclined to work with the Hoosiers here. But who knows. If both teams need a game, they both need a game. It could work.
Pretty much any FCS school with a bye, perhaps! Or even those that don’t!
Here’s the most likely scenario: Indiana floats a big giant check to a team with an open date or a bye and they take the bait. Here’s Matt Glenesk of the IndyStar with some options of teams with open dates.
Some FCS teams with Oct. 7 open date:— Matt Glenesk (@MattGlenesk) September 12, 2017
SE Missouri State
Problem with this list? Towson, SEMO, and Jackson State have all already played FBS opponents. San Diego plays in the non-scholarship Pioneer League, so they’re likely not an option either. This is hard!
Here’s Jeremy Price, on another option, Charleston Southern.
Only viable FCS option for Oct. 7 I've found so far for Indiana would be Charleston Southern. Bucs might like a windfall. #iufb— Jeremy Price (@JPPrice) September 12, 2017
Best bet? Indiana might just buy out some FCS opponent off another team’s schedule altogether. That might even be enough money to move dates around.
But for now, here’s who Fred Glass has to work with.