Here we are in the aftermath of the 2018 Nebraska football kickoff that wasn’t. While nobody expected the Akron Zips to pull off an upset and best Scott Frost’s Cornhuskers, we’ll never know what may have been thanks to severe weather that forced the players from the field and eventually, the fans from the stands.
However, that doesn’t mean the situation can't still be mutually beneficial.
What’s important to remember is that the game did, in fact, begin. Jerry Fitschen’s 65-yard kickoff sailed over JD Spielman’s head, giving Nebraska possession at their own 25-yard line. While the game was cancelled and will not be made up, there’s still the matter of what technically did go down on Sept. 1, 2018 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
According to the NCAA rulebook, four options are on the table. If a game is halted before the fourth quarter — we’ve already established it began and was halted due to severe weather — it can be resumed at a later date (the two schools have already said this isn’t happening), terminated with a determined final score, forfeited or declared a no-contest. In a non-conference game, both schools’ head coaches and athletic directors have to put their stamp of approval on the outcome.
Let’s look at the scenario through the eyes of an athletic director, shall we?
Ultimately, college football is a business. Akron athletic director Larry Williams and head football coach Terry Bowden no doubt saw Nebraska as an incredible opportunity: travel to Lincoln, get paid handsomely and perhaps pull off a program-defining upset in the process. But now that can’t happen. The teams didn’t play, they won’t meet, so how can we make this a win-win?
Well, the check for $1.17 million that the Zips are due for their services isn’t cashable just yet. Those details are yet to be finalized. The easiest money Akron could possibly make is by giving the Huskers a one-point win and a free stamp on their punch card towards bowl eligibility.
Remember, we’re talking business here. Akron’s coffers fill and Nebraska gets closer to making a bowl game look extremely attractive. Now, that being said, it’s not the type of win that Frost wants and swallowing a loss wouldn’t be easy for Bowden. However, there are some genuine benefits to this arrangement beyond the money.
Regardless of which side you’re on, let’s remember a major positive: no players got hurt. There are no bumps and bruises to mend as a result of this scenario. Nebraska gets to keep its bye week allowing them to heal and regroup following their clash with Minnesota before what will be a fascinating showdown with Ohio State. Yes, Akron could’ve won in theory, but they’d likely head into week three of the season with a 1-1 record thanks to a loss thanks to Nebraska and a win over FCS opponent Morgan State just the same.
Besides, it’s not like the Zips have to own the loss as anything other than what it would be, which is a business decision. Heck, it could be a rallying cry for the remainder of the year, though Akron’s not expected to be more than be a middle-of-the-road MAC team. Let’s be honest, that’s no small part of why this game was scheduled.
Call it the “right” or “wrong” thing, but turn the lemons that were given to both sides last Saturday into lemonade. Let the Zips have their cash and in return, the Huskers get a very modest — though extremely important — victory.
That sounds like a win-win in the end or at least as close as we’re going to get.
— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, FWAA member and part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@eightlaces), and keep up with the Quick N Dirty podcasts on his Patreon page.
(Top photo courtesy of @HuskerFBNation)