The A&M-Commerce Football program plays quality opponents year in and year out, but there has always existed a group of teams that I wish we could play or in settings that we could play in that would make the games more meaningful and much more exciting. It would also be a fun thing to watch how our program stacks up with former LSC rivals that are now Division I or the powerful DII and Division III programs. I have compiled a list as to who I would love to play and where.
10. Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders-
The CRU as they are called, have a very good program in Belton. They are typically the top team in the ASC Conference of Division III which includes teams like East Texas Baptist and Sul Ross State, teams that we have hammered before. However, MHB is a program that expects to be in the running for national championships every year on the Division III level. Bring them to Commerce for a season opener and maybe for a year that might be a little lean and see what they are made of. It gives us the chance to host the best Division III school in Texas and maybe in the entire nation, and they would jump at the chance to play us.
9. Stephen F. Austin State Lumberjacks-
I know we played them 2 years ago, and that was a game I really feel we let get away from us. A second game stint against these guys would be fun. Nac and Homer Bryce is a tough place to play and going down there to beat them would be great for a team’s morale and also, it would be a fine payday as schools that host smaller Division schools pay the other team and put money in the TAMUC athletic coffers. What would be better than beating a Division I school on their turf and then taking payday for it? I rest my case.
8. Elon Pheonix-
What if I told you that we could settle a score from almost 40 years ago and pick up a big win against a Division I school and get paid for it? Elon University, now Elon College, came to Commerce in 1980 and literally was handed a national championship in the Semifinal game. Even sportswriters from Dallas said that the Lions team of 1980 “literally fumbled the game away.” The Phoenix went on to win the National title against a team the Lions would have easily beaten in Northeastern Oklahoma State. Another second game type situation and a trip to North Carolina would be great. At the rate the Lion football program is going, it would be a good matchup and exciting to see.
7. Southeastern Oklahoma State Savage Storm-
This little rivalry is something that I am sad to see go by the wayside. SEOSU is typically a pretty tough out and all of our games with them have been tough. A GAC member, a win over them would be a plus for the Regional rankings, so long as those dumb things are the way in which they are. Durant and Commerce are separated by only 70 miles of the same highway and a quick trip across the Red River. The folks of Durant always turn out very well. A home and home series with them would be fun, and a good tough team to play.
6. Southern Arkansas Muleriders-
SAU and Commerce used to slug it out every year for over 15 years. There were a lot of great games between the two teams and SAU is another Great American Conference team that has proximity to us. A win against them would be helpful in the Regional Rankings also. This is another game that is within driving distance for Commerce residents and students as the there is about 170 miles between the two towns. A good home and home series would be a good thing to do as there would be teams with a relatively short drive (in Texas standards, at least) and SAU is typically a pretty decent team.
5. Valdosta State Blazers-
Valdosta State is where the modern spread offense attack started. VSU is a pinnacle Division II program in a pinnacle DII Football conference. Valdosta State has had a ton of a great tradition and their fans travel like crazy, and the amazing atmosphere at a Valdosta State game is one of the best. They have organizations that make noises outside of the stadium and a top of the line facility. The Blazers have also won 3 national titles in a span of 16 years. In those years they defeated Grand Valley State, Pittsburg State, and Northwest Missouri State University, 3 pinnacle Division II teams. The Gulf South Conference is a tough conference to compete in, as it has been named as the SEC of Division II. Delta State plays in that conference also. A home and home flip would be great and you can bet ESPN will be there.
4. Grand Valley State Lakers-
GVSU is a team that we will likely meet in the playoffs and will have to get by them in order to get a place where we can win a National Championship. I would love to do a home and home with the Lakers at the beginning of the year. This would be a big draw for former players, especially guys in the early 90’s who beat them both times. Also, a win would be huge for Regional Standings and playing in Allendale with the atmosphere being about as good as you can get in D2 would be amazing. Another thing you could do is hype this game up with all of the history around it. Also, expect this game to be on ESPN or FoxSports. TV revenue and ticket revenue would be big for both schools.
3. Ferris State Bulldogs-
This one is personal. FSU was the number one team in the country when we faced off against them back in 2015 and we could have very well won that game. I would like a home and home series with them to start the season. The reasons would be the same as many of these others. A win against a team that is always in the top One of the things the FSU fans said that really riled me up was, “I thought that Texans were tough. What happened to you guys, can’t handle a little snow and cold weather?”
Alright Brother, if that is how you want it, you got it. I want a 2 PM kickoff on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend in Commerce. Now let’s see how well YOU handle that weather! By play 20, FSU would be sucking air, by play 50, they will be immobilized. Their water cooler will need to be replenished after their first series. While The Lions have been practicing in that heat for months, FSU will find out very quickly that a dog is always more comfortable in his own backyard, and while we are having fun, lets broadcast it for the good folks on labor day weekend.
2. Pittsburg State Gorillas-
Ahhhh, another old rivalry. Another home and home set would be so fun against the Apes from the Plains. Nah, in all seriousness I would love to play PSU. They have kind of gotten lean, but their stadium is amazing by all standards. Their entire community comes out for the game and it does feel like a major college game is being played. Hype this game up with highlights from all of the games. Only one game that has been played against each other has not been close and that was the 1990 Quarterfinal round. A win against an MIAA school of Pitt’s caliber would be great and draw a crowd. It would be amazing fun.
1. Carson-Newman Eagles
I mean, who would NOT want a replay of the 1972 title game? Carson-Newman is a prime D2 program that has won five national championships, mostly in the NAIA. The school could REALLY hype this game at home. I would like to see it be a second game because I am not so sure if all of the hype would be good for a season opener. Again, another Division II school that would grab ahold of this potential matchup and not let it go. Can you imagine, putting on the program guys like Will Cureton, Harvey Martin, Autry Beamon, Tim Collier, Kenneth Parks, Denver Crawley, and Andra Thompson? On top of that, why not bring the team back to Commerce and honor them during half time? A win would mean quite a bit in the Division II picture and I can guarantee you that the folks at Carson Newman would get hyped for it as well.
Hey, a guy can wish, right?