The 500,000 dollar question

    Does a check for 500,000 dollars make going to Michigan and likely being routed by the Wolverines worth it for Delaware State?

    Does a check for 500,000 dollars make going to Michigan and likely being routed by the Wolverines worth it for Delaware State?

    Normally, its a simple “yes” when you talk about these “guarantee games” that send lower level programs to play at big time schools. How can small schools pass up single figure checks that help their athletic departments balance the budget?  And once in a while, they even walk away with a win to go with that check. It’s pretty much what DSU coach Al Lavan has been saying since I first interviewed him about inking the game with Michigan back in February. You can see those comments here.

    But Delaware State’s trip to Ann Arbor this week has been a bit more controversial than most I-AA/FCS teams taking a paycheck to play at a big-time I-A/FBS team.  Because DSU signed to play the Wolverines before dotting all the “i’s” and crossing all the “t’s” on the changes they needed to make to their schedule to accommodate the game, they were left in a situation where they had two games scheduled on the same day, Michigan and MEAC rival North Carolina A&T.  Del State thought they had an agreement A&T and fellow league rival Norfolk State to juggle their schedules to accommodate the Michigan game and still fit A&T in on another date, but Norfolk State balked at moving things around to help the Hornets. So, DSU is forfeiting its game with A&T this week and only playing 10 games this season.

    A number of national media outlets weighed in, expressing disapproval. I certainly agree that DSU should never have signed the Michigan deal until everything had been fully worked out. I also believe the MEAC should have stepped in and more strongly mediated the situation to make sure all its leagues games got played, one way or another. But when it comes to the basic question -“Is it worth it?” – its hard argue even this mess diminishes the substantially the benefit DSU gets from picking up 500,000 dollars for one days work.

    Of course, Delaware State may feel differently after the game – if they suffer a bunch of injuries (always a concern when you play up a level) or if the score is anything like the 105-0 loss DSU absorbed against Portland State in 1980. It took years for DSU to live that one down.

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