Making the 'Clash' even classier
If you ignore the quality of the football game, the first Colonial Clash was unquestionably a winner.
Fans from both sides arrived at Gillette Stadium early and intermingled throughout the Patriot Place mall. At 2 p.m. there was a long maroon line outside the University of Massachusetts event at CBS Sports Scene, and a blue one outside the New Hampshire gathering at Bar Louie.
In a football world that usually makes Championship Subdivision schools seem second class, Gillette Stadium made both schools and their fans feel important.
The teams will repeat the event next year on Oct. 22, with UMass becoming the home team.
Following are suggestions on how to build off the event:
1. Competitive charity - The fact that the stadium is divided evenly between fans of the two teams creates a perfect environment to put each of the fan base's competitiveness to work for a good cause.
Whether it's a blood drive, a marrow donor registration drive or a canned food drive, the organizers should pit UMass fans vs. UNH fans to see who could produce more pints, registrants or cans. It doesn't even have to happen at the actual event. The Red Cross or a food bank could set up a station at both schools' campus center all week leading up to the event.
Contributors from the winning school get T-shirts at halftime.
2. Work with Hockey East schedulers - The schools should make a weekend out of this. UMass and UNH are Hockey East rivals as well. The schools' hockey teams should play Friday in Amherst and Sunday in Durham as well.
3. Allow full rosters to travel - The Colonial Athletic Association allows teams to travel with 56 players for games. Just standing on the sidelines at Gillette Stadium would be a special experience for most of the walk-ons. The league should create a waiver that allows both teams to bring their entire roster, even if their remaining players are just wearing uniform jerseys on the sideline. It'd be a nice carrot for walk-ons who might play pretty sparingly during their careers.
4. Hype the free parking better - One of the greatest decisions by Gillette was making parking free for everybody. They should let every fan know from the beginning that they won't be paying Patriots parking prices.
GAMES OF THE WEEK: Richmond at Villanova, Saturday, noon - Two weeks ago, the Spiders' quarterback woes made them look dead, but two wins later and Richmond is still very much alive, but it will be tested heavily Saturday.
William & Mary at North Carolina, 3:30 p.m., ESPN3 - The CAA is 3-3 against the Atlantic Coast Conference in the leagues' last three meetings, including James Madison's September win over Virginia Tech. The Tribe is among the best teams in the FCS and the Tar Heels are struggling.
UMass at James Madison, 3:30 p.m., Comcast Sports New England - The Minutemen and Dukes are both struggling of late at 4-3. The loser will fall to 4-4 overall with their playoff position precarious at best.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK - For the second straight week a UMass opponent earned the CAA's Defensive Player of the Week honors. New Hampshire lineback Matt Evans won the award in addition to the Bill Knight Trophy (UMass-UNH game most outstanding player). He had 13 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception.
William & Mary's Jonathan Grimes took the offensive honors. He had 21 carries for 77 yards, four kick returns for 95 yards and threw a 6-yard touchdown pass.
Richmond's Wil Kamin was the special teams player of the week. He kicked three field goals and an extra point and averaged over 47 yards on his four punts.
Maine freshman tailback Terrel Walker was the CAA Rookie of the Week with four carries for 99 yards, most of which came on his 86-yard TD run.
POLL POSITIONING - UMass continued to fall in the rankings as the Minutemen dropped six spots to No. 18 in both polls. They weren't alone among CAA descenders. Delaware's loss to William & Mary dropped the Hens to No. 6 in both, while James Madison's loss to Villanova landed the Dukes at No. 15.
William & Mary, which has won six straight since losing to UMass, moved up to No. 3 in the Sports Network poll and No. 4 in the FCS Coaches Poll. Villanova isn't far behind at No. 5 in both. New Hampshire is at No. 9 in the coaches and No. 10 in the TSN.