URI football

Deflated footballs proved more newsworthy than a Super Bowl trophy, NCAA hockey championship hardware and the bill of sale for a beloved minor-league baseball franchise this year. Eleven months after the New England Patriots used underinflated footballs in the first half of the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts, Deflategate drags on. That’s why it is without question THE sports story of 2015 in Rhode Island and the rest of New England.

Another college football season is winding down, and I’m wondering why this new Division I playoff system has me feeling the old way might have been better. Remember when media voted in the AP poll, coaches voted in the UPI/USA Today poll, each determined a national champion, and when they differed, national debate ensued? Talk about fun!

Oh, the agony of interceptions, the pain of lost fumbles, the hurt of blocked punts and field-goal attempts, the ache of failed PATs.

Oh, the sting of ensuing defeat.

Rhode Island’s four college football teams, plus undefeated and nationally ranked Harvard, paid dearly for their errors on a blustery Saturday afternoon.

Western New England is the place to be for championship football on Saturday. Yes, it’s Division III, but I doubt you will find more appealing matchups than Salve Regina and Western New England in Springfield for the New England Football Championship and Amherst and Williams in Williamstown for the Little Three title and, for Amherst, sole possession of the New England Small College Athletic Conference championship.

College football has gone wacky. Why else would Northern Illinois have played at Toledo on Tuesday night and Ohio University have traveled to Bowling Green on Wednesday night? College football on a Tuesday night the first week in November? College football on a Wednesday night? I’m kidding, right? Sadly, no.

With apologies to Florida and Georgia, hosts of the world’s biggest cocktail party every autumn, the best college football game in America this weekend will occur Friday night in Boston.

Undefeated Harvard and undefeated Dartmouth will kick off at 7:30 at Harvard Stadium. Each is 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Ivy League.

With apologies to Florida and Georgia, hosts of the world’s biggest cocktail party every autumn, the best college football game in America this weekend will occur Friday night in Boston.

Undefeated Harvard and undefeated Dartmouth will kick off at 7:30 at Harvard Stadium. Each is 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Ivy League.

Homecoming is always one of the highlights of the fall calendar at most colleges and universities. Alumni meetings, lectures, symposiums, cocktail parties, dinners and fraternity parties abound. Oh, did I mention football games?

This was the season a freshman might have started at quarterback for the Bryant University football team. Tucker Beirne, a 6-2, 225-pounder from Coral Gables, Fla., looked like a player who could follow in the footsteps of 2014 graduate Mike Westerhaus, who stood third on Bryant’s all-time passing list with 4,929 yards. Beirne’s father David played lacrosse at Bryant in the 1980s and currently sits on the Bryant board of Trustees, so Tucker already knew about the Bulldogs football program.

The altercation allegedly involving seven University of Rhode Island football players and members of a fraternity in the overnight hours Sunday could have long-term ramifications for coach Jim Fleming and his program.

Sanctions in the wake of a fraternity raid by URI football players in 1996 dealt the program a blow from which it never recovered during his tenure, former coach Floyd Keith told me after he announced his resignation, effective the end of the 1999 season.

  The 100th football game between Rhode Island and Brown Saturday night at Brown Stadium will be a tough ticket. To sell, not to buy. Or, would you want to sit outside, possibly in the rain, to watch a pair of teams with a combined record of 0-6?

  Brown will play football at Harvard Saturday night, but I’m sure the mind games began last Saturday after Harvard’s 41-10 romp at Rhode Island and Brown’s frustrating 20-16 loss at home to Bryant.

Make no mistake about it. Every fall, Harvard gets in the head of the Brown football team, as if some mist floats to College Hill from Harvard Square and billions of H cells infiltrate the brains of Bears. Cells with stats, records, results. Gridiron DNA.

The South Providence Recreation Center will be renamed tomorrow for the late John H. Rollins, a former Providence City Council member, civil rights activist and football star at both La Salle Academy and the University of Rhode Island.

  College football returns to Rhode Island in a big way Saturday. Brown launches its 138th season at home against Bryant. Rhode Island plays its home opener against Harvard, the 2014 Ivy League champion. Salve Regina, the state’s Division III entry, hosts Castleton University from Vermont.

Thirteen consecutive losing seasons. Just three winning seasons since 1985. Zero championships since the 1984 and 1985 teams won back-to-back Yankee Conference titles. Zero playoff appearances since the 1985 team lost in the quarterfinals of the NCAA I-AA Tournament.

Its 6,500-seat “stadium” tied with New Hampshire for the smallest in the Colonial Athletic Association. Except for brief streaks in the 1950s and early 1980s, no tradition of winning football going back more than a century to the inaugural campaign in 1895.

All that at an annual cost of about $3.6 million.

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