Snakebit State Loses Another High-Profile Home Date
NC State is frequently criticized for the less-than-challenging nonconference schedules its football team plays.
It's a situation the Wolfpack has tried to correct in recent years by seeking out games against Power Five opponents.
But even as athletic director Boo Corrigan and his predecessor Debbie Yow have worked to bulk up future schedules, their efforts have been hindered by a series of circumstances out of their control.
In 2018, the Wolfpack had its home game against West Virginia canceled because of Hurricane Florence. Thursday it officially lost another high-profile date at Carter-Finley Stadium, this one against Mississippi State, when the SEC announced its decision to adopt a conference only schedule for 2020 in response to the still-raging coronavirus pandemic.
"There are things like that that are completely out of your control," said senior associate athletic director Fred Demarest. "We set these games up in 2014, so obviously there's no anticipation of something like this happening. But the commitment remains to try and add these attractive games, because we know they mean a lot to our fan base."
State officials were holding out hope that the Mississippi State game could still be played when the ACC on Wednesday adopted a "10-plus-1" model that would allow each school to play one nonconference game in addition to 10 against ACC competition.
The format was designed specifically to preserve traditional rivalry games involving ACC teams Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Louisville against SEC opponents. But it also would have left the door ajar for Mississippi State to make the trip to Raleigh as scheduled.
The chances of that happening ended Thursday when the SEC chose to exclude nonconference games from its altered scheduling format.
It wasn't long after the announcement was made that Demarest was on the phone with his counterparts in Starkville discussing the two schools' next move.
"When it became apparent that the game this year would not be an option, we did have a conversation to see what is our path moving forward," Demarest said. "Can we move this game down the road? Are there options where we can bring this game back to life in the future, because I know there's great interest on both sides to play it.
"So when we have something like a Mississippi State come off the calendar like this for things that are out of everybody's control, then certainly we're going revisit and see if there's a way we can bring that back to life."
The problem, as Demarest mentioned earlier, is that schedules are filled out so far in advance, it's nearly impossible to make the game up anytime soon.
State, for example, recently scheduled a home-and-home series with Florida with games in 2026 and 2032.
Complicating matters is the fact that, like the 2018 cancellation against West Virginia, the Wolfpack is contractually obligated to play a return game on the road. It's scheduled to play at Mississippi State next year.
The irony of the current situation is that West Virginia could potentially be one of the teams State approaches about being the "plus one" in this year's reworked schedule. The Wolfpack made the trip to Morganton last September, losing 44-27.
"In this instance it's just a victim of bad luck," Demarest said. "I don't really look at it that way, in terms of 'poor us.' These are circumstances that are out of our control and you try to find a path moving forward."
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