College football

Regional rivalries aren't highest priority for Hampton Roads football teams

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Hampton Roads is home to four Division I college football programs hailing from two conferences. Which logic says would create natural, interleague, regional rivalries.

Were only scheduling so paint-by-numbers simple.

Consider William and Mary and Norfolk State, who conclude a two-year, home-and-home series Saturday as the Tribe visits Dick Price Stadium for the first time.

William and Mary athletic director Terry Driscoll and his Norfolk State counterpart, Marty Miller, appreciate the local intrigue surrounding this matchup of Colonial Athletic Association and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference teams. Their campuses are separated by 40-some miles, their rosters stocked with area athletes.

But don't expect them to play again any time soon.

The same goes for William and Mary and Hampton University, who haven't met in the regular season since a home-and-home in 1997 and '98.

The hurdle for all concerned is balancing the financial, recruiting, and yes, academic elements of the scheduling equation.

For example, with eight CAA games annually, William and Mary has three non-conference dates to fill, and two of the three are booked indefinitely.

One is reserved for a Bowl Subdivision opponent, last season North Carolina State, this year Virginia. Future dates, through 2016, are set against North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia Tech, N.C. State, West Virginia and Virginia (twice).

The games not only allow Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock to test his squad against the big pups, but also to net the athletic department six-figure paydays.

Another non-league contest is saved for Virginia Military Institute. The programs met for 65 consecutive seasons before agreeing to a one-year respite in 2009, in part because the Keydets wanted to play a money game of their own, against Army.

"I was told when I got here that we have a special relationship with VMI," said Driscoll, who arrived at William and Mary in 1996.

That leaves Driscoll with one game to rotate. During his tenure he, in concert with Laycock, has scheduled Hampton, Norfolk State, Liberty and Furman, among others.

In 2010, the Tribe travels to Old Dominion, a fledgling program that doesn't join the CAA until the following season. In 2012 and '13, William and Mary is contracted to play the University of Pennsylvania.

"I've been trying for a long time to get an Ivy League (opponent)," Driscoll said. "We were close with Princeton but couldn't (coordinate) the dates."

Penn is ideal for William and Mary on several fronts. Laycock and his staff recruit extensively in the region — the Tribe roster has 11 players from Pennsylvania and 13 from New Jersey — and appreciate the history of venerable Franklin Field, the Quakers' home stadium.

Also, William and Mary and Penn are comparable academically, with the Quakers providing credible but not intimidating football opposition.

If not the Ivy League, Driscoll would like to arrange games against Patriot League programs such as Bucknell, Lehigh and Lafayette. Again, academic heavyweights and football, at best, middleweights.

"The goal is to spread out (geographically)," Driscoll said, "but obviously we'd like to stay on the ground (not fly) if we can for expenses."

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