Opening against cupcakes

Opening Day.

It’s one of the most exciting days of the year, no matter what the sport.

NASCAR opens its season with its biggest event -the Daytona 500.

Ditto for horse racing’s Triple Crown, which begins with the Kentucky Derby.

Then there’s the various team sports.

Fans have waited since the end of last season to see how good their favorite team is going to be. Even though fans of most teams know they have little chance of celebrating a championship, there’s always hope. Especially on opening day, when every team is undefeated.

Yet, there is one sport where opening day -or at least its opening week -has lost its lustre.

As much as I love college football, I find it hard to get excited about the first week of the season.

Why? Because ever since colleges were allowed to schedule a 12th regular season game, the high-profile teams have used it to showcase their squad to the home crowd against a highly inferior foe that has virtually no chance of being competitive yet alone winning, but is willing to take a one-sided beating in exchange for the largest paycheck its athletic program will receive all year.

At least for a while there was a rule that in order to qualify as a win toward being bowl eligible, you had to play a Division 1-A foe, but that no longer is the case.

Plus, with so many bowl games, if you finish 6-6 you’re going to spend December in Boise or Shreveport or one of America’s garden spots.

Last year, we were treated to such epic opening week battles as Arizona State 63, Northern Arizona 6; North Carolina 62, Elon 0; and the ultimate example of a game that had zero business of being played, Oklahoma State 84, Savannah State 0.

Yet, we know it was played. Oklahoma State can draw a crowd simply because it is playing. It can put that game in its season ticket package and charge the same amount as if it were a Big 12 contest. Meanwhile, Savannah State is willing to take the beating and Oklahoma State’s money.

While the seven-year West Virginia-Marshall series was one-sided with WVU winning all seven contests, at least it was an in-state rivalry deserving of some hype.

This year, WVU is opening with William & Mary, which finished 2-9 a year ago.

By the way, one of those two was a 35-3 win over Georgia State, another of WVU’s three non-conference foes this fall.

I’ve learned a long time ago the key to winning is making sure you play somebody who is worse than you.

I’m not the only one who has figured it out.

College ADs are masters at that game.

Come September, I’ll be hankering for some college football.

But I know that come opening week we’ll be subjected to all the East Cupcake States visiting Powerhouse U.

Contact Dave Poe at dpoe@newsandsentinel.com