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?
The Homecoming Game is one of those asterisked dates on the schedule. Sometimes an (HC) follows the opponent and the date. In most cases, HC is a BD (Big Deal), a chance for schools to recognize athletic stars of bygone seasons and show off a Homecoming King and Queen and for former band members to dust off their instruments and march, or in Brown’s case scatter, again at halftime.
How did Homecoming become such a tradition? I knew you would ask so this week I did extensive research. I googled “college homecoming history”. Here’s what I found.
Alumni football games were held in the 1800s, but the University of Missouri receives credit for holding the first homecoming featuring a football game and parade. Mizzou and Kansas boast the oldest college football rivalry west of the Mississippi. They played at neutral sites until 1911, when a new conference regulation required that games be played on campus. Chester Brewer, the Missouri athletics director, wanted to ensure a good crowd for the first game on the his campus in Columbia, so he invited all alums to “come home” for the football game, a parade and a pep rally with a bonfire. And they came, 10,000 of them, and watched the Tigers and the Jayhawks battle to a 3-3 tie.
Two Texas schools, Southwestern in Georgetown and Baylor in Waco, trace their first Homecoming games to 1909. Northern Illinois began its Homecoming tradition with an alumni game in 1903.
Schedulers pray for a weaker Homecoming opponent so alums will return to their own homes flushed with the euphoria of victory. This is Homecoming Weekend here in Rhode Island – Brown calls it Family Weekend -- but you won’t find a weak opponent in Providence, Kingston or Smithfield.
PRINCETON AT BROWN
Brown is 2-2 thanks to gutsy victories over URI and Holy Cross after disappointing losses to Bryant and Harvard. But Princeton is 4-0, 2-0 in the Ivy League, and features a high-octane offense directed by James Perry, the best quarterback in Brown’s rich football history. This is a must-win if the Bears expect to contend for the Ivy League title. Their last win in the series was in 2011.
The Pick: Princeton
RICHMOND AT URI
Mega kudos to the Rams for shutting out Delaware, 20-0, last week after players were thrown off the team and suspended for their roles in a fraternity fight after the Brown game. The victory, Rhody’s first of the season after five losses, was just what the team needed. A stiffer challenge arrives for Homecoming. Richmond is 4-1, 2-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association and ranked No. 13 in the Football Championship Subdivision.
The Pick: Richmond
DUQUESNE AT BRYANT
What has happened at Bryant? After an expected victory over AIC and an eye-opening win at Brown, the Bulldogs have lost three in a row. The worst occurred last week when 1-4 Central Connecticut amassed 553 yards on offense and posted a 35-33 victory. Duquesne is 4-2 and beat CCSU 27-10. This is a gut-check game for Bryant.
The Pick: Duquesne
ENDICOTT AT SALVE REGINA
Salve is 3-1 and had a week off to prepare for Endicott, which is 1-3. Look for the Seahawks to score, score and score some more against a team that allowed 104 points in its three losses.
The Pick: Salve Regina
USC AT NOTRE DAME
The suspension and subsequent firing of USC coach Steve Sarkisian for unspecified problems is a sideshow the Trojans did not need for Notre Dame week. The offensive coordinator Clay Helton takes over.
The Pick: Notre Dame
Last Week: 2-3. Season, 14-6