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Wagner to Patriot League in Football Could Open Up Great Rivalry Opportunities

(Photo Credit: Staten Island Live)

While the news has broken that Quinnipiac and Monmouth will be accepting bids to the MAAC conference and leaving the NEC in all sports, nothing is official just yet. 

The MAAC's presidents will be conducting a formal vote on the matter tomorrow, and until then, it's technically speculation.

So is the thought of Wagner and Monmouth headed to other football conferences - something that seems fairly logical, should their moves to the MAAC be confirmed.  The MAAC does not sponsor football, and while the Hawks and Seahawks could spend $250,000 in exit money and then re-apply for associate, non-voting membership in the NEC for next season, it's far from clear whether either party would welcome the arrangement.

If Wagner is thinking about joining the Patriot League in football, what could that mean to them?

It could open up an interesting concept I've felt has been a missed opportunity for years - annual contests to see who's the best FCS team of New York City.

Wagner and Columbia have never met on the gridiron in the history of both programs, despite the fact that they share the same city but are in different boroughs.  Columbia's main campus is on 125th street of Manhattan, while Wagner College is nestled on Staten Island.

Wagner and Fordham competed together in their Division III days, having met for the last time in the Division III quarterfinals in 1987, when head coach Walt Hameline's Seahawks won the D-III national championship.

With the Patriot League's relationship with the Ivy League and Columbia, if the Seahawks joined up, it would appear to open up the possibility of all three teams playing one another every year, representing three of the five New York City boroughs (and the only ones with institutions of higher learning that sponsor Division I football).

I've often felt that such a series would be a great thing to showcase the fact that there are indeed teams that play Division I football in New York City. 

Columbia and Fordham already compete yearly for the "Liberty Cup", a crosstown rivalry in football that has been contested for the last 12 years continuously.  It's not difficult to imagine Wagner sliding effortlessly into this mix, playing both teams.

Equally as interesting, perhaps one or more of these games could be played at Yankee Stadium - or even Citi Field - making it the quintessential "New York City" event.

Columbia would have to commit to two out-of-conference games a year with Fordham and Wagner, which may, perhaps, be a lot to ask of the Lions. 

But suddenly, with possible games at Citi Field or Yankee Stadium, maybe it's more than worth it for Columbia, with their football program that is too often overlooked in the media capital of the world.

All this with three teams that are mere subway rides away from each other.

Fordham and Wagner could become a strong rivalry game for the Patriot League, and maybe even could be a league fixture at the end of the season at the same time as Lehigh/Lafayette (or, perhaps, the weekend before).

Best of all, though, it would feature a trio of teams that put academics at the forefront of their sports programs.

According to this Connecticut Post article today, detailing all the potential teams headed to the MAAC, Wagner is "highly regarded on academic side with top-25 rankings in The Princeton Review (No. 2 theater program) and U.S. News (graduate program)," and is noted as a good MAAC candidate due to its athlete graduation rate and "strong academic record".

Nothing has been set yet in terms of Wagner being headed to the MAAC in all sports, nor is it a foregone conclusion that the Seahawks would then be headed to the Patriot League in football. 

But it's not hard to get excited about the prospect of Fordham and Wagner in the same league, and a New York City football series that seems to make an awful lot of sense.


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