This week Austin Peay gets ready for one of their two biggest games of every season, when they host Murray State on Friday. (The 2nd biggest game being when they visit Murray, of course) It is considered by many to be the best rivalry in the Ohio Valley Conference. But will it stay that way?
By doing a quick wikipedia search on the Austin Peay-Murray State rivalry I came across this little gem.
“The two schools are separated by 65 miles and consistently vie for the Ohio Valley Conference championship.”
Looks to me like someone needs to update that page.
For the older fan base, Austin Peay and Murray State will ALWAYS be rivals but for the younger crowd Murray State-Belmont is becoming the better rivalry.
Austin Peay hasn’t won an OVC Tournament Championship since 2008. Since the turn of the Century they have won just two, while rival Murray State has won five.
But, it isn’t what has happened in the past 13 years that has Austin Peay fans frustrated, it’s what has happened more recently. The Governors have lost 55 games in a little under 3 years and are on the brink of a third straight losing season.
How can this be acceptable at a place with such a storied history, with one of the best traditions in the Ohio Valley Conference?
With 43 in the loss column the last two seasons, most coaches seats would start getting very warm. But it wasn’t like Dave Loos was going to fire himself.
As we know, last April, Loos decided to step down as Athletic Director so that he could focus all of his attention on thebasketball team. That hasn’t seemed to work either. But even with the struggles so far this year, new Austin Peay Athletic Director, Derek van der Merwe, is not going to be the guy to fire a coach who’s had the job for over 23 years.
Yes, most likely, the head coaching job at Austin Peay is Dave Loos’ until he decides he doesn’t want it anymore.
Let me be fair, it hasn’t been all bad. This years Gov’s have talent. Chris Horton, Will Triggs and Travis Betran are three guys who could have easily led this team to a West Division crown. Don’t forget about Demarius Smith who averages nearly 9 points and 6 assists per game.
Three of APSU’s five leading scorers are underclassmen, including their star, Horton, who is only a sophomore. There is some hope for the future and the coaching staff are doing their part recruiting wise. It just hasn’t turned into wins here recently.
When the Governors started off OVC play 2-0, I made a bold prediction. I said those days of 20 losses were over and that Peay was relevant again. I have been wrong plenty times before and, well, I was wrong again. After making that prediction Austin Peay lost four straight and although they probably won’t lose 20 games this season, they still will have to scrap their way into the OVC tournament.
If the season ended today, APSU would be in as an 8 seed because of the tiebreaker they own on Tennessee Tech.
Whether you like them or not, the OVC is more fun when the Governors are competitive. They have a loud and passionate fan base and if their team doesn’t have a strong second half of conference play, Nashville will be lacking “Let’s Go Peay” chants for a third straight year.
On Friday, they look to take a giant step towards Municipal Auditorium by beating their arch-rival in front of a national audience and improving to .500 in conference play.