Sorry for the lack of updates this week. I’ve been a bit under the weather, but that’s (mostly) gone now. The top game of the night has to be the battle atop the East Division, between Belmont and Morehead State, with the winner being top dog. (For now)
Statistically, the matchup is quite interesting: Belmont has struggled at times with turnovers against the top turnover forcing team in the league. But Morehead State nearly commits more that they force. Belmont is the best offensive team, Morehead the best defensive team. And quite possibly most importantly, Morehead State has proved they can beat quality competition on the road. They also lost to Eastern Kentucky, a team with a somewhat similar makeup to the Bruins, at home.
But…I don’t Morehead State at Belmont is the most important game of the night. The loser can easily rebound to win the OVC. If you’re looking for “must win,” turn your eyes to Martin, TN.
Yes, you read correctly.
UT Martin is 1-5 in OVC play, but a team virtually identical to last year’s OVC Tournament team. They didn’t get the benefit of an easy early slate by any stretch, but host two winnable West Division teams this week, starting tonight with Eastern Illinois.
We expect that six wins, at a minimum, will be needed to make the OVC Tournament. It could be seven. To get to 7-9, UTM needs to go 6-4 down the stretch, 5-5 gets you to 6-10. They still host the entire West Division, and Tennessee Tech. Their remaining road games: at EIU, SIUE, EKU and SEMO. There are six very winnable games there; I’d argue there’s up to eight you could make an argument that UTM should have an opportunity to win.
But if they get swept at home this week, things get much more interesting, and not in a good way. UTM would need to go 6-2 to get to seven wins, and that’s a tall order from 1-7. Eastern Illinois at UT Martin might not be the sexiest game on the slate. But it’s the most important, at least for the Skyhawks.
In what had to be the quickest coaching search in the history of the OVC, Jacksonville State football hired their new head coach the same night Bill Clark resigned to take the head job at UAB. This is a rare occasion where I’m in full agreement that a coaching search was not necessary. In John Grass you have last year’s offensive coordinator (that clearly had a great year) in a league where offense appears to be what you need to succeed. (To a point, Murray) You also have someone, as a JSU grad, that may be there longer than one year.
That being said, I don’t blame Clark for making the jump. FBS jobs don’t come up often, and they’re not always willing to look to the FCS for their openings. He had a great year, and has a great opportunity in front of him, taking over a program with almost zero expectations.
Okay, great may be an overstatement. But he has an opportunity.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m a full time television news producer in Paducah, KY. Which made last night’s news that Murray State moved their game from 7 p.m. to 3 p.m. a somewhat entertaining intersection of my two worlds. For those outside of Murray, you probably don’t know the backstory here, and there is one.
Two weeks ago, during the polar vortex, all of Murray learned of a deal the University cut with TVA. In exchange for a substantial discount on electricity costs, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) would be allowed to tell the university to shut down non-essential power in a time of great need. We learned that because the TVA did, and Murray did. That power outage, which seemingly came without warning, cancelled a women’s game scheduled that night.
As a part of this deal, they purchased backup generators for essential buildings: dorms, the cafeteria, etc. Only, they didn’t work.
That second part was kind of a big deal. Students on campus were moved to hotels while the generator was fixed. Whether it was the night the power was cut, or previous, there were burst pipes in a few buildings on campus, that required cleaning up before the majority of students returned to campus.
This deal had been in place for a few years, but it wasn’t until that night it was first needed.
Tonight, it could be needed again. At least, the TVA has warned the University there’s a medium risk they’ll ask the campus to shut down. So, Murray State moved the game up, to make sure they could get it in.
We’ve been told the generators have been tested, and are good to go.
Twitter responded…harshly to this news two weeks ago. They didn’t respond much better last night. Not going to call out anyone here, but there were quite a few people that would like to know why Murray State cut this deal, (Hint: It’s the money) and more than a few lamenting they won’t be able to see the game.
Funny thing is, if it weren’t for this winter, we may have never known.