Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Villanova had been slated to play their 2013 opener at Heinz Field against former Big East rivals Pittsburgh, but now the game could be moved, or cancelled.
It happened in 2006, when a last minute offer for Auburn to take on Wazzu on national television opening week caused the War Eagle to turn their back on their former Bacardi Bowl opponent. That year, the late change caused Villanova to pick up a game at the University of Central Florida instead of the SEC school. Now, it could happen again.
Pittsburgh is reportedly in talks to play a game against Florida State over Labor Day weekend. It would be a prime-time Monday-night made-for-TV event for the Panthers, but first they need to deal with their obligation to play Villanova. Florida State's Jimbo Fisher mentioned the possibility at a booster rally on Wednesday night and the Orlando Sentinel picked up the news.
Nothing will be finalized until the ACC releases its conference schedule later this month.
One possibility for the Villanova game is to reschedule it for a different week. The FCS season allows for 12 games this fall, but since Villanova is planning to play just 11 games would have at least two bye weeks this year, giving them a bit more flexibility to move the Pittsburgh trip to later in the season. The other option is for Pitt to buy their way out of the deal with 'Nova.
An Orlando Sentinel report, however, suggests that the 'Cats may have only one open weekend, on September 14th -- when Pitt is scheduled to play New Mexico. If the Villanova schedule remains at 11 games, however, the 'Cats may be able to move the game until later in the season.
If that were the case, Villanova would need to search for another game and preferably one with an FBS opponent that will offer revenue and exposure for the 'Cats program. The availability of such an opponent isn't readily known at the moment, but it's possible that Pitt would help to locate a suitable game for Villanova -- especially since it would likely lower the amount that the Panthers would owe for cancelling the game.
Unless another FBS program had an opening on Labor Day weekend, the Wildcats would be forced to open the season with a bye week -- which hasn't happened since the disastrous 2005 season that was chronicled in the book, "A Season in Purgatory."
While it might be fun to imagine Boston College ditching it's planned date with Stony Brook to face their old rivals Villanova, that wouldn't make much financial sense for the Eagles. So, unless an FBS program has an incomplete schedule, it seems unlikely.
Some FBS schools with an open date remaining, according to fbschedules.com, include Army (who can play 13 games because they travel to Hawaii), Syracuse (who Villanova will play to open 2014), and Western Kentucky. None of those schools have an opening labor day weekend, however, but they may have an easier time scheduling Villanova on other weekends than Pittsburgh would (such as Syracuse, who have September 14th open).
As it stands, it seems that the schools are attempting to keep the game on the schedule, however, but with the siren song of ESPN calling, it may be difficult to accomplish.
FSU would also need to reschedule a scheduled game against FCS Wofford, but would be able to shift that contest to the following week.