Bryant’s Tom Kennedy looks to weave around Robert Morris’ Gerald Ferguson at Joe Walton Stadium. Photo credit: David Auth

OPINION: Bring on Bryant

Kevin Plowcha argues why Bryant joining the Big South Conference is a bigger move for Robert Morris football than people may think.

April 6, 2022

With the copious amount of conference realignment in college football in the coming years, it was almost inevitable that the Big South would be affected, and they were.

The conference lost a whopping four members during the 2021-22 off-season: Hampton, Monmouth, Kennesaw State, and North Alabama. This left the conference with just five members, one short of the conference minimum.

Many questions were brought up regarding the future of the conference, including ones related to whether or not other teams would realign to the Big South for this upcoming 2022-23 season.

Although it was announced that the Big South and OVC football conferences will be merging effective in 2023, the Big South still needed at least one team for the upcoming season. That team ended up being the Bryant Bulldogs.

Bryant takes after Robert Morris by taking the same route that the Colonials did, leaving the NEC to move to the Big South after moving to the America East conference for all other sports. This brings a little bit of familiarity to the conference for the Colonials, having a team that they are used to seeing.

This is great for Robert Morris because the Colonials now have somewhat of a “true rival” again in the football landscape. They haven’t had a team to identify as their “rival” in their first two seasons in the Big South. The distance between them and other teams in the conference has shown the lack of a true foe to take on.

Now, why can they be considered rivals? Robert Morris and Bryant have had some fantastic matchups in their history. They’ve gotten to know each other pretty well in their time in the NEC. Even though RMU is 3-9 overall against Bryant, many of the games have been nailbiters. Seven of the 12 matchups between the two teams have been decided by one touchdown or less.

This rivalry also spills into basketball, as Robert Morris guard Michael Green III transferred from Bryant, adding more fuel to the fire.

Back to football, though. An instant classic 49-46 loss to Bryant in 2018 motivated the Colonials and may have been the beginning of the program’s turnaround. After two straight losses by double digits to the Bulldogs in 2016 and 2017, it seemed that RMU wouldn’t be able to figure out Bryant. That, ultimately, proved not to be the case.

RMU was victorious in the most recent meeting, 24-20, so were they turning a corner against Bryant? We never got an answer to that question, so maybe we will know that they are in the same conference again. RMU has proven that they know how to “tame the dogs” in past years.

The rivalry isn’t just great for the school. It’s great for the students and fans too. Why? Because they can pack Joe Walton Stadium when the Bulldogs come to town, knowing it will be a thriller. Having a team to root “against” during the season makes it more exciting. Every time these two face off, there’s a good chance it will be a great game.

One thing’s for sure: I can’t wait for Nov. 19 at Joe Walton Stadium. Mark your calendars!