It appears that Robert Morris is on track to play football in 2020 as an independent as the conference moves through a multi-league transition as part of a decision to leave the Northeast Conference.
RMU is set to join the Horizon League in most sports, with an announcement expected early next week. The Horizon League does not sponsor football, so the gridiron Colonials will need a different new home.
That is expected to be the Big South, but with the move to leave the NEC taking place in advance of the 2020-21 athletics season and most 2020 football schedules already made, it would be difficult if not impossible for the Colonials to make the jump to the Big South for 2020.
Instead, it appears more likely that they will play as an independent while retaining most of their pre-existing schedule, though some changes should be expected. Here’s RMU’s current 2020 schedule:
Sept. 5 vs. VMI
Sept. 12 at Bowling Green
Sept. 19 at Dayton
Oct. 3 vs. St. Francis*
Oct. 10 at Duquesne*
Oct. 17 at LIU*
Oct. 24 vs. Wagner*
Oct. 31 vs. Merrimack*
Nov. 7 at Bryant*
Nov. 14 vs. Central Connecticut*
Nov. 21 at Sacred Heart*
The home conference games are the most likely ones to cause sticking points with RMU playing as an independent.
Pittsburgh Sports Now has confirmed through a Duquesne source that RMU’s game scheduled for Oct. 10 at Duquesne is still on, despite the Colonials leaving the conference.
The future of that rivalry is certainly in question, with the schools expected to be in different conferences for the first time since 2008. Robert Morris is 9-13 against the Dukes since starting its football program in 1994.
The Colonials defeated Duquesne, 41-21 in at Joe Walton Stadium in 2019, breaking up a six-game Dukes winning streak in the cross-town rivalry.
There has already been some discussion about playing the game as a non-conference rivalry, but non-conference games are valuable tools for FCS teams to make their budgets work by scheduling FBS or higher-level FCS road games.
Duquesne is already slated to visit Charlotte in 2021, Hawaii in 2022 and West Virginia in 2023 along with games at Youngstown State in 2022, 2024 and 2026. The Colonials have games scheduled at Central Michigan in 2021, Miami University (Ohio) in 2022 and Morehead State both years.