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JMU football runs out on the field ahead of Robert Morris on Feb. 20, 2021.

JMU, let the voices be heard.

JMU football announced Thursday that its games against Richmond and Elon were postponed, originally scheduled for April 3 and 10, respectively. The Dukes were left blindsided as, per CAA rule, they couldn’t find an opponent for this past weekend, since the timeframe was within 72 hours of Saturday. JMU’s still actively looking for an opponent to replace Elon on April 10.

As of April 6, JMU will have missed four of its six conference games due to COVID-19 protocols — half of those because of the Dukes, the other half because of their opponents. Missing in action two weekends out from the playoffs raise questions about the worth of the 2020 spring season and the future of the program.

The Breeze wanted to know what JMU nation thought of the program, its place and its future. The survey results below address how satisfied fans are with JMU football and the CAA, and it allows people to voice their opinions on who they want the Dukes to play in the spring 2020 season. 

All the questions below are from the survey. This survey received 110 responses.

How pleased have you been with JMU football this season?

On a scale from one to five, one being very displeased and five being very pleased, the top results are as follows:

Three: 26.5%

Four: 25.7%

Two: 20.4%

The middle ground makes sense for fans, as with only four games played of the original eight-game schedule, it’s hard to judge. The Dukes had a strong win against William & Mary on March 27 and proved why they deserved to be No. 1. Before that game, JMU had poor showings against Robert Morris and Elon, both involving comebacks wins — and this could explain the displeased responses.

1b: If you wish, please explain your answer from the previous question.

This question is based on the first question of the survey and was a free-response answer. The answers are summarized below.

Respondents:

1: Said they were happy the Dukes were able to play.

2: Said COVID-19 affected their satisfaction.

3:Said JMU playing this spring was a mistake.

These results coincide with the JMU football satisfaction question and its results. During a pandemic, football provides some normalcy as justification to be happy about having the Dukes back. However, some reported the constant chaos due to COVID-19 as a reason for a lack of enthusiasm. Constantly being let down and worried for the safety of the athletes may lead to some people thinking the season was a mistake. 

How pleased have you been with CAA football this season?

On a scale from one to five, one being very displeased and five being very pleased, the top results are as follows:

One: 44.2%

Three: 28.3%

Two: 19.5%

Examining the CAA is like looking at the U.S. government after the American Revolution. The CAA has all the teams under its conference name, but teams are deciding individually if they’re going to reschedule or not, and that’s led to dissatisfaction among fans. Richmond head coach Russ Huesman said the Spiders are trying to make up a game with William & Mary and stated it would likely be the last game for Richmond in the regular season — leaving JMU down two conference games. 

2b: If you wish, please explain your answer from the previous question.

This question is based on the second question of the survey and was a free-response answer. The highlights and major points from the free-response answer are summarized below:

Respondents said:

1: CAA leadership is focusing too much on its image.

2: The CAA’s not doing well with rescheduling games.

3: The CAA’s making bad decisions.

Respondents said the CAA hasn’t handled rescheduling games in the best way, in most cases deferring the decision to individual schools. The conference lets schools pick and choose who they want to play, excluding schools that would normally have a strong schedule, such as JMU. Fans believe that the CAA’s too worried about its image rather than the teams involved, and the decision to move the season to the spring contributes to the dissatisfaction by Dukes fans.

Do you think JMU should schedule any more games in the spring regular season?

Yes: 77.2%

No: 22.8%

Fans want to see JMU football play, so it makes sense most people voted for more spring season games. People have posed the question of whether or not JMU should sit for the next few weeks until the playoffs, but JMU Nation seems to want to see the Dukes play. More games mean a stronger schedule, and JMU needs a better strength of schedule to keep its No. 1 spot in the polls.

Who do you think should be the starting quarterback for JMU?

Cole Johnson: 48.5%

Gage Moloney: 47.6%

Redshirt senior quarterback Cole Johnson hangs on as fans’ No. 1 pick for the quarterback job. Johnson had a bad game against Elon and was pulled in the third quarter in favor of redshirt junior quarterback Gage Moloney. Moloney won the game and was the suspected starter before becoming ineligible against William & Mary coming off the COVID-19 pause, and Johnson had a great game. Heading into the next game, if both Johnson and Moloney are eligible, it’ll be a major question — but it seems for fans that the sixth-year player is the favorite.

Would you like to see JMU play someone from the CAA North in the regular season?

Yes: 78.6%

Maybe: 12.5%

No: 8.9%

JMU competes in the CAA South Division, along with Richmond, Elon and William & Mary. The CAA Division holds the rest of the CAA, including Villanova and Delaware.

5b: If yes, who?

In this multiple-answer question, fans could select several different CAA North Division opponents they would want to see the Dukes play.

Delaware: 67%

Villanova: 63.9%

New Hampshire: 21.6%

Who wouldn’t want to play the top team in the CAA? Delaware’s been dominant all season and is No. 8 in the polls. If the rankings stayed the same to the playoffs, the Dukes would meet the Blue Hens in the quarterfinals, and then Villanova — a team JMU normally sees on its schedule and  began the season at No. 6. The Dukes and the Wildcats have a rivalry, and fans want to see it continue. Unfortunately, New Hampshire opted out of the season Tuesday.

Would you like to see JMU football play someone not in the CAA, but in the FCS?

Yes: 77.5%

No: 22.5%

When CAA teams are picky about who they want to play, JMU has to keep its options open. Expanding beyond the FCS gives the Dukes a chance to see playoff competition and a way to strengthen its schedule.

6b: If yes, who?

Anyone: 29.41%

North Dakota State: 21.57%

VMI: 21.57%

In an interesting result, the 2019 national champions and Virginia Military Institute out of Lexington, Virginia, tie for second place. JMU Nation wants football and is willing to play anyone. If Dukes fans got their pick, though, people want the rematch against the NDSU dynasty and in-state VMI.

Do you think JMU should opt-out of the 2020 spring season entirely?

Yes: 18.8%

No: 81.3%

Although JMU fans have expressed their displeasure with the CAA, they still want the Dukes to play. Opting out means missing the playoffs, and even though COVID-19 is a looming threat, fans still want to watch JMU make a run at the national championship.

How do you think the CAA has handled the spring season?

This question is based on the first question of the survey and was a free-response answer. The highlights and major points from the free-response answer are as follows

1: The CAA handled the season poorly.

2: The CAA handled the season not horribly, but still in a way less than satisfactory.

The CAA’s rules with rescheduling games affected JMU and seemed to completely forget about the South Division at times. Fans realize this, and their feelings toward the CAA’s intensified even more with how the league handled the season.

Does the spring season make you want JMU to move to the FBS?

Yes: 52.7%

No: 47.3%

It makes sense for fans to want JMU to move up to the FBS after watching the spring season and how disorganized it was at times. The Dukes’ status in the CAA’s been up in the air at times during recent years, and watching how JMU and its games were treated gives fans even more proof for the argument for moving up. For now though, JMU stays in the CAA, and contract satisfying for just under half of the respondents.

8b: If you wish, explain your answer from the previous question.

This question is based on the first question of the survey and was a free-response answer. The highlights and major points from the free-response answer are as follows

T-1: Moving to the FBS would be a better fit for JMU.

T-1: JMU needs to be careful with the move and not rush it.

3: A move to the FBS wouldn’t be good.

Unlike what the results might show, fans expressed the caution around moving into the bigger fish tank. The FBS is no joke, and JMU’s stock goes down if it moves up. There’d be no more national championships, but at the same time, the Dukes would get better competition with the move — and a conference that has good teams and sticks to the schedules. A move up wouldn’t just include football, but all sports, so the school has to be ready in every position to make a move.

Thinking about the team right now, how far do you think they will go in the playoffs?

They’ll win the national championship: 40.2%

They’ll lose in the semifinals: 23.4%

Lose in the national championship: 16.8%

A year after making it to Frisco, Texas, JMU fans think that the regular season doesn’t matter, and the Dukes are going to win their third championship. Whether that happens is up in the air, but the JMU nation has high hopes for JMU.

Do you think JMU deserves to be No. 1?

Yes: 56.5%

No: 43.5%

After being at No. 1 for five weeks, some people question if JMU truly is the No. 1 team. JMU Nation thinks so, as half of the respondents opted for the Dukes to stay No. 1. Time will tell if JMU has what it takes to be the best team in the country, but for now it stays undefeated.

If you wish, explain your answer from the previous question

This question is based on the first question of the survey and was a free-response answer. The highlights and major points from the free-response answer are as follows:

1: JMU hasn’t played enough games to be No. 1.

2: JMU doesn’t have the resume to be the top team.

3: The Dukes should stay No. 1 until they’re beat.

JMU Nation has mixed feelings about whether their Dukes are the best team in the country. Some think that JMU’s schedule isn’t deep enough to hold the No. 1 title, and others think they should stay in first place until they lose. Whatever the right reason is, JMU’s still No. 1, and there’s no way to read inside the minds of the selection committee, as much as the Dukes may want to

How happy have you been with the coaching staff this season?

On a scale from one to five, one being very displeased and five being very pleased, the top results are as follows:

Five: 39.1%

Four: 30.9%

Three: 25.5%

Fans are happy with the coaching staff, as they seemed to have turned the Dukes around. Head coach Curt Cignetti figured out problems JMU was having at halftime during its games and turned the team around to pull out a win. Cignetti also brought the Dukes back to the national championship game, and that’s no small feat. JMU Nation is satisfied with Cignetti’s crew and supports them as they try to finish the season in one piece.

Contact Savannah Reger at breezesports@gmail.com. For more football coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.