Well folks the inevitable appears to be here; according to the Detroit Free Press; Oakland will make it official after a Board Of Trustees vote that they are indeed leaving the Summit League for the Horizon League for NEXT season according to two sources. This now brings the Summit roster down to 8 teams and with a window between now and June 30th when schools are to have their conference membership declared; it’s a tight deadline for Tom Douple and friends to have an invite extended. Of course; this news should surprise NO one; the first rumors of Oakland and the Horizon started about this time last year with OU coach Greg Kampe openly campaigning to get his team into the league; but rival Detroit always stood in the way of the Grizzlies. But the loss of Loyola (IL) to the Missouri Valley was enough to overwhelm Detroit’s concerns and the Grizzlies are in. This is a big time setback for the Summit; considering OU owns the last NCAA Tournament win for the conference back in 2005 and now leaves the conference with exactly ZERO NCAA wins. Just take a look at the roster of schools wnen NDSU, SDSU and IPFW joined the Summit in 2007 to what it looks like now:
2007-08 Summit League 2013-14 Summit League
Western Illinois Western Illinois
UMKC South Dakota
No one will argue the losses of Centenary and Southern Utah as being detrimental to the league; but Kansas City’s departure shocked everyone in the league; and took away a midwest foothold that was relatively easy to travel to. Now you take away arguably the two best attendance draws in the league in Oral Roberts and Oakland and what do you have left? You have the Dakota schools that have emerged as perennial league contenders; Western Illinois has made great strides in the last two years and a Denver team that is coming off an NIT apearance; but has lots of unknowns. It also brings in the real possibility of just 14 conference games and for NDSU that means 2 home games that are gone and will be nearly impossible to replace; we’ve detailed how hard it is for the football team to get a game but Saul Phillips and Dave Richman have re-iterated to me how difficult it is to get quality games in Fargo. Fresno State was a two-for-one deal as was Kansas State. Akron will return as part of the BracketBusters; but NDSU could very well find itself on the road for the lost Summit Games.
Who’s next? That’s the big riddle as to who Tom Douple has his eyes on. He told Jeff and I on the old Saturday Sports Show (remember those great days) then they were looking at several schools and mentioned St. Cloud State by name. We thought it seemed crazy at the time; but the top end Northern Sun schools may not be all that crazy. The Nebraska-Omaha model may be one to follow for someone like SCSU or MSU Mankato; each schools have D-1 hockey and may need to drop football to make a full Division 1 transition. SCSU already had its football on life support; now granted to have two teams at the same time in the D-1 transition is not optimal (UNO won’t be fully eligible until 2015) but if its about saving the automatic qualifier status; all options must be looked at. Much more on the new video blog with Jeff and I at 1 tomorrow; if you have comments/questions, live tweet them to @DomIzzoWDAY and @FGOSportswriter and we’ll try to answer them on the video blog. Till then!
Interesting column by Schlossy today in the Herald. He reiterates a couple points that are becoming trendy with the Summit and that is the membership issue. I believe baseball has a year or two grace period of NCAA autobid eligibility but the point being, the league, after several years of relative stability, needs to find that again.
Thoughts? Keep it logical (good luck to the moderators on that).
The prevailing opinion from talking with Craig Bohl yesterday on the status of FBS teams playing FCS teams is the Big Ten Conference is so far alone on that mandate and most likely will remain so. Bohl, who is one of 18 on the Board of Trustees for the American Football Coaches Association that met this week in Phoenix, has some pretty good connections across the country and if his vibe in talking with these folks is that nobody else seems to be in the mood not to schedule FCS teams, then that’s a pretty good source.
The general reasoning behind the Big Ten scheduling model, you could probably assume, is a better TV matchup makes for better ratings, and hence more revenue for the league. And they believe FCS teams don’t make for good TV matchups, which in several cases is true. But does the average viewer/fan out there really care about the difference between Penn State playing Ball State or Youngstown State?
I see it as an issue that was brought up by the Big Ten and will just go away. And I put it under the bigger-fish-to-fry category. Also, this decision was made by athletic directors/administrators and eventually, some coaches in the Big Ten whose teams have no sniff at a national title may come to the conclusion bowl-eligible wins are more important than so-called good TV matchups. If all FBS teams took FCS games out of the equation, you have to wonder if there would be enough bowl eligible teams out there. That’s a lot of victories off the table.
Indiana has to play an FCS team. So should Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue.There are a few others like Iowa and Penn State who are in the midst of being mediocre. And, really, the Big Ten should ask this question for the greater good of college football: What is the right thing to do?
Well the news isn’t good for the FCS; the Big 10 announced Sunday that they a scheduling model for 2016 that will allow for 9 conference games; at least 1 game against a BCS conference team and NO FCS games. There are many ripples to this; none bigger than NDSU’s scheduled game at Iowa in 2016, Gene Taylor told me tonight he will speak with Iowa AD Gary Barta this week; but is going forward with the thought the game will be played until he hears otherwise. More reaction here.
Spring Football for 2013 is in the books; we knew heading in it was going to be a different look than past years and that certainly was the case this entire month; wrapping up with the spring game. What do we learn about this team? Not much that we didn’t already know; quarterbacks look solid; running backs will be good; offensive line returns plenty (although center is still up in the air); defensive line found some depth this spring; especially in South walk-on Danny Luecke; who had a great spring; linebackers was the big question mark coming in; Esley Thorton established himself in my mind as a guy that NDSU can count on in the fall; his body has transformed and he made some nice plays on the ball to convince me at that spot. MJ Stumpf had flashes; but is still pretty raw; but I think will play. In the secondary; I thought CJ Smith had a great spring; he’ll get a look of looks at the opposite corner of Marcus Williams; but Zach Colvin, Brendin Pierre and Jordan Champion will all be in the mix. Special teams is one of the best units in the country; Adam Keller returns after a record setting season; Ben LeCompte got better as the year went along and Michael Murphy enters his 4th year as the long snapper. Join Jeff and I as we recap yesterday and look ahead to the official offseason now with Kansas State a little over 4 months away.
With the NFL Draft in front of us this weekend; it’s interesting to note one year from now could be another significant event for the NDSU football team with the prospects of having multiple players selected in the draft. Many readers of this blog believe Marcus Williams is an NFL draft prospect and I’m not here to debate that; I believe that as well. Williams case may be helped in the past couple of years for FCS cornerbacks being selected; starting with Janoris Jenkins and the Rams and Trumaine Johnson with the Dolphins (Rams) last year; Jenkins played at North Alabama after a couple years at Florida and was drafted in the 2nd round; while Johnson starred at Montana; before also being selected by the Rams in the 3rd round. More and more FCS players are climbing up draft boards; there should be a couple this weekend to keep an eye on; Southeastern Louisiana’s Robert Alford; a standout DB; and JJ Wilcox; who played running back for Georgia Southern against NDSU in the FCS semis; is a projected strong safety draft pick.
Williams has all the accolades you could want; All-American; all-time interception record holder; and dynamic special teams player. Most fans would agree that his tackling is the biggest thing he needs to work on for his senior season; that non-tackle on Dominique Swope in the GSU game will not look good on a scouts tape; but his interceptions against Youngstown and SDSU will also speak loudly.
The second guy in my mind is Billy Turner. The moment Turner was inserted into the lineup at Northern Iowa in 2010; he’s continued to impress; to the point where you just expect not to see any pressure from the defensive line on the left side of the Bison O-line. Turner is a physical specimen; at 6’6, 300 pounds and while his highlight tape will not be as impressive as Marcus, you have to believe that NFL scouts will see his size and his footwork and want to draft him. Turner will be a four year starter and has already blocked for four 1,000 yard rushers; his challenge will be to get noticed when there are usually a ton of great offensive line prospects each and every year. Is it a slam dunk these guys get drafted? No way; injuries; bad seasons, could derail those plans; but a year out; things look good for what many will call two of NDSU’s best and become the 1st pair of Bison to be drafted since 2001 when Lamar Gordon and Pete Campion were drafted.
NDSU players heard another voice talk about complacency, and the dangers of it, this week when former Appalachian State head coach Jerry Moore came to Fargo. It was the idea of head coach Craig Bohl, who approached Moore about it at the coaches convention in January. Bohl and Moore go way back to when both were at the University of Nebraska, Bohl as a player and graduate assistant and Moore as the wide receivers coach.
Moore is an interesting guy. He apparently didn’t leave Appalachian on his terms but he also won’t compromise the school in any way, either. He said he wouldn’t have come here if App State hadn’t made the move to FBS. In other words, even though he’s no longer head coach and some say was pushed out because he wasn’t in favor of the school going FBS, he’s still mindful that a trip to another rival FCS school could be considered helping somebody other than the Mountaineers.
Moore talked to the players Tuesday night on the dangers of distractions. He told me that, yes, his program did win three straight FCS titles, but the talent was there to do five straight. Montana beat App State in the final seconds one year in the playoffs and a lack of focus by both players and coaches was the problem in 2008, one year after the third straight title.
My sense is he got the attention of the players. Quarterback Brock Jensen tweeted a photo of him and Moore, calling the coach a “legend.” It was a good move by Bohl bringing in another voice to talk about what it really takes to make it to a title game.