And We’re Set

The 2014 football schedule was wrapped up yesterday as NDSU announced it will play 12 games for the first time in school history; six at home and six on the road. Weber State raised some eyebrows from what I’ve been able to gather on the blog, but it makes sense to this reporter.

NDSU last played at Weber State in 2004; a 31-17 Bison win.

NDSU head coach Chris Klieman seems to be embracing a different scheduling philosophy of that of his predecessor and that’s not a bad thing. The Bison had racked up 44 games heading into last season, so you could understand why avoiding a 12th game made all the sense in the world. We have spoken plenty about the amount of experience that returns in 2014, but for the amount of guys that are back, there’s plenty that have not seen many reps, and that’s where actual games can help and that’s where a 12th game can be huge, especially against an opponent where you believe you can win. You can argue that playing another game makes you that more susceptible to injuries and there’s no arguing that, but on the flip side, an extra game could be the difference between making the playoffs and sitting out.

Weber State is not Eastern Washington, Delaware or Maine. The Wildcats have had three straight losing seasons, the last two with just two wins, they are now on their third coach in 22 months, John L. Smith left to take over at Arkansas after Bobby Petrino resigned, Jody Sears came in and went 4-19 and now former Utah assistant Jay Hill was hired in December. This is a program that is near the bottom of the FCS, it’s a perfect game for an NDSU team that expects to be very good, and after testing itself against a BCS school, can perhaps get a better gauge of its own team playing against a squad that has 63 scholarships. How often have I blogged about how hard it has been for NDSU to get home games over the past four years? Perhaps that’s the lost element in this scheduling announcement, as Weber comes to Fargo next season, leaving just one open date for NDSU to fill. (I’ll leave that speculation for another blog)

I don’t understand some fans reactions about avoiding full scholarship schools; would you want to stay away from Delaware State or Tennessee Tech? Or avoiding playing Big Sky or CAA teams? In my mind the FCS NEEDS more of these games. ESPN thought well enough of the NDSU-Montana game to possibly move it a week before ANYONE plays. That’s what this division needs, they need headliner games. Now where no one will argue this NDSU-Weber game will raise the profile of the division, games against the Valley-Big Sky could be huge in terms of playoff seeding when you look at the GPI. Playing games against the highest rated conferences can only help you, even if it is against teams in the lower half of that specified conference. Eastern Washington and Northern Iowa signed up to play each other in a home and home starting in 2015, Sam Houston and Eastern will finish up a home and home this year. How many were upset about Ferris State last season? The only thing that made that game appealing was the fact that wins against D2′s didn’t hurt anymore.

NDSU’s motto is “Bring On The Competition.” The schedule in 2014 is doing that and then some, the Valley will be tough as it always is, games at UNI and Missouri State at the end of the year will be a grind, but in my mind, the games at the start of the year can help a young quarterback be ready for the challenges at the end of the season. I can understand fans wanting a 7th home game, but if the Bison do what they believe they can do, fans will be enjoying playoff games at the Fargodome next December.

One note, I’m off covering the Bison for the next few days covering the North Dakota State Hockey Tournament on WDAY, Mr. Kolpack will of course have you covered for Saturday’s BSA showdown with the Jacks, I’ll return for the live blog on Sunday night.

54 thoughts on “And We’re Set

    • I think they get green jerseys that are the same style as the new white ones they got last year. Then get a black uniform with a black helmet with yellow and green trim. On the side of the helmet have a yellow Buffalo looking right at you snorting! If we are going to be big time we gotta dress Big time. GO Bison!

      • No black on Bison uniforms! NDSU doesn’t need a gimmick like black uniforms to try and sell more merchandise. NDSU sells merchandise by winning championships. Black is not a color in the Bison colors.

        • I agree. What’s with this obsession with black anyway? Is everyone into Goth stuff again? LOL

  1. A 7th home would have been worse than 5 homegames in 2015. Had we booked a BCS team we would not have had a home return game in 2015

  2. I think Valley-Big Sky games are a great idea. In fact, I happen to know of a Big Sky team 75 miles up the road who may not be a bad opponent to start some home & homes with.

  3. Dom, what you’re talking about is exactly what Coach Stig down in Brookings did with SDSU’s program. Not sure if he does anymore, but he always played a very tough schedule – lots of games against full scholarship FCS teams in non-conference (Cal Poly).

    NDSU was ranked #1 in 2006 and 2007, should’ve done a lot better in 2008, down year in 2009 then back in 2010, national champions 2011 through 2013.

    SDSU went to the playoffs once, their first game at Montana if I recall. Although they are generally a top 25 program, they’ve done much worse than NDSU.

    So you tell me, stick with what works (Bohl’s schedule the last three years) or “Bring on the Competition” SDSU style?

    • Whoops, sorry – SDSU has also been to the playoffs the last two years and won a game both times before running into powerful programs (like Montana in 2009, NDSU – 2012, EWU – 2013).

      I did look at their schedule and to this day they continue to schedule hard. It’s Stig’s call.

      But point is, NDSU has been more successful with an easier schedule.

    • I think the big difference between NDSU’s and SDSU’s non-conference schedule is the FBS teams that each team plays. SDSU is playing teams like Nebraska, and NDSU is continuing to schedule FBS teams that they can compete with, so I don’t see this 2014 schedule as mirroring what SDSU has done (if SDSU even has a specified scheduling philosophy).

      • NDSU v SDSU non-conf since 2008 (when both programs became eligible):

        NDSU –

        08 – Austin Peay, Central Connecticut, Wyoming
        09 – Iowa St, Sam Houston, Wagner
        10 – Kansas, Morgan St, South Dakota
        11 – Lafayette, St Francis, Minnesota
        12 – Robert Morris, Colorado St, Prairie View A&M
        13 – Kansas St, Ferris St, Delaware St

        SDSU –

        08 – Stephen F Austin, McNeese, Cal Poly
        09 – GA Southern, Cal Poly, Minnesota
        10 – Delaware, Nebraska, North Dakota
        11 – Southern Utah, Illinois, Cal Poly
        12 – Kansas, SE Louisiana, UC Davis
        13 – Butler, North Dakota, SE Louisiana, Nebraska

        Other than Butler, which was their 12th game last year, SDSU hasn’t played a single low level FCS or DII team (Southern Utah might be the closest thing, but assuming they were full scholarship in 2011).

        NDSU on the other hand has played two lower level or a DII team every year except Sam Houston in 2009 (also not sure on USD scholarship levels in 2010, but assuming not full strength).

        Lo and behold, what was the last year that NDSU played a full scholarship team non-conference *AND* started a new QB?? 2009! Does anyone remember what kind of season 2009 was?

        I rest my case.

        • Stephen F. Austin was 4-8 in ’08, GA So. was 5-6 and Cal Poly 4-7 in ’09, UND was 3-8 in ’10, So. Utah and Cal Poly 6-5 in ’11, UC Davis was 4-7 and SE LA 5-6 in ’12. It’s not like SDSU’s non-conference FCS opponents have all been powerhouses. Recognizable programs, yes, but not all were good teams in the respective years that they played SDSU. On the FBS side, SDSU played Illinois and Nebraska twice.
          Also, the 2009 season featured Mike Breske’s defense at NDSU, which was a major reason why the 2009 season was so poor for NDSU.

          • Thanks for the good counter-arguments, Patrick!

            Your points are good and valid.

            But take a look at this:

            Since the 2008 season, NDSU & SDSU have played in the following playoff games (excluding the national championship game):

            NDSU:
            2010 – HOME – Robert Morris – W
            2010 – away – MT St – W
            2010 – away – Eastern Wash – L
            2011 – HOME – James Madison – W
            2011 – HOME – Lehigh – W
            2011 – HOME – GA Southern – W
            2012 – HOME – SDSU – W
            2012 – HOME – Wofford – W
            2012 – HOME – GA Southern – W
            2013 – HOME – Furman – W
            2013 – HOME – Coastal – W
            2013 – HOME – New Hampshire – W

            SDSU:
            2009 – away – Montana – L
            2012 – HOME – Eastern Ill – W
            2012 – away – NDSU – L
            2013 – away – Northern AZ – W
            2013 – away – Eastern Wash – L

            Therefore, I think the punch line goes like this: more wins in the regular season –> more likely to host playoff games –> more likely to win playoff games.

            It’s not any kind of absolute rule, but I think the data would show it is a valid trend.

            And so, it gets NDSU nothing by playing riskier games in the non-conference schedule.

            To Dom’s point about it “being better for FCS”, that’s unquestionably true – but so what? The only thing that matters is how NDSU does, not how the sub-division does.

            That’s my feeling, anyway.

          • I’d rather not have NDSU play riskier games either. I completely agree with you on that. I just don’t think Montana in the Fargodome and Weber St. on the road are risky games for NDSU this year.

          • People complain about a schedule being too boring (last year’s non-conference) and now they don’t want too difficult non-conference opponents… what do you want?

        • Bill Snyder wasn’t the coach of Kansas State when the game with NDSU was scheduled and frankly the program wasn’t heading in the right direction. Snyder was named head coach and turned the team into a winner in between when the game was scheduled and when it was played.

          • Montana is a top program in the FCS. They’re as risky of a game as you can play, regardless of the stadium. Of course we know that NDSU doesn’t lose a lot of games in the Fargodome, but it’s a very risk game.

            Weber St – fine, I will admit that they seem unlikely to beat even a lesser talented NDSU team (about like the 2004/2005 games) – but it’s still slightly more risky than playing a team that we all know has zero chance to win in the Fargodome.

            Therefore the only possible argument left is the money argument.

            Again, I agree – it sucks having to pay an FCS team $300k to come to Fargo. “You get what you pay for”, is all I can say to that. Those are guaranteed wins, which make it more likely to make the playoffs and more likely to host games which means it’s more likely to win playoff games.

            I think hosting playoff games should be the ultimate goal for the program every year, no matter what.

            Paying for wins in Fargo is what helps that agenda the most.

    • So the difference between national championships and early round playoff exits are the strength of schedule? Maybe it had more to do with actual talent on the field.

      • Silence! Everyone knows that NDSU and SDSU are identical football programs except for the OOC schedules.

  4. All that matters now is wins and it will be against another FCS team in a big name conference, which is all that matters. Get the second string guys more PT and rack up more wins.

    It was made very clear when they announced who made the playoffs that the number of wins was extremely important. This game should ensure 9+ wins which will be needed to get a seed to skip the first round game and get one or two games in the playoffs at the dome. If its close the Bison will get the benefit of the doubt, the Dome was the only game outside of Montana last year that had more than 10,000 fans at it and it was sold out three weeks in a row. No need for 7 home games when the potential for 2-3 more in the playoffs is out there.

    • I just want to confirm your logic on the last statement there.

      - A) Six home games, travelling out to a Big Sky team which has higher risk for a loss than playing a low FCS or DII team in Fargo, thus higher risk for not making the playoffs or hosting fewer playoff games (no seed)

      - B) Seven home games, no traveling to Big Sky, playing a low FCS or DII team in Fargo, which is less risk for a loss and therefore lower risk for not making the players, more likely to host additional games in Fargo

      You’re saying that A is better than B?

      That logic doesn’t quite work for me…

      • I would say taking a home and home with an FCS and guaranteeing a home game you do that 10 out of 10 times, consider the mess of how difficult it is to get teams to come to Fargo? NDSU nearly had to pay 300K to get 1 team to come here for a game last season, if you can avoid that and guarantee yourself a game for the following season, why not take it? You’re not going to travel to a D-2 team and with your opinion, correct me if I’m off, would you like NDSU to buy out of its 2015 game at Montana to avoid a loss? Losses happen at home too, last two for NDSU were at the Dome. Your playoff resume in most committee members eyes would look far better with a road win at Montana than a home win over North Carolina A&T.

    • Ferris State isn’t on the 2014 schedule, as they were only a last minute replacement game for Montana St. that back out. And Incarnate World would finish in the top half of the Big Sky Conference.

  5. Thank you Dom! I felt like I was taking crazy pills with how some people were complaining about the schedule. NDSU will take care of Montana and will DESTROY Weber St. I’m not sure what a “full strength” FCS team is, but Weber St. does not fit that definition whatsoever. Teams do not want to come to Fargo to play, so considering that obstacle, I think NDSU did a good job of filling out a relatively desirable football schedule.

    • Your old RA says well put Patrick T. Teams just don’t want to come to Fargo so they have to work around it.

  6. More FCS programs are happy to schedule SDSU since they feel like they have a great shot to win the game.

    FCS programs don’t like to play in Fargo since the Dome is sold out and very loud and it is pretty much a guaranteed loss.

    You can’t compare how the Bison and the Jacks schedule since the other team has to be willing to play you.

    • What about the teams (or should I say team) that has tried to schedule NDSU, but NDSU refuses to play them? After the Weber State scheduling, GT’s excuses aren’t making sense anymore. LOL.

      • Actually, it does give Gene Taylor a pretty good excuse to avoid scheduling UND in 2015:

        - 2015 is a year where a maximum of 11 games can be scheduled
        - NDSU already has 10 games scheduled: 5 home, 5 away, 8 conference games and 2 games already with Big Sky teams (at Montana, vs Weber)

        Thus, does NDSU really want to play 11 teams that offer 63 scholarships that year?

        It seems to me that the 11th game should be a guaranteed win type of a game. UND isn’t that, I’m afraid.

      • Did UND have an open date this year??? No, you work with what you have. There is more in play than what you say are GT excuses. Playing UND is not NDSU’s #1 priority or should it be. Just like UND playing NDSU shouldn’t be it’s #1 priority. Both are in different conferences and have completely different schedules. Get it through your thick head.

  7. It’s easy to quit something. UND quit the Dakotas and quit scheduling NDSU. You can quit alone but it takes the cooperation of others to get back in.

    UND can play any time but they refuse to pay a fair price and have an inflated opinion of their value in the Fabulous Fargo Dome.

  8. It’s easy to quit, you do that by yourself. To get back in you need the cooperation of those you have snubbed. UND quit scheduling NDSU yrs ago.

    They could play NDSU anytime if the would offer the right price or drop their inflated idea of their valu in The Fabulous Fargo Dome.

    • For the record, NDSU did offer to play UND when NDSU went Division I but Roger Thomas didn’t want it because NDSU would have an advantage with scholarships.

      • Also Chad, recall that at the time, the NCAA discouraged playing teams from other competitive levels. For example, a D 2 team would have received more “points” in their system for determining playoff teams by beating a creampuff D2 squad, than they would have received for defeating a D1aa team. So UND was not about to jeopardize its D 2 playoff chances at the time.

        • So what you are saying is UND would rather have DII playoffs instead of playing its rival NDSU. Well, I guess UND got exactly what they wanted then! Enjoy the DII playoffs!

          • At the time, yes, of course UND would rather play games to further its own playoff chances instead of being penalized by playing the team that left the conference and thus ended the rivalry.. Just like currently, any FCS team hoping to get to the 7, 8 or D1 win mark to hopefully make the playoffs, will not schedule D2 schools. It doesn’t matter to me if UND/NDSU play again or not. I just find GT’s prior statements quite humorous in light of him now scheduling Weber St.

  9. We’d rather play FBS teams and if ndsu is truly uses the motto “bring on the competition” then where’s our fan base 100% backing of pursuing the mountain west?

    Coach bohl was right what else is there to do at this level people? Please answer this question because no one will

  10. We played in Division 2 for a very, very long time and won a lot of championships.

    What more is there to do in this Division? How bout win as many Championship as we did in D2? Hell, lets go win a 4th championship in a row, just to own *that* record.

    If we go FBS, I don’t forsee us going to national championships inside of ten years. In which case, why bother? Sure, we’re good. We might even be able to play with the best of the FBS with last years team – but going FBS requires money that NDSU simply doesn’t, and won’t have – and a competition space we simply won’t fill.

    Lets build a dominant legacy here at FCS. Ten, maybe twenty years from now look at FBS.

    Or maybe the great fallout will happen and we’ll have some ‘big’ schools being brought into our level. Either way – its a good time to be a Bison.

  11. “Bring on the Competition”….unless it is a intra-state rivalry, then we want nothing to do with it! Bring on Incarnate Word!!!!!!!

    • You got it!! Kansas St last year, Montana this year. Incarnate Word this year, who would finish in the top half of the Big Sky Conference. The Bison did bring on the competition. O yes, don’t forget all of the competition in the Missouri Valley best football conference in FCS.

  12. Hey sdsu guy. Maybe if the SDSU could beat the Bison, then you could have more home playoff games. Until then, you have no no ground to stand on about scheduling. How many FBS wins do the rabbits have? I rest my case.

  13. The scholarship excuse simply proves und will not play anybody, any time, any where.

    Home/home. out of the question unless a huge kicker is given to NDSU, say $175,000 to make up for the 8,000 seat difference and the fact average seat revenue for a und football game at the hilarious is about $7.

    Und is worth about $150,00 plus travel expenses to play in Fargo. They couldnt do better with a home game. NDSU is worth FBS game money to play in Grand Forks.

    NDSU is the dominate football force in the tri-state area. it controls the market and will get a huge share of the regional audience when on TV. Und not so much if at all. Why give them that. They quit, and you do that alone. To get back in you need the cooperation of the others.

    Play them when NDSU has a hockey team to bargin with.

  14. I know Iowa State has been in a similar situation, when it comes to Iowa, as NDSU finds itself with scheduling and the university of north dakota. I think there was a period of about 30-40 yrs Iowa State never played the hawk eyes. UND quit playing NDSU 10 yrs ago when we moved up. They said playing NDSU wouldn’t be fair because of the scholarship difference.

    Now und has one of the worst football teams in the country and have had ever since NDSU moved on. They don’t win and they dont draw flies. They desperately want to play NDSU but it isnt in the cards just yet.

    They insist on a perpetual home/home and have turned down several single game contracts without counters. In that time they have never extended a contract to NDSU because they state it must be a home/home forever.

    Well we have about 9,000 more seats than they do so when we are up there we are giving up at least $100,000 more than they are when they are in Fargo.

    The BISON are also sold out as far as the eye can see so unless a big premium can be tacked onto the ticket there is no economic advantage to NDSU when Und travels to Fargo. On the other hand they will probably sell out the BISON game in grand forks. It will be the only sell out of the season so I expect the economic advantage of a home/home is well in excess of $100,000/game for UND.

    Of course they dont acknowledge any of this. They continue to act the part of Thad and Chip at “teh hockies” game with their green dickies and frostbitten toes explaining how its typical of the cow college to duck them at football. It doesnt matter NDSU is guaranteed at least a 70 or 80 share of the regional TV market when the BISON are on, EVEN WHEN THE UND GAMES ARE ON! They dont realize NDSU doesnt need them on the “Big Stage” and doesnt even what them on the schedule for that very reason.

    I just hope our AD doesnt sign with them. It will be a public relations nightmare with NDSU getting the worst of it. There is nothing to be gained. We would be better off playing the regional D2 schools and giving them a nice guarantee. ST. Marys Bismarck is almost good enough to think they have a prayer in Fargo and they are building the program for that day. I hope they get it in gear quickly and NDSU can quelch this media frenzy and push from und to resume play.

    Best scenario 2 for 1: NDSU home in 2016/2017. UND game will be played last. NDSU plays the first two and buys out the und game. We will insist on a reasonable buyout price stating the possibility of NDSU having much better opportunities, i.e. a move to FBS or a big game with a BCS school. Take it or leave it.

    That situation will give NDSU control over that very volatile public relations situation. If the university continues to act in the manner they have become accustomed they will certainly be bought out. if they go lay by their dish we might play the 3rd game.

    That could solve the und problem for at least 5 yrs.

  15. What about back to back to back championships. Great team and great scheduling. Ha ha I got the last word.