The Next Step

Now that NDSU has made a decision on head coach, the first order of business for Dave Richman is to make sure the four signed incoming freshmen intend to honor their commitment. Mark Miller from reported Thursday that Paul Miller intends to keep his commitment to NDSU for next year. I spoke with Germantown (WI) head coach Steve Showalter today he said that Jake Showalter (his son) and Evan Wesenberg plan to meet with the Bison coaches about their status. Have not heard any change of commitment from Prior Lake’s Jon Sobaski, the other signed commitment. NDSU has two scholarships left to play with, a JUCO big man is coming in for a visit this weekend for Richman to look at.

Some other news tonight; the rumor that we heard over the weekend became official as Western Illinois head coach Jim Molinari resigned as head coach of the Leathernecks. The full story is here from Peoria, with comments from Molinari, confirming he is joining Tim Miles’ staff at Nebraska.

Jim Molinari has resigned from Western Illinois to join Tim Miles at Nebraska.

Molinari leaves Macomb after completing revamping that program, the Leathernecks were bad for a while, but he turned the team into nearly an NCAA tourney team, losing to SDSU in the Summit League final in 2012. WIU made back to back CBIs in 2012 and ’13.

With Molinari leaving, that makes five of the current eight Summit League schools that will have new coaches in 2014-15. NDSU (Dave Richman); USD (Craig Smith); IPFW (Jon Coffman); IUPUI (Jason Garnder) and now WIU. It’s a league that we have got used to schools going back and forth, and now coaches are on the move and that’s a good sign that you have successful teams in a successful league. Add in Oral Roberts, who’s had a solid team for years and what you have is a pretty solid league that’s more stable than it was even 12 months ago.

Lastly, this story seemed crazy 12 months ago when first blogged about, but now it seems there is some serious steam about the possibility about Missouri State moving up to FBS and join the Sun Belt Conference. Brent Thibodeaux, who covers Texas State football for Rivals, tweeted Wednesday that the Sun Belt is hopeful for a 12th school in this order: James Madison – 1st, Missouri State – 2nd and Liberty a distant 3rd.


While this news may shock or at least surprise some Bison fans, we’ve been hearing the rumors about Missouri State for a while. The renovation of Plaster Field is a real thing, they have a live camera that you can see the construction going on in Springfield. The Bears have not tore up FCS in recent years, 25-42 since 2008, Mo State won five games this past season, the most since 2010. The Sun Belt is eager to add a 12th school so that the league can stage a championship game at the end of the year for added revenue, and the reason why this is happening and soon is because the deadline to move up for 2015 is June 1st. The actual geographic footprint makes sense for the Sun Belt, despite the additions of two schools in Georgia and one in North Carolina, the rest of the league isn’t that far from Missouri (2 in Arkansas, 2 in Louisiana, 2 in Alabama, 2 in Texas). Western Kentucky is leaving for Conference USA on July 1, but with the additions of Georgia Southern and App State, the league will sit at 11 for this coming football season. We’ve known for a while that James Madison has been sought after, I don’t believe the Sun Belt is their fit, I think they want C-USA, and join their rivals from Old Dominion. As crazy as this is to think, this could happen and soon.

I’ll leave this post with this thought. If Missouri State does decide to leave, that brings the Missouri Valley Football Conference back to 9 teams. On one had you can return to a format where each team plays everybody. On another hand, there could be a possibility that if Mo State is gone, is it inconceivable to think that Patty Viverito and Tom Douple get on the same page and talk to UND? The Summit League would love to get to an even number and that would get them 10. I know Bison fans you can freak out know, but that’s why it’s a blog. Enjoy.

44 thoughts on “The Next Step

  1. Can we get a team in our conference that can actually compete? Would rather have EIU. Why not write about the possibility of MSU leaving and opening the door for NDSU in the MVC?

    • EIU got blasted in the playoffs at SDSU who turned around and got whipped the next round by us. Every now and then they get a phenom QB (Romo, Garappalo). But they’d add no more from a competitive standpoint. They’re not that much of an ad.

  2. My desire to join the MVC is waning compared to a few years ago. With the losses of Creighton and possibly MO State and Wichita (possible, not saying they area gone . . . would NDSU prefer to play with Drake, Evansville, Loyola, and Bradley over USD, SDSU, Denver, ORU, Omaha. It might be the right time to stay in the Summit.

    The only move out of the Summit should be to a FBS league, not the MVC. The Summit can be better than the MVC in 5 years if it keeps on building.

  3. the mvc is not a significantly better conference at this point. I don’t think anyone wants to deal with a bunch of basketball-only private schools. i would guess that the mvc would pick up uic or uw-m

  4. Wherever NDSU would go or not go, stay or not stay, I say grab our buddy, SDSU and take them with. I agree with Herd, in that Basketball we have a good group to play against. If we go Missouri Valley Conf. across the Board, the first call should be to SDSU. I do not know if we want a Hockey School joining any conference we are in when they cant even win in Hockey. (Had to throw that jab) as Dom started it!!!! :)

    • Unless goat-roping is now a NCAA sanctioned event, we’re still waiting for NDSU to win their first title at the highest level of competition in a collegiate sport.

        • Nope, just stating facts. Unless Ndsu has won a title at the highest level and you can prove me wrong?

          • Just saying that UND has won at the highest level in Hockey, but so has Minn. Duluth and they don’t even play FCS football. Just saying if you don’t think that FCS football means anything you can’t possibly think D-I hockey does either. You wanna sit and hate on NDSU athletes who are out busting their butts while having great success and you put them down. You are a class act Fish. If NDSU is such a joke why are you on the Bison blog? I have never been on the Sioux blog! UND has a great hockey program, one of the elite in the country, but Sioux fans like you get off putting down college kids telling them their accomplishments mean nothing. So does the UND women getting to the NCAA basketball tourney mean nothing because they didn’t win it all? Why do I waste my time . . .

          • Highest level, huh? Ok, Quinnipac U from some town in Ct. This year Union College from Schenectady, NY, (I guess). Just be thankful the power conferences other than the Big Ten don’t play hockey. Would really suck if the SEC or the Pac 12 played hockey, huh?

          • Yes, Heathcliff… is the highest level of competition. Again, just stating facts here….no need for you to get defensive or jealous.

  5. Interesting hearing Missouri State could be moving up, I never would have thought it. I don’t blame them though, might as well go to an easier Conference in all aspects for them. I was always one that was pushing to go get into the Missouri Valley for all sports, but now I do have to agree, that is suddenly becoming an unattractive Conference. If the Summit plays its cards right, and I do believe they need to expand more, the Summit will be a better Conference to stay in then moving to another mid major type. I would like the Summit to attract more Schools with Football teams, have their own sponsorship of football, then we can make a clean break from the Missouri Valley. They can have their Loyola’s and pretend to be a basketball league. If that would happen, I would ask UND once if they want in instead of the travel heavy big fluff, if not, enjoy your constant west coast trips, and the rivalries with Portland State and Idaho State. One question I have is, is Denver happy in the Summit League? They changed Conferences 3 years in a row, do they feel they found a home in the Summit? I really thought this was a move down for them and that they would clean house across the board, but this does seem more like more competition for them.

  6. I don’t see the other schools in the MVFC agreeing to add UND. They didn’t want to add USD so can’t see them adding a school even farther away. I think EIU would probably be a better fit geographically right now. I think YSU would have to leave before UND would be considered.

    That said I have a hard time seeing MoSt going to the Sunbelt. First of all do they really have the money to do it. It’s one thing to renovate a stadium but if the seats aren’t filled what good is it. Secondly the Sunbelt wants to add another eastern team to balance out the league. Right now it’s western heavy, that impacts a lot of schools travel costs. Thirdly do you really think Mizzou wants another FBS school in state?

    • Good points about MSU’s attendance. It seems as though they can’t fill their stadium for even when the Bison visit. You would think that the Sun Belt higher-ups would notice that.
      I’m betting that JMU is going to take the offer, and then the question becomes: what does Delaware, Liberty, and (NDSU?) do????

  7. Youngstown will never vote for und to get into the conference. Another trip to the Dakotas? Most football teams will say no thank you.

    What does und bring other than a bus trip?

    • I would think the schedulers wouldn’t ask YSU to travel two times a season the Dakotas. They can work that out.

  8. Would just love to see the FCS fold up. Re-align the entire NCAA field. Have the big Five conferences in the BCS. This would eliminate all the should we do this should we do that talk. Then of course move to a playoff system to determine the Nat’l champs

  9. I’ve heard Eastern Illinois is the target for any future MVFC additions. That will keep YSU and the Illinois schools happy. There is only room for one ND school in the Missouri Valley.

  10. Let und lie by their filthy dish and enjoy the bed they lie in as well. They are cursed because of their past let’s leave them to rot.

    NDSU to mountain west or mac really needs to happen as the fcs is a sinking ship and it’s watered down playoffs (24 teams really??) Is d2 all over again.

    NDSU conquered it in 4 years and own it, time to “bring on the competition! “

    • Wow, you certainly have a passion and follow every move of our neighbors to the north. Did your meds expire?

    • Not a geographic fit. Fargo brings nothing in terms of a media market for either league. Why don’t people understand these things? Seriously, if results mattered, do you think Missouri State would be ahead of us in the pecking order? They have a better location and bigger TV market (also within the KC/St. Louis markets too).

      Besides which, what happens if NDSU stops having 11-0 national championship seasons in football? What if we go to 8-4, 7-5, 9-3 with no titles? This is a great run, but it won’t last forever.

  11. My question is, why not NDSU as a football-only member to the Sun Belt?

    They currently have this with Idaho and New Mexico State.

    Of course the problem is that the Sub Belt would prefer to have an all-sports member and Missouri State fits that bill. The Virginia schools are farther outside the Sun Belt all-sports footprint, while MSU is much closer to it (about 200mi to Jonesboro and Little Rock from Springfield, compared to about 300mi to Boone from Harrisonburg and much more to the rest).

    But if for some reason Idaho or NM St football leave the Sun Belt, they’ll need a 12th team again. Not sure where either of those teams would go. but it’s not impossible that either of them could one day join the Mountain West if more teams split off or if they add BYU in football.

    The Sun Belt’s other option would be trying to convince Little Rock or Arlington to add football, but those are unlikely.

    As far as the MVFC goes, the hands down winner is Eastern Illinois. They’d be with every Illinois FCS football team in the MVFC (Southern, Western and State), a big upgrade for them competitively as well and then they’d have an all-sports rivalry with Western Illinois in the Summit as well as two close neighbors in the IUPU schools.

    But will they want to leave the OVC, which is a much easier league to win in football and arguably better (at worst a lateral move) in basketball? And another thing which can’t be ignored is EIU’s past history with the MidContinent conference. It was a founded member of that conference (the precursor to the Summit) and then left. Shouldn’t matter in my opinion, but you never know.

    UND is the second best choice, but we all know the problems here: location/travel and past history with NDSU. I think Gene Taylor would have to leave NDSU before UND would get NDSU’s vote (unless the president ignores him).

    Last but not least, there shouldn’t be any doubt in NDSU fans’ minds about leaving SDSU behind. They have their true rival, USD, in both of their conferences. Here is the evidence:

    Good for them both, I hope that partnership continues to work well for them. We no longer have to consider the “forced” rivalry with SDSU to be valid. NDSU football can move on, hopefully into the FBS in the near future!

    • So we’re angry at SDSU because they actually play their in-state rival and want to move to just become an island in the Dakotas with no rivalries playing to make it to the New Orleans Bowl against some MAC team every year?

      You do realize this is the future that will come if NDSU did what you wanted right? That’s big time? Thankfully that has no chance of happening.

  12. I agree with realigning the whole thing and let the 5 power conferences have the BCS and all the other conferences-FBS have have a real playoff system. There will be some schools in old FCS that would drop out because of the scholarships and additional cost. When scheduling the nonconference schedule leave the week before conference starts, 3rd weekend in Sept. open for Poll Buster weekend where the teams in the final polls of BCS and FBS of the previous season meet. Played in BCS stadiums with a guarenteed payout to the FBS schools based on ranking. So 25 games all the major networks and cable. Just a thought.

  13. I don’t feel that NDSU needs to be in a hurry to move up to 85 scholarships. But my opinion could change. If there is a realignment we will be involved, and it likely we be at a scholarship level between 70-85. I don’t see a lot of value in joining a Sunbelt type league right now.

  14. Like the rest of you I am not so sure about the MVC anymore either. I don’t think the Bison want to deal with a bunch of schools who don’t have or want football. As much as I hate the Sioux it does make sense for them to join the Summit and MVFC. The Bison have dominated the football conference and SDSU has made the playoffs the last two years. I would bet that USD and UND will both be good FCS football programs in 3 or 4 years. As far as basketball goes the Bison and the Jacks have won the tourney 4 of 7 years and the Jacks women have won 6 of 7 with USD winning this year. The Sioux have great facilities and USD is in the process of getting new facilities too. We know the Jacks and Bison are doing the same as we speak. I think the four Dakota schools could be the power of the Summit league and the Missouri Valley Football conference. I agree only ask UND once, no begging, in the end they need the three Dakota schools more than the Dakota schools need them. As far as FBS we should wait ’til the big boys realign everything. Then we see what happens. I still think the BCS schools (85 scholarships) will be the top Football division at the D-I level and the top FCS schools will join with the remaining FBS(non-BCS) schools to form the second D-I Football level with maybe 73 scholarships. The lower level of FCS schools would remain at 63 scholarships and would be the 3rd level of D-I football. Things will happen really fast once the BCS schools decide what they are going to do. I wonder if it comes to moving up and going to 73 Football scholarships if any of the Dakota schools would have trouble with that? We all know in Fargo we could do 85 pretty quick but not so sure how even 73 would go in places like Vermillion. On a basketball note, let’s hope Dave can land the JUCO coming in we need another big fella if not two of them! Go Bison!

  15. It makes perfect sense to have UND join the Summit/MVC. But I don’t think it will happen as long as Gene Taylor is the at NDSU. He’s the last link to the mess when UND chose to not to transition with us, and thus the really bitter/bad blood between the two schools. I think once Gene moves on we’ll see more movement there but (thankfully for NDSU since he is probably the best AD the school has ever had) until then I think he’ll do everything possible to keep the two schools distanced.

  16. I don’t see UND having any interest in making this move. the Summit merry-go-round lacks any stability. Cripes there were barely enough teams left in basketball this year to get an auto bid to the tournament. 4 years ago the MVFC had no interest in UND or USD, until they heard both schools were intending to join the Big Sky. The Summit did not want to lose USD, so in a hurried up conference call amongst school Presidents, USD was quickly accepted into the MVFC and Summit even though the MVFC didn’t really want them.
    A short 4 years later, I am baffled anyone talks about giving UND a “one time chance”, to join up with these conferences. The answer 4 years ago was, “no, we’ll take USD, but not UND.” UND has moved on. To a more stable, one conference environment, where there isn’t constant talk of who is leaving or who might stay.

    • Oh, I know UND would listen to a MVFC/Summit offer if it ever came. UND doesn’t like the 3 time zones and the travel expenses of the Big Sky. Brewster, their women’s bb coach even said such, that the time difference and travel took a lot out of his team. The Summit is very stable and now the conference has the I29 corridor locked up.

  17. If UND wants to join Summit and MVFC they should ask otherwise there is no reason to ask them or debate the topic. They seem happy with the Big Sky and the Summit and MCFC are doing fine without them.

    The Missouri Valley Football Conference will not miss Missouri St. It’s almost unbelievable that an FBS conference would want or take them.

  18. Would it make sense to get with some of the near-by fcs powers (The montana schools, uni, etc) and create a “Super North” conference that could move to FBS as an entire conference if it wanted? I was going to include Youngstown state and SDSU on my list up there but looking at the other comments, some people want SDSU, some don’t, and Youngstown is a little ways out there. I realize this idea was thrown together in about 3 seconds, so mind putting in your opinion on what would make this better(saying this idea is bad doesn’t count as a way of making it better) Even if they don’t move to FBS as a conference, there would still be great competition in there.

    • I like the super conference idea with the four Dakota schools and two Montana schools in a western Division and then take UNI, Southern Illinois and four others of your choice for the east and see what happens. Go Bison!

  19. It seems like a lot of people are concerned about the possibility of UND coming to the Summit/MVFC. Any thing is possible. I truly believe that even after weighing all the positives and negatives of the 2 conference situations, UND is still thrilled to be in the Big Sky. From a fan perspective the Big Sky television situation is spectacular. We can stay at home and watch every game on the road or at home in all the main sports live or on demand. As a fan it doesn’t matter to me how far apart the schools are because I get watch all the games in my living room if I want too. The Big Sky is great. Plus the Big Sky has a lot of great locations. The athletes think it is great to travel to all the Western states. UND doesn’t need a different conference.

    • Allan you make good points. You could be right maybe the Sioux have no desire to come and I respect that, I just think for travel and rivalries they might consider it. But as a Sioux fan I am sure you have a much better feel for what is going on there than I do.

  20. Thanks for your response. I wouldn’t have a problem with either scenario but I have a feeling UND might take a look at the Summit/MVFC, but I really do believe they are satisfied with the present situation. The negative is of course is they do have to spend more money getting to the locations in the Big Sky over the Summit. If UND feels they are going to be able to handle the finances they will stay in the Big Sky..

  21. Also, for the most part UND plays all the rivals still except for NDSU in football. UND still plays NDSU, SDSU, and USD in all the sports.

  22. The Summit and MVFC are great for the Bison. Midwest locations in the central time zone. Also, must people forget, these conferences are in the Bison recruiting footprint, which is important to the student athletes and their families. The location of the Summit/MVFC definitely helps recruiting those regional kids instead of being in the Big Sky footprint.

  23. I like the idea of Eastern Illinois for football over UND because travel isn’t an issue and they would strengthen the conference. But UND in the Summit is a no brainer. Heavy travel and a league with needed stability

  24. As a UND Alum and Fan, I also support NDSU, except when they play UND. I like the Big Sky and like the idea of one league for all sports, except of course Hockey, but I do think the Big Sky is much better than being in one conference for football and then another conference with 1/2 of the teams changing for other sports (MVFC/Summit), especially with the revolving door of the Summit. That being said, I think UND to the MFVC/Summit isn’t a bad idea, but Gene Taylor will never get over his EGO and let it happen.

    I also think NDSU,SDSU,USD all moving to the Big SKY is not a bad idea also. Then they would have Football in the same conference as most other sports (not sure about baseball or wrestling). I do think that in the near future UND & NDSU will again be in the same conference. Gene Taylor will most likely move up, like some of his coaches, and then NDSU will be more willing to look at things more logically.

    • Why would the Dakota 3 schools want to move from the MVFC/Summit to the Big Sky? That doesn’t make sense at all. Extra travel costs, games at 10 PM Fargo time, locations outside of the Midwest recruiting area. The Big Sky doesn’t make sense. As far as stability of the Summit, that question has been answered. The core group of the Summit has been together for years now and the additions like Denver and Oral Roberts only make the league much better than the Big Sky.

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