Changing Up

First off thanks to everyone that read and commented on the blog over the last two weeks on our countdown of top moments this school year, understand that some disagreed with what we selected, but that was the fun part about it. We’ll have another video countdown coming in the next two weeks that will get people geared up for the start of the football season that I think you’ll enjoy.

As many know July 1 signifies the start of a new school year and it also signifies the start date of many schools switching leagues. While this year there isn’t nearly as many as there have been in past years, there are still some that have direct and indirect impact on NDSU.

Oral Roberts marks its return to the Summit League today.


The Golden Eagles return to the Summit League after a two year run in the Southland Conference. The immediate impact is obvious in basketball, despite the fact that ORU hasn’t won the conference tournament title since NDSU or SDSU became eligible in 2009. But their track record adds credibility to a league that suddenly looks a bit better than it did two years ago. Oral Roberts is coming off two average seasons, 17-16 this past season, 20-15 the year before with a trip to the CIT quarters. The impact isn’t just in men’s basketball, women’s basketball has been a consistently solid squad, women’s golf and volleyball have been good and baseball has been off the charts dominating, winning 15 consecutive titles before leaving in 2012. The Eagles bring the Summit League to 9 schools for 2014-15, 8 eligible for the postseason, Omaha is still in its transition, the most important sport for ORU to have an impact on is baseball, that brings the league to six and ┬ákeeps its NCAA requirement to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.


The Mountaineers and Eagles started their transition last year, but are now full fledged members of the Sun Belt as of today. There’s no denying that Bison fans will be fully plugged into how ASU and GSU perform this fall considering the success they had at the FCS level. Each are still trying to get into the recruiting game and get up to speed with the rest of the conference, Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State were the class of the league last year and the additions of New Mexico State and Idaho are certainly not going to bulk up the strength. It’s not unreasonable to think that these two schools can be contenders in the league and even make a bowl within a couple of years(ineligible till 2015). Mark your calendars for September 25th, the two schools play each other as FBS teams for the first time on a Thursday night on ESPNU.


For a while the Southern Conference could argue they were the best league in the FCS with App State winning three national titles in a row and Georgia Southern being a consistent title contender. Those days are a long way off now with those two gone, and that doesn’t count Davidson, the conference’s best in basketball leaving for the A-10. Elon is leaving for the Colonial with a 10-24 record after the last three years. What’s left? Two schools NDSU knows well; Wofford and Furman, it’s safe to say those are the two that will challenge yearly for the auto-bid(throw Chattanooga into the mix as well). The league adds three teams today, Mercer, VMI and East Tennessee State, Mercer is famous for its 1st round upset of Duke this year in the NCAA basketball tournament; they just brought football back and had been playing non-scholarship in the Pioneer League. VMI has been struggling in the Big South for years and ETSU will be bringing back football in 2015 and playing at a high school field for the first two years they return. The league took the biggest hits of realignment, this could easily be a one-bid league for the FCS playoffs in 2014 and possibly for the foreseeable future.


The biggest cautionary tale out there for moving from FCS to FBS belongs to Idaho. The Vandals saw their league disintegrate around them (the WAC) and were left without a football home. Idaho’s AD has resisted all overtures about going back to FCS but it seems inevitable to not just me, but Doug Fullerton, the commissioner of the Big Sky. Idaho re-joins the Big Sky today in all sports, but one, football, where they join the Sun Belt and its nearest rival is New Mexico State. They were left on a geographical island and that’s one of the biggest reasons against a move up if you’re NDSU or Northern Iowa. You had better have some geographical allies before you go.

Those are the schools that have some impact with NDSU that are moving today, if you can figure out who’s in Conference USA and the American Athletic Conference, you’re really doing well!

17 thoughts on “Changing Up

  1. The Bison really need to get out of the crappy Summit league. The leauge is struggling to keep all sports. Outside the South Dakota Schools, there is not a team in the league that excites too much of the fanbase. Ask the casual fan, and most couldnt name any other school in the leauge except the South Dakota Schools.
    Please anyone that says Oral Roberts is back, who cares! I will venture to say noone is gonna drive to Oral Roberts for a basketball game. Also, this is a school that already left once (are traitors) and would bail in an instant again.
    The leauge isn’t ever going to come across as a good conference for anything, its a bottom dweller and schools in it are getting held down with.

    • Wow, the Summit is a strong as it has ever been in both conference strength and Quality. Now is not the time to get out of the Summit, and I question if it would even be the right move to join the MVC vs. the Summit. In the coming years, Summit = MVC = Horizon. MVC equals Drake, Loyola, Evansville, Bradley (yuk)

      Stay put in the Summit unless an all MWC move would be pursued. Even in a FB move the MWC, it might be best to keep other sports in the Summit. Wait for the BB Tourney in SF this year, the Summit’s profile will continue to grow.

      • I have Zero desire to go to SF, to watch a worthless conference. You are going to have to do better at convincing me that the Summit is a good conference.
        It’s a make shift conference, that schools have no affiliation. It will fold way before the Horizon, or MVC. Any team that gets an invite elsewhere will bolt. Four teams have left in the last three years, (not including Oral Roberts). Noone, is lining up to join in those spots. It’s a transition conference until you can find a better one.

        • Denver, ORU, SDSU, NDSU, Omaha, USD and W IL is a great core of teams and will elevate the Summit Conf strength to the 10-15 range in coming years (wait and see). Every team that left was good riddance, with the exception of Oakland, and Oakland was the furthest out of the footprint. What’s left in the Summit is a solid core, with better stregth and quality than any other time in the Summit.

          I would welcome any of the following teams to the Summit, as they would help the footprint and/or strengthen the conf. (UND, UNI, UMKC, UNC, MN St) Until then Indy and Fort Wayne work.

          • Why would I want to wait 10-15 years for a good conference? You are only strenthing my point that the conference is not good, you need to wait a minium of 10 yrs for it to be good. Again, all teams you mentioned were previous D-II teams (except Denver). How is a bunch of previous teams not a stopgate conference?
            Only two of the teams have been in the conference longer than 2007. This is nothing but a transition conference, and it will fold. No teams in it want to be there. When the conference can barely have auto qualifers for National tournaments due to lack of teams that is an issue. The Summit is basically the old Big East (football), anyone that applies will get in no matter the geographic location. They are desperate to add teams.

          • You definitely do not sound like much of a Bison fan. Is your name Darrell???

          • Agree. Personally I would not mind Eastern Illinois or Northern Colorado since they would give Denver and Western Illinois a travel partner. Any Wisconsin school would be good. Don’t forget the teams are spend money on facilities too what we need is a television deal

        • Why would I try to convince a UN_ fan the Summit is a good league? You would say that even if we were in the Big10.

    • Are you high?

      The Summit League has made leaps and bounds from where it was a few short years ago. Just getting rid of UMKC helped a bunch. Adding UNO and DU was a positive move too. Now bringing back ORU will help even more. Yes they’ve struggled the past 2 seasons but they have a history of being very good.

      The Summit is very comparable to the other leagues like MVC and Horizon. As long as the member schools continue to schedule the right way and win some of those big games it’ll only get better. There is no other conference invite coming and even if there was NDSU would have to think long and hard about leaving the Summit. It’s been a pretty dang good conference for all of our sports sans FB & wrestling.

    • The Summit has the core of the NCC that was together for ever. It had a perfect conference championship centrally located and sells out so quickly they are building a new arena. The rivalries between NDSU, USD, and SDSU go back 100 years and draw well. Oral Roberts is a big draw. So is Denver. Omaha is original NCC. IUPUI and IPFW dont mean much. The teams in the league are putting money into facilities too. What this league lacks big time is a TV contract.

      • IPFW has a good athletic program. They have been our main challenge in softball and volleyball. Their men’s basketball team was in the league championship game against the Bison.

  2. Idaho will drop football before moving down to FCS.

    There has never been an FBS team that has dropped down to FCS.

      • Florida A&M also did it in the early 90s I believe (although IIRC that was only 1 or 2 years after reclassifying to what was then called D1-A).

  3. The Summit is the heartland. It’s the home of the great traditions started 100 yrs ago in the old NCC. The Summit and the MVFC are home to Dakota College Athletics. The Dakota Big 3 play for the home crowds not out west someplace. The Dakota Big 3 play for conference honors not just another OOC game for exhibition purposes.

  4. This is a prime example for not moving up now. Join a conference and have it implode around you. Wait until the bigs shake it out. There will be some realignment within the other conferences when that happens. THATS when you make a move IF it will lead to a playoff. I have no desire to move up if there isnt a playoff involved.

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