Safe to say I havent covered a crazier week of football off-season activity in mid-February in my six years in Fargo, but we sure had it this week. Everything from Barry Alvarez’s comments to Delaware State being added, to Montana State saying no thanks to coming to Fargo. It’s a loss for FCS fans, not just NDSU and Montana State fans, that would have been one of the top five FCS matchups of the season. Also take a closer look at NDSU’s BracketBuster matchup with Akron coming up on Friday on ESPN2, everyone enjoy!
There are no quiet nights in the sports office in February and March with tournament season here, but a bombshell was dropped by Barry Alvarez in Madison that will have far reaching effects from Fargo to Springfield, Brookings to Terre Haute. Alvarez announced on his radio show tonight that the Big Ten has agreed to stop playing games against FCS teams. Alvarez said: “ The nonconference schedule in our league is ridiculous, it’s not very appealing…so we’ve made an agreement that our future games will all be Division I schools. It will not be FCS schools.”
There’s no gray area there folks, this is on the heels of the announcement out of the Big 10 Meetings on Monday that the conference is moving forward with playing 9 or possibly 10 leagues a year, you can read more about that decision here. Let’s say the Big 10 decides to go with 9, that leaves only 3 non-conference games to play with, you know the Ohio States and Michigans are going to want those primetime matchups against Alabama or LSU, and they honestly can fill the other two games with schools from the MAC, Sun Belt and C-USA. And that leaves the FCS schools out to dry, especially the Missouri Valley, the conference that has played the Big 10 the most and has the closest proximity to the BCS. This scheduling agreement doesn’t have a start date, but it is expected to be 2014, the first year of the new college football playoff, and also when the Big 10 expands adding Rutgers and Maryland to the fold.
By my count, there are 20 games involving schools from the Missouri Valley against the Big Ten starting with this fall, those games are safe in my opinion, but any matchups in 2014 and beyond are clearly in doubt and that of course means NDSU’s game at Iowa in 2016.
FUTURE MVFC-BIG TEN GAMES
NDSU – at Iowa (2016)
SDSU – at Nebraska (2013); at Minnesota (2015+2019)
Northern Iowa – at Iowa (2014)
Southern Illinois – at Illinois (2013); at Iowa (2014)
Illinois State – at Iowa (2015); at Northwestern (2016)
Indiana State – at Indiana (2013+2014); at Purdue (2013+2015); at Minnesota (2016)
Western Illinois – at Minnesota (2013); at Northwestern (2014); at Illinois (2015)
Missouri State – at Iowa (2013)
Youngstown State – at Michigan State (2013); at Illinois (2014)
USD – NONE
By this chart, that means 13 games would need to be re-scheduled among these schools, obviously the biggest loser is Indiana State losing out on 3 nice paydays; and Western Illinois with two. But to be honest all of the Missouri Valley loses out if this turns out to be the case; the two schools I was hoping NDSU would schedule in the future would be Illinois and Northwestern, two schools while being BCS; that the Bison could compete with. That also means any hopes of an NDSU-Nebraska and NDSU-Wisconsin matchup are out the window as well; not to mention Minnesota; which besides the two national championship games; the Georgia Southern semifinal; have been the three most fun Bison games I’ve had a chance to cover. It’s also been a major recruiting tool for the Bison, granted the first two games were before the FCS playoffs, but still even the 2011 matchup was a huge motivating factor for the Minnesota players. Now taking that off the table for the time being? Not cool. Granted NDSU and Minnesota weren’t going to play before 2018 in my opinion, but there are areas that the Bison go into that are heavy Big 10 territory; Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska and Iowa.
The Big Ten is looking out for itself with this decision, but they’re hurting plenty of schools that circle those games not only as a way to break even on their athletic budget, but also as a chance for national exposure and pride. Gene Taylor was in St. Louis for the Missouri Valley meetings, but will get a comment from him tomorrow on this decision and how it affects scheduling going forward.
This is the start of an evaluation of the 2013 recruiting class, with Mr. Izzo’s comments to come later. He’ll have head coach Craig Bohl on live at WDAY-6 at 6:20 tonight.
JEFF’s TAKE: I’m not one to get too giddy over these things, but this class addressed linebacker in a big way. I think at least two of these guys will play right away with Matt Plank from Gardner, Pierre Gee-Tucker from Belleville, Ill., and Alex Hahn from Oak Creek, Wis., as prime candidates. For starters, linebackers make the best special teams players with the combination of size and speed.
Hahn is a power lifter who made the state Wisconsin finals in the long jump last year — a good indicator of athletic ability. I like the background of James Gates from Menomonie, Wis., although at 200 pounds might be a tad light to see the field right away. We’ll see — Travis Beck isn’t exactly a huge guy. Gates is considered an excellent edge rusher as is Gee-Tucker.
It will be interesting to see if Nick DeLuca from Omaha stays at linebacker. He’s big at 6-3 and 240 pounds. “A big, strong guy who runs well,” Bohl said. My thought: defensive end? And safety Chris Board from Orlando, Fla., has film that shows him hitting like a Mack truck. He’s around 210 pounds and could fill into the shoes of an outside linebacker with some additional strength training.
Because of the large senior class next year, I see at least four true freshmen playing right away. The offensive line appears solid with depth so it’s doubtful Austin Kuhnert from Sioux Falls, Jesse Kubik from Dickinson or Zack Ziemer from Lakeville, Minn., will see the field. With the early departure of Justin Juckem because of injury, a defensive tackle may have a chance. In this group, that would be Nick Jacobsen from Prescott, Wis., Nathan Tanguay from Mukwonago, Wis. or Grant Morgan from Oshkosh, Wis. Jacobsen appears to be the most physically ready.
So where does this class stack up with others? That’s a game I’m not going to get into. There’s a story out there that says of the 100 top prospects in the country from a few years ago, only 40 percent were considered to have made it.
DOM’S TAKE: First for those that live out of the viewing area; here’s what Bohl told me about this class on WDAY 6 News tonight. Initially looking at these guys on paper; the first thing that comes to my mind is these guys are huge; it seems like every player is 6’3 or bigger, 260 pounds or bigger and that will attract bigger schools to those players. For the FBS schools they can use how many stars that Rivals dishes out to say how good the class will be, for the FCS we can use how many players had FBS offers; to my knowledge; NDSU grabbed 4 guys that had FBS offers from what I was told (Ziemer; Jacobsen, DeLuca and Tucker) that’s impressive on it’s own merit. What’s also impressive is the closing kick that NDSU had in this class; the final 2 weeks brought in maybe the headliners of this class; starting with the 6’3 DeLuca; to Matt Plank at 6’2, 215, to Tre Dempsey and Chris Board from Florida and ending with Pierre-Gee Tucker out of Illinois; who by Craig Bohl’s count had 12 offers from different schools.
The story surrounding Tucker was unreal and Jeff did a great job of recapping yesterday of the struggles that Tucker went thru to make up his mind, evidently staying up till 2 am and then texting Bohl to say he was coming to NDSU; for the Bison this is a huge get in an area that has tremendous Missouri Valley traffic and it’s out of the usual axis for the Bison(Minneapolis-North Dakota-South Dakota). Just think in Illinois there are 3 Valley schools to begin with; Southern Illinois; Illinois State and Western Illinois; then there’s the MAC champs in Northern Illinois; and that’s not mentioning Northern Iowa; which also likes that area. This change of heart only will antagonize things further between NDSU and Northern Iowa fans and it’s already well established there’s no love lost between the 2 coaching staffs.
I was struck that Bohl said several of these guys will play right away next year; now do we need to define several? Jeff said 4, I’ll say 5 or 6 guys can see the field and obviously linebacker is the spot that the Bison need the biggest help in my opinion. If I’m just guessing I’d say Brad Ambrosius; Nick DeLuca; Pierre Gee-Tucker; Alex Hahn, Nick Jacobsen and Nate Tanguay are my six candidates to play next year with an asterisk next to Tyler Wrice; who could be another Ryan Smith in the wide receiver corps. There are couple of under the radar guys that I think could be really good in a year’s time in Austin Kuhnert; Tre Dempsey and Chase Morlock; I think all could be scary good after a year in the weight room and with NDSU coaches. I’ve seen it already from the 2012 class in Jack Plankers and MJ Stumpf; who are two guys that I think could have big springs for the Bison.
Jeff wasn’t ready to get into how this class stacks up with past classes; but I will(since we all know my predictions are always on); I think this is the best class NDSU has put together since 2010. The last two classes in my mind have been about building depth to augment a class that they believe could knock it out of the park and I believe this is the class that could do it. I’m not saying ’11 and ’12 are clunkers, but we have detailed the attrition rates from those two (four gone from 2012; six from 2011 – Frank Veldman, Joe Horvath, Ryan Stanford, Berkley Grimm, Josh Lisenby and DeShawn Dinwiddie) That’s why this class needed to have some “home-run hitters” and I believe they found them. For those that think the cupboard may be bare come 2014; here are some of the names that will be juniors or seniors that season: Gebhart; CJ Smith, Carson Wentz; LeCompte, Keller, Heagle(I believe he’ll get a medical redshirt for this past season; making 13 his redshirt junior; then ’14 a senior); Crockett; Champion, Dudzik, Littlejohn, Emanuel, Beck, Colville and Hardie. Impressive names that played a lot in 2012 and will be “the guys” when this class is ready to start making an impact in 2014.
I think we all can agree there are a variety of opinions regarding future scheduling for NDSU and UND and it appears that game will not happen in 2013; so everyone can aim the pitchforks somewhere else!
1) Wanted to follow up on Jeff’s last post on NDSU’s decision to play just 11 games for this coming season, which already has produced some interesting comments; Gene Taylor told me that he and Craig Bohl would prefer to play 11 this season especially after the grind of the last 3 seasons, some forget NDSU played 14 games in 2010, that’s a total of 44 games over the last three years, if you take the average 6-5 team over that same time span, NDSU has played an entire season (11) more games than the average FCS team over that same time span. When viewed thru that spectrum, that’s a heck of a lot of football. I was in the camp that favored playing 12 games this season, and as schedules continue to finalize, more FCS teams are heading that route, as of today; 24 teams are playing 12 games in 2013. Taylor added “playing 12 games isn’t out completely; if someone approaches us about a home and home, that’s something we’d take a look at.” The only reason why 12 games is such a lightning rod this year coincides with the FCS playoff field expanding to 24. The Selection Committee is going to have it’s work cut out for them when trying to determine at-large teams just look at this example of blank resumes:
TEAM A TEAM B
- 9-3 Record 8-3 Record
- No FBS or D-2 Wins No FBS or D-2 Wins
- Finished 3rd In Big Sky Conference Finished 2nd in MVFC
What a day in Normal, NDSU returned its offense to normal; getting two running backs over 100 yards rushing in a dominant second half win over Illinois State 38-20. The Bison clinch the Missouri Valley for the 2nd straight year and in the process lock up the top seed for the playoffs. Jeff and I will have our full bracketology show up around 11:30pm tonight, so you’ll have a full 12 hours to watch before we live blog the selection show at 12:30, enjoy the return of the Victory Belt!
A crowd of over 18 thousand packed the Fargodome this afternoon to see a classic Missouri Valley football game; NDSU and SDSU played a tight defensive battle; the Bison defense made the plays they needed to and win the Dakota Marker for the 3rd straight year. NDSU clinches a share of the Missouri Valley conference and in the process wraps up at least a three or four seed for the FCS playoffs, with the possibility of least hosting 2 playoff games. Join, Jeff, Big E and I with some thoughts on the game and a look ahead.
Well there are two weeks to go in the FCS season and so much is up in the air to be decided. Some things will be figured out this weekend; especially here in Fargo, with NDSU and SDSU. Enjoy tonight’s show from the bunker and let’s hear your thoughts!
NDSU found a way for the 2nd straight week to gut out a win; Saturday in Springfield, NDSU put on a defensive display in the 1st half; and took advantage of a Missouri State muffed punt to score the go-ahead touchdown to get a huge 21-17 road win. The win was made more huge by the results of the day, including SDSU rallying to beat Southern Illinois and Illinois State winning on the road at Indiana State, setting up the Dakota Marker game basically for the Missouri Valley Championship. Join Jeff and I from Springfield for a complete breakdown, then back tomorrow night for the FCS Sunday Ramblings!
We’re here in Springfield, join WDAY 6 Sports Director Dom Izzo and The Forum’s Jeff Kolpack as NDSU prepares for game number 9 against Missouri State.
It appears NDSU has had a change of heart on playing 12 games in a regular season. Athletic Director Gene Taylor told me tonight that NDSU “is actively looking for a 12th game for the 2013 season.” Taylor told me it’s for the open September 14th date next season and the Bison would use November 2nd as their bye week in 2013. This information flies in the face of what we’ve been told in the past, but if you take a closer look at the last blog post of what the playoff committee will be looking at next season, playing 12 games makes a lot of sense if you want to secure a playoff spot. Taylor also added that the 12th game will not be against an FBS team or a non-counter (D-2 or D-3). So what does that leave? NDSU already has 6 home games lined up for 2013; a fact I’ll detail in a second; so there’s the real option that NDSU goes on the road for a 6th game next year, as part of a home and home deal, with that particular team coming back to Fargo in 2014(12 games are also allowed in 2014). NDSU already has non-conference games lined up at Iowa State and home with Montana in 2014. We know the difficulties Taylor had in trying to get a 6th home game for this season, paying the highest amount to date to get Prairie View to come here, I detailed last night some of the home and home series that are going in FCS football over the next couple of years, we’ll see if that’s the case for 2013. For those wondering about UND; I wrote a whole post about it back in March; for a refresher here it is. I don’t think it’s likely to happen now; especially with the off-the-field issues mounting for the Griz, shelling out money to get out of a football game in Grand Forks, can’t be that high of a priority. Still looks like 2015 may be the earliest regular season matchup we could get between NDSU and UND.
NDSU isn’t the only Valley team going the 12 game route. Northern Iowa’s Athletic Director Troy Dannen tweeted Thursday night, that they have 11 games set for 2013 and working on a 12th, adding that “getting close on a big 11th game in 2014, with the hashtag, want 12 in 2014 too.” Dannen tweeted that UNI will play at Iowa State, host Drake and play at Northern Colorado in 2013. It seems realistic to think that UNI may go back down the 2 FBS road at least once in the next two seasons. UNI is already contracted to play at Iowa in 2014.
Finally, had plenty of comments on my Twitter page about the Western Carolina-NDSU game on September 21st next season. That happened after Auburn announced they have a contract for WCU on October 12th, making 3 FBS opponents for the Catamounts next season, joining games at Middle Tennessee(Aug.31st) and Virginia Tech (Sept. 7th) While I think playing 3 FBS games is an egregious scheduling mistake, Western clearly needs the money for it’s university, probably looking right around a million for those 3 games. Now while playing a 4th non-conference road game at NDSU doesn’t sound too appealing, clearly the WCU administration doesn’t care too much of its performance on the field or they would have NEVER scheduled 3 FBS games. That being said, Taylor told me as of Thursday night, NDSU and Western Carolina still have a contract for that date. NDSU originally signed the contract with Western in late August of 2011 for 125,000, with a buyout of 150 K. Obviously if WCU decides to take the buyout that may make things infinitely harder to find 2 games for 2013. But it certainly seems NDSU has embraced a different scheduling philosophy for the next couple of years, trying to adapt to a new playoff concept starting next season.