We were notified this afternoon from a reliable source and thus have reason to believe that Central Arkansas has bought out their return trip to The Alerus Center next season, which was set for September 8th, 2012.
The game was scheduled to be the 2nd game of the year in the inaugural Big Sky season in 2012 and was supposed to be the back end of a home-and-home series that started with UND’s 17-16 defeat of Central Arkansas in Conway, AR in 2009. That game’s results combined with UND’s success this year may or may not have had any bearing on their decision to buyout the UND game in Grand Forks.
If true, this is significant in that the UCA Bears are already in the clubhouse after finishing the regular season at 8-3 this year in the Southland Conference and is currently projected to make the FCS playoff field starting next weekend, possibly even hosting a first round game.
After the Idaho State buyout debacle, we have to believe that the buyout is in the $125,000 – $175,000 range. Based on the amounts we have heard lately, we think it would cost at least that much to bring in another FCS opponent from a long distance away. Hopefully, the buyout is in that range. This is a huge chunk of change for an athletic department with a budget the size of UCA’s, which leads us to believe they will be getting a large payday to go play Arkansas or another SEC school in the geographical neighborhood. It’s interesting to note that UCA already is scheduled to open the 2012 season in Oxford, Mississippi to take on the Ole Miss Rebels in week 1.
While AD Brian Faison has to be frustrated if this does indeed happen, the buyout money should allow UND to have no problem replacing the game with a quality FCS opponent. The timing of scheduling another game isn’t the greatest, but there are always teams scheduling games this late in the process. Given the recent past, we know it won’t be a D2 or NAIA opponent. No matter who they schedule, the 2012 Big Sky Conference schedule DEFINITELY helps offset some of the blow.
Any guesses on who UND gets to fill in the blank for 2012 if this comes to fruition? We certainly have no problem with them scheduling an FCS team that is in the lower echelon of the division. The reason why is because it has turned into a race to seven wins. Get 7 FCS wins anyway you can and you have a very good shot at the playoffs.