The Power of the “Division I” Win

We saw it last season at this time when Big Sky conference member Montana (7-4) was passed over by the FCS playoff selection committee because of its lack of 7 Division 1 wins.  Their crushing 73-2 victory over Division II Western State was deemed a ‘check mark’  against them on their resume by the playoff selection committee. They simply couldn’t beat them badly enough to make the selection committee change their minds.

This year, Colonial Athletic Association member Delaware (7-4) had to swallow this bitter pill.  The exclusion of the Blue Hens in the 2011 FCS playoff field was simply a result of them only having 6 Division 1 wins and their 7th win coming against Division II West Chester.

Herein lies the problem of scheduling non-Division 1 teams.

While small enough already in what will be an amazingly tough Big Sky Conference, the margin of error becomes much less when you add in the variable of scheduling a DII or NAIA school.  You might as well just have a bye on those weeks in the eyes of the playoff selection committee.  Sure you might get a win on the schedule and maybe have a chance to build some depth and rest some guys, but in the long run is it worth it?

We all know Sioux head coach Chris Mussman has publicly stated he hates playing ‘those games’ because of the ‘n0-win’ factor.  Keep in mind he has stated this in the past when FCS playoff berths weren’t on the line because of the transition – even when wins were a little more scarce.  We wonder how he would feel about it now given the extra incentive and implication on the playoff selection process.

These objective criteria are no secret.  Everyone in the FCS corridors know how it works.  Recruiters from other schools can and will use non-D1 games on the schedule against UND in their recruiting pitches to prep athletes.  A football program can help itself out by just simply scheduling Division 1 schools exclusively for these two reasons alone.

In their first season of playoff eligibility/Big Sky, UND has one mark against its schedule already when they open with Division II South Dakota School of Mines.  As we discussed earlier, there are now rumors they may have to fill a 2012 game to replace 2011 FCS playoff participant Central Arkansas.

We think the choice on who to schedule should be abundantly clear given the consequences.  We hope to see another FCS opponent to replace Central Arkansas game if needed.  We also hope the UND Athletic Department tries to replace the South Dakota School of Mines game.  We understand it will not be an easy task to do.  However, we believe it can and should be done.  If it means UND has to go on the road, so be it.  The UND fans will understand the situation at hand.

The 2012 Big Sky Conference schedule and beyond looks like a breath of fresh air (pardon the pun) for UND.  There is a huge improvement from what we have seen in recent years and the excitement it is generating should not be overlooked.

But the reality is this:  a non-D1 win is the same as a D1 loss in the eyes of the selection committee, and the playoffs are what matter now and should be priority number one.

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14 Responses to The Power of the “Division I” Win

  1. Hambone says:

    Agree 100%. Bring in an OVC, NEC, Pioneer guarantee game instead of Mines, and see if we can’t get a home/home with someone from the MVFC or Southland, even if the first is on the road. That is what I would like to see, although I know it is more realistic to pay two guarantees, or to go on the road to say SIU as a guarantee game.

  2. Bison Dan says:

    Amazingly tough BSC? – I agree with the Montana’s as tough but after that who would list as amazingly tough?

    • Avatar of oskie oskie says:

      For UND there are going to be alot of tough games-they are not good enough yet to think they can win 5-6 conference games in year one. First year in a conference is going to be hard as they know nothing about teams and going on the road to those places.

      Bison fans should know how that goes after their inaugural season in the MVFC.

      • RC says:

        So, then the official prediction from Oskie is UND not good enough to get in 2012 playoffs?

        • Avatar of oskie oskie says:

          I don’t believe I ever said that. What I said is this team needs to expect a tough road ahead, especially in the first year of the Big Sky. By scheduling a D2 team, they are now telling the Sioux that they must go 8-3 to get into the playoffs instead of 7-4. That is a huge difference when you consider that one non-conference game is vs. San Diego State. To be able to go 5-3 in the Big Sky vs. 6-2 is huge. Means they only need to win 1 road game if they can run the table at home.

          Why not do what other teams do and line up two avg. FCS teams to start the season then try to win five of your next nine games? Seems like a simple formula to me. Now I do know that it costs a lot more to fly teams into Grand Forks so that hurts. But, there are 125 FCS teams.

          • Old UND fan says:

            Play the UCA game on the road if need be and drop SD Mines. Faison also has a lot of open dates in 2013,14,15. He better get on the phone and schedule some games even if they are all on the road. The students and fans in GF do not support the team anyway so play on the road. The stands looked totally vacant on TV on Saturday, really really sad.

          • Avatar of oskie oskie says:

            By no means are we questioning Mr. Faison and the athletic department. He has led UND through this transition remarkably. Lets remember that he has had to put up with the nickname saga constantly since starting his job. That is something that no other AD in the country had to deal with.

            We are simply laying out what we hope happens. Only Mr. Faison knows how easy/hard it really is to get a team to come into GF.

    • UND 1 says:

      Big Sky is normally rated in the top 3 as far as FCS conferences goes. i know the MFVC homers believe their conference is out of this world tough, but that’s a common homer misconception.

  3. Fishy Cat says:

    Hopefully Faison was mending fences with USD this weekend to get them back on the schedule some way some how. SDSM&T is a freaking joke. I don’t even think they won a game this year in a cupcake schedule world. It’s hard to field a team when all you have to pick from is engineers.

  4. Justin Dorscher says:

    In a related scenario pertaining to the Big Sky Conference, Portland State’s wins over non-D1 school Southern Oregon and Williamette completely ruined their playoff hopes even if they had won their last game against Weber State which would have put them at 8-3 for the year. This leaves for more questioning (as stated in the article) why FCS teams would schedule non-D1 opponents.

    • Good call Justin. We should have mentioned that as well in our writeup. Just another program who was hurt by their own scheduling practices.

      And who knows the last time when Portland was even a contender to make the playoff field? Who knows when they will be again? You absolutely have to be able to take advantage of your playoff chances when the opportunity presents itself.

      Scheduling non-D1 teams is a killer.

  5. Any idea on who could replace the Central Arkansas game?

    • Avatar of oskie oskie says:

      It could be many, many teams. Way to hard to guess. We have been trying to find a website that accurately compiles future schedules but have not been successful.

  6. Dave Patrick says:

    After gaining entry into the Big Sky, the next priority in Sioux athletics should be getting North Dakota State back on the football schedule. I don’t care if the Bison win 55-10, just get the game back on the schedule. There’s already an eight year gap since the last time they played (Oct 18, 2003), which means that the typical high school senior was only 10 years old at the time. I’d hate to see this great rivalry be forgotten.

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