The NCAA had a perfectly fine system to differentiate between the two levels of top-division football: I-A and I-AA. A decade ago, this was changed to FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) and FCS (Football Championship Subdivision), for no reason other than pomposity.
The championship game in FCS has been played in a soccer stadium in Frisco, Texas (near Dallas), since 2010. Eastern Washington won the first title awarded in Frisco, and now North Dakota State has won five in a row.
The fifth came last weekend, and might have been the most impressive: a 37-10 thumping of Jacksonville (Ala.) State, a team with fabulous offensive numbers that had Auburn beaten early in the season and let ’em off the hook.
I heard a familiar refrain from Twin Citians when the latest football success for the NDSU Bison was mentioned: “Why don’t they move up to I-A?’’
Twin Citian: “I don’t know. Maybe the Mid-American.’’
Me: “Great idea. Then they can go to the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit and play a losing Big Ten team in the worst of nonstop, who-cares bowl games, rather than make a playoff run and then play for an actual championship in front of 20,000-plus in Texas.’’
Twin Citian: “Yeah, but they don’t have enough competition.’’
Me: “The Missouri Valley Football Conference has several outstanding programs. This season, the Bison opened with a nonconference loss at Montana, and had a shocking home loss to South Dakota.
“They came back from that, without their injured and tremendous senior quarterback Carson Wentz, and kept getting better.
“Why not applaud that? Better yet, let’s have the Gophers get approval from the Big Ten and adopt the Reusse plan: an annual season opener with NDSU. One year it’s a Gophers home game at the Bank, the next it’s an NDSU home game at the new Vikings stadium, and the teams split the gate and the tickets.
“It would fill the stadiums. The Gophers should win eight out of 10. And if they can’t beat an FCS power, the Gophers are going back to the Quick Lane Bowl anyway, so what does it matter?’’