Sorting out USD swap

On Thursday, the University of South Dakota made it official, announcing it will spurn the Big Sky Conference and UND for a home in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

Is it surprising? Certainly.

Is it disastrous to UND? Certainly not.

Lots has been discussed in the past 24 hours about the ramifications of such a move. What is being lost in the discussion is this: What was most appealing about the Big Sky Conference to UND yesterday is still true today.

It still affords football a stable home. It still provides automatic qualifying status for the postseason. It still gives Sioux coaches firepower on the recruiting trail.

UND’s vision of the Big Sky is still strong. Perhaps how some Big Sky members view UND sans USD is a little less appealing, but that’s not a problem for UND exactly.

You can’t blame USD for making the move it did. Anyone in a similar position would have. UND was never in that position.

MVFC commissioner Patti Viverito told the  Associated Press that once she found out that UND and USD weren’t a package deal, that she made a buzzer-beating move to woo USD in an effort to restrengthen FCS football in the Midwest.

When UND announced its move to the Big Sky, the MVFC had made no movement on their stance opposing expansion from their nine-team league. And the idea that UND hastily accepted this BSC offer and didn’t have the patience and vision to see this opportunity is crazy.

Not to take credit away from USD, but it got a little lucky while its Board of Regents mulled whether the BSC was worth a hefty buyout clause in the Summit. USD never used the Big Sky as leverage. It’s a fun storyline and a great talking point. It just didn’t happen. The MVFC offer fell in their lap and it turned out to be a great opportunity.

It was a smart move on Viverito’s part, too. MVFC and the Summit would have been very thin.

USD’s move also has nothing to do with renewing or rejecting rivalries. Reports speaking to the rivalry aspect of this are a bit puzzling.

The maintenance of a rivalry has never hinged on conference affiliation. Look all over the country. I think Florida-Florida State and Iowa-Iowa State are doing just fine.

In fact, you could argue being in separate conferences is beneficial to rivalry schools. Instead of scheduling a ho-hum nonconference tilt, you can replace that with a money-maker against the Bison.

If the Sioux and Bison rivalries fail to continue it will have more to do with lingering bad feelings from the first time these two split up almost 10 years ago when the Bison went Division I. But keep in mind, the Sioux have found plenty of ways to schedule NDSU and SDSU in a number of sports while competing in the Great West and Summit, respectively.

Long story short — USD has put itself in a fantastic position. UND did, too. Success of the latter wasn’t so directly tied to the moves of the former.

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36 Responses to Sorting out USD swap

  1. SIOUX FAN1977 says:

    I agree, Big Sky is the best option for UND and could be very beneficial in the long run. Do you for see UND staying in the BSC for a long time or possibly joining a FBS conference in the future? Also, is the Alerus Center going to be adequate for football in the BSC or should we set our sights on constructing a new stadium?

  2. LAS says:

    Tom, this is too positive. Our fan base is supposed to be in disarray right now…either that or we are a bunch of morons who have no idea what we are getting into, because I’m sure the UND Admin didn’t take any time whatsoever to study the options made available to them…

    Seriously, this is an excellent take. UND has tremendous opportunity in the West and has a chance to make a name for itself in some of the country’s best markets.

  3. UND92,96 says:

    Agree 100%, Tom. Not sure where in the world Stu Whitney and others like him are getting their spin that somehow UND has been “banished” to the Big Sky. MVFC was not an option for UND, and likely wouldn’t have been for some time. The Big Sky offers UND an excellent home for football, and is also a quality home for other sports. The alternative was to join the Summit, and languish as an independent in football. No thanks. Had that happened, the taunts UND is now receiving from some would have actually been justified. As it is, all four Dakota schools should be happy with their conference situations.

  4. Joann Miller says:

    UND blew this one big time and you know it! Can you imagine a conference with all 4 Dakota teams? Imagine the attendance and anticipation annually for something like that? Instead UND assumed USD would be joining them and it almost seemed like a chance to spite NDSU for not scheduling them. Sad to say but now everyone loses. Except USD and SDSU which maintain their in-state rivalry. That being said BSC is a great conference but the talk locally will be about the 3 Dakota teams playing for MVFC championship. You can’t sugar coat that.

  5. UND92,96 says:


    You do understand that UND was not getting into the MVFC, right? Or do you know something that Patty Viverito, Faison and Kelley didn’t?

  6. siouxfan97 says:

    “Can you imagine a conference with all four Dakota teams?” Yes I can. It was called the North Central Conference! and I thought NDSU went D1 to get away from that. I’m upset taht USD didn’t join us in the BSC but UND is the best possible conference to GROW (with or w/0 Montana/Montana State). Hope USD has fun filling their arean with UIPUFW, UIPFWR, UM-KC, or Oakland of Detroit?

  7. UND2001 says:

    Joann, how do you figure the talk locally will be about the 3 Dakota teams playing of the MVFC championship? That is ridiculous, unless of course you are not a Sioux fan. The Big Sky is by far a superior conference for all UND sports, especially football. If you knew anything about the Big Sky conference, you would know that it is regarded as one of the top (if not the top) FCS football conferences in the country!!! And, yes a conference with all 4 Dakota team would’ve been great, but it didn’t happen. What conference do you think NDSU an SDSU originally wanted to be in? THE BIG SKY!!!!!! So, go back to Fargo and cheer on your thundering turds.

  8. JACK says:

    NDSU went D1 because it had a D1 market. I think they have proven that. UND quit playing NDSU about 10 years ago in all sports but it doesnt stop there. They have made the biggest fuss about renewing the rivalry all the way from Kelly taunting from his pulpit to legislative action to constant whining. When offered a chance Faison said no? I think the rivalry can be resumed but it will be a single game in Fargo for a bus team price.

  9. siouxper says:

    wow Joann, did you even read Tom’s column? there was no offer to join the MVFC for UND. there wasn’t even an offer for USD until AFTER UND accepted from the Big Sky. Also Jack, i think you’re forgetting the old rules from division 2, which actually penalized a D 2 team for playing a D 1 AA team in regards to points earned for making the old D 2 playoff format. so please, get over it already. UND has moved on. you should, too.

  10. JACK says:

    I dont think so my good friend siouxper. I think you forget an excuse only goes so far. UND quit all sports my good man.

  11. soofan says:

    When the MAC raids the mvfc the BSC will make a hard run at the three old-new NCC schools and all four dakota schools will together again in a larger Big Sky Conference

    Big Sky North

    Montana (not moving up no matter what anyone says)
    Montanta State
    North Dakota
    North Dakota State
    South Dakota
    South Dakota Staqte
    Idaho State
    Northern Colorado

    Big Sky South

    Weber State
    Southern Utah
    Eastern Washington
    Portland State
    Sacramento Statee
    Northern Arizona

  12. MachomanSavage says:

    It is funny to keep hearing UND was never given the same offer as USD. If you listened, the MVFC said expansion was not going to be considered until UND was part of the Summit League, which I believe was…correct if I’m wrong… going to make a Site visit which is essentially a formality to acceptance into the League. Then the planning would have started in earnest. So by jumping into the Big Sky, and cancelling the Summit visit then you are correct, you did not receive the same offer as USD… but not for the reasons you are making it out to be. Rejoice you are in the best Conference in Division I (from what I understand here), you are renewing an old NCC rivalry with Northern Colorado (your closest opponent) and will have a few friends with you in football with UC-Davis, Cal Poly, and Southern Utah. This is a great time for UND,and it should be.

  13. SIOUX FAN1977 says:

    I love how UND’s potential really seems to intimidate our neighbors down south (although I’m sure I’ll get an immediate response about the history of NDSU/UND rivalry and how that’s not true). That should tell you something about the opportunity UND has to build a solid athletic program and take it to the next level quickly. We need to build a new stadium (preferably at the old memorial field), get attendance up to 20,000 plus at football games, 8,000 plus for basketball, and have winning records. All of these things are well within the realm of achievement. Although NDSU fans like to dismiss it, we already have a very proud and strong athletic tradition that has spawned countless Olympic athletes (2 of whom are still students at UND) and professional athletes in the NHL, NFL, and NBA. With the right support and strategic plan there is no reason why UND could not be coveted by more prestigious conferences in the NCAA, this is very much in the realm of possibilities for our future.

  14. JACK says:

    Are you going with the retractable roof SiousFan1977? I would advise it. Im sure you dont want to put at risk losing any of the crowd that came out to watch the big game today by making them sit outside. It was hard enough to get them to stay inside!

  15. JACK says:

    Why do all the UND dreams have the dakota schools rallying around them in their conference? Isnt that a little odd? The school that quit everyone else wants everyone else to join them now. Why didnt UND rally around the other Dakota schools?

  16. SIOUX FAN1977 says:

    Jack, I was going to suggest doors that lock from the outside to keep people from leaving. I was there today and it was painful. I will be the first to admit that we are terrible this season, but things will change. And yes, a retractable roof would be nice, so would a new coaching staff and 5 star recruiting class.

  17. JACK says:

    Weak schedules have made the past few years look a little better than they were. The loss to Sioux Falls was a much better bench mark for the UND program than the “win” at Texas Tech.
    Football is cyclical but I dont think I see a worst to first up there. I dont think any progress has been made since Lennon left and he fielded a weak team himself yesterday.

  18. northernfire says:

    C’mon Jack, sing the NDSU, SDSU & USD refrain “……….back……….back……….back……….back in the NCC………”

  19. dick graham says:

    Tom, while some BSC schools might find UND without USD a little less appealing, that would only apply to sports such as basketball. If USD had accepted the BSC offer it would have required some BSC schools to make 2 seperate football trips to the Dakotas. With only UND joining the BSC only 1 eastern trip would be required.

  20. JACK says:

    The fact of the matter is UND simply wasnt welcome in the MVFC. Why? Who knows. I think it has to do with the way UND conducts it business. Once it became apparent USD was not tied to UND that was it. The MVFC didnt even need a site visit to invite USD. USD was invited and UND was banished west. Sure the BSC is great for you, but that is kind of sour grapes and there is another burning bridge at your back.

    • northernfire says:

      “……….back……….back……….back……….back in the NCC………”

  21. JACK says:


    Glad you love it! The New NCC, as you call it, is a lot better than the old one with UND. It was tough to kick UND out, but it has been accomplished and UND is banished out west with the peer institutions.

  22. Jack says:

    Former NCC member University of Northern Colorado is going to be the UND travel partner and one of the designated Big Sky league rivals. The primary reason for the designation are the former ties from the NCC.

    • northernfire says:

      C’mon Jacko, you are spinning like a top. Sing it Bison boy“……….back……….back……….back……….back in the NCC………”
      And then you add St. Cloud and UNO and it’s “Get back……….Get back……….Get back to where you once belonged……….Get back Jacko”

  23. JACK says:

    Listen to northernfire will you. Scorning all NCC teams. LOL. I guess University of Northern Colorado, your travel partner in the BSC, your “peer institution”, doesn’t exists? LOL. Have it your way, if they don’t exist I guess they don’t exist.

    As much as they hate and scorn the old NCC, UND cant get away from the NCC teams playing 2 times zones west! lol

    Then they slum around begging for games with the Big 3: NDSU, SDSU and USD. On top of that they scrounge for games with Sioux Falls University! Back to the NSIC & the NCC!

    • northernfire says:

      Sing it Bison boy:
      “What goes up must come down
      spinning wheel got to go round
      Talking about your troubles it’s a crying sin
      Ride a painted ncc bison
      Let the spinning wheel spin”

  24. northernfire says:

    Oh my Jacko, you have gotten mean and nasty. You sound frustrated, unnerved and rattled. Is it becase you are: “……….back……….back……….back……….back in the NCC………”

    Or maybe you prefer some Blood, Sweat and Tears:

    “What goes up must come down
    spinning wheel got to go round
    Talking about your troubles it’s a crying sin
    Ride a painted ncc bison
    Let the spinning wheel spin”

    Sing it Bison boy, shake your booty, Jacko.

  25. JACK says:

    UND and its fans have burned all bridges with the old regional rivals in the NCC except Northern Colorado. UNC is a peer institution. Its one of the reasons UND was so eager to move out west. To rekindle the spirit and glory of the old NCC with The UNC Bears and other peer institutions like SUU and Weber State. Its a good move. A chance to focus recrutiing in areas of the country where they can find young athletes to put the screws to. Yep the old NCC lives on in the new form of UNC and UND in the BSC. NDSU, SDSU and USD have reformed as the Big Dakota 3 in premier football and basketball leagues. No its not back to the NCC it forward with old friends and allies from the NCC. There is a reason UND was not included: The only school and fans that seem to scorn that past and burn their bridges are the folks from UND. That is why they are out west with their peer UNC.

    No back to you singing. It reminds everyone of UNC and UNDs exile out west!

  26. JACK says:

    Oh yea, and dont forget, UND gave up the racists nickname for the Summit, Joe Chapman and Tom Douple! LOL Back to the old nickname you all, flickertails is the bomb!

  27. Jack says:

    UND prepares to resume a rivalry with old NCC foe SDSU this Saturday. UND is heading back, yes back to the NCC, a conference they scorned for the glamor of the mountain states, the west coast and Hollywood and vine. Yes they are a peer institution with old NCC member UNC, Weber State and SUU. They are headed west, an area where they are not well known, and may be able to put the screws to some kids wanting to play college athletics.

    The UND players are talking about the NCC in glowing terms. They must have heard grandpa talking about it because UND quit playing in the NCC and its top teams about a decade ago when they realized they could no longer compete, the old business model of playing out of class in D1 hockey and D2 all other sports was failing and they wanted to hurt the schools that had realized the promise and potential of a D1 move.

    That scorn for the old NCC is evident today and its unlikely to be winning many friends here in the central USA. Its no different in their new home. Out west they are indifferent if not downright confused about what UND is even doing in the BSC. They played 2 BSC to be teams and 1 struggling BSC member losing them all this year. I dont think resentment is too far behind.

    Back to the NCC? No, not for UND. But SDSU would beg to differ and so would UNC. UND is back to the NCC as much as they disdain the idea and the schools that made it great. For all of the old NCC bunch here in the central USA, good riddance, glad you got lucky, just don’t start spending taxpayer dollars or raising student athletic fees to pay for your travels to Hollywood and vine.

    So Hollywood, it is back to the old NCC for all of us, but some still have honor and self respect. Some still belong here at home.

  28. Scribe says:

    If you guys are done I need a clarification on the Badger basketball game.:

    Is it going to be scored a moral victory?

    UND lost 85-53. Last season UND was literally one of the worst teams in the country. Considering they were overwhelming underdogs and played well (at least compared to last year) and everybody is feeling good about the “progress”, can the moral victory, so common with the football team, be called?

  29. Darrell S says:

    Jack: You continue to ingnore the fact that the Big Sky was NDSU’s first and foremost choice for a D1 conference and they were “rejected,” yes, REJECTED! Deal with it.

  30. Darrell S says:

    The Big Sky has two “seeded” teams in the FCS Football Championships. Not a bad showing compared to “at large, play-in” entries.

  31. GoYotes says:

    Hi gang as a USD alumnus I have to say I was super excited when the Big Sky invited UND and USD. From what I’m reading here, I can tell you SDSU treats us with the same disdain as NDSU treats UND (and they are super passive-aggressive about it as well…they won’t even play us). I loved the idea of sticking it to them and joining the Big Sky, the conference both of them wanted very badly to join a few years back. USD-UND would have been blazing their own trail and not following in the footsteps of others as we are so often accused.
    Now, there was the matter of paying a fine to the Summit League, but I can tell you USD was using that as an excuse to give the MVFC the time it needed to make the invite happen. I have to say I am pretty happy with the MVFC. It is a football conference nearly on par with the Big Sky. The thing I like best though is it sets up relationships with schools in the Missouri Valley Conference.
    You see, the Summit League ain’t all that. It’s the Great West with a basketball bid, where teams go to get started in Division I. No school save Western Illinois has spent more than 15 years there, they’ve all moved on to join the MVC, OVC, MAC, or Horizon League. The Big Sky, however, is a destination conference with a long and stable history. UND will never need to switch conferences again. Now, USD will have to hope for a shakeup that will put us in a more attractive conference someday.
    That said, with all the volatility in the major conferences I think we will see that happen. It would be nice to see some kind of new NCC emerge with all four someday. What we won’t see is the schools going back to DII. It was the likes of U of Mary, Northern State, SD Tech, and Sioux Falls U moving to DII that pushed USD to DI, not SDSU’s move (though to be fair, SDSU showed more foresight than we did).
    My prediction… NDSU has the advantage of being in a more urban area, they will eventually thumb their nose to UND again, going FBS and joining the WAC. UND will be forever happy in the Big Sky. USD and SDSU will toil away in the misfit Summit for years until their MVC dreams finally come true.
    Congrats Sioux fans. Kind of wish we were coming along for the ride.

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