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 toÂ UND? Certainly not.
Lots has been discussed in the past 24 hours about the ramificationsÂ 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 footballÂ a stable home. It still provides automaticÂ qualifying status for the postseason. It still gives Sioux coaches firepower on theÂ 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.
YouÂ can’t blame USD for making the move it did. Anyone in a similar position would have.Â UND was never in that position.
MVFC commissioner Patti Viverito told the Â Associated Press that once she found out that UND and USD weren’t a package deal, that she made a buzzer-beatingÂ 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 onÂ 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.