When 10,000 fans show up at the Fargodome on Saturday to watch UND and NDSU renew their rivalry for the first time in a major sport, it shouldÂ be a wake-upÂ call toÂ administrators that these rivalry games need to be scheduledÂ in every sport, every year.
It doesn’t matter whether UND or NDSUÂ needs the game more. It doesn’t matter how bitter the breakup was for the two schools when NDSU first made the move to Division I. (After all, we’re talking about two pretty revamped administrations.)
What matters is that 10k-plusÂ want to see a dog of a game.Â The Sioux will play the Bison in a nonconference tilt that pits a team 305th in RPI against a team ranked 57th. A record-breaking crowd wants toÂ watch a game not manyÂ in the stands think willÂ be close.
It all seems so simple. How manyÂ athletic departmentsÂ have the luxury of scheduling a nonconference game that will probably be the second-most attended basketball game in the history of the state of North Dakota. (No. 1 being Kansas vs. UND in 2001 at the REA)?
When UND announced its move to join the Big Sky Conference, NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor said renewing the rivalry between the Sioux and the Bison was probably on UND’s back burner at the time, considering all of the rigmarole involved inÂ joining aÂ new conference.
I’m pretty sure no one at UND saw that as the case. Why thenÂ aren’t the Sioux and Bison playing in women’s basketball? Why can’t some setup be concocted for football to work?
No matter what’s to be said about the politics of scheduling, everyone needs a moneymaker.Â That’s not even getting into theÂ collatoral money-making involved, with the amount of buzz and interest generated by the games.
All you seem to hear lately about the rivalry is ‘who needs the game more?’ Well, you could say every college athletic department in the country needs this kind of game.
Just yesterday, I was reading this column on ESPN.com, which reads: “Recently the NCAA reported that only 14 Division I-A programs clear a profit, while no college or university in the United States has an athletic department that is financially self-sustaining. Nobody in Division I — not Alabama, not Auburn, not Oklahoma, nobody — has an athletic department that pays its own way.”
So we could all use the money. So let’s put petty grudges aside, or any other insignificant holdup,Â and get these games in the books.