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Bobcats and Griz Face Scheduling Difficulties
Montana State released its 2008 football schedule last week and it left more than one person scratching their head.
The FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) Bobcats will play two teams from FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) conferences, one Division II team and one team that won’t count towards getting in the 16-team FCS playoffs in its non-conference slate. That kind of schedule leaves MSU with a lot of work to do to get in the playoffs.
According to Peter Fields’, “From the AD’s Desk” column on MSU’s Web site, a couple things are going on that make the schedule what it is. First, it’s difficult to find FCS teams to play in Bozeman without returning the favor, which in turn makes it tough to schedule at least six home games. Second, the school can always use the money, and FBS teams pay for FCS teams to come play them.
The NCAA says teams typically need seven wins against Division I teams and MSU has 10 such games, but two of those are against FBS schools, Minnesota of the Big Ten and Kansas State of the Big 12. The Bobcats are 4-25 since 1978 (the season I-AA/ FCS football began) against I-A/FBS teams, but three of those wins came against mid-major Fresno State between 1978 and 1984.
Considering all that, the Bobcats will probably need to go at least 7-1 in their Big Sky Conference games to get in the FCS playoffs as an at-large team. The other options are to win the league outright or win the tie-breaker for the league’s automatic bid.
Some Montana fans are also wondering about their football schedule albeit for different reasons.
In this case the criticism is that the teams on the schedule and where they play them won’t properly prepare UM for the FCS playoffs. UM will play at FCS Cal Poly, then host FCS teams Southern Utah and UC Davis. They will also host Division II Central Washington.
A year ago Montana played three non-conference games nn all at home nn against Southern Utah , Division II Fort Lewis and Albany en route to going undefeated, then lost in the opening round of the playoffs to Wofford.
Whether that is realistic thinking or not is hard to say, but UM officials have similar problems scheduling games.
Montana with its 25,000-seat stadium doesn’t need to play money games against FBS schools, since they can do just as well financially playing a Division II team at home. The tough part comes when trying to get a school to play in Missoula without offering a return trip.
Beginning this year, Montana will begin a five-game series by playing Cal Poly on the road before the Mustangs play at UM three years in a row. The series will culminate when the Grizzlies travel to Cal Poly the fifth year.
Playing a road game against a quality opponent like the Mustangs will definitely season the Grizzlies and winning just two of the three games against the FCS non-conference opponents will mean they need to go just 5-3 in the league to reach seven wins.
A positive development at MSU’s spring camp is that former Capital High star Clay Bignell has been penciled in as the back up to All American middle linebacker Bobby Daly, also of Capital High. He joins former Capital teammate Dustin O’Connell (defensive end) on the MSU two-deep.
Sidelines: Bobcats and Griz face scheduling difficulties
By Tom Stuber, Helena Independent Record