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MVFC, Big Sky commissioners stunned by conference expansion elsewhere
Patty Viverito has been the commissioner of the Missouri Valley Football Conference since 1982. There’s not much she hasn’t seen.
Then again, nobody foresaw what happened last week – like Nebraska joining the Big Ten Conference and Colorado jumping to the Pac-10. It’s a series of events that left even Viverito searching for words.
That’s saying something.
“Blown away,” she said. “I don’t know what to believe or what not to believe.”
The good news for the Division I Football Championship Subdivision Missouri Valley is the movements have been, or apparently will be, confined to Football Bowl Subdivision programs. But, make no mistake, FCS commissioners are on guard.
Big Sky Conference commissioner Doug Fullerton was busy Thursday talking with league presidents.
Naturally, they all had questions.
“They wanted to know what this all means,” Fullerton said. “I said, ‘If you know, let me know.’”
Viverito, in her address to the Missouri Valley presidents last week, presented a series of speculative scenarios of what could happen to various schools across the country. Then she apologized to them.
“What I prepared is woefully outdated,” she told them, “because I wrote it 24 hours ago.”
Things are happening that quickly on the college landscape. Will it filter down to FCS programs like North Dakota State?
“We’re committed to the Missouri Valley and I don’t see that changing unless the Missouri Valley falls apart,” said NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor.
That is very doubtful.
The Missouri Valley is one of the most stable leagues in the country. Since its inception in 1985 – Viverito has been the only commissioner – there have been just two defections in Eastern Illinois to the Ohio Valley Conference and Western Kentucky to FBS Sun Belt Conference. Viverito calls that move “a warning shot for anybody who thinks (FBS) is a good idea.”
The Hilltoppers currently own a 20-game losing streak. Since starting a full FBS schedule in 2008, they are 2-22. Once a Missouri Valley title contender, they are now an FBS doormat.
“We really haven’t had anybody other than Western Kentucky flirt with going FBS,” Viverito said. “All you have to do is look at what’s happening in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and say that didn’t really make sense.”
Northern Iowa of the Missouri Valley, which recently conducted a study of FBS that included paid consultants, concluded that the school simply could not make the move. Viverito said school president Ben Allen shared the results at the Presidents Council meeting.
“It just reinforced in a real positive way that what we’re doing makes sense for our schools,” Viverito said. “That being said, a lot of things don’t make sense that are happening. We basically affirmed what we’re doing and hope the world doesn’t come crumbling down around us.”
Still, the commissioner plays the “what if” game. What if the FBS Mid-American Conference came after Youngstown State? What if the MAC also went after Illinois State? What if the Big Sky Conference changed its mind and wanted North Dakota State and South Dakota State?
Considering the history of the Missouri Valley, movement seems unlikely. But then again, “there have been some really wild things happening,” Viverito said.
By Jeff Kolpack