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Klaus: FBS teams need to stop scheduling the Bison

| Friday, September 23, 2016

This past Saturday, North Dakota State defeated then-No. 13 Iowa 23-21 on a game-winning field goal as time expired.

The upset should not have surprised anyone familiar with the team, as it was nothing but a mundane outcome for the Bison, who — despite competing at NCAA’s FCS level — extended their winning streak against teams in college football’s top level to six straight.

Now, I am not here to indulge in the pointless argument that North Dakota State is good enough to be a part of the FBS. Besides their six straight wins against FBS teams, North Dakota State has won five straight championships at its current FCS level and — as the current top-ranked FCS team — are favored to also extend that streak to six at season’s end. Carson Wentz, who led the Bison to their two most recent championships, was drafted No. 2 overall in last April’s NFL Draft and is already making an impact at the top professional level for his 2-0 Philadelphia Eagles.

While it is obvious that North Dakota State should be competing regularly at the FBS level, I am truly dumbfounded at how the Hawkeyes and other FBS teams have continuously agreed to include the Bison on their schedules. North Dakota State represents the epitome of a team that any contender should try to bypass in their schedule-making process.  Not only do the Bison represent a realistic, if not probable, chance of defeat for FBS opponents, there are also only marginal benefits in terms of impressing the College Football Playoff committee for beating a FCS school, no matter how strong they are perceived to be.

Adding to the nonsensical decision to schedule North Dakota State is the fact that the Bison, like other small nonconference foes, have been paid to come and defeat FBS teams. Last week, Iowa doled out a half a million dollars to potentially have their dreams of making this year’s playoff dashed. Similarly, Iowa State, Kansas State, Colorado State, Minnesota and Kansas have all effectively purchased losses from the FCS juggernaut.

Another questionable dimension to Iowa’s scheduling is the coincidence that North Dakota State’s former Athletic Director, Gene Taylor, is now second in command at Iowa after switching programs in 2014. If anyone had been able to advise the Hawkeyes that scheduling the Bison was a bad idea, it seems like Taylor would have been the candidate. Instead, the Hawkeyes lost a no-win contest that certainly sets them back after their successful run to being on the verge of last season’s College Football Playoff.

While I know that football schedules in college are sometimes constructed years in advance, evidence has been out for a full half-decade now regarding the dangers of scheduling the Bison. Until North Dakota State immerses itself in the FBS, it will continue to be astonishing if teams decide to schedule — and pay for — an opportunity to lose to them.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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