Fans of North Dakota State and other Missouri Valley Football Conference teams got some good news this past Monday so they won't have to see each other in the playoffs so much going forward.
FARGO—The Division I FCS playoffs took a crucial step in altering its structure when the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee approved a recommendation of the possibility of an extra charter flight.
Missouri Valley Football Conference commissioner Patty Viverito said the policy would only go into effect if at least four teams from one conference make the 24-team field.
The proposal still has one hurdle to clear—approval by the NCAA Division I Council, which doesn't meet until October. But Viverito said if approved the mandate would go into effect for this year's playoffs.
This proposed change comes after the 2015 FCS Playoffs, where five MVFC teams made the field of 24, yet due to "regionalization", all were put on the same side of the bracket despite only two teams being seeded (top eight are seeded and given a bye).The MVFC has sent five teams to the playoffs in the last two seasons while the CAA sent four. The Big Sky sent four teams in 2013 and despite only having 20 playoffs teams in 2011, the CAA had five playoff teams.
Unlike the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament where teams are flown all over the country in a short period of time, the NCAA Division I FCS Playoffs are "regionalized", where teams from the same conference are grouped together to cut down on needing costly chartered flights and help the bottom line. This increases the chance of rematches, which has happened to five-time defending National Champions North Dakota State.
In 2012 and 2014, the Bison played, and defeated, rival South Dakota State in the second round after the Jackrabbits won their first round game. In 2012, the rematch came three weeks after the first meeting.
Another examples comes from Montana. In 2014, the Griz hosted San Diego in the first round before traveling to Big Sky rival Eastern Washington in the second round. 2015 had Montana host South Dakota State in the first round before facing North Dakota State, who the Griz beat in the FCS Kickoff in Missoula, in Fargo in the second round.
It could be claimed that this news policy will only help big conferences like the MVFC, the CAA or the Big Sky while conferences that only get 1-2 teams in will still have to face their closest regional opponent if they're not affected by seeding. That schools like The Citadel and Charleston Southern, who are 17 miles apart but in different conferences, will always face each other in the playoffs if neither team is seeded. Then, even if one is seeded, the other will be put in the first round game to face them.
However, it seems like this one bit of change is all the FCS is getting for now. Playoff regionalization is the most cost-effective way in a time where FCS schools need to keep costs down. The NCAA takes a large percentage of the ticket revenue from these games (50% for the first round and increases to 75% in the semifinals and 100% of the championship game) and the TV contract doesn't pay much, if anything, to the schools. The NCAA, which could afford the extra charter flights, isn't keen on spending fractions from their coffers.