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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 07 2011

Kolpack: If you "have" it, then you can win it all in FCS

The March to McAllen was synonymous with North Dakota State football and its quest for the Division II championship in the 1980s. The title game was in McAllen, Texas, and the phrase nicely rolled off the tongue.

The “march” theme can still be heard on game day at the Fargodome and it’s outdated by a few decades, but that’s another story. With a new division, a new playoff system and a new host for the championship game, it’s time for a new moniker.

The game is still in Texas, only the Division I Football Championship Subdivision title tilt is in the Dallas suburb of Frisco. So, how about “Flight to Frisco?”

Eastern Washington and Delaware will play tonight for the championship at Pizza Hut Park. It pits an eastern team vs. a western team, and it remains to be seen how good of a playoff team Eastern is on green turf.

The Eagles eliminated NDSU in the quarterfinals on its red turf. Hosting a road-weary Villanova team the following week, EWU advanced to tonight’s game even without its best player – running back Taiwan Jones – who got hurt against NDSU.

Had the Bison held on against Eastern, they would have hosted Villanova at the Fargodome the following week in the semifinals.

This is what was most striking with this year’s FCS playoffs: NDSU was practically on the Hector International tarmac to a Flight to Frisco.

Whereas last year at this time you figured the program was a few years away, this year’s march to the quarterfinals shot that theory to pieces. So what happened?

Just like Division II, FCS is a division of the haves and have-nots.

If you have the facilities, if you have the budget and if you have some sense of tradition, then a Flight to Frisco is a matter of putting the other pieces together.

NDSU has it.

We were just blind to it last year in the 3-8 season.

Broken down, there can’t be more than 25 teams annually in a FCS full field of 117 programs that realistically have a title shot. Since 1989, only 11 different schools have won championships.

And those schools came from just four conferences: Southern, Big Sky, Colonial Athletic Association and Missouri Valley.

And what do the likes of Youngstown State, Montana, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern have in common? They have facilities, big budgets and tradition.

In other words, they have everything that NDSU has.


Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia