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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 18 2012

Kolpack: GPI is an election worth tracking

Fargo - There are two major elections that will take place next month. One will decide our elected leaders. The other will decide something more important around here: What teams will make the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

That was a joke. Of course Barack or Mitt is more important. But I’d stack NDSU’s November fortunes a step above Heidi or Rick in the public opinion simply because almost all of us would rather sit in a classroom and listen to fingernails on a chalkboard than watch another Heidi or Rick commercial. What is the ratio these days: one ad every 5 minutes?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s great for company business. And it’s America and we should relish the process. But forgive me if I’m paying more attention to things like the FCS Gridiron Power Index than who’s the bigger liar in a 30-second spot.

Because of its formula, it’s the one poll that for the most part doesn’t discriminate against California Poly for playing at night on the West Coast. We at The Forum know that all too well: When Steve Walker’s final-minute 80-yard touchdown pass to Kole Heckendorf completed an incredible Bison comeback in 2007, the printing press had to practically be halted to get that story in the newspaper. It was late.

It’s a beautiful place, San Luis Obispo, located near wine country just a short drive from the Pacific Ocean. It’s also remote in the world of FCS, where 88 percent of the teams (107 of 122) live east of Interstate 29 and, in Texas, Interstate 35.

The GPI earlier this week had the Mustangs in the same spot I ranked them in my media poll top 25 spot: No. 1. A correction was later made dropping Cal Poly to No. 4 – and having North Dakota State retain its top power poll spot.

Cal Poly is the only unbeaten team that has a win over a Football Bowl Subdivision school, in this case Wyoming. But the Mustangs were ranked 14th in the media poll and 12th in the FCS coaches poll this week.

Move the entire Cal Poly campus to the East Coast, and things would be different. Now, this poll process is always going to be subjective, and second guessing any poll is easier than predicting Rick will trash Heidi or Heidi will trash Rick this week. This hour.

Unless you’re a western FCS playoff veteran like Eastern Washington, Montana or Montana State, getting due recognition in a poll is hard. The GPI has been used by the NCAA since 2008 as a guide in selecting at-large playoff participants. The Missouri Valley Football Conference currently has five teams in the top 15, and at this rate it could be in line for three, or more, celebrating a postseason berth.

Cal Poly’s Big Sky Conference has four in the top six. Which league is better?

In the FCS, it doesn’t matter. It’s all eventually settled on the field.


Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia