FARGO — It looked like any other postseason awards press release from the North Dakota State sports information department. There are so many all-conference, all-American, all-academic or all-whatever teams these days that it gets to be too much.
The latest one on Thursday, however, should be sent to Boston, Providence, R.I., New York City, Philadelphia, Ithaca, N.Y., Hanover, N.H., Princeton, N.J. and New Haven, Conn. Those are the cities or towns of Ivy League schools.
The latest email from NDSU sports information director Ryan Perreault was titled “NDSU puts league-high 72 on Valley football honor roll.”
It was the headline of the news that the Bison had 72 players last semester who achieved at least a 3.0 grade point average. That’s a 3.0 success rate of 67% of the 108-player roster that became the first team since Yale in 1894 to go 16-0.
That’s 16 games, almost an NFL season. That’s 16 games, plus three weeks before the FCS national title game (granted school was mostly done by then) including final exams the week of the FCS quarterfinal game against Illinois State.
The NDSU team GPA was 3.122. Of all the touchdowns tight end Ben Ellefson caught and of all the quarterback sacks and tackles for lost yardage defensive end Derrek Tuszka inflicted on opponents, both received the President’s Council Academic Award that requires a 3.5 cumulative GPA.
The Ivy has been hammered and beaten down over the years because of its policy of not allowing its schools to compete in the FCS playoffs. The doctrine is a mandate by the school presidents who claim that postseason football would hinder the academic performance of their student-athletes.
It’s an oxymoron in the first place because if the Ivy League truly attracts the best and brightest students out there, balancing time and athletics shouldn’t be that big of an issue. The players apparently have no problem handling it from August through November. What’s one school adding a couple, three weeks to the season to compete in the playoffs?
Or if somebody gets good enough making it all the way through to the beginning of January when school isn’t in session anyway? The Ivy allows its basketball teams to participate in the NCAA tournament. The league in 2017 caved in to a four-team postseason conference basketball tournament that is televised on ESPN.
Why is football different?
Let’s call it like it is: Ivy presidents are living in an age when the internet wasn’t a thing. Basketball is no less time consuming than football. How ironic NDSU tied a 16-0 record that was last held by Yale.
Here’s the kicker: The Ivy football programs for the most part appear to be on the up, and it’s well known in the FCS football circles that Ivy head football coaches want to be playoff eligible.
More schools are scheduling more nonconference games out of their comfort zone. Dartmouth, 9-1 last season, is playing at Towson next fall and at New Hampshire in 2021.
Yale beat Richmond of the Colonial Athletic Association 28-27 last fall and blasted Maine of the CAA in 2018.
Princeton, which went unbeaten in 2018 but had nothing further to prove, is playing at VMI of the Southern Conference next year. Two years ago, the Tigers beat Butler by about the same score NDSU beat Butler last season. Ivy schools routinely schedule scholarship teams from the Northeast Conference and top-25 Patriot League teams.
How cool for the FCS if the Ivys decided to begin living in 2020. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: time for the league to go all in on Division I football. The Ivy League brings a sense of history that is hard to match.
Of the top 15 Division I college football rivalries listed on NCAA.com, six are Ivy League matchups. The Ivy League has tradition. NDSU has tradition. Here’s a suggestion for a Bison nonconference destination game: North Dakota State at Harvard.
The way this season went in the classroom, it would also be a matchup of brainiacs.