Bison, Bobcats on hold

North Dakota State is scheduled to host Montana State in football next fall at the Fargodome.

Sort of.

These days, signing a contract to play a game with another Championship Subdivision (formerly called DivisionI-AA) football team is akin to shaking somebody's hand with your fingers and legs crossed. It's as if it's never a done deal until said program shows up in your stadium.

The Bobcats are apparently toying with the possibility of buying out of the NDSU contract and playing somebody like Texas A&M for big bucks.

This weekend could be a determining factor if NDSU can start printing Montana State tickets. The hot Championship Subdivision issue at the annual NCAA Convention in Orlando, Fla., is a vote on adding a 12th game.


The Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) already ratified the same proposal last year.

NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor is against adding a 12th game for student welfare issues and playoff discrepancies.

A team that goes deep in the playoffs will end up playing 16 games, which Taylor says is too many. Moreover, a 12th game may force some Championship Subdivision teams to play as many as three games against their higher-level brothers. Getting beat up by Big Ten or Big 12 teams could be dangerous to your health.

And if a team doesn't choose to play a 12th game (it won't be mandatory), Taylor asks: how do you differentiate an 8-3 and an 8-4 team that has a tougher schedule?

Taylor senses the vote will be close.

"In our Championship Subdivision meetings, almost every conference was represented by somebody and the feeling in that room was about 50/50," he said. "Now, is that an indication of everybody in the country? It's probably pretty close."

A 51 percent in-favor rate is required for it to pass.

If it is approved, don't expect Taylor to start throwing a temper tantrum. It's one of those ironies: Taylor is philosophically against the extra game butif it does go through, the extra weekend will allow Montana State to play at Texas A&M and North Dakota State.


Plus, NDSU is probably in a better position than most Championship Subdivision teams because it can offer a guarantee. And if the Bison get in the Gateway Football Conference, they would only have to schedule four nonconference games instead of eight in the current setup of the Great West Football Conference.

When NDSU made the Division I move a few years ago, the hope was to bring Montana or Montana State to the dome on a regular basis. How easy? They are similar schools from neighboring states with a history of playing each other.

It hasn't been that simple.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546 or

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
What To Read Next
Get Local