Jackrabbit football will play under new name

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

What’s in a name? Apparently for Jackrabbit athletics, a name is something not to be attached to, as for the second time in the last two years, the Jacks will play teams in the same conference with new names.

On June 6 of this year, all nine presidents of the Gateway Football Conference agreed to change the conference name to the Missouri Valley Football Conference at a meeting in St. Louis. The Missouri Valley Football Conference name was also approved by the co-existing Missouri Valley Conference that operates in several sports, excluding football.

“The old merchandise are just souvenirs,” said SDSU director of athletics Fred Oien, with a smile.

While SDSU will feel minimal impact, the name change will give five members – Illinois State, Indiana State, Missouri State, Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois – an opportunity to compete in the Missouri Valley Conference in the majority of their sports. The only difference is that one name will have “football” in it and the other will not.

Oien was aware that those five football teams will benefit from the added resources of the MVC. The Football League and the Missouri Valley Conference will be separate entities.

“This is going to allow the Missouri Valley Football Conference members to take advantage of year-long positive exposure received by the Missouri Valley Conference,” said Missouri Valley Football Conference commissioner Patty Viverito.

While the conference changed names, the fact that the Valley will send its conference winner with a automatic bid to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision will not change.

“I just want to play. It won’t matter what the name is; that conference will be extremely tough,” said starting senior quarterback Ryan Berry.

The Jacks, who were picked 19th in the Football Championship Subdivision preseason media poll, have a very tough task if they are going to be at the top of the arguably best conference in the nation. Valley teams that are also ranked are North Dakota State who is ranked No. 2 and Northern Iowa is ranked No. 3. These rankings showcase how little room the Jacks have for error.

“I am looking forward to play[ing] the best FCS team in the country,” said Jacks head football coach John Stiegelmeier.

Add non-conference games against Cal-Poly, ranked 14th of the Great West Football Conference, and McNeese State, ranked 10th and the team that will come to Coughlin-Alumni Stadium on Hobo Day (Oct. 4), along with BCS-school Iowa State in August, the Jackrabbits have one of the toughest schedules in the nation.

“I figure as long as it meets our vision for the football program, we will play them,” said SDSU associate athletic director Rob Peterson. “Anyplace, anytime, anywhere. We are not scared to play anyone. We are showing everyone that we are playing teams at the highest level.”