Will we play USD again?

Brian Kimmes

Brian Kimmes

Our rivals are back. Maybe.

With USD’s recent announcement to pursue the move to Division-I athletics, SDSU and USD have an opportunity to renew an old rivalry. But will the schools embrace the possibility? I say SDSU should make minimal, if any, attempt to restore this once-cherished rivalry.

SDSU has little to gain from a renewed rivalry. We have moved on past the Coyotes. For the past three seasons, SDSU athletics has flourished without playing the Coyotes. Our sports teams are on their way to establishing themselves as legitimate D-I teams. We have a conference for all of our sports, except equestrian, starting next season. Our teams will be eligible for the national tournament soon, and all of the sports but football will be in position to achieve an automatic qualifier to the tournament. Our football team has the possibility of joining the Gateway Football Conference, where it will have an opportunity for an automatic qualifier.

The conference alleviates scheduling concerns, but SDSU has already played some top competition, both at home and away. The Great West Football Conference was ranked the strongest conference in Division I-AA football this past season. The team has played perennial powerhouses Montana and McNeese State on the road, and hosted Georgia Southern at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.

The women’s basketball team recently played host to the University of Southern California, and Marquette University travels to Frost Arena later this season. The Lady Jacks have played Big 10 foes like Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as other top teams like Baylor and Middle Tennessee State.

The men’s team has welcomed NCAA participants University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Utah State to Frost Arena, and gone on the road to play Illinois, Kentucky and Marquette.

On top of scheduling top teams, the Jackrabbits have developed a solid rivalry with the Bison from North Dakota State University. In only a short period of time, the SDSU versus NDSU game has become intense. This past season, the Fargodome was packed full of Bison and Jackrabbit fans. NDSU set a Fargodome attendance record.

Plain and simple, we do not need to schedule USD. We have been scheduling quality opponents, and have developed a new rivalry. Scheduling becomes even less important next season when we become part of the Mid-Continent Conference, and if the football team joins the Gateway.

We still need to schedule non-conference games, I know. But when we have successfully scheduled quality opponents in the past, why go back to USD?

I can only think of two reasons. One is to be helpful. USD is just beginning a difficult transition. We went through the same difficulties a few years ago. We know firsthand how much trouble the move can be. We could be a friendly rival and assist them in their transition. However, I see no need to do that.

I admit I am petty enough to not want to help them out. When SDSU made the decision to make the move to D-I, USD did nothing to help. In fact, they made a point to hold a press conference announcing they were not moving. USD supporters criticized the Jacks’ decision to make the move. Now, they are making the move after SDSU and NDSU have found success.

Because of the success NDSU and SDSU have had, the transition for USD will be easier. South Dakota State and NDSU helped create the Great West Football Conference. Because of the creation of the Great West, a football conference will be easier to get into for USD than it was for SDSU. South Dakota State has played around the country, putting South Dakota on the map, so to speak. They have exposed teams and fans to a team from South Dakota, establishing relationships USD can exploit.

The other reason I see to schedule USD is money. I cannot imagine an SDSU team traveling to Vermillion anytime soon. We don’t need to. If the Coyotes want to travel to hostile territory, I’m sure the Jackrabbits would be willing to accommodate them. I have no doubt that if SDSU hosted the Coyotes in a football or basketball game, it would draw good attendance. It would provide revenue.

Bottom line – we do not owe them anything as formal rivals by assisting them in any way. By us making the move first, we have already assisted them. We succeeded on our own. Let’s see the Coyotes succeed with an easier path. I wish them luck in their transition. They’ll need it.

#1.883398:2207854054.jpg:ball_talk.jpg:Brian Kimmes, Ball Talk: