Petition: Aztecs vs Jackrabbits

San Diego and South Dakota fans ask for deciding SDSU game


Zachary Simon, Reporter


Are you ready for an SDSU vs. SDSU smackdown?

Judging from an online petition, there’s an appetite for it.

Over 1,100 people have signed a petition created recently by user “The Real SDSU,” which urges South Dakota State University to schedule a football game Sept. 2 against San Diego State University.

“Two SDSU’s playing for bragging rights? Yes, please,” one commenter on the petition said. Another added, “This would be an awesome match-up! Go Jacks!”

Unfortunately for signers of the petition, San Diego State, a member of the Mountain West Conference, recently filled their Sept. 2 opening and will play Idaho State. But it was that brief opening on both schedules that got people talking.

The petition comes after ESPN mistakenly showed San Diego State football highlights while discussing South Dakota State’s run defense during their coverage of the FCS playoff game between North Dakota State and Incarnate Word in December.

That mistake isn’t the first public mix-up between the two schools, as ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt misidentified the school abbreviation as San Diego State in 2016. Van Pelt amended his statement by wearing Jackrabbits gear during a later broadcast, but the mistake frustrated many Jackrabbits fans.

There have been plenty of the mistakes on various networks over the years, and many Jackrabbit fans have had enough.

“They’re obvious mistakes,” said Hannah Van Stedum, a freshman at SDSU. “It’s frustrating they can’t get it right after so many years of SDSU being good at football.”

But, according to Justin Sell, South Dakota State director of athletics, there have not been any talks with San Diego State about scheduling a game. College football schedules typically have 11 games, eight of which are conference games and three of which are non-conference games.

“It’s challenging in a short amount of words to describe the scheduling process,” Sell said. “It’s complex and there’s more nuance than you could duly explain.”

This fall, the Jackrabbits begin their conference schedule at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium Sept. 30 against North Dakota.

Non-conference schedules are decided by the individual schools, and are more complex to create than conference schedules, Sell said. Sometimes, one school pays another to play at its field. Other times, teams agree to play at one school’s field one year and the other team’s field the next year. Teams can also elect to play at a neutral site, which the Jackrabbits are doing next season when they head to Target Field in Minneapolis to play Drake Sept. 16.

Scheduling decisions involve other factors too, including the makeup of the team and strength of schedule, among others, and are often made years in advance. But the scheduling ultimately comes down to putting the team in the best position in the postseason.

“My responsibility is to help craft a schedule that the football coaches feel really good about and will help us get into the playoffs,” Sell said.

Because of the complexities in the schedule building process, it’s difficult for a petition to influence immediate schedule decisions. But the athletic department prioritizes giving the fans a great game-day experience, which includes creating matchups fans will be interested in.

“It’s good to know what interests fans,” Sell said.

According to Jamie McConeghy, San Diego State senior associate athletic director of communications & media relations, the Aztec’s athletic department is not aware of the petition.

“We wouldn’t be opposed to playing FCS schools,” McConeghy said. “All the best to South Dakota State.”

Although it seems unlikely the two schools will play any time soon, they do have a brief athletic history. Between 2004 and 2006, the schools played two basketball games against each other. San Diego won both games by at least 15 points.

“It’ll be cool to see how we play coming off of a national championship and the confidence we have,” Van Stedum said.