Looks like the old one was closed down so, I thought I would start a new one.
Highlights from the Fargo Forum:
A bigger Sky
By Jeff Kolpack, The Forum
Published Sunday, December 12, 2004
Eight Big Sky Conference college presidents will gather at a Salt Lake City airport hotel Monday to decide if expansion discussion should continue to fly or be grounded.
It's the second step of a three-prong process that was laid out at the last Presidents Council meeting in August. It will also, perhaps, be the most telling.
If the Council agrees to continue, it is expected to decide if it will make campus visits for potential members. North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Northern Colorado and Southern Utah have been the four most-mentioned possibilities.
It is not clear if the University of North Dakota, which sent a letter of inquiry back to the conference last week, will factor into discussions. It is also not known if the presidents will vote on a particular aspect of expansion or -- like it did in the August meeting -- come to an agreement.
"We're right on track," Montana State president Geoffrey Gamble said. "I think the presidents are very serious on this issue. I think they feel expansion is in the best interest of the Big Sky Conference." . . .
If the Big Sky does expand, one issue that will probably be on the table, Fullerton said, is a two-division setup -- something that is becoming more common in other leagues.
The Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 Conference each have two six-team divisions. The Mid-American has a six-team and a seven-team division.
Dividing the Big Sky would help with travel costs, Fullerton said, with North Dakota State and South Dakota State.
"If people want to seriously talk about having the Dakotas, we need to look at divisions," he said.
That would probably require an additional four teams. Although a plan hasn't been publicly discussed, it appears the league would split into a North Division (NDSU, SDSU, Montana State, Montana, Eastern Washington, Portland State) and a South Division (Northern Arizona, Weber State, Cal-Sacramento, Idaho State, Northern Colorado, Southern Utah).
"We're very encouraged that they're talking about a 12-team deal," said NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor. "I think that would save a lot of money and ease some of their concerns."
In football, each team would play its divisional foes every year and rotate on a yearly basis playing three from the other division. In basketball, the conference would probably play a full schedule of 22 home-and-way league games.
More league games, the theory goes, would probably help from a revenue standpoint since fans tend to take more interest in conference games.
The three-step process the Big Sky is taking in its expansion talks are standard to the one most leagues take. In general, they invite applications, go on campus visits and give a thumbs up or a thumbs down.
In general, once a school gets to the campus visit stage, the odds of getting rejected diminish, perhaps significantly.
"They wouldn't be traveling to your school unless they were pretty interested," said former North Central Conference commissioner Noel Olson. "So I would say, yes, that's a pretty good sign." . . .