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October 07, 2004

No Quick Successes In D-1A Football

FROM THE GRASS-IS-GREENER DEPARTMENT comes a status report of football programs that have been newcomers to Division I-A over the past 15 years.

The consensus sentiment is embodied in a short quote from Buffalo law professor William Grenier, who recently retired as the school’s president. Grenier groaned, “God, football is slow (to build).”

Nine of the 15 schools have had losing records since making the move. Their combined record is 333-442-4 (.430 winning percentage).

Notable exceptions to the long slow build have been Connecticut and Troy State.
UConn is the only school of the 15 that is in a BCS conference (Big East). Last year, before joining the Bog East, UConn achieved a surprising 9-3 record against a fairly tough schedule.

Troy State has been in I-A only since 2002, yet it has enjoyed unprecedented donor support and is favored to win the Sun Belt conference championship this year.

Common to many in the group of 15 is the somewhat onerous NCAA average attendance requirement of 15,000 spectators. Last year, eleven of the schools averaged less than 15,000, including Florida International with 7571; Florida Atlantic with 5882; Idaho with 12,064 and Buffalo with 12,419.

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Meanwhile, from the University of Idaho comes word of a task force whose 161-page report has raised the question of whether the Vandals should drop down to Division I-A football.

The report states that anticipated revenue increases have not been realized. Beleaguered AD Rob Spear has said that the accusation is “totally misleading,” and that the report includes “misinformation and an overall tone that really questions the value of athletics.”

University president Tim White says that Idaho must raise its resources to be competitive in D1-A. Then, after eight years, if the Vandals haven’t succeeded, he would be willing to raise the issue again.

Eight years? Wow.

Formerly a provost at Oregon State University, White said that Pac-10 program was "down in the dumps 28 consecutive years.'' It made strategic investments in scholarships and facilities, he said, and has begun to turn things around. "It takes time to do that,'' he said.

Twenty eight years? Double wow.

Division I-A is very tough competition. Ask any of the above. Or Army, or San Jose State, or Saint Mary’s, or . . . .

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(this 374 word excerpt—with attendant commentary—was distilled from a 1090 word article from the Orlando Sentinel of 9-30-04 and an 899 word article from the Idahostatesman.com of 9-25-04)