If there's one thing that we have learned about realignment over the years it is that capturing top media markets is one of the top priorities. The icing on top is when you can add a college football blue-blood to the mix, like the SEC is doing with the double dip of Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12.
When the Big Ten expanded to include Nebraska (2011) and then Rutgers and Maryland (2014), they brought with them the TV markets in Omaha and Lincoln (with media markets ranked 71st and 107th via the Nielsen DMA rankings respectively) as well as a portion of the top market in New York, which is home to a lot of Terps and Scarlet Knight fans based on proximity.
With the additions of the Sooners and Longhorns to the SEC, there's a lot of questions about what's next. What is the Big 12 going to look like? Will the shift affect the Big Ten, ACC, or PAC-12? How will the Group of Five schools be affected?
Those are all great questions that will be sorted out over the coming weeks, months, and years, but there are also some FCS programs that may be primed for a jump to the FBS level with these realignments as well.
No program at the FCS level has been as dominant as North Dakota State over the last decade or so. Their resume of FCS dominance and national titles under three different head coaches recently doesn't need reviewed, but remember back in 2016 when a darn good NDSU squat beat #13 Iowa and the Bison nearly cracked the FBS top 25 the next week with 74 votes in the AP Poll?
Perhaps the time has come for NDSU test their chops at the FBS level.
According to the Nielsen DMA Rankings used to measure media markets, Fargo is home to 116th strongest market in the country. While that may seem low, the home of the Bison is ranked just ahead of Eugene, OR and just below Lansing, MI when it comes to available media viewers.
Should a call come from the FBS level with interest in adding them, NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen believes they are "well positioned" for a move to major college football.
We've seen a handful of FCS schools make the transition to the FBS level recently, with teams like Charlotte, Liberty, Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State, Georgia Southern all making the transition within the last decade with all seeing success in a variety of areas.
In order to make the jump from FCS to FBS, teams must average an attendance of over 15,000 and sponsor a minimum of 16 varsity intercollegiate teams (including football), with at least six men's or co-ed teams and at least eight all-female teams.
NDSU's attendance ranked 5th in 2019 at the FCS level with over an average attendance of over 17,000 (with 13,000 committed season ticket holders), and they also sponsor 16 varsity intercollegiate teams as well, couple that with their on-field success and they're a prime FBS candidate, and one could argue that they may actually make sense in a few different FBS conferences.
Seeing the success of teams like Liberty, App State and Coastal Carolina, there will certainly be other FCS teams looking to make the jump, but few will be able to bring to the table what NDSU can offer.