Idaho completed an unprecedented move this week in becoming the first program to leave FBS for FCS. And the Vandals had no choice, really, after they were relegated to FBS No Man’s Land when the Sun Belt gave them the boot earlier this spring.
But Idaho isn’t alone.
New Mexico State was also dismissed from the Sun Belt and the Big Sky Conference, with Idaho’s future membership already secure, is targeting the Aggies as well, according to the Billings Gazette.
The pitch outgoing commissioner Doug Fullerton (he’ll step aside June 30) is that life in the Big Sky won’t be much different than that of the Sun Belt. In fact, it may be better.
“I couldn’t be more excited about the upside the Big Sky has over the next five years,” Fullerton said last summer. “I think you will see us expand into different territories, just as a brand.”
Adding New Mexico State would make the Big Sky even, uh, bigger. The Aggies would be the league’s 15th member, stretching the conference’s footprint from Washington to New Mexico and North Dakota to California.
Most FCS conferences do not split into divisions — a 24-team playoff negates the need for a conference championship game — but options to expand to a more even 16 teams abound. North Dakota State is the White Whale of FCS and South Dakota State makes sense for a lot of the same reasons as the Bison, but prying either away from the Missouri Valley would be tough.
UT-Rio Grande Valley has commissioned a committee — led by Mack Brown — to explore adding football and competes in Division I in other sports.