Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications
By Bennett Conlin
With the FCS National Championship just days away, NDSU fans are sure to find their way into your social media feeds. The Bison fans are among the best in football, and they know their stuff.
While there are a few bad apples online, NDSU fans are smart and savvy. They’re also very wrong about one thing: NDSU’s past decade of excellence.
JMU had a more impressive stretch than NDSU from 2010-19.
Yep, that’s right. Despite what NDSU fans say, JMU’s past decade was better than NDSU’s. Here’s why.
Let’s start with the obvious. The FargoDome. North Dakota State has an unfair advantage playing indoors.
The Bison have only lost one playoff game in the history of the FargoDome. Why? Because they’re so comfortable playing indoors, while other teams are used to battling the elements.
When JMU wins home playoff games, it comes in the natural elements of Bridgeforth Stadium. When Mickey Matthews invented football, he wanted the game played outside. That’s what JMU does.
Every week, the Dukes risk getting the common cold by playing outdoors. They brave the elements, even if that means getting rained on. North Dakota State, on the other hand, plays in an indoor climate similar to that of your local gym.
Imagine going to a hot yoga class. That’s the equivalent of what the Bison have done for the past 10 years on game day.
Stunningly, since 2011, only ONE team that plays its home games outdoors has won a national title. That’s right … it’s the JMU Dukes.
Let’s switch gears to a coaching anomaly that can only be described as an unfair advantage. Since 2011, seven of the eight national championship-winning head coaches were named either Chris or Craig. Only one, Mike Houston, was named Mike.
Interestingly, NDSU had coaches with the names Chris and Craig during their recent title runs. That helps explain much of the team’s success.
Now, let’s get to the selection committee bias. The selection committee loves North Dakota State. The Bison almost always receive a top-8 seed. Most of the time they earn a top-2 seed.
JMU, on the other hand, wasn’t seeded last season. The Dukes went on to lose to Colgate as an unseeded team. The Bison then blew out Colgate as the No. 1 seed.
Was NDSU better than JMU last season? Probably, but we’ll never truly know because they didn’t square off as seeded teams at a neutral venue.
The overall record in the previous decade makes NDSU seem like a better program. That’s a logical argument, but in two matchups last decade, JMU outscored NDSU 40-34. Numbers never lie.
North Dakota State is great. But when you start to dive into the facts (playing indoors, coaches with names that start with Cs, seeding advantages), it’s clear the Bison are a product of incredibly good fortunes.
As we head into 2020, remember that the 2010s belonged to the Dukes.