Missouri Valley Football Conference commissioner Patty Viverito focused on the “bright future” of the conference Monday on a Zoom call with media members during day one of the MVFC Virtual Media Days.
The issue in college football that hits home the most for the MVFC is conference realignment.
“Being located in the Upper Midwest has certainly helped shelter the Missouri Valley Football Conference from the realignment madness, both past and present,” Viverito said. “But conference realignment continues to be disruptive to the FCS overall.
“Despite this stability, the Missouri Valley Football Conference has not been immune to membership changes as you all well know we have admitted Murray State effective for the 2023 season.
In the face of realignment, Viverito called the 2021 season an “unprecedented success” for the MVFC.
“Relative to my peers, (navigating the conference through realignment) has been a piece of cake,” Viverito said.
“If our schools were located in the south, there’s no doubt we wouldn’t look the way we look. I think we are somewhat protected, given (the conference’s) geography.”
The benefits of the conference’s geography include that the important rivalries for schools are within the league.
Still, with Murray State coming into the league, the league will create a schedule structure where teams play every other team in the conference four times in six years. Viverito stated that rivalry games will be protected in this structure, which is good for the South Dakota Showdown Series.
“In order to make this (structure) work, we need to have a six-year plan, because that’s the rotation. Greg Waldron is our scheduling guru and he’s hard at work. He’s already developed the 2023 and 2024 (schedules).
“It’s going to be hard to work to come up with the last four years of that rotation.”
Many teams have made the transition from the FCS to FBS in recent years, which means that the FCS has had to find teams to replace those teams. Viverito believes that the subdivision is still in a good spot as new teams have a history of being successful once making the switch from Division II to the FCS.
The MVFC must decide if it wants to accept new teams into the conference in future seasons. Viverito is going to visit every campus in the conference this fall and meet with the athletic director and president at every university.
“(Our conference) has to have a game plan in place for where we think we will fit into whatever landscape develops,” Viverito said. “To me, the key for success in division one football across the entire division is that we maintain our ties to the highest level of Division I football, and that’s for the good of the game.”
She described the college football landscape as being in a “state of upheaval” because of issues concerning the transfer portal and Name-Image Likeness.
“I could talk about almost any one of those single topics that I mentioned earlier for the rest of the call,” Viverito said. “I’m not going to do that because quite frankly, you can read about all the speculation by the media. What I will tell you is what we have is questions. Nobody has the answers.”
Notable quotes from other coaches on South Dakota’s schedule that spoke on day one:
Bubba Schweigert, North Dakota (USD plays at UND on November 12 at noon)
On getting his team ready for physical play in the MVFC:
“We feel like we can be a really physical football team. If you look at some of the opponents we’ve played in the last few years, physicality is a challenge. We feel like we stepped up to that challenge. We always want to get better and better and better. Don’t get me wrong here but taking care of your team is really important.”
On UND’s Plans for Facilities Upgrades:
“We’re really appreciative our administration with moving some ground right now for our new office complex and getting ready to build onto our indoor practice facility.”
Bobby Petrino, Missouri State (USD hosts Missouri State on November 5 at 1 p.m.)
On His Team Being Able to Gel with High Expectations:
“We’ve got to do a good job of teaching these guys right away, getting them on the field, and put them in position to make plays and not make mistake (by) giving up plays. That’s a huge challenge for us, but our goal is to get the national championship and win it. We’ve got a long haul to do that, one game at a time ahead of us in a really tough schedule. That’ll be fun. We want to have a tough schedule and play against teams that have great players and are really well coached.”
Doug Phillips, Youngstown State (USD travels to Youngstown State on October 29 at 1 p.m.)
On Becoming a More Dynamic Offensive Unit:
“It starts with again the development of our quarterback and receivers. We want to pass the football, which starts with pass protection. Everything starts with protection, whether it’s five-man, six-man, seven-man, being able to tie into one. I really love how we’re able to run the football last year.”