Monday, August 20, 2012

Tough Schedule

The University of Northern Iowa (UNI) football team puts together a competitive team almost every season as a Football Champion Series (FCS) school. The Panthers are often near the top of the Missouri Valley Conference standings—a strong league. Plus, UNI is a regular participant in the FCS playoffs.

But this season, the Panthers have a non-conference schedule that would make most FCS teams sweat profusely. UNI plays at Wisconsin in week one and then travels to Iowa in week three. That is two BCS (Bowl Championship Series) teams in one season. Many FCS teams play one BCS school every season, but playing two is hardly the norm.

UNI is playing two higher division schools for one reason—money. The Panthers need the paychecks to keep their athletic department afloat. UNI had depended upon state monies to fund it athletic program in the past, but state told UNI to wean itself from the funding.

Frankly, UNI is having trouble paying the bills. In recent years, the Panthers have dropped sports including baseball. Apparently, their only self-supporting program is men’s basketball.

UNI hopes to be competitive in these two games, but the main things are to collect the checks and stay relative healthy. Then even with a couple non-conference losses, the Panthers can use the tough start to build toughness for a conference title run and an appearance in playoffs.

No comments: