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Kolpack: If Colgate can do it, pretentious Ivys can also do playoff football

Colgate head football coach Dan Hunt. Colgate Athletics photo1 / 2
Colgate head football coach Dan Hunt. Colgate Athletics photo2 / 2

FARGO -- The Patriot League in 2013 decided to join the real world of NCAA Division I FCS football and voted to allow athletic scholarships. This would be akin to arming the 13 colonies with rifles in 1775, rather than swords, in their fight with Britain for independence.

Forgive me if I’m a bit sentimental this week with Colgate coming to town for Saturday’s FCS quarterfinals. When North Dakota State hosts a private institution that was founded in the early 1800s in the FCS quarterfinals Saturday, Dec. 8, I just can’t help but think of American history.

Especially with the name of Colgate’s conference.

For the record, Patriot League football consists of Colgate, Holy Cross, Georgetown, Lehigh, Lafayette, Fordham and Bucknell. All private, mostly liberal arts schools that if you don’t get financial aid and have to ask how much it is to go there, you’re probably not going to go there.

It makes for a tougher recruiting road, also. Colgate head coach Dan Hunt, who has been at the school for 24 years, five as head coach, knows all about the obstacles. So he doesn’t fight it, instead concentrating on the mentality of potential recruits.

Which are some of the same attributes NDSU looks for in its recruiting.

“I think we’re playing a team that does it better than anybody else,” Hunt said. “We try to recruit to our culture and what we want our players to be. We don’t get caught up in who else is recruiting them or their ‘stars’ or anything else.”

The Patriot has a scholarship maximum of 60 scholarships, which is just three short of the FCS allowable of 63. The fact the Patriot League presidents went from zero to 60 in a relative short period of time was a much-needed commitment to the FCS as a whole.

Although some of us will never forget the look on former NDSU head coach Craig Bohl’s face before the Bison faced Patriot member Lehigh in the 2013 FCS quarterfinals. Bohl was asked about the Patriot League not having football scholarships.

His non-verbal cue suggested Patriot schools found money for their athletes, it just wasn’t classified as athletic scholarships.

Whatever the case, good for the Patriot diving into the pocket book and making a run for a national title. Wouldn’t it be nice if its academic brother, the Ivy League, would do the same thing?

The logic of the Ivys shunning the playoff system because it would be more games and take away from academics in November and December does not make sense. If these are truly some of the brightest student-athletes in the country, shouldn’t they be able to handle the load of another game or two better than schools who accept students with lesser ACT standards?

You’re Ivy smart. You look at a problem and figure it out in five minutes, the same problem that would take me 20. Last fall semester, NDSU had 20 players who achieved a 4.0 grade-point average, meaning they went through the rigors of final exams while preparing for the rigors of FCS playoff games.

The Ivy has no problem with its schools competing in the NCAA hockey tournament. Or the NCAA basketball tournament. If the Ivy believes that too many football games take away from academics, it may want to revisit hockey that approaches professional sports for length of season.

Here’s the crux: Colgate is an academically prestigious school that some would say is just as Ivy League as the Ivys. Hunt admitted this week is brutal with final exams and final projects.

But he also said, “I think it brings them together.”

If the 'Gate can mesh playoff football with academics, so can the pretentious Ivys.

Jeff Kolpack

Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.

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