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Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
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andybible1995 Offline
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Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
This thread is a continuation of the previous thread addressing whether or not the FCS needs either the ASUN or WAC conferences to sponsor football at that level.

The Pioneer League is one of two non-scholarship football leagues at the FCS level. It's stretched from the Northeast all the way to California. 10 members are private schools, and 1 is public (Morehead State). It's a conference that doesn't have any direction. The only meaningful rivalry is between Bulter and Valparaiso. Stetson and Jacksonville had another rivalry, but Jacksonville doesn't have a football program anymore.

10 of the 11 members are all private schools. Certainly, they can spend some extra money extra money to have scholarship football in a geographically tight conference. Morehead State should have left the Pioneer League and joined the OVC a long time ago, like Austin Peay did.

With all this in mind, if all of the members in that league decided to sponsor scholarship football, and the Pioneer League ceased to exist, where would they all go?

Here are all the destinations the teams could end up at:
Butler-(MVFC for football, Big East for non-football sports)
Davidson-(CAA for football, A-10 for non-football sports)
Dayton-(MVFC or CAA for football, A-10 for non-football sports)
Drake-(MVFC)
Marist-(NEC for football, MAAC for non-football sports)
Morehead State-(OVC)
Presbyterian-(Big South, bringing them back for scholarship football would get the Big South out of their partnership with the OVC for football if the Big South can also acquire Norfolk State, NC Central and SC State from the MEAC)
San Diego-(Big Sky for football, WCC for non-football sports)
St. Thomas (MN)-(MVFC for football, Summitt League for non-football sports)
Stetson-(ASUN)
Valparaiso-(MVFC)

The influx of teams to the MVFC could cause the conference to split. If that happens, would the Summitt League be willing and be interested in sponsoring football in the event of a split?
(This post was last modified: 05-08-2022 06:07 PM by andybible1995.)
05-08-2022 04:19 PM
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whittx Offline
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
The Pioneer League (along with the former MAAC football league) exists because the NCAA required D1 schools to play all sports at the same level. My response is would any of the former D3 football D1 schools have eventually gone D1 in football without this requirement?
05-08-2022 05:04 PM
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chargeradio Offline
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
The Pioneer League fills a niche. Some schools do graduate to scholarship football (i.e. Austin Peay), some use it to avoid dropping football altogether (Presbyterian).

If anything, San Diego needs to recruit some of their WCC movers to join them, so the WCC can become a regionalized counterpart to the PFL.
05-08-2022 05:37 PM
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DFW HOYA Offline
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
(05-08-2022 04:19 PM)andybible1995 Wrote:  The Pioneer League is the only non-scholarship football league at the FCS.

Don't forget the Ivy League.
05-08-2022 06:00 PM
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andybible1995 Offline
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
(05-08-2022 06:00 PM)DFW HOYA Wrote:  
(05-08-2022 04:19 PM)andybible1995 Wrote:  The Pioneer League is the only non-scholarship football league at the FCS.

Don't forget the Ivy League.


You're right. I forgot about that one.

Speaking of the Ivy League, at least that conference has direction as it consists of the elite private schools in the Northeast. My only issue with them is that they don't participate in the FCS playoffs because it would be a distraction to their academic mission. Yale claimed multiple national titles back in the last century, and was considered a powerhouse as a result. Who wouldn't want to see them go up against North Dakota State in the FCS National Championship?
05-08-2022 06:06 PM
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whittx Offline
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
(05-08-2022 06:06 PM)andybible1995 Wrote:  
(05-08-2022 06:00 PM)DFW HOYA Wrote:  
(05-08-2022 04:19 PM)andybible1995 Wrote:  The Pioneer League is the only non-scholarship football league at the FCS.

Don't forget the Ivy League.


You're right. I forgot about that one.

Speaking of the Ivy League, at least that conference has direction as it consists of the elite private schools in the Northeast. My only issue with them is that they don't participate in the FCS playoffs because it would be a distraction to their academic mission. Yale claimed multiple national titles back in the last century, and was considered a powerhouse as a result. Who wouldn't want to see them go up against North Dakota State in the FCS National Championship?

And with the move toward making the schools more accessible to folks that can qualify academically, most Ivy's are giving defacto athletic scholarships to qualified students whose families are making less than $80-100k (depending on the school).
05-08-2022 06:37 PM
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TDenverFan Offline
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
No school would go right from the Pioneer to the MVFC, CAA, or Big Sky. If these schools added scholarships, they'd go to some combo of the WAC, NEC, OVC, Big South, and maybe the ASun.

"10 of the 11 members are all private schools. Certainly, they can spend some extra money extra money to have scholarship football in a geographically tight conference."

The opposite is more accurate. At a private school where scholarships cost $60k+, adding 63 men's scholarships and the equivalent amount of women's scholarships is far more expensive than like 3-4 plane flights a year.
(This post was last modified: 05-08-2022 07:33 PM by TDenverFan.)
05-08-2022 07:32 PM
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DFW HOYA Offline
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
The Pioneer and Ivy have much different operating models.

The PFL schools see football as an enrollment aid-- it's a good way to boost male enrollment without assuming significant fixed costs. The Ivies don't need it for enrollment but it's an opportunity for eight legacy programs to play a schedule that ensures each is (more or less) competitive with each other.

The only non-scholarship program in FCS outside these groups is Georgetown, and because it doesn't fit either model, it struggles as a result.
05-08-2022 08:13 PM
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jimrtex Offline
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
(05-08-2022 08:13 PM)DFW HOYA Wrote:  The Pioneer and Ivy have much different operating models.

The PFL schools see football as an enrollment aid-- it's a good way to boost male enrollment without assuming significant fixed costs. The Ivies don't need it for enrollment but it's an opportunity for eight legacy programs to play a schedule that ensures each is (more or less) competitive with each other.

The only non-scholarship program in FCS outside these groups is Georgetown, and because it doesn't fit either model, it struggles as a result.
The Northeast Conference and Patriot Conference used to restrict scholarships. The Northeast still limits them to 45. When the Patriot started permitting scholarships, Georgetown considered going to the Pioneer, but eventually decided to stick in the Patriot.

Since Georgetown has been in the Patriot they have averaged 1.2 conference wins per season.

There most frequent finishes have been:

0 wins 7 times
1 win 6 times
2 wins 5 times
4 wins twice
05-08-2022 09:03 PM
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MattBrownEP Offline
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
Why is there an assumption that the Pioneer League has no direction? Just because of the geography? Do y'all know why teams bother fielding non scholarship programs to begin with?
05-08-2022 09:05 PM
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andybible1995 Offline
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
(05-08-2022 05:37 PM)chargeradio Wrote:  The Pioneer League fills a niche. Some schools do graduate to scholarship football (i.e. Austin Peay), some use it to avoid dropping football altogether (Presbyterian).

If anything, San Diego needs to recruit some of their WCC movers to join them, so the WCC can become a regionalized counterpart to the PFL.


Presbyterian didn't always have a non-scholarship football team. They just recently became one.
05-08-2022 09:25 PM
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46566 Offline
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
I'm fine with the pioneer league. If anything needs to go is the inability of FBS schools to count the games as a win. Having no scholarships are not really hurting anyone and helps some FCS schools get wins. I wouldn't mind seeing a Ohio State vs Harvard football game or in the case of the pioneer league San Diego State vs San Diego. Playing non scholarship is a choice nothing is stopping said schools from adding scholarships and moving conferences.
05-08-2022 09:34 PM
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andybible1995 Offline
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
(05-08-2022 09:05 PM)MattBrownEP Wrote:  Why is there an assumption that the Pioneer League has no direction? Just because of the geography? Do y'all know why teams bother fielding non scholarship programs to begin with?


It's not just the geography of the league. It's the fact that none of these teams have anything in common with each other, other than they just play non-scholarship football.
05-08-2022 09:38 PM
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
(05-08-2022 09:38 PM)andybible1995 Wrote:  
(05-08-2022 09:05 PM)MattBrownEP Wrote:  Why is there an assumption that the Pioneer League has no direction? Just because of the geography? Do y'all know why teams bother fielding non scholarship programs to begin with?


It's not just the geography of the league. It's the fact that none of these teams have anything in common with each other, other than they just play non-scholarship football.

That’s the way they want it. Football isn’t their flagship sport, they don’t want to break their budget on it, and they don’t want to get killed by scholarship teams.
05-08-2022 09:54 PM
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
(05-08-2022 09:03 PM)jimrtex Wrote:  The Northeast Conference and Patriot Conference used to restrict scholarships. The Northeast still limits them to 45. When the Patriot started permitting scholarships, Georgetown considered going to the Pioneer, but eventually decided to stick in the Patriot.

Georgetown never seriously considered the Pioneer. They had no Plan B when the PL voted in scholarships, and in the long run it was not in their strategic interest.
(This post was last modified: 05-08-2022 10:48 PM by DFW HOYA.)
05-08-2022 10:25 PM
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ccd494 Offline
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
I don't get why people get so bent out of shape at the Pioneer's existence. Just because Marist is playing Valparaiso doesn't mean that North Dakota State-South Dakota State is less enjoyable.
05-09-2022 08:20 AM
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
(05-09-2022 08:20 AM)ccd494 Wrote:  I don't get why people get so bent out of shape at the Pioneer's existence. Just because Marist is playing Valparaiso doesn't mean that North Dakota State-South Dakota State is less enjoyable.

I would surmise the frustration lies in the fact the top FCS programs that are formidable get lumped in together with those Pioneer League programs due to the FCS label.

This association helps push top FCS programs to the G5
05-09-2022 08:29 AM
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
(05-08-2022 08:13 PM)DFW HOYA Wrote:  The Pioneer and Ivy have much different operating models.

The PFL schools see football as an enrollment aid-- it's a good way to boost male enrollment without assuming significant fixed costs. The Ivies don't need it for enrollment but it's an opportunity for eight legacy programs to play a schedule that ensures each is (more or less) competitive with each other.

The only non-scholarship program in FCS outside these groups is Georgetown, and because it doesn't fit either model, it struggles as a result.

Would Georgetown and the Ivies ever go for a plan where Hoyas football is technically an independent but plays a full Ivy League schedule?

Maybe Georgetown could find their stride if they were only playing 1-2 scholarship teams a year (and Patriot League/NEC/MEAC ones at that) and then 8 Ivies and some PFL teams for the remainder?

(Maybe they even work it out so they end the season on the road at San Diego or Stetson each year for a “bowl feel” to close out the year)
05-09-2022 08:49 AM
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
(05-08-2022 09:38 PM)andybible1995 Wrote:  
(05-08-2022 09:05 PM)MattBrownEP Wrote:  Why is there an assumption that the Pioneer League has no direction? Just because of the geography? Do y'all know why teams bother fielding non scholarship programs to begin with?


It's not just the geography of the league. It's the fact that none of these teams have anything in common with each other, other than they just play non-scholarship football.

They're almost all private schools, almost all small enrollment, and most are committed to having a competitive D-I experience in multiple other sports.
05-09-2022 08:50 AM
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ccd494 Offline
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RE: Does the FCS need the Pioneer League?
(05-09-2022 08:29 AM)solohawks Wrote:  
(05-09-2022 08:20 AM)ccd494 Wrote:  I don't get why people get so bent out of shape at the Pioneer's existence. Just because Marist is playing Valparaiso doesn't mean that North Dakota State-South Dakota State is less enjoyable.

I would surmise the frustration lies in the fact the top FCS programs that are formidable get lumped in together with those Pioneer League programs due to the FCS label.

This association helps push top FCS programs to the G5

I disagree. What percentage of football fans know that Marist has a team? 0.0003%? Who is lumping them together?

Who is saying "Hey, I was going to watch the FCS title game, but because Butler and Presbyterian played each other in October, I'm completely out and think NDSU is a joke"?
05-09-2022 09:23 AM
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