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Jessen announces DAC football day at the Fargodome

Press Photo by Chris Aarhus Dakota Athletic Conference commissioner LaVern Jessen, left, speaks while Dickinson State athletic director Roger Ternes listens during a press conference to announce a football day featuring four conference games to be played Nov. 8 at the Fargodome.

Dakota Athletic Conference commissioner LaVern Jessen announced Friday that the conference will play four games at the Fargodome on Nov. 8, the final week of the regular season.

Dubbed "The DAC Bowl," all four games will count toward the conference standings, meaning each school will play two conference games against a rival DAC opponent during the regular season.

"I think our conference coaches and athletic departments are personally excited about this venture," Jessen said. "It's a great opportunity to showcase the outstanding football that is played in the NAIA and the DAC."

Dickinson State athletic director Roger Ternes, who is in charge of the football portfolio for the conference, said it's a unique event in NAIA.

"There's going to be no one in this country in NAIA that's going to be doing anything like this," Ternes said. "We're blazing a trail."

Pairings are based on DAC standings and won't likely be determined until the prior week's games are finished. The Nos. 7 and 8 teams in the conference will play against each other as will the Nos. 5 and 6 teams. The top four teams will compete in a 1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3 format.

Jessen said the thought of the top two teams playing against each other did enter the equation, but was decided against due mainly to playoff considerations.

"At that time of year, maybe we have two teams still contending for playoff berths," Jessen said. "If we play 1 vs. 2, then one of them gets a loss and that could knock them down in the rankings to the point where they could no longer be considered for a playoff game."

Many DAC schools have struggled to find nonconference games and this event means each team will have one less date on the schedule to have to worry about finding an opponent.

"We've had a very difficult time finding nonconference games (for) our conference," Jessen said. "Sometimes, teams will end up with a real unbalanced schedule."

Jessen also discussed the event happening on a Sunday rather than a Saturday. Because the North Dakota State University football team has first priority every in-season Saturday at the Fargodome, the games will most likely have to be on Sunday, though there is a small chance they could be moved to Nov. 7 if the Bison don't have a home game that day.

"Right away, it looked like they were not going to use the Nov. 7 date and if that would have happened, we would have moved it to Saturday," Jessen said. "... It's looking more and more like the Bison will be taking that Saturday.

"I think it depends on the time. I'm thinking the Bison will get their schedule firmed up relatively quickly."

Dickinson State coach Hank Biesiot said the event allows prospective student-athletes and others to see DAC football.

"It's some exposure in an area where we don't play a lot," Biesiot said.

The exposure to the cold played a small role as well. With the final games of the regular season being played indoors, DAC schools won't have to worry about enduring November weather, unless they make the playoffs.

"The weather can be kind of iffy," Ternes said. "(This) will create a new environment for us to play in."

Jessen called the first year a "trial period," and said if it's a success, it may become an annual event that could be moved to different sites in the future.

"There may be some interest from Dickinson with the new facility," Jessen said. "We have a lot of confidence that it's going to be successful. I think (athletic directors) are going to be willing to look at any kind of an option to keep it going."