‘You’re either red or blue’: Coyote-Jackrabbit football rivalry enters second decade of Division I era
SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – Nine years ago, the longest break in the football rivalry between South Dakota and the State of South Dakota ended when the Jackrabbits and Coyotes met in their first competition as members of the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
At 1 p.m. Saturday at the DakotaDome, the intrastate rivals will meet for the 115th time with bragging rights, a conference title and playoff implications at stake.
“Both teams are really very good. Both teams are in the top 20. This increases interest, ”South Dakota athletic director David Herbster told KELOLAND News. “You want to get to this point in a season and play a game that matters.”
Herbster and SDSU Director of Athletics Justin Sell both pointed out that the USD-SDSU football game usually takes place at the end of the regular season. This means that there is always a clearer view of how the conference went.
The Jackrabbits are six days away from winning another rivalry match against North Dakota State in a top-10 clash. Sell said that’s the beauty of the tough MVFC.
“If you want to be really good, you need good competition,” Sell said. “We have certainly been urged by many schools. “
Throughout the Division I era of the USD-SDSU rivalry, Sell has emphasized how much of the various USD-SDSU contests carry extra weight. Whether it’s figuring out who wins a league title, reaches a national tournament or earns a playoff berth, Sell said when the Jackrabbits face the Coyotes, the competition has extra energy.
“It’s not transactional in nature and I think that’s the beauty of this series of rivalry,” Sell said. “It’s not about buying a ticket just to come and watch a game. It is literally about fully supporting your university and finding a passion for it.
SDSU first announced the switch to Division I athletics in 2003, while the USD followed in 2006. The rivalry took an eight-year hiatus before returning in 2012, when the Jackrabbits won. the first Division I 31-8 competition at Brookings.
SDSU has won six more MVFC contests against USD, but the Coyotes still hold the most recent bragging rights of a 24-21 victory in 2019 at the DakotaDome. The 2020 game has been called off for COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s always something that you look forward to, to culminate a season,” Herbster said. “The fans are the ones who circle this one on the calendar.”
Coyotes vs. Jackrabbits 2020-2030
As the second decade of the Division I era dawns, Herbster and Sell said the two programs would continue to benefit from fierce competition.
“It will be very interesting,” Herbster said. “We’re kind of all sitting back and looking at what college football will look like in the next ten years.”
Sell stressed that maintaining SDSU in competitive leagues is paramount.
“There is obviously a lot of movement between the different leagues across the country,” Sell said. “We are convinced that we have a great league and one that we are proud to be a part of. These types of games, getting some of that regional / national exposure is extremely important for us to be successful as sports programs on the road. ”
Herbster said he sees another 10 years of top-level competition and more great games.
He praised the direction in which the rivalry has evolved since the reboot in 2012.
“I think the rivalry is good. I give Justin Sell a lot of credit to SDSU for bringing the rivalry back the right way, ”Herbster said.
Focus remains on athletes
Both Herbster and Sell hailed the creation of the South Dakota Showdown series. Along with South Dakota Corn and Feeding South Dakota, the two universities compete for the Showdown Trophy in 21 different contests for a total of 23 points.
“The set is what makes it special,” Sell said. “The benefits of the entire rivalry series are far greater than any of these sports.”
Herbster said the Showdown series helps connect all athletes to the SHU and it has helped keep the rivalry games special.
“Make it about the game and not about what’s thrown on the ground or some of the other things that have happened,” Herbster said. “I think the fan bases throughout the year know each other, they work together, they are all part of the same family but when it comes to one day in a year you are either red or blue. . ”
“We are both recruiting very good students,” Sell said. “From a sporting point of view, we should really focus on these kids and that should be our main focus. Encourage your team and don’t worry too much about the other team.
Herbster said one of the biggest changes since the rivalry rebooted in 2012 has been the upgrade of both Vermillion and Brookings facilities. SDSU renovated the Coughlin-Alumni Stadium and opened the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in 2016.
The USD built the Sanford Coyote Sports Center ahead of the 2016-17 season, which allowed for more renovations to be carried out at the DakotaDome which ended in 2020.
Saturday could end up being the first sold-out game for the refurbished DakotaDome and Herbster said his staff were happy to show off the improvements.
“We really haven’t been able to have a full house here like it’s been designed to,” Herbster said. “Everyone can rest assured that it will be 72 degrees and that the weather will be fine at kick-off. Get off, enjoy and clap loudly.