The 2019 Big Sky Football Kickoff was held July 14-15 in Spokane, Washington. Two players and the head coach for all 13 teams were under one roof to discuss the upcoming season.
HERO Sports was on site and decided to go a different route when talking to the head coaches. Promising anonymity, Sam Herder asked who their preseason national title favorite is (besides their own team), which Big Sky player they'd love to draft onto their team and what would they change about the FCS playoff system.
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Not naming your own team, who is your preseason favorite to win the FCS national title?
- "How do you not pick North Dakota State? It's hard not to pick those guys. But James Madison seems like they've reloaded. SDSU is going to be a tough team. And I think there are some teams in this league like EWU, UC Davis and Weber State that can go out and get it done, too."
- "North Dakota State. Are you kidding me? They have facilities through the roof. They have cost of living. They have tradition. Why wouldn't a kid want to go to North Dakota State? They've won 29 national titles in a row. I'm making that up. But that's a place right now that's a destination."
- "North Dakota State. How can anyone pick someone different?"
- "I'll go with someone in our conference and I'll pick UC Davis."
- "Gosh. It's kind of like do you take the field or do you take Tiger Woods and everyone takes Tiger. You have to take the Bison. Why wouldn't you? But shoot, I saw that game a couple of years ago with James Madison and they had a chance. Eastern had chances last year, too. But you have to bring your A-game against those guys for sure."
- "I would probably say the (UC Davis) Aggies and here's the reason why: I think Jake Maier is a great quarterback and you need a great quarterback. And I'm pulling for a guy like coach Hawk because it's his alma mater."
- "Anyone who doesn't say North Dakota State is out of their mind."
If you could draft one player onto your team from within the Big Sky Conference this year, who would it be?
- "I love the (NAU QB Case) Cookus kid and the toughness he showed to be back for his sixth year. I've had a chance to engage with him a couple of times and I just really like the kid."
- "It would probably be the punter, (Cade) Coffey, from Idaho. Because we don't know who's going to be that guy for us."
- "I'd take an offensive lineman from somewhere. Find me the best one and I'll take him. I know (EWU head coach Aaron) Best has a tackle he likes. We'll take him."
- "Dante Olson. That guy gives me nightmares. I lose a lot of sleep when we play the Griz. He is super talented. I joked with him earlier and I told him 'man I tried to get you out early. I tried to get all the scouts to convince you to come out early.' That guy is talented."
- "That Weber fast kid (WR Rashid Shaheed). I'd bring him in and tell him he can play anywhere he wants to. Offensive, defense, he can play o-line. He can play wherever for me."
- "I like NAU's quarterback (Case Cookus) if he stays healthy. He's special and he does a lot of good things."
- "I think one of the more competitive, athletic guys that causes fits is Troy Andersen from Montana State. He can do it all and is a pretty special player. And he's a great kid from what I see on the other side of the field."
What's one thing you would change about the FCS playoff system?
- "It's a lot of fun. One thing is I think they try to divide it up a little bit, but I also know early on they try to keep it somewhat geographical. Maybe if you get into a more seeding system, but that might mean (teams are flying all over the country). But I think it's fun and it's great that so many teams have a shot."
- "A true seeding system would be the most logical step to improve it."
- "The playoffs have been phenomenal. I love everything about it. But I don't necessarily love playing on the Thanksgiving weekend. Just because that weekend no matter where you're at, you're probably going to struggle a bit with fans. That's the one downer, but I don't know how to fix it."
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