It wasn’t too long ago that a Division II opponent such as Dixie State stood out on a Cal Poly football schedule.
The Mustangs jumped to Division I-AA (now called the FCS) in 1994 after decades of success at the Division II level, including the national championship in 1980.
This decade, Cal Poly typically has played one Division II program a year, including an annual three-year stint from 2002-04 against Humboldt State, the only school still playing at the Division II level in California and a member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, to which Dixie State also belongs.
Although Division II wins don’t count toward FCS playoff eligibility, the Mustangs have found difficulty in scheduling only Division I foes in recent years. The scheduling difficulties can be attributed to the isolated, tough-to-get-to locale of San Luis Obispo, the recent success of the program and the relative lack of fellow FCS programs on the West Coast, of which there are only two others — UC Davis and Sacramento State — that offer scholarships.
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After welcoming Dixie State, the Mustangs have now hosted every member of the current GNAC. In addition to Humboldt State in 2004, they last played Western Oregon in 2007, Simon Fraser in 1997 and Central Washington in 1996.
Dixie State, of St. George, Utah, has seen a unique journey to the four-year level. The school was a junior college from 1923 to 2000, when it began a transition to becoming a state university. Its move to the NCAA level in football, however, began in 2006.
Perhaps an even more interesting trip to the GNAC that could provide renewed scheduling opportunities on the West Coast, though, is that of Simon Fraser of Burnaby, British Columbia, the first Canadian university to be approved to enter the NCAA from the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Association.
In September, the school accepted an invitation to join the GNAC.
Simon Fraser, which Cal Poly is 4-0 against all-time, will begin competing in the GNAC in the fall of next year and could be eligible for Division II postseason play by the fall of 2012.
Payout reported to be $65,000
Dixie State’s football program alone received $65,000 from Cal Poly for the game, The Spectrum newspaper of St. George reported Friday.
Soccer precedes football
The Cal Poly men’s soccer team defeated Big West Conference rival Cal State Northridge 3-1 in a game that began at 11 a.m. Saturday at Alex G. Spanos Stadium, about seven hours before the football game against Dixie State on the same field
It is believed to be the first time both teams used the same field on the same day.
In order for the soccer match to have been rescheduled or moved, both teams’ coaches would’ve had to agree on doing so. Big West men’s soccer matches are Wednesdays and Saturdays. In addition to Cal Poly, UC Davis is the only other Big West school that plays football.
Shotwell continues hot streak
On Dixie State’s first possession of the game, Cal Poly senior defensive end Ryan Shotwell sacked Red Storm quarterback Judd Thompson for an 8-yard loss.
Last week, Shotwell had three sacks, bringing his career total to 17.5, ninth all-time at Cal Poly in Division I, and passing the mark of his brother, linebacker Kyle Shotwell, a Buck Buchanan Award winner who accumulated 17 from 2002 to 2006. Ryan Shotwell is now fourth on the list, trailing third-place Chris White’s 21.5.