Of all of the FCS programs that have been rumored to make the jump up from FCS to FBS College Football, Missouri State wasn't exactly at the top of my 'most likely' list.

On Friday, the school made the announcement that they soon intend to depart the Missouri Valley Conference and make the jump to the next level in all sports and join Conference USA.

The Bears are certainly a regional fit with the conference, that also has member institutions in nearby Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, and other nearby states.

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Per the release at MissouriStateBears.com:

The announcement will officially place Missouri State University in the NCAA's exclusive Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) for the first time.

The Bears will compete in CUSA in the sports of football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, women's soccer, women's cross country, men's and women's golf, women's tennis, women's track and field, and beach volleyball.

Missouri State will retain its membership in the Missouri Valley Conference for the 2024-25 season.

It's a big move for the Bears programs, and perhaps a sign that times continue to change in college athletics, even here close to home.

What's next for the MVFC? We'll just have to wait and see. As of the 2025 season, the conference will comprise of 10 teams following the soon-to-be departed Bears.

Source: Missouri State Bears

Know Your South Dakota College and University Mascots

The college football experience is an ultimate high for football fans and it takes several other teams to make that happen week after week during the season.
Just think about what goes into gameday? First and foremost, the players and coaching staff who put in hours and hours of practice and training to play in front of their fans. Then there's field prep, game officials, live broadcasts, concessions, and on-the-field entertainment. Yep, entertainment.

Second to the game, who do you watch? The cheerleaders? The band at halftime? What about the mascot? That's a job not many people can do.
I asked Sioux Falls native and former Cagey mascot for the Sioux Falls Canaries and Little Red & Herbie for the Nebraska Huskers Nate Welch about being a mascot:

  • What does it take to be a mascot?
  • "Losing a bet or filling an opportunity!" Welch says, "An internal energized desire to love life. After meeting great performers who are introverts out of costume, they become the center of attention when they take the stage. And also feeding off the performance of others."
  • Why does the mascot never talk?
  • "Know your role and shut your mouth. You are there to entertain. Tell the story with your actions and not your voice."
  • Advice to someone putting on that costume for the first time?
  • "Remember you are now in a costume. Have fun. Otherwise, you're just a dork in tights. If the fur ain't flying you ain't trying."

Nate Welch has moved on from his days as a mascot to Executive Director of the Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce and Development Company in Vermillion, South Dakota.

So, can you name the mascots at our South Dakota Colleges and Universities? Check out the gallery below:

Gallery Credit: Dave Roberts

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