Dearth of foes gives Mavs strange schedule

You might be asking yourself: Why did the Colorado Mesa University football team play an NAIA school for its season opener?

The last time Mesa played an NAIA school was 1999 when the Mavericks defeated the University of Western Montana 33-19 in Dillon, Mont.

Were the Mavericks intentionally looking for an “easy” win? After all, they hadn’t won their season opener since 2007 when they routed Dixie State (Utah) College, a second-year Division II program, 41-14 at Stocker Stadium.

Although Colorado Mesa coach Russ Martin might admit it was nice to get a season-opening win, he said that was not the reason they scheduled Menlo (Calif.) College.

It certainly isn’t the reason Mesa scheduled Division I Football Championship Series Montana State University next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 
1 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Altitude TV.

The Bobcats are coming off their most successful season since 1994, reaching the FCS playoff quarterfinals.

Colorado Mesa will receive a payout from Montana State for the game next week, a normal practice for smaller-division schools playing up a level on the road. The Mavericks, though, are doing the same for Menlo, which requested a monetary donation for travel expenses to play the Mavericks in Grand Junction.

“We really tried to get a ton of people, and we couldn’t,” Martin said of the scheduling. “If you look at it, our first two games, we’ve got (teams) that are not Division II. That was not by design. That was simply who was available.

“This year, it was a standpoint we were getting whoever we can get.”

Scheduling has been a difficult proposition for Martin and the Mavericks since he took over the program. In his first season last year, they had an away game at Division II Humboldt State (Calif.) University already scheduled, but the Mavs had to fill the second nonconference game. Mesa ended up with another road game, this one at Division I FCS school Northern Colorado.

In fact, other Colorado Mesa athletic programs face scheduling challenges, especially when it comes to bringing opponents to Grand Junction.

However, new Athletic Director Tom Spicer is working to resolve this issue.

He already has addressed the football team’s nonconference schedule for the next four years.

The Mavericks will play Dixie State (Utah) College for the next four years and Texas A&M-Kingsville in three of the next four years. Kingsville has a previous commitment with another opponent in 2015 on the weekend Mesa has open.

“That is really what we ideally want to do,” Martin said. “We want to play Division II schools and get some regional games. That deal with Dixie is great because of the proximity and the location. The deal with A&M-Kingsville will be a phenomenal thing because the Lone Star (Conference) is in our region.

“Our big goal is to be a playoff football team. If that’s true, we have to play teams that count toward playoffs and (regional ranking).”

Mesa and the Javelinas will play a home-and-home series in 2016 and 2017.

The Mavericks will host Dixie State in their season opener next year, then play at Texas A&M-Kingsville for their two nonconference games.


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