2023 Grand Valley State vs Saginaw Valley

Saginaw Valley State Football In 2023: What To Know About The Cardinals

Saginaw Valley State Football In 2023: What To Know About The Cardinals

The Saginaw Valley State football team returns to action in 2023 as a member of the GLIAC. Here’s what to know about the program.

Sep 8, 2023 by Matt Cannizzaro

The Saginaw Valley State University football team started its 2022 season with a huge statement—a 72-0 win against West Virginia Wesleyan. The point tally was the highest for the Cardinals since scoring 73 in a season-opening win in 1997.

The Cardinals rolled to a 4-0 start last year, outscoring their opponents 182-39, before back-to-back losses to Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference powerhouses Grand Valley State and Ferris State slowed the momentum.

Under the guidance of head coach Ryan Brady, Saginaw Valley State finished the 2022 season with an 8-3 overall record and a 3-3 middle-of-the-pack finish in the GLIAC.

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GVSU and Ferris State have dominated the GLIAC in recent years, and there hasn’t been much SVSU could do to even stay close, despite slightly above-average overall performances during Brady’s time with the Cardinals.

Brady debuted in 2019 and then the 2020 campaign was canceled due to COVID-19. In three full seasons at Saginaw Valley State, Brady is 20-13.

The GLIAC again includes seven teams and returns three programs that finished with winning records in 2022. That includes Grand Valley State, which went 12-1 overall and claimed the GLIAC title with a 6-0 record.

GLIAC football action will be streamed live on FloFootball and the FloSports app, including all of Saginaw Valley State’s GLIAC games.

Here’s What To Know About Saginaw Valley State University Football.

What Year Did Saginaw Valley State Start Playing Football?

The first varsity football season on record for Saginaw Valley State University is 1975, and it came under the command of Frank “Muddy” Waters, who was hired in 1974 as the team’s first head coach. There was a junior varsity squad in 1974, however.

The Cardinals have a 260-240 all-time record, which includes vacating 20 wins from 2013-2018 due to a self-report of improper certification of athletes and 13 victories across the 2005 and 2007 seasons. 

The magnitude of the recent situation meant losing 395 wins across eight sports, fines and probation from February 2019 until February 2023. 

In 2008, the football team was forced to vacate 13 conference victories – nine from 2005 and four from 2007. No further penalties were imposed by the NCAA in this instance.

In What Division Of College Football Does Saginaw Valley State University Play?

The Saginaw Valley State football team plays at the NCAA Division II level.

How Many Times Has Saginaw Valley Football Made It To The Playoffs?

The Saginaw Valley State University football team has been to the playoffs nearly a dozen times, with seven trips coming at the Division II level. 

The team’s best performance came in 2005, when the Cardinals won two postseason games, topping Northwood and Nebraska-Omaha, before falling to eventual national champion Grand Valley State in the Division II quarterfinals.

When Did Saginaw Valley Football Join The GLIAC?

As a school, Saginaw Valley State was a charter member of the GLIAC in 1972, but SVSU didn’t add football until 1975.

The Cardinals were able to find another home during the short time the GLIAC did not sponsor football, and they returned when it was reinstated.

After the 1989 season, the GLIAC dropped football, sending those teams on to the new Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference, along with members of the Heartland Football Conference for the 1990 season.

The MIFC merged with the GLIAC in 1999, and the conference resumed its sponsorship of football that fall.

Has Saginaw Valley Football Ever Won The GLIAC title?

Saginaw Valley State is credited with reaching the mountaintop in the GLIAC five times.

The Cardinals were the outright GLIAC champions in 1979, 1983, 1984 and 2003, and they shared the title with Northwood in 2000.

Who Is The Saginaw Valley State Football Head Coach?

Ryan Brady is the head football coach at Saginaw Valley State University.

Brady, who debuted with the Cardinals in 2019, is entering his fourth season in charge and has compiled a 20-13 record.

Prior to arriving at SVSU in March 2019, Brady was the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Ferris State, where he helped the Bulldogs to three GLIAC titles and four appearances in the NCAA Division II Playoffs. 

He started his time at Ferris State as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and later expanded that to other offensive positions, too.

Brady also made previous coaching stops at Grand Rapids Community College.

As a player, Brady was a standout quarterback for Grand Valley State. He helped the Lakers to the Division II national title in 2002. He then was the quarterbacks coach when the team won the title again in 2003.

Brady also served in numerous coaching roles at the high school level. 

Who Is Saginaw Valley’s Biggest Rival? 

Each season, the Saginaw Valley State football team takes part in the Battle of the Valleys in a longstanding rivalry with GLIAC powerhouse Grand Valley State.

The series kicked off along with the SVSU football program in 1975, and they haven’t missed a year since. They’ve also met four times in the NCAA Division II Playoffs. 

Grand Valley State leads the series 40-11. The Lakers have won the last 10 meetings and 18 of the last 19. 

Since 2003, the stakes have been raised. The excitement around the game also includes a fundraising contest that benefits a rotation of charities. Along with the satisfaction of helping others, and bragging rights, the winner of the fundraising battle gets to hold on to a trophy until the following year.

The winner of the fundraising competition is announced during the game. 

Saginaw Valley State has raised more than $500,000 over the years and leads overall, 15-3. Grand Valley State did not participate in 2019 or 2020. 

Secondary Rivalry

A secondary rivalry for Saginaw Valley State is with Northwood. The two teams have played regularly since 1975, and their annual meeting is called the Axe Bowl.

Saginaw Valley State leads the now non-conference series 31-16-1, and has won the last four editions.

The game features an axe trophy that goes to the winner each year. The handle is painted blue when Northwood wins and red when SVSU wins.

Where Is Saginaw Valley State University?

Saginaw Valley State University is in University Center, Michigan. It opened in 1963 at Saginaw Valley College. The school first received full accreditation in 1970. Accreditation for master’s degrees was received in 1980.

For a moment in 1966, the school was called Saginaw Bay State College, but Saginaw Valley State College prevails. In 1987, it became Saginaw Valley State University.   

Notable Saginaw Valley State University Alums

Congressman Bart Stupak, Michigan State women’s basketball coach Suzy Merchant, Central Michigan women’s basketball coach Sue Guevara, mayor Sheldon Neeley (Flint, Michigan), professional bowler and former Team USA member Bill O’Neill and more than a half dozen former NFL players.

Saginaw Valley State Football Schedule 2023 (All times Eastern)