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BCS has money; FCS brains
It will never supplant its big brother in terms of popularity, but the Football Championship Subdivision looks like it got all the brains.
This week, as the Football Bowl Subdivision decided that ‘’Gosh, 400 bowl games just aren’t enough, so let’s add another two and keep with this BCS formula thing,'’ the FCS bolstered its playoff system by adding four teams.
The change won’t come into effect until 2010, but it indicates that the NCAA’s FCS board of directors possesses common sense - something its older sibling seems to lack.
There are 14 conferences that claim membership in the FCS. Eight of them receive automatic bids to the playoffs. The rest of the bids are given at-large. But that will change to an even 10 and 10 in 2010, with the top eight teams receiving first-round byes.
Since the FCS last expanded its playoffs, from 12 to 16 in 1987, the classification has added 28 teams for a total of 120. So yes, an increase in the playoff pool was merited.
Once again, the FCS is content to live within its relatively modest means. To steal from Goldilocks, a 20-team playoff is not too big. It’s not too small. It’s just right.
The conference winners go to the playoffs. If a team is about as good as a conference champion, it will probably get a chance to go to the playoffs, too.
The expansion to 20 teams probably won’t change the odds of Idaho State or of any other Big Sky team making the playoffs - though it might have in 2002, when the 8-3 Bengals shared the conference title yet saw Montana and Montana State reach the postseason.
But traditionally, the Big Sky has been a two-bid league, and with 14 conferences, to earn three bids the teams would all need to be darn good. Nine-victories good.
Mediocre teams don’t get to the FCS playoffs. This is not the NCAA basketball tournament, where the eighth team in the Big East gets a bid on the grounds that it played in a real tough conference.
That’s like saying the Toronto Blue Jays should have made the postseason the last three years because they play in the AL East with New York and Boston.
Every team that makes the FCS playoffs can make a legitimate case that it can win the national championship. Otherwise it wouldn’t be there.
It’s rather amazing that any system besides a playoff was ever implemented in college football. The bowls are so completely illogical and rooted in bygone traditions that the only explanation for their perpetuation is money.
That’s the advantage of being the little sibling. The FCS doesn’t make big money. In most of the country, no one has a clue what the acronym means. Instead, people refer to it as ‘’the former Division I-AA.'’
But neglect becomes it’s ally, and it isn’t so corrupted by outside interests. All the FCS cares about is determining the best team in a given year, and by using a playoff, no one can dispute the merit of its champion.
Idaho State won’t receive the glory Boise State did for playing in the Fiesta Bowl, but it does have a 1981 national championship banner that the Broncos will never be able to buy with all their BCS winnings.
Common sense prevails in the FCS. Its fans can take a measure of solace in that.
By Dan Thompson
Idaho State Journal