|« Alabama State edges Jackson State, Alabama A&M as SWAC division favorite||Switching to spread offense made sense for Mocs, Part 1 »|
Inevitable fallout for FCS teams
With college football’s big dogs going to a four-team playoff format in 2014, you can’t help but wonder if we’ve seen the last of the Montana-Tennessee type matchups.
Or Montana State-Washington State, which produced a 23-22 cliffhanger two years ago. Or Northern Iowa-Iowa, a matchup that caused a stir three years ago when the Hawks escaped, 17-16.
From the perspective of a Football Championship Subdivision fan, it’s a blast watching your team take the field in a nothing-to-lose role. When a team like Appalachian State wins at Michigan or North Dakota State whups Minnesota, it makes a lot of us FCS backers feel sassy.
One of the criteria for determining the Bowl Championship Series national semifinalists in 2014 will be strength of schedule. It’s second on the list behind overall record.
“It’s real hard to know what’s going to happen,” offered Bobby Hauck, UNLV coach and ex-Grizzly skipper. “I think people are going to be limited in how many (FCS teams) they can schedule.
“The other interesting thing is some of the paydays for FCS teams (against BCS foes) are going away as well. It’s a little bit less pay friendly.”
Yet another change that may reduce FCS-BCS games is a plan to expand the FCS playoff field to 24 teams in 2013. If approved next month, teams like Montana may be forced to open on the last week of August. And teams like Tennessee and Iowa, who played host to UM in 2006, don’t work around FCS schedules.
Montana State athletic director Peter Fields doesn’t seem too concerned. He believes FCS and BCS teams will continue to play regularly in 2014 and beyond.
“We get contacted all the time,” he told the Missoulian. “One of the things that is a draw quite honestly is that we have the state in our name. Now whether it’s the University of Montana or Montana State, that’s a draw for people and the ability to sell their fan base on these teams.”
Fields is quick to point out the obvious – the BCS playoffs will include four teams. Normally any big-time program that the Cats or Griz play isn’t considered a top-four caliber contender.
“The top two or three teams in the SEC, the Big Ten, the Pac-12, the Big 12, those are the teams that are really going to be affected by it,” Fields said of the new BCS playoff format. “If they go to an eight or 16-team (BCS format) eventually, if they were to scale back from 12 to 11 games because of the playoffs, that would have a major effect on all of us.”
It’ll be interesting to see what some of the big-time programs do with their 2014 schedules. Seems like a good way of finding out which teams fancy themselves national title contenders.
What will Washington State do with its nonconference slate? Or Nevada? We all have a general idea which teams will ultimately contend for a BCS playoff spot. But is a team like Washington State going to totally phase out FCS foes?
“I think there may be even more have nots than haves on (the BCS level) than we have on our level,” Fields noted. “You have teams that are working on a 20- to 30-million-dollar budget, then you have the others that are working with 70 to 100 million dollars.”
No coach wants to admit his team is cannon fodder, even if it’s true. Fans lose hope. Potential recruits look elsewhere.
Exactly how many BCS schools will continue to schedule FCS teams remains to be seen. With college football’s landscape changing so quickly, it’s silly to even speculate about two years down the road.