NCAA Needs To Take Action on FBS vs. FCS Matchups


The NCAA seems to regulate everything except the things that matter.

September 10, 2011; Morgantown,WV, USA: West Virginia Mountaineers running back Dustin Garrison (front) runs after a pass reception against Norfolk State Spartans linebacker Corwin Hammond (34) during the third quarter at Milan Puskar Stadium. WVU won 55-12. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE

For example- last weekend, Oklahoma State defeated FCS team Savannah State 84-0. Today, Savannah State travels to Tallahassee to take on Florida state, and they are getting 70.5 points from the odds makers. Who wants to watch that? And what good are these games for college football? The gap between FBS and FCS teams is usually huge.

Pretty much every FBS team is playing an FCS team (or two) every year, and WVU is no exception. Last season, WVU smoked Norfolk State 55-12 (despite being down 12-10 at the half). Next weekend, WVU travels to FedEx Field in DC to take on James Madison and is scheduled to take on William & Mary (2013), Towson (2014), and Liberty (2015) at home in future seasons.

From a competitive standpoint, these games are nothing more than a glorified scrimmage that allows FBS teams to get experience for their young players. Sure, one FCS team manages to win a game against an FBS team most years (Appalachian State’s victory over Michigan and James Madison’s victory over Virginia Tech being the most notable; Pitt’s thrashing by Youngstown State last weekend being the most embarrassing), but the majority are snoozers that are only worth watching for the first half, if that. On top of that, they rob fans of more exciting matchups that are lost due to the scheduling of home games against FCS teams.

Competitively, the games are a no-win proposition for FBS teams. Lose the game? Season over. Win the game by less than 3 touchdowns? Drop in the rankings. Win the game in a blow out? Great, that’s what you should have done.

The only tangible competitive reason for these games is to get experience for younger players, but even that has its limits when your competition is so inferior. And it’s ridiculous that wins against FCS teams count towards bowl eligibility and statistics. Does Oklahoma State really have the best defense in the country because they shut out Savannah St and held them to 139 yards? Not even close.

So why are these games scheduled in the first place? The reason everything happens: money. Most FBS teams in BCS conferences need 7 home games per year to make ends meet, and scheduling Conference USA, MAC, and teams from other non-BCS conferences to a home game has gotten expensive. WVU paid UNLV $750,000 to play in Morgantown in 2010, and prices have only gone up since then. FCS teams, on the other hand, can be had for much less. As unfortunate as it is, these games have become a financial necessity for many programs.

What’s the solution? Some think the games should just be outlawed, but the almighty dollar will prevent that from happening. How about the NCAA allow every FBS team to schedule one FCS team per year as a preseason/exhibition game that doesn’t count in the standings? The following rules would apply:

  1. The game does not count towards your 12 game per year limit
  2. This game is not reflected in your record (i.e. a win cannot be used towards bowl eligibility)
  3. This game will not be reflected in any selection criteria for playoffs or bowls
  4. Statistics accrued in this game will not officially count
  5. Teams can schedule a maximum of 15 home games in a two year period (this will force “big” name schools that would simply use these rules to play 8 or 9 home games a year to go on the road a little more and would encourage more inter-conference matchups between big name BCS schools)

These rules would give FBS programs what they want (the home game without return that they need to make ends meet) and have the added benefit of explicitly being a game where they are supposed to experiment, play young players, and not necessarily kill the opponent by 10 touchdowns. FCS teams would get the nice paychecks that are their motivating factor for playing these games. And fans would get more exciting matchups in the regular season, as big name teams would have an extra game and motivation to schedule home and homes with other big name teams.

Hopefully, the NCAA takes a look at this and starts regulating things that actually affect the quality of competition rather than pointless things like the toppings schools can provide for student athletes to put on their bagels.