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Big Ten Throws Down The Gauntlet: No More FCS Opponents

gauntletIf you don’t think the Big Ten is serious about trying to force the SEC to up the level of its non-conference competition, you’re not paying attention.  On Monday, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said his league would be moving to a nine- or 10-game league schedule.  Last night, Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez said the following:

 

“The non-conference schedule in our league is ridiculous.  It’s not very appealing… So we’ve made an agreement that our future games will all be Division I schools.  It will not be FCS schools.”

 

How soon the Big Ten can go to that new standard depends on its members’ existing contracts with FCS opponents.  Still, it’s clear that the Big Ten is trying to create better content for its own Big Ten Network and toughen its teams’ strength of schedule numbers at the same time.

Ah, but will the SEC follow suit?

This past season, the league’s 14 teams played 15 FCS foes.  You can be sure the league’s television partners would prefer more/better choices when it comes to setting their broadcast schedules.

For fans who are against a nine-game SEC schedule and also enjoy playing FCS foes — I took a lot of heat last year from Mississippi State fans who told me they enjoyed attending creampuff games, thank ya very much — the guess here is that you won’t be pleased when the league formally reveals its plans for an SEC Network.

It’s a virtual lock that there would be more money to be made as well as better odds of placing multiple teams in the new football playoff with rougher, tougher schedules.  Mike Slive and the SEC’s presidents certainly recognize that fact.

 

 


9 comments
DanHogan
DanHogan

I read an article on this subject on an ACC-focused site and something stuck with me.  It was a small thing at the time and I've since been unable to find that page (wish I could give credit).  Why not allow teams to stage a single exhibition game against an FCS opponent?  You align the games in about the same time frame as the spring intra-squad games and they can be televised to whatever extent the conferences and networks like. 

 

It solves any of the problems that come from playing a 13th in-season game or adding an exhibition game to the current 12-game season.  We all know that voters will use a game in their decision-making process regardless of being exhibition or not, and there's no extension to the length of the season.  And, these games would be of greater value to the teams themselves as opportunities to see their newest players on the field in that environment and provide a mid-spring evaluation point for players and units as a whole. 

 

Win, win.  No?

DanHogan
DanHogan

Question about the SEC in general...  In the Big Ten, if you were to put together a list of the lowrer-quality opponents that fans actually wanted to see due to geographic proximity, you'd have a lot FBS teams.  Is the Big Ten losing as many lower-quality options as the SEC would by having this rule? 

 

A larger thought. If you replace definite wins against FCS teams with near-definite wins against low quality FBS teams, have you really lost anything?

cjhadley
cjhadley

I think the SEC should do this. I would want Alabama to play a team from FBS conferences than FCS conferences. Alabama could schedule teams from these conferences and still have the same results as playing FBS teams. This could be said for all of the SEC teams and the other BCS conference teams.

UFL1138
UFL1138

Still, FCS schools are Division I schools.  The S in FBS/FCS stands for Subdivision.  It's kind-of amazing that the Wisconsin AD doesn't know that.

Mike Pemberton
Mike Pemberton

John, While I very much enjoy this website and the comments of you and the other folks at MrSec.com, this is one place with likely disagree and here is why.  Most all of the FCS schools depend on the "money games" with the big schools to keep their programs afloat.  I have been a season ticket holder and donor for the last 30 years or so at an FBS and FCS school.  I used to attend 10-12 games at both the FCS and FBS levels (DI and DIA back then) and I now attend about 16 games a year (thanks to Thursday night FCS games) at both the FBS and FCs levels.  Over that time, I have seen the interest level at FCS games dwindle and the interest at FBS schools go way up.  It is my opinion that the primary reason for the decreased support of FCS schools has been television (along with the mutlitude of other entertainment options available today).  Back in the "old days," there were only 1 or 2 games a day broadcast on TV (and the qualtiy of the broadcast paed in comparsion to those of today).  As a result, at least in part, attendance, and overall interest was much better at the FCS schools than it is now.

 

All of which brings me to my point.  Without the $500,000.00 paychecks the FCS schools get from playing the "money games," i believe a large number of the FCS schools will simply drop football.  Excluding scholarship costs (which is funny money in part because the school pays the school for the scholarships), most of the FCS schools have football budgets in the range of $1 to $2 mil.  Take away the $500k for the money games and the budgets do not work and football is dropped.

 

While one could argue that the demise of anumber of FCS level football programs would be the result of "football evolution" and that only the strong survive, I feel that such a viewpoint is myopic.  A number of my family played football at the FCS level.  A number of kids from my high school have done the same.  Football paid for their education and a whole bunch of them went on to coach high school football.  Without the football scholarship, quite a few of those guys would not have been able to go to college and would therefore not be able to teach and coach.  Also, they would not have had the opportunity to play college football.  Ending the "money games" in the name of better entertainement for the fans of the FBS schools and the viewer at home will, without a doubt, lead to fewer schools playing football, fewer players have the opportuinty to play, fewer people have an opportunity for a colege education and fewer qualifed guys avauilable to coach high school and middle school football.

 

I really wonder if each FBS school having one more "marquee" matchup per year is worth that price.

 

Finally, I always put my name at the end of every email because I believe if you have something to say, you should have the guts to put your real name behind it.

 

Mike Pemberton

Rockwood, Tennessee.

NCarolina09
NCarolina09

If you plan on playing only two out-of-conference games per year, playing any FCS opponents would seriously devalue the strength of your conference and your schedule.  It would be harder to make the playoffs.

ChaseTheTrainWarren
ChaseTheTrainWarren

just thinking things out here...........................with the idea that the largest schools long term plans though to be to get out of the NCAA or to create a different division, I think these steps would do more to thin out the amount of schools who have football. If the current ACC and SEC teams are unable to schedule FBS teams would Furman , Coastal Carolina and Wofford have enough money to run the programs with out the payday of playing Georgia, SC, Clemson or GT?

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @ChaseTheTrainWarren 

 

I think that's an excellent question.  Obviously, someone would broadcast games of smaller schools, but the rights fees would be nowhere near those paid to a "super-division" of the game's top 65-80 programs.  How many schools would still invest enough in football to make to the FBS level... if the FBS level pays less money than it currently does (because it goes from being the "best" to the "second-best")?

 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

BruceMcF
BruceMcF

 @John at MrSEC  @ChaseTheTrainWarren This would seem to push schools to spend the extra money to step up to the FBS, rather than thin out the FBS ~ if an Appalachian State wants to keep getting payday games, and Major Conference schools stop scheduling revenue games with FCS schools, then Appalachian State has to get itself into the Sunbelt, right quick.



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