Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 16:09
The FCS is no longer the little brother. They are becoming the stepbrother.
During the opening week of college football, 32 games intertwined the FBS and FCS leagues together. Eight of those times, the FCS came out victorious. Most notably, NDSU defeating 2012 Big 12 champions Kansas State and Eastern Washington defeating the No. 25 ranked Oregon State.
Five of the FCS victories came against schools in BCS conferences (conferences in which the winner earns an automatic bid into a BCS bowl game) including the aforementioned Kansas State and Oregon State teams; there was also McNeese State defeating South Florida, Northern Iowa upsetting Iowa State and Towson blowing out UConn.
These victories provide us with examples for the rise in competitiveness from the FCS level. After years of being whipped by the bigger brother FBS schools, the talent line has been blurred and nearly removed between the two divisions of football.
What makes these five victories interesting is they essentially make the five teams just as good, or if not better than all the schools in the FBS that aren’t in a BCS conference. What does a victory over a middle of the road BCS conference team mean? If NDSU can beat a projected eight-win team from the Big 12, does that mean NDSU can compete in a conference like the MAC that only went 1-6 against BCS conference opponents last week?
The hypotheticals are endless and a scary cycle to get into, but when do we take into account that teams like NDSU, Eastern Washington and Northern Iowa could all be ranked in the top 50 in the nation? Personally, I don’t think it’s that outrageous to believe.
So you’re probably asking yourself “so what” and “what’s the significance of all this?” These questions are fair and I believe need to be answered.
First off, FBS schools are dishing out large sums of money to FCS schools to come to their stadiums and essentially play a tune-up game for the FBS schools before they begin a tougher non-conference schedule and eventually their all-important conference schedule. Secondly, opening against “cupcake” teams from the FCS would appear to be a good strategy, but when your team is upset by one these schools it becomes a much bigger deal and can have a snowball effect on your team.
When Appalachian State defeated Michigan in 2007, the Wolverines paid App. State $400,000 and the once championship contending Wolverines finished the season 9-4 which led to the retiring of Hall of Fame coach Lloyd Carr.
Scheduling a FCS opponent may not be worth the headache for FBS schools who are now trying more than ever to schedule tougher schedules knowing that strength of schedule matters in the long run when competing for a BCS bowl bid or a playoff bid starting next year.
My fear of FBS schools hesitating to schedule top-end FCS talent is very real and it will be interesting to see in the coming years if the blurred line of talent from division to division becomes a negative for the FCS.