FCS Football Spring Update

Appalachian State FCS College Football
George Hammond

FCS Football Spring Update


As spring football kicks into gear, let’s see what’s happening on the FCS front.

Last weekend, all eyes were on Hot Springs, Ark., where it was expected Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson would extend invitations to certain schools to join the league for football. Two of those schools, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, have expressed an interest in joining the FBS ranks and figured to be at the top of Benson’s list. And if those two Southern Conference schools departed, not only would it affect that league, it would remove two of the more successful programs from the FCS.  But no invitations were extended.

“When I came to the Sun Belt, there was an expectation that a new Sun Belt would be built, with new structure, with more strength,” said Benson, who spoke with Alabama.com. Benson previously was the commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference. “However, if you look around the NCAA at other conferences, changes have been unprecedented. So we are here tonight with some uncertainty.

“Right now, we are looking at our potential pool of members that we feel have great value. I told all our members after Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic departed that we want to keep the same goals that we established a year ago. We want to create two geographic divisions and make sure there are at least 10 football schools while considering the option of 12.” According to Mike Anthony of the Statesboro (Ga.) Herald, the number of Sun Belt schools will be determined in the next month, but it could be three months before official invitations to the conference are sent out.

The Sun Belt, of course, isn’t the only FBS conference undergoing changes. It’s happening nationwide as schools wait to see what develops with the five giants of college athletics: Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, ACC and Pac 12. Part of that decision has already taken place with the development of a new four-team football playoff set to start in 2014.

So FCS schools are asking themselves: Do we jump to the FBS ranks now if given the chance or do we wait and see how everything shakes out? Not an easy choice for many schools.


Florida A&M better enjoy that reported $850,000 payday it will receive for its football game at Ohio State in September. In February, Big Ten officials voted on an agreement to stop scheduling FCS opponents.

“The nonconference schedule in our league is ridiculous,” Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “It’s not very appealing.”

Because Big Ten schools have contests scheduled for the 2014 season, the new ban can’t go into effect until 2015 at the earliest.  Wisconsin hosts Tennessee Tech, Youngstown State visits Michigan State and Nebraska plays South Dakota State in September games this season.  The Big Ten’s decision is opposite what the SEC is doing as that league embraces contests with FCS schools. For example, on Nov. 17, seven of 11 SEC contests feature FCS schools.


Whether you believe FBS and FCS schools should tangle or not, there are interesting matchups slated for this fall.

For example:

Defending national runner-up Sam Houston State gets a rematch with “Johnny Football” and Texas A&M.  Last year, Texas A&M triumphed 47-28. The Southern Conference’s Wofford opens at Baylor while Villanova tangles with Boston College. It will be the first meeting between those two schools since 1980.

Elsewhere, Eastern Washington opens at Oregon State, Northern Arizona visits Arizona, Richmond visits North Carolina State, William & Mary opens at West Virginia, Wagner travels to Syracuse, Colgate visits Air Force and Appalachian State takes on Georgia.  Other Southern Conference teams who will take on SEC teams are: Chattanooga at Alabama , The Citadel at Clemson and Georgia Southern at Florida.

And finally, Towson, which played at LSU and Kent State last year, has another ambitious schedule. But this season, the Tigers don’t go to the bayou. They go to Storrs, Conn., instead where they open against Connecticut.