FCS teams keep finding their way onto FBS schedules

In an exception to the rule, Big Ten agrees to limit non-conference opponents to Division 1 schools

The Clemson defense collapses on Furman running back Jerodis Williams in the second quarter.

Photo by Nathan Gray

The Clemson defense collapses on Furman running back Jerodis Williams in the second quarter.

No offense to either school — both with rich football traditions — but Clemson fans didn’t buy season tickets to see South Carolina State and The Citadel come to Memorial Stadium this fall.

Gamecock faithful are not counting down the days until South Carolina hosts Coastal Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium in November.

And how excited is Bulldog Nation about Appalachian State visiting Sanford Stadium?

It’s not.

Maybe if the Mountaineers had just beaten Michigan.

Maybe.

This year, though, it stands to be just another “Thrash for Cash” game.

And so it goes in the ACC, SEC and other Football Bowl Subdivision leagues, most of whom have released their 2013 schedules.

And they are schedules in which schools have to balance conference slates that include challenging road contests with home games that guarantee victories (as well as yawns).

One argument, of course, is that it helps out the “little guys.” And when Clemson brings in teams like SCSU or the Citadel, money stays in Palmetto State and Football Championship Subdivision teams get the chance to step up on a big stage.

Same is true when Wofford or Furman goes to Clemson or USC, or in the past when Georgia Southern visited Georgia.

But that doesn’t make it any more engrossing for fans. They go to these mismatches only to support their team, knowing they aren’t likely to see FBS-style competition.

There are exceptions, of course, but not many.

And coaches will defend the games because, well, sometimes their guys need a breather (even though they’d never dare refer to interdivisional games as breathers).

If you look at the 2013 slates of the Tigers, Gamecocks and Bulldogs, you can understand the need for a break or two. There are quite a few big boy games lined up.

But in the end it hardly benefits a team that defeats an FCS opponent because an FBS school is always supposed to whip an FCS opponent — no exceptions.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why the Big Ten is about to do away with scheduling down.

“The nonconference schedule in our league is ridiculous,” Wisconsin athletic director Alvarez said during an interview with WIBA-AM out of Madison, Wisc. “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.”

On the one hand this sounds like exciting news.

On the other, it doesn’t mean schedules will get that big an upgrade.

Removing a Wofford or Furman doesn’t mean you add an Alabama or Ohio State. A coach will still want a sure win thrown in there somewhere, especially when the sked is tough enough as it is.

Soon enough, though, FBS vs. FCS games will likely become a thing of the past.

With the new four-team playoff beginning in 2014 big-time teams — like Clemson, USC and Georgia — might not want to risk putting a lower division school on the slate.

There will still be plenty of politics involved in selecting college football’s Final Four, and beating South Carolina State, App State or Coastal Carolina will do absolutely nothing to boost a team into the field. It doesn’t mean a program will have to make its nonleague schedule a murderer’s row, but it will have to stock it with schools in the same weight class.

In the meantime fans will get the opportunity to see their favorite sons pick up certain Ws against their little brothers in the coming months.

The showdowns might lack in excitement, but winning always has a certain appeal.

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Comments » 2

lhaselden writes:

I would much rather see the Tigers play TCU or Boise than the Citadel or SC State. But if I had to choose between FIU or UAB or Ball State or Temple or the Citadel... we might as well play the Citadel! Or SC State! or Wofford or Furman or Coastal Carolina.
I would like to see us play Navy or Rutgers or UCF or SF or East Carolina. But that would likely take a home and home.....

jarheadtiger writes:

The Big 10 Wont be scheduling any FCS schools? Well thats because with their conference, long on Hisstory(dusty as it is) they dont need to. They already have plenty of weaker competition to choose from. Get past Wisc, Ohio St, Mich, and Sparty, it is pretty bad from there traditionally. I Know that N'Western and Iowa are decent, but really, looking good against each other does not mean a thing. Tired of hearing that over rated crap about them as well as Pac 10. Pac is usually 2 decent teams and a lot of BAD teams. ACC has its stinkers no doubt, but dang, they play against the SEC on a regular basis, as well as the Big Least schools often. Lets re-evaluate conferences by merit rather than who was good in the 50's. I mean heck Minnesota has Multiple Nat'l titles from back them, but by the same mythical voting that also recognizes unicorns, Maryland won titles as well. Sports writers, Lets join the 21st shall we?

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