Category Archives: NCAA Football

Analysis of college football at all levels (FBS, FCS, Division 2, and Division 3).

2019 FCS Versus Lower Division Football games

Kennesaw State begins their season against Point University as they look to defend the Big South crown. The Owls were ranked #14 by Athlon Sports and #22 by Hero Sports in the preseason polls. (Photo courtesy of Kennesaw State Athletics)

2019 FCS Versus Lower Division Football Games

With the beginning of 2019 season closing in, we take a look at the games between different divisions. In this article, we will provide a listing of all the 2019 FCS versus lower division football games. The lower divisions consisting of Division II, Division III, NAIA, NCCAA, etc. while the games will be broken down by week. The same breakdown was provided for the FCS versus FBS matchups as well.

All times listed below are Eastern Standard Time.

Weekly Breakdown

WeekDatesGamesNon-FCS Wins
18/29 – 9/180
29/5 – 9/7246
39/14111
49/2161
59/2862
610/520
710/1211
810/1910
910/2610
1011/200
1111/910
1211/1620
1311/2320

Week 1 (8 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
8/296 PMUnion CollegeMorehead State7-44
8/297 PMPikevilleMurray State20-59
8/298 PMBethel (TN)Lamar16-65
8/316 PMPoint U.Kennesaw State0-59
8/316 PMVirginia LynchburgMerrimack14-45
8/316 PMElizabeth City StateHampton7-65
8/319 PMSouthern OregonSacramento State19-77
9/15 PMMorehouse CollegeAlabama A&M30-35

Week 2 (24 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
9/58:35 PMWestern ColoradoIdaho State13-38
9/71 PMKentucky StateRobert Morris13-7
9/71:30 PMMars HillVMI21-63
9/74 PMWalshDuquesne3-44
9/74 PMLaneSouth Car. State0-34
9/74 PMLindenwoodE.Washington31-59
9/75 PMSimon FraserPortland State7-70
9/76 PMShawCampbell14-38
9/76 PMIndiana WesleyanButler27-30 (OT)
9/76 PMVirginia LynchburgDavidson7-45
9/76 PMVirginia StateNorfolk State21-44
9/76 PMVirginia UnionHampton36-17
9/76 PMEast StroudsburgWagner24-14
9/76 PMLouisiana CollegeStetson13-58
9/76 PMTuskegeeAlabama State31-38
9/77 PMMississippi CollegeAlcorn State7-45
9/77 PMTarleton StateStephen F. Austin37-26
9/77 PMTruman StateDrake10-7
9/77 PMArizona ChristianAbilene Christian14-66
9/77 PMTexas WesleyanHouston Baptist13-58
9/77 PMMidwestern StateN’Western State33-7
9/77 PMOkla. Panhandle St.SHSU0-77
9/77:30 PMShorterEast Tenn. State10-48
9/79 PMCentral WashingtonIdaho31-41

Week 3 (11 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
9/1412 PMCatholic UniversityGeorgetown0-69
9/143:30 PMNorth GreenvilleWestern Carolina17-20
9/144 PMKentucky ChristianMorehead State34-73
9/144 PMLincoln (PA)Delaware State12-58
9/146 PMFort Valley StateFlorida A&M20-57
9/146 PMTaylorButler17-14
9/147 PMEdward WatersSouthern0-61
9/147 PMW. Virginia WesleyanDavidson0-41
9/147 PMWestern New MexicoNorthern Arizona21-55
9/147 PMVirginia-WiseTennessee Tech14-31
9/147 PMLangstonArk.-Pine Bluff15-53

Week 4 (6 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
9/211 PMMayville StateMerrimack7-76
9/212 PMW. Virginia StateSoutheast Missouri St.10-56
9/214 PMElizabeth City St.North Car. Central7-45
9/215 PMEastern OregonPortland State9-59
9/216 PMW. New EnglandStetson28-59
9/218 PMValparaisoTruman State7-38

Week 5 (6 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
9/281 PMAve MariaJacksonville28-42
9/281 PMNC WesleyanStetson21-55
9/282 PMCharleston (WV)Valparaiso19-13
9/283 PMKentucky StateJackson State33-25
9/285:30 PMCentral State (OH)Alabama A&M20-63
9/286 PMReinhardtKennesaw State7-31

Week 6 (2 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
10/53 PMVirginia LynchburgMississippi Valley St.23-31
10/54 PMLaneArk.-Pine Bluff38-45

Week 7 (1 Game)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
10/123 PMMissouri S&TTexas Southern23-20

Week 8 (1 Game)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
10/193 PMVirginia LynchburgPrairie View0-51

Week 9 (1 Game)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
10/262 PMVirginia LynchburgHampton6-56

Week 10 (No Games)

Week 11 (1 Game)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
11/95 PMVirginia LynchburgSouthern7-58

Week 12 (2 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
11/161 PMFranklin PierceMerrimack0-57
11/163 PMEdward WatersPrairie View14-41

Week 13 (2 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
11/231 PMPoint UniversityFurman7-64
11/231 PMSt. AndrewsPresbyterian14-52

Those are the 2019 FCS versus lower division football games as of this writing. Any updates to dates or times will be provided as soon as they are known. Changes and corrections are welcome!

Visits: 263

2019 FBS Versus FCS Games

Army is facing two FCS opponents in 2019 just as they did in 2018, 2016, 2015, and 2014. Will they fall into the FCS over FBS upset trap this year? (Photo courtesy of Army’s Athletic Department)

2019 FBS Versus FCS Games

The 2019 college football season starts in four weeks and the first few weeks present what are typically tune up games for the larger programs in Divison I. Below is a list of all 114 of the 2019 FBS versus FCS games by week.

Weekly Breakdown

WeekDatesGamesFCS Wins
18/29 – 8/31401
29/6 – 9/7281
39/14201
49/2190
59/2840
610/500
710/1210
810/1910
910/2600
1011/210
1111/900
1211/1640
1311/2360

Notes

While it is not uncommon to see FCS teams play multiple FBS opponents during the same season, it is far more uncommon for FBS teams to play two or more FCS teams due to bowl eligibility concerns. Only one of the two wins over an FCS opponent will count towards bowl eligibility. Effectively, 7 wins are needed for FBS teams who play two FCS teams (although this may not always be the case due to 5 win teams and bowl game scenarios).

This season, five FBS teams (Army, East Carolina, Florida, Liberty, and Virginia Tech) will play two FCS teams. Army, Florida, and Liberty all played two FCS opponents in 2018 as well. 27 FCS teams will play two FBS opponents during 2019. Below are the five FBS teams facing two FCS opponents this year.

Army – Morgan State (9/21), VMI (11/16)

East Carolina – Gardner-Webb (9/7), William & Mary (9/21)

Florida – UT Martin (9/7), Towson (9/28)

Liberty – Hampton (9/21), Maine (10/19)

Virginia Tech – Furman (9/14), Rhode Island (10/12)

FCS Upsets

There has been an average of approximately 9 FCS over FBS wins per season since 2010. 2013 marked the high point as 16 FCS teams defeated FBS opponents. Below is a chart showing the number of FCS wins as well as those wins as a percentage of FBS versus FCS games since 2010.

Below are the FCS versus FBS games by week. All times listed below are Eastern.

Week 1 (40 Games)

DateTime AwayHomeScore
8/297 PMWagnerConnecticut21-24
8/297 PMAlbanyCentral Michigan21-38
8/297 PMMorgan StateBowling Green3-46
8/297 PMRobert MorrisBuffalo10-38
8/297:30 PMGardner-WebbCharlotte28-49
8/297:30 PMC. ArkansasW. Kentucky35-28
8/297:30 PMFlorida A&MCentral Florida0-62
8/298 PMAlabama StateUAB19-24
8/299 PMS Dakota StateMinnesota21-28
8/2910 PMN. ColoradoSan Jose State18-35
8/3112 PMHowardMaryland0-79
8/3112 PMNorthern Iowa Iowa State26-29 (3 OT)
8/3112 PMIndiana StateKansas17-24
8/312 PMJames MadisonWest Virginia13-20
8/312 PMRhode IslandOhio20-41
8/313 PME WashingtonWashington14-47
8/313 PMBucknellTemple12-56
8/313:30 PMHoly CrossNavy7-45
8/313:30 PMIdahoPenn State7-79
8/313:30 PMEast Tenn. StateApp. State7-42
8/313:30 PMColgateAir Force7-48
8/314 PMPortland StateArkansas13-20
8/314 PMMontana StateTexas Tech10-45
8/316 PMIncarnate WordUT-San Antonio7-35
8/316 PMCampbellTroy14-43
8/316 PMSam Houston StateNew Mexico31-39
8/316:30 PMUC DavisCalifornia13-27
8/316:30 PMVMIMarshall17-56
8/317 PMNorfolk StateOld Dominion21-24
8/317 PMAlcorn StateSouthern Miss.10-38
8/317 PMNichollsKansas State14-49
8/317 PMStephen F. AustinBaylor17-56
8/317 PMIllinois StateNorthern Illinois10-24
8/317 PMMonmouthW. Michigan13-48
8/317:30 PMAbil. ChristianNorth Texas31-51
8/318 PMHouston BaptistUTEP34-36
8/318 PMArk.-Pine BluffTCU7-39
8/318 PMGramblingUL Monroe9-31
8/319 PMWeber StateSan Diego State0-6
8/3110 PMSouthern UtahUNLV23-56

Week 2 (28 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
9/68 PMWilliam & MaryVirginia17-52
9/610 PMSacramento StateArizona State7-19
9/712 PMSouthernMemphis24-55
9/712 PMKennesaw StateKent State23-26 (1 OT)
9/712 PMCharleston South.South Carolina10-72
9/712:30 PMWestern CarolinaN Car. State0-41
9/72 PMFordhamBall State29-57
9/72:30 PMTennessee TechMiami (OH)17-48
9/73:30 PMGramblingLouisiana Tech14-20
9/73:30 PMRichmondBoston College13-45
9/73:30 PMEastern IllinoisIndiana0-52
9/73:30 PMSouthern IllinoisMassachusetts45-20
9/74 PMMurray StateGeorgia17-63
9/74 PMWestern IllinoisColorado State13-38
9/75 PMNorthern ColoradoWash. State17-59
9/76 PMN Carolina A&TDuke13-45
9/76 PMMaineGeo. Southern18-26
9/76 PMGardner-WebbEast Carolina9-48
9/77 PMFurmanGeorgia State42-48
9/77 PMJackson StateSouth Alabama14-37
9/77 PMTennessee StateMid. Tennessee26-45
9/77 PMEastern KentuckyLouisville0-42
9/77 PMSouth DakotaOklahoma14-70
9/77 PMMcNeeseOklahoma State14-56
9/77:30 PMUT-MartinFlorida0-45
9/77:30 PMStony BrookUtah State7-62
9/78 PMPrairie ViewHouston17-37
9/710:45 PMNorthern ArizonaArizona41-65

Week 3 (20 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
9/1412 PMChattanoogaTennessee0-45
9/1412 PMFurmanVirginia Tech17-24
9/1412:30 PMThe CitadelGeorgia Tech27-24 (1 OT)
9/142 PMNorfolk StateCoastal Carolina7-46
9/144 PMSE LouisianaOle Miss29-40
9/144 PMBethune-CookmanMiami (FL)0-63
9/144:15 PMIdaho StateUtah0-31
9/144:15 PMCal PolyOregon State7-45
9/145 PMIdahoWyoming16-21
9/146 PMSouth Car. StateSouth Florida16-55
9/146 PMWeber StateNevada13-19
9/147 PMNew HampshireFlorida Int’l17-30
9/147 PMMurray StateToledo0-45
9/147 PMLamarTexas A&M3-62
9/147:30 PMNorthwestern St.LSU14-65
9/147:30 PMSE Missouri StateMissouri0-50
9/147:30 PMTexas SouthernLouisiana6-77
9/148 PMMissouri StateTulane6-58
9/1410:15 PMPortland StateBoise State10-45
9/1410:45 PMMontanaOregon3-35

Week 4 (9 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
9/2112 PMElonWake Forest7-49
9/2112 PMMorgan StateArmy21-52
9/213 PMCentral Conn. St.Eastern Michigan29-34
9/216 PMHamptonLiberty27-62
9/216 PMWagnerFlorida Atlantic7-42
9/216 PMWilliam & MaryEast Carolina7-19
9/217 PMSouthern IllinoisArkansas State28-41
9/2110 PMSacramento StateFresno State20-34
9/2112 AMCentral ArkansasHawaii16-35

Week 5 (4 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
9/2812 PMHoly CrossSyracuse3-41
9/2812:30 PMDelawarePittsburgh14-17
9/284 PMTowsonFlorida0-38
9/287 PMNichollsTexas State3-24

Week 6 (No Games)

Week 7 (1 Game)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
10/124 PMRhode IslandVirginia Tech17-34

Week 8 (1 Game)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
10/196 PMMaineLiberty44-59

Week 9 (No Games)

Week 10 (1 Game)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
11/24 PMWoffordClemson14-59

Week 11 (No Games)

Week 12 (4 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
11/1612 PMAlabama StateFlorida State12-49
11/1612 PMVMIArmy6-47
11/163 PMIdaho StateBYU10-42
11/164 PMIncarnate WordNew Mexico State28-41

Week 13 (6 Games)

DateTimeAwayHomeScore
11/2312 PMWestern CarolinaAlabama3-66
11/2312 PMSamfordAuburn0-52
11/233:30 PMMercerNorth Carolina7-56
11/233:30 PMUT-MartinKentucky7-50
11/233:30 PMEast Tennessee StateVanderbilt0-38
11/237:30 PMAbilene ChristianMississippi State7-45

Those are the 2019 FBS versus FCS games as of this writing. Any updates to dates or times will be provided as soon as they are known. Any missed changes and corrections are welcome!

Visits: 28

Which Schools Would Be A Good Fit In The FCS?

Northwest Missouri State has won six Division 2 National Championships? Is a move to the FCS plausible for the Bearcats? (Photo Courtesy of The Podyum).

Which Schools Would Be A Good Fit In The FCS?

Last year, we looked at the FCS to FBS transition in a two-part series. Part one focused on how teams have historically performed going from the FCS to FBS. Part two analyzed the most likely candidates to consider a move to the FBS as well as two new programs. When going through the latter part, we found there would be some ideal landing spots in the FCS for certain schools.

We provided VCU and UT Arlington as two choices for a new program to land in the FBS. Biasedly, we like the choices we provided but when we take an even closer look at UT Arlington, there might be a better fit: the Southland Conference. The Southland members reside in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas making for lower travel costs. UTA would probably need to upgrade their facilities that have not been used for college football since 1985 (they have been used for high school football since that time).

UT Arlington is also currently part of the Sun Belt Conference, which makes the decision difficult. Do you forego the FBS conference to save on costs? Will you recoup the money needed for an expansion of the stadium? Is FBS the right fit? Those are only a few questions administrators will ask as they evaluate their options.

We will draw from two groups of teams: Division 1 programs that do not currently have a football program and current Division 2 schools. This list will not include known future FCS teams such as Merrimack College, Long Island University, Dixie State, or Augustana University.

Edit: The fine folks of Twitter have also pointed out that Tarleton State is considering a move to the Southland Conference in Division I. Tarleton State’s study can be found here. In addition, a new stadium built on the West Texas A&M campus along with a feasibility study by Collegiate Consulting could be a signal for an impending move to the FCS.

Let’s take a look at the (potential) candidates below. Please note, these are strictly speculative and this is simply a fun FCS thought experiment.

Northwest Missouri State (Jump Up)

Since 1998, the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats have been to the Division 2 National Championship ten times, winning six of those games. They have become the logical division two candidate to step up into the FCS.

Their current stadium capacity is 6,500, which is on the small end for a move up to FCS. The student population of roughly 6,500 is not ideal and there would need to be additional revenue generated from the Bearcats to accommodate the move to the FCS. It is also not suitable to hold the Missouri Valley Football Conference crowds. It may seem a bit harsh throwing them into the same conference as North Dakota State, but geographically this option makes the most sense.

Speaking of geography, their current configuration in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association is condensed from southern Nebraska to central Oklahoma and only as east to the Missouri-Illinois border. The current set up is tough to beat in terms of travel.

Verdict: It would be awesome to see the Bearcats move up to the FCS and be apart of the Missouri Valley Football Conference. However, that would increase costs in terms of travel and some stadium expansion for bigger crowds, which makes the jump unlikely at this time.

Cal State Fullerton (Restarted)

Cal State Fullerton had a football program until 1992 due to a terrible on field product and low attendance. Since 1995, there have been repeated efforts to bring it back. As this article lays out, there are some hurdles to get over before this becomes reality.

One issue is the 10,000 seat stadium built in 1992. Yes, that is acceptable by FCS standards (compared to other programs as well) but the revenue generated for those 10,000 seats would not be enough to fund the football team. There is a large student population of 37,000 so perhaps there would be enough demand.

The Titans would be placed in the Big Sky Conference, which already has three California based teams. The travel at times might be tough if they have several trips up north each year (and do not forget about the cost of travel for other sports if they all go to the Big Sky).

As of right now, the Titans call the Big West home for their other sports and all of those teams play in California. That is a huge cost addition that is tough to ignore. Even if they only have football sponsored in the Big Sky, the costs increased travel costs would be a huge burden.

Verdict: Unlikely due to the travel costs for the football team and expansion of the stadium. Another worry is the long-term attendance if the school does not do well on the field as happened in 1992.

Valdosta State (Jump Up)

Valdosta State has only been playing football since 1982, but have reached the pinnacle of Division 2 football four times in 2004, 2007, 2012, and 2018. Located at the southern border of Georgia this school would be perfect for the Southern Conference. This is similar to their current conference, Gulf Coast. The travel costs would be similar in this scenario.

The stadium fits 11,250, which is a good size for Division 2. It may need to be expanded especially if they continue to be a good football program in the FCS. The current student population is 11,000, which is on the lower end.

Verdict: This would make sense and be a good option. However, VSU does not seem too keen on a move at this time.

Grand Canyon (New Program)

Grand Canyon may seem like a random team, but there are reasons why they might be a good fit. They moved from Division 2 to Division 1 in 2013 when they joined the WAC. In 2017, the NCAA approved the move to Division 1 allowing the Antelopes to be eligible for the postseason. Also, they play in the southwest, which would make them a decent addition to the Big Sky.

There is another factor at play, but it could be double-edged. Grand Canyon has over 90,000 students enrolled, but 70,000 of those students are enrolled in online classes. That is a massive revenue stream if they are to pursue a football program. There are a solid 20,000 students on campus, which is great for GCU, but the question becomes what happens if they are not successful on the field? Does the attendance start to dip badly? How would the fans react (and not just on social media)? Will the 20,000 on-campus students be enough to justify spending money on facilities over the long run?

Speaking of on-campus limitations, GCU would need to build a new stadium to host games. They currently have some impressive new facilities so we know it can be done properly, but cost of a new stadium is always a concern. Travel costs would also certainly be a concern as part of the Big Sky. With the Lopes are currently in the WAC, they have a unique travel schedule at times stretching from Chicago, Illinois (Chicago State is in the WAC) to Seattle, Washington.

There is not much momentum for a football team at GCU right now, but that could change.

Verdict: We will say likely, even if not for another decade or two. Grand Canyon is clearly building something impressive and eventually football will be part of that vision. They may even go for FBS football if the perfect situation arises (Mountain West perhaps?)

Northern Kentucky (New Program)

Northern Kentucky recently moved from the Atlantic Sun Conference to the Horizon League. The school was previously part of Division 2. The main reason for the move was due to geography as most Atlantic Sun schools played in southeast with several in Florida.

NKU has a student population of 14,500, which is on the lower end, but not the worst. For a stadium, they would have to build from scratch as none of near campus options could be reasonably fitted to host a football game.

The Norse would fit in well with the Ohio Valley Conference for their new football team. The longest trip would be to northern Alabama to face Jacksonville State. The travel costs would be comparable for the other sports though the inclusion of football would make the travel costs skyrocket due to the size of the roster.

Verdict: Unlikely. Previous estimates made by NKU pushed them towards a path to Division 1 instead of a football team. A new stadium plus all the other costs associated with the introduction of a football team make it prohibitive.

Wrap Up

While we think all the schools mentioned above would be great fits for the FCS in terms of geography and the new conference, it is impossible to ignore the costs. Whether it is a new stadium or just an expansion, that has to be measured against the additional revenue generated. In most cases, it just is not viable to make the move even if all five programs would make for wonderful additions to the FCS. However, the allure of FBS football has not stopped some like Liberty and Massachusetts from making the jump.

Visits: 32

Should Army Consider Joining The AAC?

Jeff Monken celebrates during the 2018 Army-Navy game. (AP Photo / Matt Rourke)

Should Army Consider Joining The AAC?

Army’s football team has posted three straight winning seasons with all three ending in bowl victories. 2017 saw the team’s first 10 win season in over 20 years when they finished 10-3. Army followed that up with an 11-2 record last season, which were the most wins in school history and finished ranked in the top 25. Most recently, Connecticut’s move back to the Big East has created a void in the American Athletic Conference. Should Army consider joining the AAC?

Let’s start by going to the past. The far past.

The Glory Days

It is of little surprise that all of Army’s national championships came around war time. With all the recruits being drafted into the Army, there was a complete arsenal on the gridiron.

Army won national championships in 1914 and 1916 going 9-0 during both season. The Cadets had a winning record each year from 1907 through 1938. Then came World War II. (The titles are not claimed by Army, but they are recognized by the NCAA).

Though the US had not formally entered into the Second World War, in 1939 and 1940 Army’s football prowess was definitely not on display. They went 3-4-2 in 1939 and 1-7-1 in 1940. However, the 1941 through 1943 seasons saw a return to winning ways as they went 5-3-1, 6-3, and 7-2-1.

The 1944 squad went 9-0 scoring 504 points and giving up 35 points. They were named national champions, a feat they would repeat in 1945 when they went 9-0 again while scoring 412 points and surrendering 46. The 1946 squad went 9-0-1 with the tie being to Notre Dame, who would be crowned AP national champions. The 1944 – 46 teams featured the overwhelming duo of Doc Blanchard (1945 Heisman) and Glenn Davis (1946 Heisman).

Army would have several more strong seasons in the late 1940s and Pete Dawkins would take home the Heisman in 1958 after an 8-0-1 campaign. There were a few good seasons sprinkled in the next several decades, but the Cadets have not reached those heights again.

Prelude to Conference USA

Army was not a remarkable team in the 1980s. They went 8-3-1 and 9-3 with back-to-back bowl wins in 1984 and 1985. They went 9-3 again in 1988 with a Sun Bowl loss to Alabama. Other than the 1988 season, the Cadets basically hung around .500 between 1986 and 1995 having between 4 and 6 wins each year.

In 1996, Army achieved a 10-2 record with the an Independence Bowl loss to Auburn. It was their first 10 win season in school history and they finished in the top 25 polls for the first time 1958. Army struck while the iron was hot because in March 1997 they decided to join Conference USA (possible paywall) beginning with the 1998 season.

The Conference USA Disaster

The 1997 season was Army’s last season as an independent before they went into a conference for the first time. They went 4-7, but that was actually the highlight of their time as part of Conference USA.

The Cadets time on the field in C-USA between 1998 through 2004 was abysmal. They never won more than two conference games and never won more than three total games in a season. Their totals for C-USA were:

Overall record: 13-67

C-USA record: 9-41

Their low point was the 2003 season in which they went 0-13 overall and 0-8 in Conference USA. The 2003 season was the first time in NCAA history that a program finished with an 0-13 mark. Todd Berry was head coach for the first six games before being fired and replaced by John Mumford. Berry was at the helm for three and a half seasons in which he decided the wishbone offense was no longer needed at Army. Ouch.

Back To Independent Status

For their final C-USA season, Army hired Bobby Ross to bring them back to a respectable level. Ross lasted only three seasons going 9-25, but had to undo what Berry did. When Army left C-USA, they cited scheduling flexibility as the main reason for their departure. Eight conference games, plus the obligatory Navy and Air Force games left only one or (now) two games they could schedule as they saw fit.

Ross was succeeded by his protégé Stan Brock who went 3-9 in two seasons. He was fired and replaced by Rich Ellerson who led the Cadets to their first bowl game in 2010 since the ten win 1996 campaign. Army soon went back to their losing ways going 3-9, 2-10, and 3-9 in Ellerson’s final three seasons.

Monken’s Momentum

When Army hired Jeff Monken in December 2013 to lead the program, it seemed like a good fit. Monken led Georgia Southern to three consecutive FCS Playoff Semifinal appearances using the triple-option offense that is employed by service academies. It took two seasons of 4-8 and 2-10 before it all came together in Monken’s third season.

Army went 8-5 in 2016 capping off the season with an overtime victory against North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. In 2017, Army went 10-3 with a 42-35 win over San Diego State in the Armed Forces Bowl. The best was yet to come as 2018 saw Army go 11-2 with an obliteration of Houston, 70-14, in the Armed Forces Bowl.

Monken was rewarded for the 2018 season by being named the Coach of the Year. He also signed a contract extension with Army through the 2024 season.

The future is bright and Monken has signaled his intent to stick around so… Should Army consider joining the AAC or another conference?

A Complicated Puzzle

The answer to the “should Army consider joining the AAC” question is nuanced. Some will point to fellow service academies Air Force and Navy successes in conference play. Others will point to keeping Army and Navy together as their rivalry is deeply intertwined with the fabric of college football. Perhaps Army’s own previous conference history, albeit short and disastrous, provide clues.

Let’s start with how Navy and Air Force have fared in their respective conference. Navy is simple as they have been in the American Athletic Conference for only four seasons. In that time, Navy has been co-champions of the AAC West twice, played in one AAC championship game (lost 34-10 to Temple in 2016), and had three winning seasons. 2018 was very poor at 3-10, but there were some close games as well. The jury is still out on Navy’s decision to go to the AAC despite some differing opinions (possible paywall).

Air Force has a much longer history of being in a conference. They were part of the Western Athletic Conference from 1980 until 1998 and then joined the Mountain West in 1999. In the 39 years since having a conference affiliation, Air Force has gone to 23 bowl games and have had consistent success since Troy Calhoun took over in 2007.

Part of Air Force’s success has been their geography. Even in the WAC, they were still relatively close to their opponents. Navy has the oddity of being the now second most eastern team in the AAC, yet were somehow placed in the west division where they still reside. Still, they have shown success in their brief AAC tenure.

Potential Destination

If Army were to consider joining a conference the one that makes the most sense is the American Athletic Conference. They would be situated close to Connecticut, Navy, and Temple. The AAC might have to re-draw their divisions and the absence of Connecticut actually makes this interesting.

Had UConn remained, instead of having Navy be part of the “west” they could change the divisions to north and south. The north would have been comprised of Army, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Navy, Temple, and East Carolina. The south would have included Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa, and South Florida.

Without UConn in the mix, it becomes murkier. The east cluster of Army, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Navy, and Temple is clear. The west cluster is Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane, and Tulsa. Then, there are the two Florida schools in UCF and USF. Here, they could just split UCF to the east and USF to the west. In this scenario, there are balanced divisions, though somewhat awkwardly.

(Ideally the two Florida teams would be in the same division, but unless the AAC is going to go the super-expansion route to 14 teams this partition will do. Besides, it stays in line with conference’s confusing geography philosophy).

Another problem is the Army-Navy game tends to be played all by itself with the potential of the entire college football audience watching. Being part of a conference would cause this to be played during November (or earlier) because it could impact the conference championship game. While it would be amazing for the winner of Army-Navy to determine the AAC one or possibly two title representatives, is it worth foregoing the spotlight of being the sole football game on TV in December?

One work around: Allow Army-Navy to keep it’s preferred time slot as a non-conference game. The AAC would probably agree to this and it would not impact the regular season title race. However, it would eliminate another week of flexibility from Army’s schedule. Speaking of scheduling…

A third problem is that Army clearly likes their scheduling flexibility and it has been favorable for them. It is not a mistake that Army’s last three seasons have been the best in over two decades. They had five home games in 2016, six in 2017, and six in 2018 while 2016 and 2018 both saw an additional game within the state of New York (at Buffalo both times). Also factor in the neutral site game against Navy, which gives Army 7 or 8 home/neutral site games that are relatively close to West Point.

Army gets complete control over 10 games a season, which allows them to play a few big teams for paychecks while still playing a few FCS opponents to get closer to bowl eligibility. Mix in several group of 5 teams who are beatable along with fellow independents and Army has a recipe for at least 6 to 7 wins each season as long as they are competitive.

Summary

Army’s short stint in Conference USA was a terrible mistake as they moved to a more restrictive schedule while moving away from the wishbone offense. That led to a terrible product on the field as they were not competitive at all.

Army’s return to independent status did not bear fruit until the last three seasons with Jeff Monken at the helm. Army has seen their best success in decades thanks to Monken’s leadership. Now let’s answer the question posed in the article’s title.

Should Army Consider Joining The AAC?

Absolutely they should consider it. They are stable with the proper offensive scheme (as opposed to their C-USA time) and their head coach, who clearly has the right ideas for the program. They would be a good geographical fit for the American Athletic Conference while preserving their annual rivalry tilt against Navy.

Should Army Join The AAC?

This is tougher to answer, but no they should not. They clearly value scheduling flexibility and if the likes of Massachusetts and smaller group of 5 teams continue to schedule Army, why deviate it from a successful formula? Going to a conference automatically removes 8 games from their scheduling control and with Air Force in the rotation, the Cadets will only have 3 games of their choosing. They will have additional AAC TV revenue, but will it cover the additional travel expenses? If not, Army might need to schedule more Power 5 teams potentially leaving them short of bowl eligibility.

For now, Army should remain as an Independent. This could all change in a few years when conference realignment kicks off again (or sooner if UConn proves to be the domino).

Visits: 32

FBS and FCS Changes For 2019 Season

Merrimack College is moving up from Division II to Division I and will compete at the FCS level in football (photo courtesy of Merrimack College).

FBS and FCS Changes For The 2019 Season

The college football season does not kickoff until August 24, but that won’t stop us from getting excited. We will start by detailing the FBS and FCS changes for the 2019 season.

Overtime Rule Changes

We start with a general rule change regarding overtime. The change this season is that teams will go for two instead of starting at the 25 yard line commencing with the fifth overtime. Four overtime periods will be played as they previously were with each team getting the ball. Previously, teams played as many overtimes as necessary with each team getting a possession until one team failed to match the other team in points for that overtime period. In addition, the third and fourth overtimes will still require the teams to go for a two-point conversion.

Another note: a two-minute break has been mandated after the second and fourth overtimes. At least we will have a chance to catch our collective breath.

FBS Changes

Amazingly, there are very few changes in terms of team movements. The one note is that Liberty will be bowl eligible in 2019 after moving up from FCS in 2018. The Flames will remain an Independent team and will once again play New Mexico State twice this season as they did in 2018.

FCS Changes

The plethora of changes to detail will take place at the FCS level. The overtime rules discussed above will apply here as well.

General Schedule Quirk

Thanks to the NCAA’s draconian bylaws, the 2019 season allows for a 12 game regular season at the FCS level instead of the usual 11. Why? Simply due to the calendar. 14 Saturdays between Labor Day weekend and the last Saturday in November (see bylaw 17.10.3 on page 272) allow for the 12 games to be played.

This last time this occurred was in 2013 and will happen again in 2024. For FCS fans, the likelihood of a permanent 12 game regular season are zero after the NCAA rejected a proposal back in 2017.

Conference Changes – Up From Division II

We start with the two teams moving up from Division II into FCS competition.

Merrimack College is moving from the Division II Northeast-10 Conference to the FCS Northeast Conference. The Warriors will become full Division I members starting with the 2023-24 academic year. They won’t be playing a full Northeast Conference schedule this season, but hope to do so in 2020. As part of the transition, the Warriors are ineligible for the NEC title and FCS playoffs this season.

The second team moving up from Division II to FCS is Long Island University. They too are moving from the NE-10 to the NEC. LIU is merging the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds and LIU Post Pioneers to become the LIU Sharks. The Pioneers were part of the Division II level while the Blackbirds were already at the Division I level, but did not sponsor football. The Sharks will be competing with a 7 game conference schedule in 2019. LIU will be eligible for the NEC title.

Moving Down To Division II

Savannah State will be departing the FCS to drop down to Division II as announced in late 2017. The Tigers were a member of the MEAC since 2010 and now re-join the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). The Tigers were a member of the SIAC from 1969 through 1999 before becoming a then Division 1-AA (now FCS) Independent. The MEAC will have 9 football teams in 2019.

Moving From FCS Independent Status

Two teams are moving from an FCS Independent to the Big South. Those schools are the Hampton Pirates and North Alabama Lions. The Big South will have 8 teams this season.

Hampton left the MEAC after the 2017 season after joining the conference in 1995. The Pirates played as an FCS Independent in 2018 in their transition year to the Big South. They played 10 games (Tennessee State game was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence) and went 7-3. The Pirates are eligible for both the Big South title and the FCS Playoffs.

Meanwhile, North Alabama moved up from Division II for the 2018 season. After a 7-3 season in 2018, the Lions will face a full slate of FCS teams for the first time including 7 games against Big South foes. The Lions are not eligible for the Big South title and are ineligible for the FCS Playoffs until 2022 when their transition to Division I is complete.

Stuck In Indepedence

North Dakota is in their final season as an FCS Independent on their way to becoming a Missouri Valley Football Conference member. North Dakota has left the Big Sky Conference, but maintains the previously scheduled Big Sky matchups. The games will count in the conference standings for the Fighting Hawks’ opponents. UND will not be eligible for the Big Sky title, but can still be selected as an at-large team for the FCS Playoffs.

Future Moves

The Big South is full of changes this year and next. 2019 will mark the final year for Presbyterian as a football member of the conference. They will be an Independent in 2020 and then become a member of the Pioneer Football League starting in 2021. Presbyterian joined the Big South in 2009.

Dixie State, currently a Division II member, will move up to Division I starting in 2020. They will compete as an FCS Independent in 2020 while their other sports will compete in the Western Athletic Conference. Dixie State is part of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Association and currently has no plans for joining an FCS football conference. The Trailblazers will not be eligible for the FCS Playoffs until 2024 due to the transition.

Augustana announced their intention to transition to Division I in December 2018. They currently reside in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, but have not discussed a Division I conference to join. It is assumed they will join the Summit League, however, that conference does not offer football. In that case, the Vikings will then have to decide whether they want offer scholarship football or not. This, in turn, will help decided if they land in a conference such as the Pioneer Football League (non-scholarship) or the more geographically appropriate Missouri Valley Football Conference.

More FCS football conjecture can be found here.

Edit: Thanks to the folks on Twitter, both Tarleton State and West Texas A&M have considered moving to the FCS. Tarleton State’s feasibility move can be found here with the Southland Conference explicitly mentioned. West Texas A&M released a bullish statement after working with Collegiate Consulting and they are opening a new football stadium for the 2019 season.

Staying Put

Much to the delight of Stetson fans and alumni, the Hatters are staying put at the Division 1 level. Despite an examination into dropping to Division II or Division III, there will be no change for Stetson’s affiliation at this time. Stetson currently plays in the Pioneer Football League at the FCS level after bringing back the team starting with the 2013 season.

That covers the FBS and FCS changes for the 2019 season and we look forward to the start of the season as well as more content in the next few months!

Visits: 55

Transitioning From FCS To FBS Part 2: Potential Teams

North Dakota State has been the absolute best team at the FCS level since 2010. The Bison are natural candidates for the FBS but does it truly make sense? (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Transitioning From FCS To FBS Part 2: Potential Teams

Welcome to second portion of our two-part series examining the transition from the FCS to FBS. In part one we looked at how teams have fared in the past. In this second part, we look at the teams best suited for the transition and also look at a few other teams.

To recap part one briefly, we looked at the schools that transitioned from FCS to FBS since 1987. The teams that performed the best were teams that had multiple playoff appearances in the final five FCS seasons. The second best group was the new programs followed by teams that had one or no playoff appearances in the final five FCS seasons.

We will make some assumptions about each team below that may or may not hold true if these scenarios in reality. For one, we look at each team separately and do not take into account all the dominoes from a potential realignment with our other teams. That would be far too time consuming to consider.

Secondly, geography and travel are big components of the analysis. We look first at which geographical area would be best and then look at the additional travel required if they were to move conferences.

Finally, keep in mind that while these teams would see increased revenues after they moved, they would also see increased costs in the form of stadium upgrades and travel for other sports would increase among other factors.

Now we can look at potential jumpers and new programs with the criteria we laid out in the first part. Please note, the below is purely a fun, speculative exercise.

North Dakota State (Jump Up)

North Dakota State is the first team discussed any time FCS to FBS transitions are explored. The Bison have only won six of the last seven FCS National Championships as of this writing and have clearly been the best team of the decade at the FCS level. There is one issue that really hurts the Bison and that is location.

NDSU is currently the most northern member of the Missouri Valley Football Conference until 2020 when North Dakota joins. NDSU is geographically awkward if they were to move up to the FBS. The best fit would be the Big 10 especially in terms of their location and style of play. However, the Bison would probably have to prove themselves at the FBS level first which would put them in the Mountain West. Again, this is not exactly ideal.

Also consider the Fargodome, which has a capacity of 19,000 for football. They would have to upgrade the stadium to accommodate the increased number of fans. That would take money, which the Bison would recoup over time, but what about the additional travel costs not just for football, but also the other sports?

Verdict: We would love to see North Dakota State make the transition, but it does not seem likely given some of the logistical constraints.

Sam Houston State (Jump Up)

Here is another FCS powerhouse each year. The Bearkats have made seven straight playoff appearances with two National Championship losses to North Dakota State (those pesky Bison). Sam Houston State has one of the best offenses each season in the FCS and play in the Southland Conference.

The Southland Conference is a wonderful geographical set up for the teams. All members are from Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, which is more than convenient. So where would they land if they went to the FBS? There are three conferences: The American Athletic Conference,  Conference USA, and Sun Belt.

The American Athletic Conference would place the Bearkats in the West along with Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa, and Navy. Navy is a horrendous fit for the West Division, which means that the AAC could balance the divisions by getting a second West team and moving Navy to the far more natural East. In this case, they would face six west opponents and two east opponents each season.

Conference USA currently has 14 teams with seven from the West Division located in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. If C-USA expanded to 16 teams that would leave only one game per season they would face an East Division opponent (based on an 8 game conference schedule). They would also face that East opponent on the road once every other year. Not a bad move based on assumptions above.

The Sun Belt is the final option and teams leaving the Southland Conference frequently find the Sun Belt as their FBS destination. The conference has been split into East and West Divisions among its 10 members. The West Division has teams from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. Based on an 8 game schedule, they would have to face two East opponents each year with one at home and one on the road.

Finally, Sam Houston State would have to increase the size of the stadium from the current size of roughly 12,500.

Verdict: The Southland Conference is a wonderful spot for Sam Houston State right now. If they were dead set on the FBS, then Conference USA would be the best option.

James Madison (Jump Up)

James Madison is a recent addition to the top level of the FCS. The Dukes have made the playoffs four straight seasons, but the last two put them up with the best. In 2016, they upset the Bison for the National Championship and then followed that up in 2017 with a loss to Bison in the title game. To be fair, this is not the same sustained success as the previous two entrants, but strong enough for consideration.

The Dukes currently play in the Colonial Athletic Association, which stretches from Maine to South Carolina. JMU sits at the southern edge of the conference, which might make travel costly depending on the scheduling rotation.

JMU, like Sam Houston State, has several options. They could go to the American Athletic, Conference USA, or Sun Belt. James Madison would face the opposite of SHSU’s possibilities for all three.

The Dukes would be in the East for the AAC though that would make it unbalanced in terms of natural East and West programs. For C-USA, they would be a natural fit for the East Division while the same would be true for the Sun Belt.

James Madison has a solid stadium size already at 25,000, which will make the costs relatively less expensive for expansion.

Verdict: James Madison sits in an awkward geographical position for the three conferences above. Conference USA would be the best fit for costs and travel as they would only face a West opponent on the road once every other year.

Jacksonville State (Jump Up)

The Jacksonville State Gamecocks have dominated the Ohio Valley Conference with four straight titles. They have made the FCS playoffs five straight seasons with a title game appearance in 2015 (yes, they lost to NDSU).

As part of the OVC, Jacksonville State is the southern most member, but it is a comfortable distance to northern most team, Eastern Illinois. The team furthest to the west is Southeast Missouri State on the Missouri-Illinois border, which again, is not too bad.

If the Gamecocks were to go to the FBS they too have the options of the AAC, C-USA, and Sun Belt. However, one fits better than the other two and that is the Sun Belt.

JSU’s location in northeast Alabama puts them right in the middle of the conference in terms of location. That would make them ideal to be put in either division as needed. Or the Sun Belt could flip the division from east and west to the north and south while also adding another team to have an even number of teams.

The JSU stadium can hold 24,000, which will help limit the amount they need to spend on expanding the stadium.

Verdict: The Ohio Valley is a decent fit for them, but if they are looking for the FBS, the Sun Belt makes sense. While the AAC and Conference USA are both plausible, the Sun Belt felt most natural.

Eastern Washington (Jump Up)

Eastern Washington has also been a mainstay in the FCS Playoffs. Since their National Championship in 2010, they have made the playoffs five times and progressed to at least the quarterfinals on each occasion. Four of the five appearances resulted in a semifinal appearance.

The Eagles play in the Big Sky Conference which stretches from Washington all the way to the middle of Arizona and out to the eastern border of North Dakota. As mentioned above, the University of North Dakota will be moving to the Missouri Valley Football Conference and it is not hard to see why when their closest in conference opponent is Northern Colorado.

There are two natural destinations for EWU with the Pac-12 and Mountain West. The Pac-12 is a long shot considering they would probably want to see how they perform in the FBS before having them join. So that leaves the Mountain West.

The Eagles would probably be put in the Mountain Division, which would require travel to Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. The travel is not horrendous outside of the trip to New Mexico every other year. The west division would be very similar to New Mexico and would also have to be done every other year.

The stadium capacity of Roos Field is a paltry 8,600, which means a huge outlay to expand the size. At least their red turf would go along nicely with Boise State’s blue turf.

Verdict: The current travel arrangements do not differ much as if they were to play in the Mountain West. The stadium expenditure would probably be another point of concern. The reality is go for Pac-12 money (though unlikely) or stay put in the Big Sky.

Virginia Commonwealth (New Program)

VCU, currently in the Atlantic 10 for all other sports, would make a wonderful addition to Conference USA. They are located in Richmond, which is the capital of Virginia. That provides a great fan base for any potential team. VCU has not fielded more than a club team for football. In addition, a stadium would be required for the football team making the likelihood of this happening slim.

What VCU does have in terms of location also applies to the student body. The Rams have the second highest enrollment in the state (not counting Liberty’s online degree numbers). That provides a solid footing if they choose to pursue adding a football program.

There have been some worries expressed by current Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin. He feels that the costs would exceed the revenue generated as noted here. It appears that as long as McLaughlin is at VCU, the Rams will not have a football team without someone donating what is needed.

Verdict: Highly unlikely given the current AD and all the startup costs for the program.

University of Texas Arlington (New Program)

UT Arlington previously had a football program until 1985 when the constant financial losses caused the school to stop sponsoring the sport. It may be time for the Mavericks to make a comeback to the field. UTA is the fourth largest school in Texas with an enrollment of 42,000 in the football crazed state.

Back in 2004, students voted to increase tuition by $2 per semester hour if football was brought back. All good then, right? Well, not quite. The costs would be enormous especially if the ultimate goal is the FBS. The stadium, which currently holds 12,500, would need a massive upgrade to host FBS football games. To pay for the new sport, the cost would most likely go to students in the form of higher tuition as noted above.

One area that UTA would not have to worry about is finding a FBS conference. They are part of the Sun Belt in the other sports offered by the school. That is one piece of the puzzle they will not have to worry about if they bring back football. UTA would have good knowledge about the travel costs if they were to play in the Sun Belt.

Verdict: Viable but UTA needs to be prudent about the costs and expected revenue so they do not make the same mistake from 1985.

That concludes the second part of our series on the FCS to FBS transition. We hope you enjoyed the speculation and analysis!

Visits: 166

Transitioning From FCS To FBS Part 1: Past History

Liberty upset Baylor to open the 2017 and Now the Flames will be in the FBS. Is there anything from the FCS jumpers that may indicate how Liberty will perform in 2018? (Cooper Neill/Getty Images North America)

Transitioning From FCS To FBS Part 1: Past History

Welcome to a two part series where we take a look at how teams perform when they move from the FCS to FBS. We went all the way back to 1987 when Akron made the jump from the the then named Division 1AA (now FCS) to Division 1A (now FBS).

Part one will look at the past with how previous teams performed when they transitioned. Part two will focus on which teams could make the jump from FCS to FBS or start a football program.

We logged each team’s five seasons prior to the transition as well as the first five seasons in the FBS. We looked at how many seasons it took for each program to reach the postseason in the FBS. 28 teams have made the jump from FCS to FBS since 1987 and Liberty will become number 29 in 2018.

After combing through the data, we found some obvious trends and perhaps a surprising trend. Let’s take a closer look at the three groups of teams.

Perennial FCS Playoff Teams

We will start with an obvious trend: teams that had multiple playoff appearances in their final five FCS seasons were more successful than those that did not make multiple appearances. This makes sense because good teams in the FCS will naturally be more prepared to compete in the FBS.

Multiple Playoff Appearances
Team 1st FBS Year Years
Nevada 1992 1
Louisiana-Monroe 1994 19
Marshall 1994 1
Troy 2001 4
Western Kentucky 2008 5
Massachusetts 2012 Haven’t reached bowl
Georgia Southern 2014 2
Appalachian State 2014 2
Coastal Carolina 2017 Haven’t reached bowl
9 4.9
Teams Avg. Years

The table above shows that teams to make multiple playoff appearances in their final five FCS seasons have, on average, made a bowl game by their fifth season of FBS football. Three notes on this:

  1. Both Massachusetts and Coastal Carolina have yet to reach the FBS postseason since making the jump. Coastal Carolina will only be in their second year of FBS in 2018.
  2. Some observers may note that UNLV became part of the FBS in 1978, however, they went from Division 2 straight to FBS and are not included in the calculations above.
  3. Both Georgia Southern and Appalachian State had more than six wins their first season in 2014  but thanks to draconian NCAA rules both teams were ineligible for a bowl game.

Now let’s look at how these teams perform in their five final seasons of FCS football followed by their first five FBS season.

Pre Transition Single Year Average
Season Wins Losses
Year -5 8.8 4.1
Year -4 9.0 4.0
Year -3 8.7 3.6
Year -2 9.3 3.6
Year -1 8.9 3.3
All 5 Years Avg 8.9 3.7
Post Transition Single Year Average
Season Wins Losses
Year 1 5.4 6.4
Year 2 5.8 6.4
Year 3 6.6 5.4
Year 4 6.3 6.0
Year 5 6.3 5.7
All 5 Years Avg 6.1 6.0

Two notes on the post FBS transition:

  1. Both Georgia Southern and Appalachian State have not yet completed their 5th season in the FBS. The numbers above may change after 2018, but probably not too drastically.
  2. Coastal Carolina is only included in Year 1 of the post transition averages. Like Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, the inclusion of CCU’s results may slightly alter the numbers.

As expected, teams that are good before leaving the FCS would be the most likely to make the jump. Once in the FBS, they struggle a bit compared to their time in the FCS, but going roughly 5-6 in year one is pretty impressive. As will be shown later, these teams show the least amount of fall off when completing the transition.

Next up, we turn our attention to the teams that have little playoff experience before making the transition.

FCS Teams Lacking Playoff Experience 

It stands to reason that good FCS teams would perform better moving up to the FBS, but how about FCS teams that are not as good? We have some evidence of this category and we use the criteria of a team that had one or no FCS playoff appearances in their final five seasons.

1 or No Playoff Appearances
Team 1st FBS Year Years
Akron 1987 19
Louisiana Tech 1989 2
Arkansas State 1992 14
North Texas 1995 7
Central Florida 1996 10
Boise State 1996 4
UAB 1996 9
Middle Tennessee 1999 8
Buffalo 1999 10
Connecticut 2000 5
Texas State 2012 Haven’t reached bowl
11 8.8
Teams Avg. Years

One note on North Texas:

  1. North Texas was in the FBS from 1975 to 1982 as an Independent. However, financial issues forced them to drop back to the FCS level for a decade (1983-1994). Due to that length of time at the FCS level, we include them in this group.

On average, it took until roughly the ninth season at the FBS level for the teams above to reach the postseason. Why would these teams make the jump if they have not been overly successful against FCS competition?

Some of these decisions were made several years in advance and their crystal ball probably did not foresee a relative downturn for the football program. If these administrators thought their football teams would not be as good perhaps they would reconsider their move.

Another reason is geographical fit to cut down on travel costs. Speaking of money, that is always a consideration in the form of more TV revenue as well as the exposure to a wider audience due to the TV contracts. More exposure on TV leads to more people being aware of the college’s presence and potentially more students.

Moreover, the facilities are already mostly there. There may be some stadium upgrades needed, but the structures are already in place so the cost is not nearly has high as if they were starting from scratch.

Whatever the reasoning behind the move, we cannot deny these teams struggle. Let’s look at the final five years in the FCS compared to the first five years in the FBS.

Pre Transition Single Year Average
Season Wins Losses
Year -5 6.6 4.8
Year -4 6.4 4.8
Year -3 5.6 5.3
Year -2 5.7 5.6
Year -1 5.6 5.5
All 5 Years Avg 6.0 5.2
Post Transition Single Year Average
Season Wins Losses
Year 1 3.2 7.8
Year 2 4.5 6.5
Year 3 5.5 5.5
Year 4 4.8 6.6
Year 5 4.7 6.7
All 5 Years Avg 4.6 6.6

The teams lacking FCS playoff experience average two wins less than teams with multiple FCS playoff appearances. In fact, the worst season for perennial playoff teams (5.4 wins in the first season) is nearly identical to the BEST average of the low playoff experience teams (5.5 in the third year).

As previously stated, this is logical. Better FCS teams are better prepared for the FBS, will be more likely to succeed, and have less catching up to do.

One final group to look at is new programs. All these schools played at least one season at the FCS level before embarking on their journey to the FBS.

New Schools

This concluding group of teams started from scratch before joining the FBS.

New Programs
Teams 1st FBS Year Years
South Florida 2001 5
Florida Atlantic 2004 4
Florida International 2004 7
UT-San Antonio 2012 5
South Alabama 2012 3
Georgia State 2013 3
Old Dominion 2014 3
Charlotte 2015 Haven’t reached bowl
8 4.3
Teams Avg. Years

Four notes on this group of teams:

  1. Like Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, Old Dominion had more than six wins in 2014 but those pesky NCAA rules kept them out of a bowl game.
  2. Old Dominion previously had a football program in the early and mid 20th century. 2009 was the first season since 1940 and given the length of time, they were reasonably considered a new program.
  3. Old Dominion made the FCS Playoffs in both 2011 and 2012 and thus qualify as a playoff perennial as well. We chose to make them a new program given how recently they restarted the program.
  4. South Florida, Florida Atlantic, and UT-San Antonio all had winning records in their first season, but once more the NCAA rules prevented these teams from being selected for a bowl.

Note the average seasons it has taken new programs (4.3) compared to playoff perennials (4.9) and the playoff lacking teams (8.8). That is impressive considering they are going from no football competition whatsoever to FBS. Outside of Charlotte, every team listed above went from zero to a bowl appearance within a decade of their first season.

Post Transition Single Year Average
Season Wins Losses
Year 1 4.8 7.0
Year 2 4.9 6.8
Year 3 4.9 7.4
Year 4 4.1 7.9
Year 5 6.2 6.3
All 5 Years Avg 4.9 7.1

The new shooters also have a respectable average win total for all five years given the infancy of the programs. The question then becomes how are these teams able to compete relatively early in their school’s history? Take another look at the list of teams:

Teams
South Florida
Florida Atlantic
Florida International
UT-San Antonio
South Alabama
Georgia State
Old Dominion
Charlotte

Where are the majority of teams located? In the southeast, the most popular area for college football. Here is a link to the New York Times‘ article that provides a graphical representation of how popular college football is around the nation. Even UT-San Antonio, while not in the southeast, is in another football crazed part of the US: Texas. While not nearly the same caliber as their SEC counterparts, the fact these teams are in top recruiting states certainly helps.

The location does not explain everything as there are major costs and considerations of starting a new program. Will there be funding from outside sources? Will fans continue to show up if the team is not doing well on the field? Will the additional exposure make up for the initial outlay of costs? What are the burdens to the additional students and surrounding areas? These are just some of questions to consider when starting a football program with the intent of making it to the FBS.

Clearly these programs thought it was worth the effort and expenses to make it to the FBS. So far, these programs have seen success in the form of reaching the postseason early in their history.

Wrapping Up

After looking at the three sets of teams it is clear that you want to be a team with multiple FCS playoff appearances before heading to the FBS. To be fair, this involves some luck in the way of scheduling, injuries, and coaching changes to name a few.

For teams that have little FCS playoff experience, the best idea would be to wait until the program has shown consistent success against the best teams. This is not always practical as they window to join the FBS may be small or their football program may just have been sub-par for several seasons before the transition.

If an administration is intent on going to the FBS, then they will have to be patient and hope for some luck along the way. Consider Louisiana Tech, a team that made the Independence Bowl in their second FBS season. In addition, Connecticut was a team that went from Independent status to the Big East (albeit watered down) within 5 years of joining the FBS. Finally, there is Boise State. The Broncos went to a bowl game in their fourth FBS season, but are now one of the best Group of 5 schools every season.

That leads us to the 2018 debut of Liberty as a FBS team. The Flames have posted a winning record each season since 2007. However, they only went to one FCS playoff in their final five seasons at that division. Facing a majority of FBS teams (Idaho State and Norfolk State are the two FCS opponents), they will probably struggle this season.

Finally, we have the new programs. They do surprisingly well at the FBS level reaching the postseason in their fourth of fifth year, on average. Location is important along with some luck to help them become successful.

One closing note to make is that the above analysis looks solely at the on field performance. The decision to make the move from FCS to FBS is far more involved and nuanced. We will touch on some of those factors in our second part.

Join us for part two where we take a look at which schools would best fit to make the jump from FCS to FBS or start a new program.

Visits: 30

FBS And FCS Changes For The 2018 Season

The Idaho Vandals will drop down from the FBS level to the FCS starting with 2018. ( Ed Zurga/Getty Images North America)

FBS And FCS Changes For The 2018 Season

August is here, which means college football is right around the corner. Below we detail the conference changes in Division 1 football (FBS and FCS) from last season.

FBS Changes

Idaho will move from the Sun Belt Conference to the much more suitable geographical conference of the Big Sky. This also means going from the FBS to the FCS, which makes them the first team to make that move. The Vandals are familiar with the Big Sky as they were part of that conference from 1965 to 1995.

New Mexico State is another team that is leaving the Sun Belt Conference, but they will remain in the FBS as an independent team. They have a scheduling quirk this year as they face Liberty twice in 2018. The first game will be October 6 at home and the matchup will be November 24 at Liberty.

Speaking of Liberty, they made the jump from the FCS’ Big South Conference to be an independent in FBS. The Flames will be a full FBS member in 2019, which will allow them to become bowl eligible. Liberty is an interesting team because they had to petition the NCAA to have the move approved.

One final note about the FBS and the Sun Belt Conference is they split the remaining 10 teams into two divisions. The East Division has Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, and Troy. The West Division has Arkansas State, Louisiana, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, and Texas State. 

The Sun Belt will also hold a championship game for the first time in 2018 with the winners of the East and West Divisions meeting at the home of the higher-ranked team to decide the Sun Belt Champion.

FCS Changes

Liberty was already mentioned above going from the Big South to being a FBS Independent.

Idaho was discussed earlier under the FBS changes going to the Big Sky Conference. There is another change involving the Big Sky, which is North Dakota becoming an FCS Independent for 2018 and 2019. North Dakota will ultimately become a member of the Missouri Valley Conference in 2020. North Dakota’s games will still count in the Big Sky standings for UND’s opponents.

Campbell has moved from the Pioneer Football League to the Big South Conference. Campbell was part of the Pioneer Football League from 2008 through 2017 after they had no team from 1951 to 2007.

Hampton is moving from the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference to become a FCS Independent. They will end up in the Big South Conference starting in 2019. North Alabama is moving up from Division 2  and they will also end up as a member of the Big South Conference in 2019 . They will compete as a FCS Independent member this season.

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Reviewing Our 2017 College Football Predictions

Tua Tagovalloa led Alabama to a second half comeback to win the 2018 National Championship. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

Reviewing Our 2017 College Football Predictions

Prior to the start of the 2017 College Football season, we made 26 predictions for the season. Those can all be found here. Below we will list and then review how each prediction turned out.

Predictions 25 Through 21

25. Appalachian State will win the Sun Belt – This was correct as App State went 7-1 and tied with Troy for the Sun Belt.

24. (Sun Belt) New Mexico State’s bowl drought will extend to 57 years – We were wrong on this and NMSU not only got back to a bowl, they also won it. Congrats Aggies!

23. (C-USA) The four teams wearing green will not win 25 games combined – Marshall won 8 games, North Texas won 9, UAB won 8, and Charlotte won 1. The biggest surprise was UAB who made a big statement after not playing football for 2 years. Bill Clark did a phenomenal job of getting UAB ready for football.

22. (C-USA) Both FAU and FIU will make a bowl game – Both teams did make a bowl game and FAU really made noise with Lane Kiffin at the helm. The Owls went 11-3 and won the C-USA Title while FIU went 8-5.

21. (Independent) Army will reach a second straight bowl game – Army not only reached a bowl game for the second straight year, they defeated Navy again, and also won a bowl game again. The Black Knights made it back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 1984-85 when they also won both bowls.

Result: 3 out of 5 predictions were correct.

Predictions 20 Through 16

20. (MAC) Akron will win the MAC East – This was correct as Akron went 6-2 in the MAC. The Zips did not fare well to end the season as they lost to Toledo in the MAC Championship and FAU in their bowl game. They finished 7-7 on the season.

19. (MWC) Boise State will lose at least three games – This was correct, but it looked bad for most of the season. A regular season finale loss to Fresno State got this over the top, but the Broncos exacted revenge on the Bulldogs with a victory a week later in the MWC Championship. Boise State went 11-3.

18. (MWC) Air Force will reach a bowl game – The Falcons were unable to overcome a 1-4 start and three straight losses to Army, Wyoming, and Boise State made this an incorrect prediction.

17. (AAC) 9 teams will make a bowl game – This was short by 2 teams as only Tulane came up a game short of bowl eligibility.

16. (AAC) – South Florida and Memphis will play in the AAC Championship Game – This was half-right. Memphis took care of business in the West while South Florida’s instant classic against UCF saw them come up just short. UCF went on to win the AAC Title along with the Peach Bowl over Auburn in a great year for them.

Result: 2.5 out of 5 predictions were correct. The running total is 5.5 correct out of 10.

Predictions 15 Through 11

15. (Big 12) Oklahoma State will lead the Big 12 in points scored – Oh was this a close one. The Cowboys averaged 45 points a game. Their rival Oklahoma outscored them by 0.1 points per game. So close.

14. (Big 12) TCU will win the Big 12 Championship – TCU made the game, but failed to seriously threaten Oklahoma in either the regular season or Big 12 Championship matchup.

13. (Big 12) Iowa State will reach a bowl game – The Cyclones really hit the map with wins over Oklahoma (on the road) and TCU (at home) in the span of three weeks. Iowa State went on to make the Liberty Bowl and win it 21-20 over Memphis.

12. (Pac-12) Washington State will reach double digit wins – Another prediction that was close, but ultimately wrong. The Cougars listlessly played against Washington and Michigan State to end the season with back-to-back losses and finish at 9-4.

11. (Pac-12) Colorado will reach a second straight bowl game – The Buffs went 3-0 to start the season and then subsequently went 2-7 in Pac-12 to miss a bowl by a victory.

Result: 1 out of 5 predictions were correct. The running total is 6.5 correct out of 15.

Predictions 10 Through 6

10. (Pac-12) Washington will win the Pac-12 – The Huskies went 7-2 in the Pac-12, but losses to Arizona State and Stanford prevented them from competing in the Pac-12 Championship.

9. (ACC) Lamar Jackson will not win the Heisman – This was likely due to the sky high expectations and in the end it was Baker Mayfield who won the 2017 Heisman Trophy.

8. (ACC) North Carolina State will win at least 10 games – This was yet another close call that ended on the wrong side. NC State had 9 wins with their losses to South Carolina, Notre Dame, and Clemson.

7. (ACC) Florida State will win the ACC – This was over before the Alabama game even finished. The Seminoles struggled all season after Deondre Francois went down against the Tide. FSU finished 7-6.

6. (SEC) Missouri will have the SEC’s highest scoring offense – This one came through thanks to Alabama’s last 2 games in the College Football Playoff. Missouri ended the season with 37.5 points per game and Alabama finished with 37.1. Of course, the Tide do not care about stats because they won the National Championship.

Result: 2 out of 5 predictions were correct. The running total is 8.5 correct out of 20.

Predictions 5 Through 1

5. (SEC) A 2nd year head coach will win the SEC East – This was spot on as Kirby Smart led Georgia to the SEC East and SEC Championship. The Bulldogs made the National Championship game, but lost a 26-23 thriller in OT to Alabama.

4. (SEC) Auburn will win the SEC West – Another correct call as Auburn upset Alabama in the season finale to win the SEC West. The Tigers ended the season with losses to Georgia in the SEC Championship and Central Florida in the Peach Bowl.

3. (Big 10) Northwestern will win at least 9 games –Northwestern did one better winning 10 games in a very good season for the Wildcats. Their losses were to Duke, Wisconsin, and Penn State as they went 10-3.

2. (Big 10) Michigan State will miss a second straight bowl game – The Spartans made this look awful as they went 10-3. We still like the Spartans to be a Big 10 and College Football Playoff contender for the 2018 season.

1. (Big 10) The Big 10 will win the National Championship – No Big Ten team even made the College Football Playoff to give this one a shot. Both Ohio State and Wisconsin were on the outside looking in. The SEC monopolized the National Championship with Alabama winning over Georgia.

Bonus: At least 10 FCS teams will defeat FBS teams – It is fitting the bonus prediction was like a lot of other incorrect predictions: just missed. 9 FCS teams upset FBS opponents as no late season FCS surprises could see this one come true. As an aside, congrats to North Dakota State on their 6th title in 7 seasons after beating James Madison in the FCS Title game.

Result: 3 out of 6 predictions were correct. The final total is 11.5 correct out of 26 for 44.2%. In 2016, we correctly made 30.5 out of 55 predictions for 55.5%.

We look forward to the 2018 season!

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Badger Thoughts 2017: Game Two Victory Versus Florida Atlantic

Jonathan Taylor had an excellent rushing game against Florida Atlantic with 223 yards and 3 touchdowns. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images North America)

Badger Thoughts 2017: Game Two      Victory Versus Florida Atlantic

The Wisconsin Badgers have opened the season 2-0 after a 31-14 win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday afternoon. Like the opening game versus Utah State, there were bright spots and some concerns. We provide our notes and takes on both this game and the 2017 season.

1. Jonathan Taylor makes his case to be starter going forward – Taylor got the start against FAU after an injury sidelined Bradrick Shaw and Taylor showed the coaches the decision was an excellent one. Taylor showed both his power and speed on his two first half touchdown runs.

Taylor finished the game rushing for 223 yards and 3 touchdowns on 26 carries. His backup, Chris James, also showed some good rushes after a tepid first game. James finished with 101 yards on 16 carries and the Badgers averaged 6.6 yards per carry. There are plenty of positive things to say about Taylor and his touchdown runs have been great to watch over and over again.

A few things that are worth bringing up:

  • Taylor is just a freshman, which is great for the Badgers if he continues at this pace. However, solid production from a healthy Shaw and James will be key to keep Taylor fresh at the end of the season.
  • The first two games were against Utah State and Florida Atlantic, teams the Badgers should dominate and look good against. The competition the rest of the season will be much stronger.
  • Injuries and poor quarterback play could make it an uphill battle for the entire rushing attack. Taylor lost a fumble as well in the third quarter, which, at this point, appears to be more of the exception.

Based on what we have seen in two games, Taylor should be the starter at running back with Shaw and James getting plenty of touches as well. It is a long season and three different options behind the offensive line will help the entire offense.

2. Alex Hornibrook struggled to see the field – It was clear that Alex Hornibrook was not having a good day. The timing was not there as he constantly threw behind his receivers and then there was the horrendous interception. On that particular play, he was going backwards with a defender in his face and he forced a throw without even seeing the defender that made the interception. It was a throw that should not have happened and it led to a touchdown for FAU.

Late the second quarter, Hornibrook threw another pass on an out route to the sideline that was woefully short and nearly picked. Luckily for him, it was dropped, but another example of his timing and arm strength being not good enough.

Overall, Hornibrook has to get better if he wants to stay the starter. The timing, precision, arm strength, and general awareness all are a concern though he is just a sophomore. There is time for improvement, but how long does he have before Jack Coan is called on for a bigger role?

3. The secondary gets torched – Florida Atlantic had 142 yards passing, yet it felt like it was far more. FAU’s DeAndre McNeal had catches of 35 and 63 yards with the latter going for a touchdown. There was also another 35 yard pass play to McNeal in the third quarter following Taylor’s fumble, but that was negated due to a holding.

Given the memories of 2016 when Penn State moved up and down the field on the Badgers at will in the Big 10 Championship, it is worth watching this unit to see how they respond going forward.

4. Injury concerns are mounting – The defense was already short due to the losses of Jack Cichy and Zack Baun for the season. During practice on Wednesday, Chikwe Obasih suffered a knee injury that will keep him out for a few weeks.

Now, the offense has some injury worries with Shaw ruled out and then right guard Beau Benzschawel left the game in second quarter and did not return. There is currently no news on the severity of the injury, but the loss of a starter on the line does not bode well.

5. The overall performance felt mediocre – The Badgers dominated this game on offense with 564 yards compared to 248 yards for FAU. They had just one penalty and held the ball for over 38 minutes. However, it was an inefficient game.

The Badgers turned the ball over twice, were stopped three times inside the two yard line early in the second quarter, several passes were dropped, and even Rafael Gaglianone missed a 37 yard field goal. The first half against Utah State and most of this game was nothing like the Badgers we expected to see in 2017. The entire team will have to improve quickly because the non-conference schedule ends next week with a road trip to BYU.

Next week’s game at BYU will be at 3:30 PM Eastern Time and can be seen on ESPN. The Badgers will have a bye the following week before starting Big 10 play against Northwestern at home on September 30.

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