Hardcore readers of the blog will know right away where I’m going with this post tonight, so just indulge me for a few minutes if you will. For those that don’t over the next two seasons (2013+ 2014); the NCAA will allow FCS teams to play 12 games if they so choose, with the season beginning on the final Saturday in August (next year NDSU plays at Kansas State on August 31st), which begs the question, what will teams do next season? It also gets a heck of a lot more interesting when throw in the fact that the playoff field expands to 24 teams next season, so three more at-large berths will be up for grabs. Why is this at all important? Think of this if you’re on the playoff selection committee when you’re comparing resumes:
TEAM A : Played 11 Games; 7-4 Record; 2nd/3rd in Conference; No FBS win; No D2 or D3 wins; have 2 quality FCS non-conference wins
TEAM B: Played 12 Games ; 8-4 Record; 2nd/3rd in Conference; No FBS win; No D2 or D3 Wins; have 2 quality non-conference wins
This scenario could and probably will present itself next year and it’s going to be a massive headache for the committee. What’s to constitute a better win? Ask Illinois State about that; the Redbirds had 7 Division 1 wins last year and were left out of the playoff party at 7-4. No doubt in my mind more teams will be left at home at 7-4, if a team has 8, it’s just the eye-test in my mind, not even considering wins. But to that point, teams have got out and got more aggressive in scheduling with the expanded playoffs coming; have a look at some FCS non-conference matchups over the next couple of years:
2013 – Montana State at NDSU; Appalachian State at Montana; Eastern Washington at Sam Houston State; Stephen F. Austin at Weber State
2014 – Montana at NDSU; Sam Houston State at Eastern Washington; McNeese State at Appalachian State
Some teams have gone a different route and are scheduling two FBS opponents for next season; some have gone the drastic measure of three! (Austin Peay, Nicholls State and Western Carolina; who comes to Fargo next September the 21st; you all can forget about the playoffs next season. But some big time FCS programs have decided to go the 2 FBS route; notably Northern Iowa and Eastern Washington this year; the Eagles will do it again next season with games at Oregon State and Toledo. Stony Brook, ranked 9th in the latest coaches poll will play Boston College and Buffalo.
As I try to wrap this as quickly as possible, what do schools like NDSU do? Gene Taylor and Craig Bohl have both told me on numerous occassions, they would only play 11 games, knowing the grind of the Missouri Valley and the playoffs takes on a team. But if there’s an option to play a quality FCS team and get a home and home with a team, how do you pass that up? I’m not favoring a game with a certain opponent that I know all of our readers think I’m going with this; but let’s just a series with Stony Brook? Or Delaware? Or Central Arkansas(you all want to see the purple field) I for one, would love a chance to see a really good FCS team come to Fargo and a chance to go see one out of conference. Let’s hear your thoughts and please let’s keep it constructive!