It’s over in the FCS for Georgia Southern and Appalachian State; both will announce Wednesday they will be moving to FBS. The alarm bell for FCS, if it hadn’t rang already when Massachusetts and Old Dominion took the FBS move, has certainly sounded now. What will happen from here? Will James Madison and Delaware be next?
How will this affect NDSU and the rest of the Missouri Valley Football Conference?
If the remaining FCS power schools are smart, they will wait and see what becomes of GSU and App State. Flash back to Western Kentucky, which bolted the Missouri Valley (formerly Gateway) and took several years to get up to FBS snuff. For a while, WKU was the worst team in its division.
It will be interesting how UMass does in the MAC. It will be curious how Old Dominion does in Conference USA. These moves, in relative terms, are new to the FBS. It would be wise for JMU and Delaware to see the body of FCS-to-FBS work before taking the plunge.
There are success stories, Marshall comes to mind, although it has been tempered lately — the Thundering Herd went 5-7 last season. The Sun Belt, future home of GSU and App State, isn’t exactly a role call of great programs. It’s mainly a directional-school mix with Arkansas State being the league’s best last year at 10-3. Did Arkansas State get national notoriety? Maybe, maybe not.
I ran into a few prominent Georgia Southern boosters last December when the Eagles came to the Fargodome, and kept hearing how the TV money will factor into the GSU FBS decision. Maybe, that outweighs any benefits of FCS playoffs. Right now, sitting in this chair in Fargo, N.D., I’m not convinced. I was convinced moving to Division I was the right move for NDSU from Day 1, before Day 1. I’ll never forget watching Augustana at less than a half-full dome thinking this is ridiculous.
I don’t have that same feeling with the FBS thing, not right now anyway. I need further evidence that FCS schools making the leap to FBS is the right thing to do. Maybe it’s the right thing for GSU and App State, but NDSU would have more hurdles and it starts with geography and a stadium that can’t be expanded past 18,700. Let’s not forget about a much bigger budget and if you want to be good in FBS, you gotta pay up.
You can say you want NDSU to go FBS, but with those three factors, there is no choice. The Bison are not moving up anytime soon.
Also consider a reason for FBS football is the perception that FCS basketball programs are I-AA, or even Division II. There’s truth to that, but for most of the FCS outside of the east coast, and specifically the southeast, there’s probably not much that can be done about that for the immediate future, if not several years into the future.