The FCS Championship Game has enjoyed a post New Year’s Day time slot over the past four years to try and tie in with the BCS Championship, normally held the first Monday in January. If one FCS commissioner gets his way, the game will be heading back to where it was for years, in mid-December and maybe back on primetime.
I spoke with Big Sky Commissioner Doug Fullerton yesterday as the conference wrapped up its spring meetings in Grand Forks on a variety of topics(you can hear the interview Saturday morning with Jeff and me on 970 WDAY 9-11) and one was about growing the FCS brand and Fullerton mentioned moving the FCS Championship game back to its old timeslot before Christmas. Fullerton’s reasoning for moving the game? The College Football Playoff begins this year with games being played on New Year’s Day in 2015 and eventually New Year’s Eve, with likely expansion from four to eight teams. Also that first Saturday in January is likely to see another NFL playoff game as early as 2016, making for three wild card games on that day. Fullerton believes that the FCS would get swallowed up if they were to remain on that weekend, that’s not to mention the other bowl games that usually are still trickling out then.
The catch-22 of moving the FCS Championship game back to where it used it be on the calendar is that the playoff field is eight teams larger than it was in 2009 (last year it was played on a Friday before Christmas). Fullerton has a solution for that, by starting the season earlier. This year Sam Houston State and Eastern Washington will play on August 23rd on ESPN, a week before everyone else gets going, and Fullerton believes people’s thirst for football will be huge by then and it’s successful, we could very well see more games, possibly up to three on that opening weekend. If that works, then I could envision seeing the game move from January back to mid-December.
Coaches I can see not being a huge fan of this, NDSU took advantage of the three week break in 2011 and 2012 and the two-week break this past season to prepare and heal up for the game. Just a week to prepare and counting in travel is difficult for any team, and that’s not taking fans into account. Bison fans have planned out travel plans over that break over the past three years, losing that could also mean an empty stadium. The only game that didn’t involve NDSU was 2010 between Eastern Washington and Delaware, with an announced attendance of just over 13,000. Just a week to prep would be considerably less if the game doesn’t involve NDSU or a fan base that travels well.
I could see a week break and then playing the week of Christmas, the FCS could cling onto that as potential permanent date for the game. Fullerton admitted he doesn’t have a lot of support on this now, but knows those games are coming to that weekend, what do you guys think? Keep it where it is or move it? One thing is for certain, it’s not living Frisco for a while.