Should FBS Schools Who Schedule FCS Opponents Be Playoff Eligible?
There’s been plenty of change in the world of college football. After years of clamoring for post-season change, college football finally responded with a (4) team playoff. The setup hardly compares to the post-season tournament in college basketball, but it’s a step in the right direction as we will now see the top 4 schools contend for the championship. People will argue about who should be in the top 4, and schools ranked #5 and #6 will have the most to be upset about. But there is no argument that 4 schools gaining access to the championship is better than only 2.
Next up for NCAA change, you have the “Power 5″ conferences and their power grab. For years, most of the impacting decisions made within the NCAA were pushed through due to the strength that some of the top conferences had within the D-I and then FBS ranks. On paper, every school was equal. But when it came time for decisions, the members of the NCAA outside of the power conferences had to act in ways that would keep the revenue generators happy. Now, the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12, ACC and Big XII hold more power in voting measures. They have more control over themselves within the highest level of college football and we’ll see many changes to come including a larger compensation system for the student athletes. All were happy concessions made by the other NCAA schools as if they had not conceded this power, the “Power 5” schools would have simply left to form their own division outside of the NCAA.
So what’s next on your college football reform wish list?
As we enter the post BCS system and into the world of a college football playoff, deciding who gets into those top 4 spots will be the biggest story of each year. Strength of schedule will likely become an increasingly important factor as well.
So when if the 4 playoff spots are so coveted, how about requiring full FBS schedule for playoff eligibility, to ensure FBS schools stop scheduling?
We often see schools from stronger conferences schedule easier games each year to soften their schedule. This is where you will see a Big Ten school schedule a local MAC school in what is essentially a filler game and almost always an easy win. In the south, the same can be said when an SEC or ACC school schedules a Sun Belt opponent. With all the defections from CUSA to the AAC, CUSA schools fall into the same scheduling category now as the Sun Belt. And out west, you might see a Pac-12 school schedule a Mountain West program.
While such match-ups might be considered near-automatic wins each year, they are at least FBS schools playing other FBS schools.
But when an FBs school schedules an FCS school, that is another story.
While there have historically been plenty of strong FCS programs who have competed well and beaten FBS programs, the matchups almost always result in a win for the FBS school. Sure, there will be the exception…but how many times can we bring up Appalachian St. beating Michigan back in 2007.
Through 2013, FBS schools have a record of 2028-423-18 (.824) vs. FCS schools.
In 2013, there were 110 FBS versus FCS games. FCS schools won 7 of those games. That number is actually much higher than the previous year when FCS schools won only (2) games.
Prom 2002 – 2011, FBS schools had a winning percentage of .7995 over FCS schools.
So if you are deciding which schools should be in the 4-team playoff, shouldn’t there be some red flags to look for?
In 2013, Florida St. played an OOC schedule of FCS Bethune-Cookman, Idaho (1-11), Nevada (4-8) and Florida (4-8). They then had a conference schedule in an average ACC. Nobody expected Florida to be only 4-8, so having a somewhat safe OOC schedule was expected with a program like FBS Nevada.
In 2014, Florida St. replaced 2013 OOC opponents Nevada and Idaho with Oklahoma St. and Notre Dame. Those are clearly huge upgrades. But they continued their trend of scheduling FCS schools by swapping Bethune-Cookman with The Citadel.
Imagine you have a season in which the Pac-12 has the 5h ranked conference but the top school and conference winner schedules 3 FBS OOC games. Then you have a Big XII conference which is ranked higher at #4 but it’s top school scheduled 2 weaker Sun Belt schools and a FCS Southland Conference opponent. The Big XII school goes undefeated but the Pac-12 school loses (1) tough conference game against a ranked opponent. The result will almost always be the undefeated Big XII school getting the playoff spot over the Pac-12 school in this scenario.
College football fans have been calling for post-season change for decades. They finally got it and it will be exciting to see how Las Vegas college football oddsmakers adjust to the new playoff system.
Seeing a system implemented that requires full FBS schedules for playoff consideration would only strengthen the sport to remove any “cupcake” games from the schedules. But it would also take away those magical upsets that happen a couple times per year…and college football fans (and schools) will not want to see that for now.