FBS, FCS should combine divisions

By Adam Miller

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Courtesy of iill.net

Just like many other students wish for, I would also like to see the Massachusetts football team plays in the Football Bowl Subdivision. I just don’t know if the Mid-American Conference is the right place for the Minutemen.

Is there anything about teams like Toledo, Ball State or Western Michigan that interest me compared to Colonial Athletic Association teams? Nope. However, if UMass hopes to get into the FBS, it will have to make that sacrifice or else deal with a CAA conference that is starting to become more like a carousel the Minutemen should want no part of.

UMass isn’t the only school pondering FBS status; Villanova is considering an invitation to join the Big East, and there are a variety of other teams around the nation who are looking at the same decision for themselves.

The NCAA should do everything possible to avoid 20-team conferences from forming. The best way to assure this happens is to combine the Football Championship Subdivision and FBS.

Basketball has essentially done this since its creation – also known as mid-major conferences. There’s no reason why football shouldn’t have the same system.

The whole creation of the FCS was so that football programs on a tighter budget could be on a more level playing field. But someone only has to look at teams like Louisiana Tech and Boise State to see that money isn’t everything.

While I understand that football is not basketball, and that it’s a lot easier to have a disparity in personnel between the amount of scholarships required and coaching staff hires compared to basketball, where everyone can afford the same number of scholarships and the teams aren’t as deep.

However, that disparity is proving to mean nothing right now.

The gap between the two subdivisions is closing slowly but surely and it’s only a matter of time before there are FCS teams that could post a winning record with an FBS schedule.

If the NCAA did eliminate the FCS, the need for a playoff in college football would become that much more important in order to give all teams a fair shot at winning a national championship.

Other than those who work for the Bowl Championship Series, I don’t know anyone that supports the status quo in the FBS, and a move such as this one would be sure to give college football the reform it needs.

It’s fun to see a No. 1 seed get knocked out during March Madness, and teams like George Mason or Butler make the Final Four. Imagine the kind of excitement college football would have if Delaware gave Oregon its only loss of the season in a tournament and prevented its chances at winning a championship.

Everyone gets to make more money and the fans will get to watch more competitive football.

If this were to happen, there would be no need for the CAA to disband because all of its teams would be part of the FBS anyway or some of the more financially strapped FBS schools would probably consider moving to the CAA.

At this point, it really doesn’t make sense for the CAA to have any Northeastern teams in the conference. Georgia State and Old Dominion are joining over the next three seasons while Rhode Island is going to join the Northeast Conference. If Villanova leaves, UMass, Maine and New Hampshire will be the only schools that are actually in the Northeast.

This trend is going to happen around the rest of the country as well, which means that more conferences are going to break up and more teams are going to try to move up to the FBS. While the changes will greatly benefit the FBS, the entire FCS will be in trouble financially without quality schools like Appalachian State and Villanova.

If the NCAA got rid of the FCS, teams would better align with each other both geographically and economically.

Of course, if the NCAA can’t even get rid of the BCS, it probably won’t combine subdivisions anytime soon either. Instead, football fans of FCS schools are going to have to deal with rivals 1,000 miles away from their team’s stadiums and a true downgrade in the level of football being played.

Adam Miller is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]