In my quest to find out what in the world will happen at the top of college football in the next two years, I came across a statistic that stood out to me about the “move up crowd”.
Countdown To 2013: NerdStat #21
- 19: That’s the amount of FCS schools that have moved up to FBS since 1987, and none of the schools that have moved to full D1 football have graduated to the Big 5 conferences, none. Not even powerful Boise State, who was on the cusp of joining the Big East before that fell apart. The Big 5 for those that can’t keep track is the SEC, Big 10, Big 12, ACC and Pac 12. None of those conferences have added an upstart FBS member, they’ve hoarded from other like-minded leagues, for example Nebraska leaving the Big 12 for the Big 10 or to a lesser extent West Virginia going to the Big 12 from the Big East. (For those scoring at home, Utah leaving the Mountain West for the Pac-12 doesn’t count, I’m sure hardcore Utes fan would have preferred they would have stayed in the MWC.) The more damning stat from Tom Yeager, commissioner of the CAA was this, he told me on my radio show two weeks ago that on average, yes schools do make more money moving up but lose 1-2 million dollars a year ON AVERAGE. That’s a lot money for a school like NDSU, UNI and I have to think Georgia State. Look at it this way, when you look at how the bottom 5 leagues look now, where would you rather sit? In the Sun Belt, with Georgia Southern, App State, Idaho and New Mexico State, with travel budgets that are sky high and no real sense of rivalries? App State and Georgia Southern have each other but beyond that? Arkansas State get your blood pumping? Louisiana-Lafayette? Look at the American Athletic Conference (the former Big East) it’s what Conference USA was 5 years ago. And CUSA is what the Sun Belt was 3 years ago. For all the detractors saying FCS is dying, NDSU may find itself in the best position possible. The Bison sit in the most stable FCS league in the country, 3 additions and 1 subtraction in the last 6 years, only the Ivy League has had less movement, and the Ivy hasn’t had anybody leave! The Mo Valley boasts great rivalries, SDSU and UNI have turned into must-see games for NDSU, with Youngstown State not too far behind. And Illinois State and Indiana State join Southern Illinois in spending more money on football in recent years to raise the bar to where the Bison and Jacks are. As much as there is a contingent of Bison fans that want NDSU to move up, they may not have to. Maybe the rest of Division 1 will come to them. I can’t sit here and honestly write that those bottom 5 schools will reduce 22 scholarships to join the FCS, but is there a middle ground? Would the NCAA say to those schools in the Sun Belt and CUSA and AAC, you need to reduce to 73 and the top 25 in FCS you need to go up to 73? That I could see happening, but not without a lot of negotiating. The road is cloudy for the middle-tier of college football, but I have a feeling NDSU is going to find itself right in the middle of it in the not-so-distant future.