Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Offseasons are supposed to be about
optimism, but the offseason in the FCS has been about as ugly as it gets.
On a level of college football that is high on product but short on its
identity nationally, the word over the winter that the Big Ten wants to phase
out games against FCS schools, perhaps leading to other major conferences to
follow suit in the future, was bad enough news as schools gain a recruiting
foothold and scrap for ways to fund their programs.
But Wednesday's anticipated announcements of the one-two loss of Southern
Conference powers Appalachian State and Georgia Southern to the FBS level and
a reconfigured Sun Belt Conference is further indication that the idea of
being a big fish in a smaller pond isn't good enough today.
The continued shifting landscape of college football still has people spooked
into thinking the FCS pond will dry up.
It won't, no doubt, there will be FCS football in the future. But the stature
of the FCS will only slip further amid the upheaval.
In the latest losses, the FCS sees a six-time national champion (Georgia
Southern) and a three-time national champion (Appalachian State) getting set
to go out the door in 2014 with a transitional season to the FBS before
gaining full-fledged Sun Belt membership in 2015.
They are two high-drawing programs on the short list that casual college
football fans associate heavily with the FCS, and they come on top of other
recent losses to the FBS, including programs at Massachusetts, a former FCS
national champion; Old Dominion, one of the great programs to come along in
years; Texas State; UTSA; and South Alabama.
With other programs still considering the move to the FBS, including Liberty,
James Madison, Villanova, Jacksonville State, it seems the FCS level can only
take so many more hits while it grasps for national relevance in college
Another mini-exodus of programs or some unforeseen hit would bring more
important strikes against what is still strong on-the-field football. National
interest in the FCS could water down to regional interest if the big games and
big teams just aren't there anymore.
Hopefully they will. But there's just too much uncertainty to feel confident
in that idea.
The Sports Network