ASU should stop scheduling FCS foes
Imagine watching a suspenseful movie, but already knowing the ending.
In college football, a similar situation occurs when a major program faces a Football Championship Series opponent. A diluted product rolls onto the field when the two sides meet, one where the outcome can be reasonably assumed.
In what is becoming an annual tradition in Tempe, the ASU football team opens against an FCS opponent for the seventh-straight season in 2014.
The average scoring margin from those six openers: 50-8. That’s not good football. Fans should be turned off from these snooze fests.
In 2014, ASU’s victim is Weber State. Even by FCS standards, the Wildcats were bad. They finished 2-10 in 2013 and are beginning 2014 with a first-time head coach. ASU should easily win this game.
The problem with intermingling FCS and FBS power teams on the field is that the games aren’t competitive.
I’m not just picking on ASU. ASU has played difficult out-of-conference games recently (Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Georgia to name a few). It’s become a league-wide practice. Across the sport, the FBS continues to dominate.
There are some schools that can hold their own against the FBS power five (SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC), but those are merely exceptions to the rule. Such was the case when Appalachian State famously took down No. 5 Michigan in the Big House in 2007 (and by the way, the Mountaineers are transitioning to the Sun Belt in 2014). North Dakota State has defeated an FBS school in four consecutive seasons.
According to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, power five conference teams are 889–61 (.936) against the FCS since 1978, with only seven of the 61 making a bowl game.
The upsets are not what FBS programs have in mind when scheduling the game. It’s all about earning additional revenue from having more home games. FCS foes are generally the only teams that don’t require a home-and-home series to schedule.
It also doesn’t hurt playing the FCS, because it’s essentially an automatic win. Facing an FCS team helps to avoid a loss on a difficult schedule. There are many problems with college football, the prime being there are not enough games to qualify teams into a minuscule postseason.
Schools have the right to schedule an FCS opponent because of the freedom allowed in schedule-making. There are occasionally times a lower foe is needed because of a last-minute scramble.
If FBS teams truly want to play warm up games to start their seasons, then results shouldn’t count. FCS schools don’t play for the same crystal ball and those games should be excluded in determining who plays for the crystal ball.
One way to eradicate these games is to stop counting them in determining bowl eligibility. There’s already a rule in place where two FCS wins counts as one in bowl eligibility, and it hurt the Sun Devils in 2010 when they missed a bowl game at 6-6.
If none counted, then Syracuse, North Carolina and Mississippi State would not have been bowl-eligible last year. I doubt something like this would actually pass because the more bowl games continue to be added. But hey, one can dream.
I wouldn’t be opposed to making these games like a preseason scrimmage. If NAU wants to play ASU, why not invite them for a scrimmage at Camp Tontozona?
It’s probably against the NCAA rules in football, but preseason games happen in other NCAA sports. ASU’s women’s soccer team took on NAU on the West campus Aug. 15. In college basketball, Kentucky, Ohio State and other schools played in the Bahamans earlier this month.
Playing Weber State is like having a preseason game in the regular season. And unfortunately, it counts.
Reach the columnist at Justin.Janssen@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @jjanssen11