Sports department for the student run radio station 90.3 WRST at UW-Oshkosh
This week in the world of College Football here on the WRST Sports blog, we’ll be talking about scheduling. Yes, scheduling. Do you really think you can sit through Biology 105 at 8am? If you can, well, then go for it, but…
Oh, wait…not CLASS scheduling…but football scheduling. This IS a sports blog, you know. Anyway, University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez made headlines about a month ago with his statement that he and fellow Big Ten AD’s have vowed to stop scheduling FCS teams within the next few years. Alvarez said on WIBA Radio in Madison that “The non-conference schedule in our league is ridiculous. It’s not very appealing . . . So we’ve made an agreement that our future games will be all Division 1 schools, it will not be FCS schools”.
This is an interesting comment to say the least. While it’s true that the Big Ten gets a bad image for scheduling FCS teams (commonly referred to as Cupcakes, Patsies, Cream Puffs, Little Sisters of the Poor, etc…) and its overall play in “big games”, they aren’t the only conference where teams do it.
A recent article from FBschedules.com lists the D-1 teams who have scheduled to play FCS or lower division teams in 2013.
As the article states, out of 125 FBS or D-1 teams, 106 of them will play an FCS school in 2013. That amounts to 86% of the total number of college football teams. Of those remaining 19 schools who didn’t schedule an FCS team, two are from the Big Ten, Michigan and Penn State. (For those wondering, the Wolverines will host Central Michigan, Notre Dame and Akron and travel to UConn. Penn State will play Syracuse on a neutral field and host Eastern Michigan, UCF and Kent State)
So, who did everyone else in the Big Ten schedule for 2013? Here’s a breakdown.
–Illinois: (Vs. Southern Illinois)
–Indiana (Vs. Indiana State)
–Iowa (Vs. Missouri State)
–Michigan State (Vs. Youngstown State)
–Minnesota (Vs. Western Illinois)
–Nebraska (Vs. South Dakota State)
–Northwestern (Vs. Maine)
–Ohio State (Vs. Florida A&M)
–Purdue (Vs. Indiana State)
–Wisconsin (Vs. Tennessee Tech)
Doing the math, that’s 10 of the 12 Big Ten teams who have an FCS opponent on the schedule, which amounts to 83% of the conference. There’s quite a variety of teams, too, but the majority come from the Missouri Valley Football Conference, like Indiana State, who has the unfortunate task of facing two Big Ten teams in the same year. (Poor Sycamores! Although, The Hoosiers did only beat them by a touchdown last season, 24-17).
Where the question lies is, WHEN will Alvarez and the Big Ten’s agreement to stop scheduling FCS teams begin? Answer: Who knows?
According to the article from College Football Talk linked above, Penn State is the only Big Ten team with zero FCS teams on their schedule for the foreseeable future. Teams such as Iowa, Maryland (joining in 2014), Minnesota and Northwestern have one FCS team scheduled over the next four seasons while Illinois, Purdue and Rutgers (joining in 2014) have one FCS team scheduled over the next three seasons.
It’s no question that scheduling lower-level teams have helped out teams over the decades. Minnesota alone has scheduled one FCS team in each of the last seven seasons (and lost a few of them, too). When you’re in a pinch for teams and all the other D-1 schools are booked, it’s hard to ignore those teams. With the possibility of the Big Ten moving to a nine or ten game conference slate, it’s understandable why these games would likely get the axe. But in the end, what’s the difference if a team like Wisconsin or Iowa plays Northern Iowa or Southern Illinois vs. a lower-level MAC/Sun Belt/CUSA team? One could argue that some of those FCS schools could beat (and have beaten) a really bad MAC or Sun Belt team.
In the end, would Big Ten teams really benefit from NOT scheduling FCS teams? Probably, but, again, it’s hard to tell. It goes back to the previous question. Is scheduling Colorado State over Indiana State really going to help in a non-conference marquee bout vs. Alabama? Will playing Akron at home and winning 55 to 3 over hosting Northern Iowa and winning by a lesser margin make a difference in the Rose Bowl?
Change is a comin’ to College Football, that’s for certain. Teams can expect to get that one token FCS opponent at least through this season, after that, it’s anyone’s guess as to what happens.
What are your thoughts? Will it help the Big Ten (or college football in general) to stop scheduling FCS teams?
World of Sports
March is one of my favorite sports months. That’s all that needs to be said. You can bet that I, along with others in the WRST Sports department will be glued to the TV for Championship Week and the Madness starting in just a couple weeks. Although my Hawkeyes are a long shot to make the tournament, I’ll take the N-I-T after the disaster that was the brief Todd Lickliter era in Iowa City. Do you have a favorite to cut down the nets in Atlanta, yet?
If you know me, you know I love the Hawkeyes and that I am also the President of the Oshkosh chapter of the Ricky Stanzi Fan Club. So, in accordance, I’ll end each blog (as long as the non-Iowa fans that run this blog let me) with “Mandatory Stanzi”. Here’s this week’s video.
Until next week, Hail Titans!
Spencer Wagen—WRST-FM Station Manager and Sports Broadcaster.