The news of the FCS’ death has been greatly exaggerated. Or, at the very least, the subject has changed.
A writer with The Sports Network makes a compelling argument in a new column for the continued viability of the championship subdivision — whether powerhouses like Appalachian State and Montana stay or not:
Talk nationally about the FCS playoff system collapsing because it is not a big money-maker and that too many top programs will be moving up to the FBS is absurd. The NCAA would not let this happen, plain and simple. Few sports are revenue producers, and other programs would seize opportunities to replace those moving on in the FCS pecking order.
Check out some of the struggling programs in the FBS — record-wide, attendance-wise and the like. It’s not always greener for some of the FCS programs to make the big leap. Few would pull this off with great success.
The dominoes will fall. The FCS won’t.
More interesting, to me, was how the conversation continues to play out across the Internet.
Talk for instance, of Texas State and Texas-San Antonio from the Southland Conference moving up has some wondering if that might mean a new suitor for nearby FCS programs in the Southwestern Athletic Conference — though, apparently, the powers that be in the SLC can live with a 10-team league with only 8 football-playing members: Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Lamar, Northwestern State, McNeese State, Central Arkansas, Nicholls and Southeastern Louisiana.
Geographically, the Texas schools in the SWAC — Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern — certainly make a lot of sense as possible replacements. (Texas A&M-Kingsville, Abilene Christian, Delta State and West Texas A&M have also been thrown out there — and even Southern Utah.)
Some are wondering if budget constraints for nearby Sun Belt schools might lead to a tumble back into the FCS, as well.
“There are a ton of options, one of which is to stay where we are with a 10-member conference with eight playing football,” said SLC Commissioner Tom Burnett. “Losing these two members doesn’t put our conference into survival mode. It puts us into a mode where we can enhance our conference any number of ways, whether it be expansion or staying put. We don’t ever want to lose anybody, but we’ve had a lot of membership change in our history and always adapt to it.”
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Prairie View and Texas Southern were to leave for the Southland. That then opens the door for expansion in the SWAC — and who would that be?
We’ve seen how poorly the newest members of the MEAC — both smaller programs with smaller budgets and fanbases — are doing. North Carolina Central and Savannah State are a combined 2-9 so far this season.
Finding suitable replacements would be just as difficult for the SWAC. There are fewer options in a smaller HBCU pool, and many simply can’t work their way up to Division I status.