As seen in The Athletic: An idea has come from an FCS coach about what schools should do with Power 5 schools going with conference-only schedules.
The Big Ten and Pac-12’s decisions to do conference-only football games in the fall leave a lot of schools across the nation in the dust. Sure “we’ll work something out in the future” has been said between schools, but something also needs to be done now.
It caught my ear because of all the discussions of the viability of a potential spring season for college football due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The coach’s idea was to move the Football Championship Series season to the spring, but not just because of the pandemic and not just for 2021. His idea was to move it there permanently.
His rationale was that FCS football largely gets lost amid FBS competition, specifically Power 5 football’s shadow. He pointed out that in the spring, it would be the only football on TV, and TV networks have shown a desire for spring football even as start-up leagues such as the AAF and the XFL both struggled to stick for a variety of reasons. The coach’s one sticking point was that moving FCS to the spring — starting in winter a little after the FCS season usually wraps up — would run into the NFL draft process from postseason all-star games through the combine, pro days and the run-ups to the draft week.
One MAC head coach to whom I mentioned the idea said he, too, has thought about it many times as well.
“This could work, especially if the Power 5 stop playing and paying Group of 5 schools,” he said. “The concerns for me also go to transfer rules (if the proposed NCAA one-time transfer rules go into effect). We just gave the Power 5 another recruitable source to evaluate and recruit off our rosters more than they already do!!
“We will definitely have to be creative in the future.”
I’m not totally here for spring football to be the future of Group of 5 and FCS schools beyond 2021, but there’s something to be said about the potential these leagues have in working together for a unified approach to spring football for the first time. But the reason there hasn’t been a significant unified approach to having spring football across Division-I leagues is that commissioners had to keep trying to figure out how to pull off a 2020 fall season even though the math says it’d be irresponsible to go through with it.
Even the NCAA pointed out, literally, where it expected things to be by now:
The NCAA doesn’t have great enough leadership to help G5 or FCS or lower-division schools figure things out, and everybody’s looking to somebody else to lean on. If there’s going to be spring football at all, it’s going to take a lot more coordination than we thought it’d take back in April. If there’s going to be anything to a college football season (or multiple seasons) in the spring, then we’re going to have to see a lot more traction from prominent athletic directors to push the throttle on this idea.
This sport needs some imagination, but this country’s always good for putting imagination on a deadline.