Conference Realignment: Which FCS Programs Could Be Next to Upgrade to the FBS?

Appalachian State Is Headed to the Sun Belt With Georgia Southern; Which FCS Schools Could Be Next to Upgrade?

Appalachian State Is Headed to the Sun Belt Conference Along With Georgia Southern; Which FCS Schools Could Be Next to Upgrade?

Schools are upgrading their football programs at a rapid pace. By 2015, 129 full members will be participating in FBS-level competition, up from 120 in 2012. That’s a 7.5-percent increase in just three years. And yet, there’s still plenty of talk about adding more schools to college football’s top tier too. While the ACC’s not jumping to add any of these schools, it’s not out of the question that this shuffling could eventually affect the sport’s top conferences – as top teams from football’s “mid-majors” look to upgrade their competition and move into the “Power Five.”

First, a recap of the recent moves from FCS to FBS:

2009: Western Kentucky (Sun Belt)

2013: South Alabama (Sun Belt), Texas State (Sun Belt), UT-San Antonio (Conference USA), UMass (MAC)

2014: Georgia State (Sun Belt)

2015: Appalachian State (Sun Belt), Charlotte (Conference USA), Georgia Southern (Sun Belt), Old Dominion (Conference USA) (*Appalachian State and Georgia Southern moves just reported today, via SB Nation)

And there’s still more schools that could potentially make the call. But who are they? Well, first a look at the basic eligibility requirements to move up to FBS from FCS (from the NCAA):

  1. Sponsor a minimum of 16 varsity intercollegiate sports, including football, based on the minimum sports sponsorship and scheduling requirements set forth in Bylaw 20. Sponsorship shall include a minimum six sports involving all male teams or mixed teams (males and females), and a minimum of eight varsity intercollegiate teams involving all female teams. Institutions may use up to two emerging sports to satisfy the required eight varsity intercollegiate sports involving all female teams. [Bylaw 20.9.7.1]

  2. Schedule and play at least 60 percent of its football contests against members of Football Bowl Subdivision. Institutions shall schedule and play at least five regular season home contests against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents. [Bylaw 20.9.7.2]

  3. Average at least 15,000 in actual or paid attendance for all home football contests over a rolling two-year period. [Bylaw 20.9.7.3]

  4. Provide an average of at least 90 percent of the permissible maximum number of overall football grants-in-aid per year over a rolling two-year period. [Bylaw 20.9.7.4-(a)]

  5. Annually offer a minimum of 200 athletics grants-in-aid or expend at least four million dollars on grants-in-aid to student-athletes in athletics programs. [Bylaw 20.9.7.4-(b)]

Obviously, the second bullet is taken care of with the commitment to upgrade the program and the final two can easily be attained by just reaching those scholarship numbers. As far as item no. 1 and no. 3 though, the following schools would qualify for an FCS-to-FBS upgrade:

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ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictions: Week Eight

Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas Wants to Improve From His Performances Against Clemson Last Season

Could we finally start to see a bit of a shakeout in the ACC, with league title contenders putting some space between themselves and the conference’s various also-rans? Well, maybe. That statement also implies we know who the also-rans are (we don’t). And in terms of the Coastal division, are we even sold on the contenders? Again, there’s plenty still up in the air. Should be a fun group of games this weekend, at any rate.

Game of the Week

Virginia Tech Hokies (4-3) (2-1) at Clemson Tigers (5-1) (2-1): If the Hokies had held up their end of the bargain and just remained in the top 15 or so, there’s a chance this matchup could’ve been the site of College Gameday. We still get an interesting matchup here though, despite what it looks like on paper. Tech, while struggling to stop the rush (ranked 76th nationally in yards-per-game on the ground), has actually been much more effective against the pass (37th in FBS, yards-per-game). Their eight interceptions are also tied for second in the conference, so Tajh Boyd must deliver his passes with precision. Clemson should win, but again, don’t be surprised to see Logan Thomas put up his best game thus far while exploiting an overmatched Tigers defense, either. Prediction: Clemson 38, Virginia Tech 27

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Connecticut Huskies (3-4) at Syracuse Orange (2-4): Another Friday night game for Syracuse, and another must-win for a school whose season is currently hanging in the balance. The big key for the Orange is simply cutting down turnovers (their margin is -10 on the season), and playing efficiently enough on offense to put up a few touchdowns. UConn has proven itself to be forgettable on offense, outside of running back Lyle McCombs, so it won’t be a high-scoring affair. But if SU quarterback Ryan Nassib can simply stay standing up against the Huskies pass rush anchored by DE Trevardo Williams, the Orange stand a good chance to advance and keep fighting for the postseason. Prediction: Syracuse 20, UConn 16

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ACC Football 2012 Television Schedule & Spreads: Week Eight

Clemson and Virginia Tech’s Third Meeting in 12 Months Highlights the ACC’s Week 8 Action

Every week, we’ll be providing a quick rundown of which ACC football games are on television, and also list the latest spread on each game (should you choose to engage in gambling-related activities). Please plan your days accordingly.

ACC Football Week 8 Television Schedule & Spreads

Friday, October 19

Connecticut Huskies at Syracuse Orange (-4.5), 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Saturday, October 20

Virginia Tech Hokies at Clemson Tigers (-6.5), noon ET, ABC

Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Virginia Cavaliers (-3.5), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN Gameplan

Boston College Eagles at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-14), 3 p.m. ET, ESPN Gameplan

NC State Wolfpack at Maryland Terrapins (+3), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Pittsburgh Panthers at Buffalo Bulls (+11), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3

North Carolina Tar Heels at Duke Blue Devils (+10), 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Florida State Seminoles at Miami Hurricanes (+20.5), 8 p.m. ET, ABC

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ACC Football Chat: Can College Sports Get Attention In Pro Sports Cities?

Why Do College Teams Struggle To Gain Attention In Large Markets? (PHOTO CREDIT: Mike Borkowski)

Always looking to expand our content around here, we’ve started up a new weekly feature. Mike and I will be discussing different topics pertaining to ACC football and then posting up the conversation here. Disagree with us? By all means, share your thoughts below. Happy to continue to the debate.

This week’s topic: Can college sports get attention in pro sports cities?

John: As we sort of discussed last week, i believe that college teams can succeed in pro sports towns, specifically citing Los Angeles and Miami. But I know you have a differing opinion…

Mike: Not necessarily. It really depends on the town. You go to a place like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago; pro sports are the attraction. I think it really depends on the culture of the town.

Go down south, even if there are pro teams in a city, if there’s a major college nearby, that college will receive a lot of press.

J: Well Chicago brings up an interesting point — what about the University of Illinois, Northwestern and Notre Dame?

M: As far as I know, Northwestern may be in the Big Ten, but it’s not a major player. The Illini and ND get press no doubt, but you know the Bear, Bulls, etc. are the main show.

J: Fair — but what about L.A., then? The Lakers and Dodgers are insititutions — huge attractions for the city. Yet, UCLA and USC reign.

Are we seeing a case of college teams that existed before pro teams taking precedent, but for older pro sports cities (like NY, Boston, Philly), the college teams struggle to really gain any share of voice with the sports media? Continue reading

Syracuse, Pittsburgh Football Schedules Finally Released (Thanks, Big East!)

Syracuse and Pittsburgh Finally Learn their 2012 Football Schedules

After a prolonged wait that included one team leaving the Big East, one rumored to join, and then another — Temple — finally rejoining the conference’s ranks, the Big East football schedule has been officially released.

We’ve dissected portions of both Syracuse and Pittsburgh‘s schedules at-length here at the blog, but now that the full slates are set, we can briefly revisit and evaluate their chances.

Syracuse

HOME: Northwestern (9/1), Stony Brook (9/15), Pittsburgh (10/5), Connecticut (10/19), Louisville (11/10)

AWAY: Minnesota (9/22), Rutgers (10/13), USF (10/27), Cincinnati (11/3), Missouri (11/17), Temple (11/23)

NEUTRAL: USC (9/8) — at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

As you can see above, SU gets a rough slate start-to-finish, with only five true home games, two Big Ten games and challenging matchups with both USC (assumed number-one team in the nation) and Mizzou. And while most Orange fans are pretty excited about having three Friday games, the team most also watch out for the added pressure they bring. Yes, they were 2-0 on Fridays last year, but that was also a more senior squad. No matter how you look at it, the 2012 schedule is rife with challenges and this young team must learn on the fly if they hope to overcome their various hurdles. Continue reading

ACC 2012 Schedule Outlook: Pittsburgh Panthers

First-Year Coach Paul Chryst and His Program Are Still Struggling To Fill Out Their Schedule

With all of the realignment and rescheduling nonsense going on around the country, we wanted to give a breakdown of each of the ACC‘s schedules — how the teams stack up, and some thoughts on overall difficulty. If these change at all, we’ll also be sure to update them on a rolling basis. All information is up-to-date as of publishing, based on the latest from FBSchedules.com.

Today’s breakdown: Pittsburgh Panthers

So if you haven’t heard, the Big East is having some scheduling problems — something that affects Pittsburgh pretty directly for the time being. With just ten games currently on the books, and their league still trying aggressively for an eight member (Temple), things are looking pretty bleak. To make matters worse, not only are there just three non-Big East schools with scheduling holes left to fill (Missouri, Boise State and Nevada), but Pittsburgh already has an FCS match on the schedule as well. Even if they could get a second FCS team on there, game 12 would still be vacant, with very few options. So while this situation’s constantly evolving, we’ll take a look at what Pitt definitely has scheduled for the time being. Continue reading