Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It won't surprise anyone to learn that paycheck games pitting BCS conference teams against FCS patsies -- or non-patsies, as the occasional James Madison/Appalachian State case may be -- are becoming more and more frequent.But it might surprise some just how rapidly they're increasing, particularly in the domain of the formerly FCS-light Pac-12. Research by the Oregonian shows that such games have increased by a factor of nearly six out West:
Games between FBS and FCS teams have spiked 70 percent since a 2005 NCAA rule change made the games more attractive, according to analysis by The Oregonian. The matchups have increased nearly 600 percent in the Pacific-10 Conference and 358 percent in the Big Ten, even adjusting for conference expansion.Look at that again: 600 percent. Why? You get one guess:
Athletic director Rob Mullens of Oregon, which plays FCS team Missouri State next fall, said he schedules the games for two main reasons: to have an extra home game and to combat skyrocketing prices for FBS nonconference teams making onetime visits.Thanks to that economic reality (and, more immediately, Washington scheduling defending FCS champion Eastern Washington), only three FBS teams have still never stooped to an FCS game: Notre Dame, USC, and UCLA.
"They'll want $900,000 or a million," Mullens said. "And we pay in the $400,000 range for an FCS opponent. That's a big difference."
Kudos to them. But with the exception of schools that have doubled up on their FCS snacky-cakes ration, it's tough to be too harsh on the rest of FBS; when Eastern Washington costs substantially less than Eastern Michigan and your fans can't tell the difference, it doesn't make any sense to schedule the latter. Until the NCAA adds some kind of disincentive for scheduling the first FCS game as well as the second (which doesn't count towards bowl eligibility), don't expect the trend line to head in the other direction any time soon.